Paradise Lost and Future Pending

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The following video message is from Dr. Erik Pianka, an esteemed American biologist, one of the world’s most accomplished field ecologists, and author of the classic 1983 book Evolutionary Ecology. This video was made roughly four years ago. Not much has changed in the interim other than everything getting progressively worse —more people, more cars, more garbage landfills, more greenhouse gas emissions, more ocean acidification, more extinctions, etc…

To save the habitability of the Earth, many enlightened environmentalists and thinkers have proposed a radical but simple solution which calls for a reconfiguration of modern society into a much lower energy-intensive way of life with food production localized and resources socialized —just the opposite of what is now happening in our no-holds-barred global capitalist system. However, the time for a transition was decades ago before we had gone so far into overshoot that world powers are now scrambling to lay claim to the melting Arctic, carving up Africa for its land and water while unleashing a pandemic, and contaminating the dwindling aquifers with fracking waste. Our so-called leaders are too busy constructing an omnipresent spying Panopticon to bother noticing the gathering storm of climatic hellfire and brimstone. When harsh reality finally assert itself, such human folly will have created unfathomable catastrophes.

Not many have given much thought to how America will feed itself after the collapse of California’s agriculture industry is complete:

Farming is never going to go back, regardless of how much rain we get next year, to the way it was in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s a long-term era of scarcity.

California is much bigger than it was when these reservoirs were built, 40 or 50 years ago. There’s more water going to cities and the environment now. That boom era of California farming, I think everyone recognizes, is just a thing of the past.

They used to flood-irrigate everything here. When I was a kid, growing up, you’d walk outside in the middle of summer, six or seven months since the last rain, and it would be humid outside because there’d be so much irrigation going on. You hardly ever see anything flood-irrigated anymore. That time, that’s just not coming back.

The solution is not the techno-utopian fantasy of cold fusion. Even if cold fusion was a realistic possibility, the creation of unlimited amounts of ultra-cheap energy wielded in the hands of techno-capitalist man would surely spell disaster for any last vestiges of life that might have survived the omnicide of capitalist industrial civilization and the age of fossil fuels. A good steward of the Earth’s resources and web of life would never have perpetuated the 6th mass extinction and defiled the planet that gave birth to his kind while arrogantly naming himself Homo sapiens (Latin: “Wise man”).

Capitalist carbon man acted like a bull in a china shop, throwing his weight around and blindly destroying everything in his path. Now he wants to invent even more disruptive tools with which to save himself from the very techno-nightmare that he has already created? He treated the biosphere like a buyosphere, and money was his God. His epitaph was inscribed long ago by Oscar Wilde who perceptively said, “They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Tragically, humans had their chance in a magnificent paradise and they blew it in spades.

Weekend Funnies for the Depressed Collapsitarian #10

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No matter if the weekend has arrived or not, when I feel like life has become a grotesque parody of itself then it’s time for another installment of ‘Weekend Funnies for the Depressed Collapsitarian’…

Too close to the truth…169-wgEvu.St.91

An animated GIF from graphic wizard ABVH (via Featured E-Magazine):animated-gifs-of-nemo_s-and-os-gemeos-by-abvh-1

Years after they have destroyed main street, central banks have recently admitted that their policies benefit only the wealthyunnamedThe inconvenient truth that GDP=CO2 Emissions…
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“Chinese People will not be stopped by anything. If pollution ruins a river, we will build a new river. If pollution destroys a mountain, we will build a new mountain. At long last, the world cannot ignore our growing prosperity.”

The power of positive thinking for the cancer man can be applied to Homo Economicus and his refusal to change his ways in spite of the collapsing biosphere… “It took inner strength to ignore all those climate scientists.”

Debate: ‘Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse’
“They are going to need the more practical skills like how to build a shelter from abandoned cars or how to get drinking water by collecting the morning dew in human skulls.”

The Systemic Roots of a Global Pandemic

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Over the ages, a number of empires have exploited and looted the resource-rich lands of Africa. At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland in the northern hemisphere to the deserts of Africa in the south. The Romans stripped their North African territory of its trees, making it their breadbasket of grain production. Originating in central Africa, malaria was likely spread to the center of the Roman Empire on their cargo ships. Passengers on their boats could have carried malaria in their bloodstream before becoming symptomatic, and water barrels on board could have harbored mosquito larvae. In fact, the DNA work of Dr. Robert Sallares has proven that the most lethal form of malaria helped topple ancient Rome. Fast forwarding to today, the blow-back from industrial agriculture and transnational corporate land grabs in Africa has now reached the shores of the hegemonic American Empire in the form of a deadly tropical disease called Ebola.

The Roman Empire seized fertile African land by brute force, but in modern times capitalist industrial civilization takes over Third World countries with the stroke of a pen. Structural adjustment loans by such tools of western power as the IMF and World Bank are signed requiring privatization of the economy and government cuts in social spending. Vast tracks of forests are cleared for mining or monoculture crop production such as palm oil. Subsistence farmers are dispossessed of their ancestral lands and forced to migrate to cities in search of work. Deprived of adequate healthcare and the opportunity to earn a livable wage, these urban poor live in squalor and are driven to hunt in the surrounding forests for a cheap source of protein known as bushmeat. Fruit bats, a keystone environmental species, have been identified as an Ebola virus host that has spread the disease through bushmeat consumption, habitat destruction, and human encroachment. Thus the neoliberal agenda of ‘developed’ nations has acted to create the atmosphere from which this pandemic arose.

Due to the long history of exploitation by outside powers, native Africans are justifiably wary and prone to conspiracy theories involving intervention by Western institutions as well as their own governments which have been, to a great degree, corrupted by the resource curse. These unpleasant facts are, of course, never mentioned by the MSM because it might spark a flicker of moral compunction in the ‘developed’ world which has ended up with so much of Africa’s wealth in the form of rare earth minerals used inside electronic devices, gold and diamonds in jewelry, or petrol pumped into vehicles. The horrific realities behind conflict minerals are always kept out of sight and out of mind by the next consumer diversion.

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The following video is a brilliant lecture by Rob Wallace, evolutionary biologist and public health phylogeographer, discussing the epidemiologic links between the current Ebola outbreak and the socioeconomic policies of capitalist industrial civilization.

“Pathogens routinely trace society’s inequalities and expropriations like water traces cracks in ice… Ebola represents such a case. The shifts in land use in the Guinean region where the new strain apparently emerged are connected to the kinds of neoliberal structural adjustments that, alongside divesting public health infrastructure, open domestic food production to global circuits of capital… [The corporate agribusiness land acquisitions in Africa] are markers of a complex policy-driven faith change in agroecology…that undergirds Ebola’s emergence here.” ~ Rob Wallace

In biology there is a phenomenon known as the Allee effect which occurs when a species declines to a critical population threshold, becoming too spread out over a large area to find a mate for reproduction and thereby making a crash to extinction all but inevitable. The Allee effect applies to infectious diseases as well, and if you can knock down an outbreak below an infection threshold through such methods as vaccinations or proper sanitation, then the outbreak can burn out on its own. However, as Rob Wallace wryly states, “…structural problems can render emergency responses null and void, no matter how much Bill Gates pays out.” In other words, we may have destroyed the ecosystem’s natural ability to keep such pathogens in check and from expanding out of control in the future:

“…commoditizing the forest and neoliberal dispossession may have lowered the region’s ecosystemic threshold to a point that no emergency intervention can drive the pathogen population low enough to burn out on its own. The pathogen will continue to circulate with the potential to explode. In short, neoliberalism’s shifts aren’t just a background upon which such emergencies take place. It is the emergency as much as the virus itself. And history has demonstrated this time and again. Faith changes and social organization, for better and for worse, change epidemiologies. Domesticated livestock served as sources for human diphtheria, influenza, measles, mumps, plague, pertussis, rotavirus, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, etc. Ecological changes brought about upon landscapes by human intervention selected for spill-overs of cholera from algae, malaria from birds, and dengue fever and yellow fever from wild primates… We can pretend otherwise for Ebola, but in protecting the rationals for institutions and policies that likely brought about such outbreaks, if as byproducts of a greater economy alone, we will surely only compound the problem. If not by Ebola this year, then perhaps something else next.”

In addition to the ecosystemic impact of industrial agriculture and global circuits of capital, our highly mobile society and the consequent climate disruption from fossil-fueled globalization have worked to propel the spread of invasive species, diseases, and pathogens:

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The following graph show the increase of invasive species since 1500 with an explosion in the last 100 years:

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Overuse of antibiotics and lack of developing new antibiotics are also facilitating the mutation, spread, and rebirth of deadly pathogens across the globe. No new class of antibiotics has been discovered since the 1980’s.

Below is a chart showing the increase in bacterial resistance for selected pathogens. “For example, Staphylococcus aureus resistant to methicillin has increased almost 70% since about 1975.” The dawning of an antibiotic apocalypse is upon us:

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A new tv special entitled The Trouble with Antibiotics aired this past week (h/t reader PBM):

“FRONTLINE investigates the widespread use of antibiotics in food animals and whether it is fueling the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance in people. Plus an exclusive interview with the family of a young man who died in a superbug outbreak that swept through a hospital at the National Institutes of Health.”

Amplifying what some call peak antibiotics is the fact that in our capitalist economy, the perverse incentive for monetary profit discourages pharmaceutical companies from developing new antibiotics; there is no market for curing… only prolonging:

…Ebola emerged 40 years ago, and, Dr. Chan said, there were no vaccines or other remedies because it has traditionally been confined to poor African countries. A profit-driven pharmaceutical industry had no incentive to make products for countries that could not pay, she said.

The risks of neglecting health care in developing countries are global, Dr. Chan said, adding that “when a deadly and dreaded virus hits the destitute and spirals out of control, the whole world is put at risk.”… – link

The budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also stagnated, leaving Dr. Francis Collins, head of the NIH, to admit that an Ebola vaccine would likely have been found by now if not for budget cuts:

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The fragmented and “crapified” nature of America’s for-profit healthcare system has also factored into the fumbled response to Ebola’s invasion into America, as Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism explained recently:

…the statistics say compared to other developed countries, US processes and outcomes are at best mediocre using the best of some admittedly flawed metrics (look here), yet our costs are much higher than those of comparable countries. Furthermore, on Health Care Renewal we have been connecting the dots among severe problems with cost, quality and access on one hand, and huge problems with concentration and abuse of power, enabled by leadership of health care organizations that is ill-informed, incompetent, unsympathetic or hostile to health care professionals’ values, self-interested, conflicted, dishonest, or even corrupt and governance that fails to foster transparency, accountability, ethics and honesty…

…The US health care system is now heavily commercialized. Health care corporations, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, are often lead by generic managers who subscribe to the business school dogma of the “shareholder value theory,” which seems to translate into putting short-term revenues ahead of all other goals. Thus they have been“financialized.”  At least in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector, such financialization appears to now be global…

…from 1983 to 2000, the number of managers working in the US health care system grew 726%, while the number of physicians grew 39%, so the manager/physician ratio went from roughly one to six to one to one (see 2005 post here). As we noted here, the growth continued, so there are now 10 managers for every US physician…

International institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have also been “crapified’ under neoliberal ideology:

There is little wonder why the Ebola outbreak caught the WHO so flat footed as they spent months making mealy mouthed statements but never coordinating an effective response. The Gates foundation is the WHO boss, not governments, and if they weren’t demanding action, then the desperate people affected by Ebola weren’t going to get any…

…The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged an additional $50 million to fight the current Ebola epidemic but that too is problematic, as Director General Chan describes. “When there’s an event, we have money. Then after that, the money stops coming in, then all the staff you recruited to do the response, you have to terminate their contracts.” The WHO should not be lurching from crisis to crisis, SARS, MERS, or H1N1 influenza based on the whims of philanthropy. The principles of public health should be carried out by knowledgeable medical professionals who are not dependent upon rich people for their jobs.

The Gates are not alone in using their deep pockets to confound what should be publicly held responsibilities. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was contributing $25 million to fight Ebola. His donation will go to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation. Most Americans are probably unaware that such a foundation even exists. Yet there it is, run by a mostly corporate board which will inevitably interfere with the public good…

Essentially, both ISIS and the Ebola pandemic are crises of the corporate state’s own making. Vast sums of money have flowed into America’s war machine to fight the terrorist threat of ISIS, yet the specter of a global pandemic has elicited a much more belated and tepid reaction from the leaders of our brave new privatized and financialized system of government. As with climate change, it has become clear once again that the health of the world and its people cannot be trusted with these adherents of neoliberal capitalism, and as I stated in a previous blog post, the conspiracy is systemic and legalized. The virus of capitalist industrial civilization appears to be on an unstoppable trajectory of burning itself out within our children’s lifetime.

“It was a nice run for the biosphere, but it finally came down with a lethal disease, homeostasis lost, the pyramid of life reduced to the pancake of life.” ~ James

Still on Track for the Collapse of Modern Civilization

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Two recent pieces of scientific evidence really hammer home the predicament of modern industrial civilization, and they have to do with the fact that our globalized, just-in-time economic model is hopelessly wed to carbon-based energy. Once one understands this, then there can be no delusions about why we are on such a catastrophic trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions. As was explained in a previous post, GDP is fundamentally and directly linked to CO2 emissions. Below, two graphs(click to go to source) illustrate this fact:

C02 emissions since 1850 (red); exponential growth (blue); cuts to hit climate target (dashed).

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It’s not really about evil fossil fuel companies, although they do certainly exert enormous political clout and do conspire to protect their business model by doing such things as spreading doubt on climate change science, but as with all corporations, externalizing social and environmental costs is endemic to the profit system and the coercive forces of competition in capitalist markets.

Firstly, there is the graph submitted by Professor Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist for the past 30 years, Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, and Co-Director Institute of the Environment, Univ. of Arizona:

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This clearly shows we are firmly on track for hitting 3.2-5.4°C warming by the end of the century or sooner. This kind of rapid warming is incompatible with most life on Earth. To get an idea of what the world will be like at 3°C once lag time catches up to real time, we can look back 3 million years ago in the Pliocene Era when CO2 levels were similar to today and temperatures were 3°C warmer:

The northern hemisphere was free of glaciers and icesheets, beech trees grew in the Transantarctic mountains, sea levels were 25 metres higher [Climate Dynamics, 26, 249-365], and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were 360-400 ppm, very similar to today. There are also strong indications that during the Pliocene, permanent El Nino conditions prevailed. Hansen says that rapid warming today is already heating up the western Pacific Ocean, a basis for a coming period of ‘super El Ninos’ [Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 103, 39, 14288-93]…

…The collapse of the Amazon is part of the reversal of the carbon cycle projected to happen around 3 degrees, a view confirmed by a range of researchers using carbon coupled climate models. Vast amounts of dead vegetation stored in the soil – more than double the entire carbon content of the atmosphere – will be broken down by bacteria as soil warms. The generally accepted estimate is that the soil carbon reservoir contains some 1600 gigatonnes, more than double the entire carbon content of the atmosphere…

…Three degrees would likely see increasing areas of the planet being rendered essentially uninhabitable by drought and heat. Rainfall in Mexico and central America is projected to fall 50 per central. Southern Africa would be exposed to perennial drought, a huge expanse centred on Botswana could see a remobilisation of old sand dunes [Nature, 435, 1218-21], much as is projected to happen earlier in the US west. The Rockies would be snowless and the Colorado river will fail half the time. Drought intensity in Australia could triple, according to the CSIRO, which also predicts days in NSW above 35 degrees will increase 2 to 7 times.

With extreme weather continuing to bite – hurricanes may increase in power by half a category above today’s top-level Category Five – world food supplies will be critically endangered. This could mean hundreds of millions – or even billions – of refugees moving out from areas of famine and drought in the sub-tropics towards the mid-latitudes. As the Himalayan ice sheet relentlessly melts with rising temperatures, the long-term water flows into Asia’s great rivers and breadbasket valleys — the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, the Mekong, Yangtse and Yellow rivers — will fall dramatically. If global temperatures rise by three degrees, and that’s becoming the un-official target for western governments, water flow in the Indus is predicted to drop by 90 per cent by 2100. The lives of two billion people are at stake.

As the Arctic continue to warm, melting permafrost in the boreal forests and further north in the Arctic tundra is now starting to melt, triggering the release of methane, a greenhouse gas twenty times more powerful than CO2, from thick layers of thawing peat. The West Siberian bog is estimated to contain 70 billion tonnes of CO2. Prof. Sergei Kirpotin, a botanist at Russia’s Tomsk State University, says: “There’s a critical barrier… Once global warming pushes the melting process past that line, it begins to perpetuate itself.” The West Antarctic ice sheet would likely to irreversibly melt.

At 5-6°C:

Five degrees
• Five degrees of warming occurred during the Eocene, 55 million years ago: breadfruit trees grew on the coast of Greenland, while the Arctic Ocean saw water temperatures of 20C within 200km of the North Pole itself. There was no ice at either pole; forests were probably growing in central Antarctica.
• The Eocene greenhouse event was likely caused by methane hydrates (an ice-like combination of methane and water) bursting into the atmosphere from the seabed in an immense “ocean burp”, sparking a surge in global temperatures. Today vast amounts of these same methane hydrates still sit on subsea continental shelves.
• The early Eocene greenhouse took at least 10,000 years to come about. Today we could accomplish the same feat in less than a century.

Six degrees
• At the end of the Permian period, 251 million years ago, up to 95% of species were extinct as a result of a super-greenhouse event, resulting in a temperatures rise by six degrees, perhaps because of an even bigger methane belch than happened 200 million years later in the Eocene.
• One scientific paper investigating “kill mechanisms” during the end-Permian suggests that methane hydrate explosions “could destroy terrestrial life almost entirely”. Acting much like today’s fuel-air explosives (or “vacuum bombs”), major oceanic methane eruptions could release energy equivalent to 10,000 times the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Another valuable website worth reading describes, degree by degree, the changes that will happen to the Earth from anthropogenic global warming. Due to the unpredictable nature of the internet and web pages disappearing, I have saved that essay as an entire screenshot here.

Keep in mind that the IPCC, an institution that has consistently underestimated the effects of anthropogenic climate change, states that in order to stay below 2°C of warming, emissions will have to be 40-70% lower than they were in 2010 by 2050 and at zero by the end of the century, “or could possibly even require taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, a controversial proposition.” As the Keeling Curve grows ever steeper year after year, the Hail Mary of a techno-fix inevitably becomes the only option left. However, concomitant with the CO2 problem is the acidification of the oceans which will require a miracle solution as well. As was explained in a previous post, if all emissions stopped yesterday, we would still be locked into a warming of 2.65°C.

The second important piece of information is a recent MIT study:

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Above graph, from MIT’s Climate and Energy Outlook 2014, shows a drastic rise in global energy consumption by fuel type.

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 If CO2 levels were to double to 800ppm:

If carbon dioxide levels reach 800 ppm, ocean pH is projected to drop another .3 to .4 units (Today we have measured a decline of .1 pH units from 8.2 to 8.1 in the last century) – one of the scenarios projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by 2100 –raising levels of hydrogen ion, H +, 100 to 150 percent (Orr et al., 2005). As this happens and it will take “tens of thousands of years” for the chemistry of the oceans to return to pre-industrial levels, at least that is what the Royal Society of Britain proclaims. – link

We’re already seeing massive die-offs of oysters and scallops from an acidification (PH-decline) of 0.1PH, but what would happen at a drop of 0.3-0.4 units(150+% more acidic than at the beginning of the industrial revolution)?:

“…we found that reef development ceased below pH level 7.7… Ultimately, what we observed was that the diversity of reefs progressively declines with increasing CO2. At concentrations similar to those predicted for the end of this century at a ‘business as usual’ emissions scenario, the “coral reef” observed was depauperate and lacked the structural complexity of present healthy tropical coral reefs. These changes are simply due to ocean acidification, i.e., even without the projected +2°C warming of the oceans associated with rising greenhouse gases. The 0.5° warming we have already observed in the tropics in the last 50 years has already caused mass coral bleaching events and declining coral calcification.” – link

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Ocean acidification could trigger economic devastation

…The authors of the report, released today from the Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, review the current science on the effects on marine organisms, and write that there is a “medium confidence” level that shellfish harvests will decline. There is also a medium confidence level that economic damage will result from impacts on coral reefs, with tourism, food and shoreline protection suffering. The size of this is unclear but one estimate is for $1 trillion in damage from coral loss alone.

How larger species will fare as oceans acidify is less clear. The report gives only a “low confidence” rating to the idea that top predators and fin fish catches will be reduced. But any losses in this area could hit hard the 540 million people whose livelihoods depend on such fisheries.

Scientists also have a “very high confidence” that the ocean’s capacity to take up carbon decreases as waters acidify. So even larger cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions than currently envisaged may be needed to meet targets set to limit global warming as a result, the authors write….

…The report authors also say that the acidity of the oceans could increase by 170% by the end of the century, corresponding to a drop in surface ocean pH by 0.32. This occurs under a pessimistic scenario of high human emissions. Since the industrial revolution, surface ocean pH has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1. As pH is a logarithmic scale, the increase in acidity since the industrial revolution could reach around 170% under this scenario.

Under lower-emissions scenarios, this decrease would be around 0.07. But current emissions show no sign of dropping to those necessary to achieve such a goal, cautions Riebesell.

“If you look at current trajectories we’re no way below the [high emissions scenario],” Riebesell says. “Of course we hope the human race is smart enough to learn at some point and turn the wheel round.”link

As long as the shelves in the local grocery store are filled with relatively cheap food, the television is broadcasting the usual “bread and circus”, water is flowing from the faucet, and other creature comforts of industrial civilization are on tap, homo economicus will blithely ride into the dark future of mass extinction, tectonic shifts of the biosphere, and the collapse of an unsustainable lifestyle.

CNN is running a program of their newscasters’ family roots. Why do I feel like this is a slick PR campaign to put a main street face on the mainstream media? Sorry, but I still don’t trust them and we’re still on track for the collapse of modern civilization despite all their smug smiles.

Bearing Witness

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xraymike79:

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Championing the rapacious conversion of the Earth into dead commodities and its peoples into soulless consumers, the adherents of capitalism have succeeded in entrenching their ideology into the minds of the vast populations as the only viable economic system and way of life. Mesmerized by the electronic gadgetry of the digital age and singing the praises of the “free market”, atomized citizens blissfully hack away at the tree of life that supports them. The bio-destructive power of capitalist industrial civilization stamps out the poetry of nature, silencing entire ecosystems. This essay by Kenn Orphan describes the mindless march towards self-destruction and the redemption that comes by bearing witness to it.

Originally posted on Kenn Orphan:

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“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” – Carl Sagan

We are all witnesses to the Great Dying, a sixth mass extinction, the last one being 65 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs. This is not hyperbole; it is a defining feature of our age.

Countless species are falling prey to the wealthy’s indifference, militarism and folly everyday. As in ancient civilizations, the wealthy and the privileged are generally the last to feel the pain of collapse, yet are most often the root cause. And compared to the mass of humanity we share this planet with, and as a result of rapacious exploitation and plunder, Americans, and westerners in general, are the wealthy and the privileged of modern civilization.

Despite overwhelming evidence of crashing ecosystems, many of us living in the twilight years of the American empire seem oblivious to the canaries in the coal mine. Every…

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This Way Out

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Who’s got a hand on the crackdown?
Who’s got the word on the double talk?
Hands on the wheel in a flash of steel
We got a secret letter with a government seal
……
Nerves are pinched but the heads are calm
The cargo’s all loaded and the red light’s on
Check the map, you navigator sap
Or we’ll all end up with our heads in our lap

Only with capitalism does commodity exchange become the universal source of social interaction through the commodification of labor power, value then becomes the defining principle of social reproduction.

There are many criticisms against Capitalism, but not much in the way of concrete alternatives. I’ve just finished reading Professor Peter Hudis’ book “The Alternative to Capitalism”, and while he does not offer much specificity in the way of concrete alternatives, he does offer a useful and provocative analysis of Marx’s theories pertaining to what might come next. The book is unique in that it distills down and interprets thousands of pages of Marx’s writing into a handful of useful conclusions that illustrate what Marx envisioned in a post Capitalist society.

Below is a recent podcast in which Professor Hudis is interviewed, and this gives a quick overview of the concepts and conclusions of his vision of a post Capitalist society.

http://fromalpha2omega.podomatic.com/entry/2014-08-16T14_40_49-07_00

The central argument in Hudis’ reading of Marx is that any Post Capitalist society that is to succeed must at first recognize, then dismantle, the system of value production. This differs significantly from conventional anti-capitalist thinking which suggests that the capitalist mode of production and the system of private property ownership are principally responsible for the contradictions and subsequent failures in Capitalism.

Additionally, he points out that Marx expressly disagreed with the popularized notion that to achieve this, the ownership of the means of production must transfer to the State. Marx was very clear that ownership of the means of production must not belong to the Capitalist, nor the State, rather, to those in the involved with the actual production process.

Hudis suggests that these palliative measures are not only misplaced, but wrong.

To dive further into what is being said here, some discussion of the meaning of the phrase value production is in order.

Value production in a capitalist society means that all social relations are governed by the drive to augment and increase value, with no regard for human needs or capacities.

This suggests (and Hudis does a good supporting his thesis with an academically rigorous approach in his book) that the essence of the perpetually expanding nature of Capital, the expansion that consumes resources and poisons the planet, stems from this fundamental conclusion.

Value is not material wealth, it is wealth computed in terms of money. As Hudis points out, once such a system of value production becomes the dominant form of social relations, the drive to constantly increase value becomes unstoppable.

Drilling deeper into the construct of value production, what comes forward is that one of the key contributors to this unstoppable force is the notion of socially necessary labor time. On this subject, it becomes evident that not even the Capitalists themselves have control of the system, as even they are not able to manage the forces that control production. Time becomes inverted, the predicate becomes the subject, and the whole process leads to the incredulous discovery that the products we produce control all of human relations.

And it was always supposed to be the other way around.

The concept of socially necessary labor time dictates several key factors, principally, that goods are produced in accordance with average labor inputs, and any production labor in excess of the social average is wasted and deemed not useful. This means that Capitalists that engage in production are not in control of their exchange values, this is communicated by the market and discovered when goods reach the point of sale. It is then that the Capitalist determines if his goods are competitively priced, and if he can monetize his exchange value. If another firm has produced the same commodity using less labor (or cheaper labor) at the same quality, then the original capitalist will not be able to monetize his surplus value.

This uncertainty, coupled with the intrinsic self expansive nature of Capital, sets into motion a destructive and unstoppable cycle of ever decreasing inputs of labor time.

Time, in the pursuit of commodity production, becomes our master, we work longer, faster, to achieve the same standard of living.

These factors were not present in pre-capitalist societies. And Hudis argues that they cannot be present in any post Capitalist society either. These conditions of value production in general, and of socially necessary labor time in particular are unique to Capitalism.

We see in the news today disturbing events, loss of personal liberties, privacy issues, destruction of the planet and wanton disregard for resource depletion- it is hard to know which bogey to fear first and foremost.

Most disturbing to me is the almost footnoted mention in the news media of the egregious tax avoidance strategies being employed by large multi-nationals. Companies like Tesla are now dictating terms and conditions which they will require to build production factories in a specific state. They are in effect competitively bidding individual states against each other to maximize the tax deferments and various other concessions as a condition of doing business.

Tesla has negotiated approximately $1.25 Bn dollars worth of concessions, and some analysts are claiming the return on investment for the number of jobs created is a fiction.

Additionally, these tactics are by no means limited to inside the US, there is a battle royale raging in countries like Ireland, where Apple has effectively negotiated terms that reduce their effective tax liabilities to around 2%. By their own admission, there is ‘no scientific or numerical basis’ for their arguments, meaning they just drove the best bargain they thought they could get away with, and Ireland signed up- not wanting to risk the ~6,000 jobs that Apple has in Cork County.

While many are content to lament the State’s complicity in the machinations of Capital, these events indicate something new and much more dangerous- Capital is now overtly dictating terms to the State and holding monopoly power over the State to insure conditions of production that are favorable to Capital. Again, the predicate becomes the subject, as we see an inversion of the production relations. This is very dangerous.

Next we can envision corporate sanctioned labor camps for those deemed unemployable, subsuming the State unemployment programs with privatized “camps” as an extension of the massive prison system- with better wall colors and more frequent conjugal visits.

Social relations will be transformed to support only matters of production relations, education further diluted to rote training farms, subsidized and wholly captured by the large multi-nationals, and hard wired to provide curriculum and performance standards beholden only to their interests.

The hand maidens of Capital have successfully employed an “Arsonists in Fire Chief Hats” strategy wherein they have systematically dismantled any regulatory components of the State, and then cry foul when the hobbled remains proves ineffective at its intended role.

The only logical conclusion in this outcome is of course further privatization, drowning government in the proverbial bathtub so that Capital may advance beyond its perch as owner of all assets into its newly expanded role as owner of all labor.

Weekend Funnies for the Depressed Collapsitarian #9

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Capitalism’s onward march to self-destruction (by Polyp):polyp_cartoon_Climate_Extinction

Poignant Ebola cartoon by André Carrilho:ebolaracisme-620x330

In Our Dreams We Have Seen Another World:tumblr_nc0y7jqHYg1qe7rtzo2_1280

Culture Jamming by JANI LEINONEN:kirjankuvia_0048

Culture Jamming money:alienronnykiss

More culture jamming with Ron English:
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Bon appétit…
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Irresponsible parenting in 21st century end-stage capitalism:

The Slow-Motion Train Wreck of Industrial Civilization

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The linear thinking that has dominated Western civilization since the Enlightenment has become a death trap for mankind in the 21st century. The dynamic system of the Earth’s biosphere with its many interconnected parts interacting in complex and unpredictable ways is clashing with modern man’s linear, sequential, and reductionist frame of thought for solving problems. Technical fixes only act as bandaids to the inherent flaws of global techno-capitalism. Time lags and feedbacks set in motion by industrial civilization’s rampant consumption of natural resources will extend over centuries and into deep geologic time. Ignoring the various environmental and social warnings at our own peril, we neither fully understand nor comprehend the consequences of our unsustainable way of life. The laws of physics and chemistry are indifferent to such human tragedy.

Institutional changes required to deal with complicated problems such as climate change move at a sloth’s pace, and the transition to new energy sources has proven historically to be a long, drawn-out process spanning decades. Never mind the fact that so-called ‘green energy’ cannot support the current mode of living nor the overpopulated state of the planet. In other words, our current socio-economic system is unsalvageable.

After one accepts, at least on a subconscious level, these realities, is it then any wonder that nihilism is on the rise? What is more nihilistic than the view that our fate is the end result of the “evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate”, that “human intelligence is a lethal mutation”(Ernst Mayr), and that industrial civilization is a cancerous growth? I would qualify such thinking by stating that intelligence without wisdom brings destruction. Wisdom is not a genetic trait and has little to do with intelligence. Wisdom is attained through life experience and conscious choice.

There is nothing wise about the culture of capitalist industrial civilization. Global capitalism co-opts and corrupts everything within its sphere; what it cannot control, it kills. Flip the channel to CNN’s Anothony Bourdain and you’ll see a celebration of unrestrained capitalism and “free markets” in China, a country suffocating under the weight of its own pollution:

…Shanghai can come as a rude surprise. In spite of its nominally communist system, it is the most go-go, unfettered, money and status mad, materialistic place on earth. Its skyline alone is confirmation that money talks loudest. In no other city could you build the world’s largest, tallest and ominously curved phallus—stick it right up into the clouds like a giant “FUCK YOU!” to the world and not have trouble with the NIMBYs…

Billions clamoring for an American level of consumption appears to be the real weapon of mass destruction on the planet. Capitalism shows no sign of stopping its downward spiral into barbarism:

The dilemma of progress, as captured neatly by the authors of The Axemaker’s Gift(1995), is that the human species’ very success in exploiting its natural environment and dominating others of their kind (the two go hand in hand), and generally fulfilling its aspirations (and its aspirations, unlike those of all other animals, seem to have no limits) has directly led to its self-destruction. The linear march of progress, on this view, has been from human life in caves only minimally taxing its environment, to life as tribes and agriculturalists exploiting it just a bit more, to modern life. And what is modernity but the triangle of secular science, corporate-capitalism, and nation-states – all made possible by the human ability to create large, secular, result-oriented organizations? In this inexorable story of progress, nature (as well as human lifestyles friendlier to it) have been the losers.
~ Dr. Ovamir Anjum

Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of the prophetic book The Limits to Growth, says that because capitalist industries and the political-legal framework supporting them are so powerful and entrenched, humanity will not evolve through proactive change, but will stumble into multiple unfolding crises as it clings to failing policies and ideologies of promoting material growth at the expense of all else. If we look at current news, this is clearly what is happening:

Global debt is still soaring:

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…Overall, the world’s total debt load has risen from 160 per cent of national income in 2001 to almost 200 per cent after the crisis struck in 2009.

But contrary to all the talk of “deleveraging” that ratio has actually increased since the financial crisis, and was up to 215 per cent globally last year. Put another way, the world owed a collective $70 trillion US before the last recession. But today that figure is up to $100 trillion.

“Contrary to widely held beliefs, the world has not yet begun to delever and the global debt to GDP ratio is still growing, breaking new highs,” the report reads…

The cognitive dissonance between our fossil fuel use and the collapsing environment continues:

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Global overpopulation shows no signs of stopping:

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The Wealth Gap continues to grow:

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The most striking finding in the new Survey of Consumer Finances may be the degree to which wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a small portion of the population.

That trend isn’t new. “Many other studies have also shown the lasting effects of the recession and documented rising income disparity in the United States,” writes Reuters.

But the SCF shows that the wealth gap continues to grow. The share of wealth belonging to the richest 3 percent of Americans was:

44.8 percent in 1989.
51.8 percent in 2007.
54.4 percent in 2013.

And the 6th extinction is far worse than we realize:

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These are just a few of the realities once we scrape away the greenwashing, political spin, and optimism bias humans are prone to, but let’s not get “lost in a roman wilderness of pain.” Check back with me next year and the story will be much the same as humans accept higher poverty rates, a steeper Keeling Curve, and lower biodiversity levels as the new normal. There’s a name for this gradual adaptation of humans to a worsening environment –environmental generational amnesia. We really won’t know what we’ve been missing until everything is far too gone to support another generation of humans.

In the Ashes of Civilization

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False Gods

To the extent that we depend on prosthetic devices to keep ourselves and the biosphere alive, we will render everything fragile. To the extent that we banish the rest of life, we will impoverish our own species for all time. And if we should surrender our genetic nature to machine-aided ratiocination, and our ethics and art and our very meaning to a habit of careless discursion in the name of progress, imagining ourselves godlike and absolved from our ancient heritage, we will become nothing.
~ Edward O. Wilson, Consilience; Chapter 12: ‘What Does It All Mean?’

From its inception, capitalism paved a one-way path to annihilation, predicated as it was on unmitigated growth, the extraction of finite resources, the exaltation of individualism over communal ties, and the maximization of profit at the expense of the environment and society. The capitalist world was, as one author described so bleakly, ”dominated by the concerns of trade and Realpolitik rather than by human rights and spreading democracy”; it was a ”civilization influenced by the impersonal, bottom-line values of the corporations.” Capitalist industrial civilization was built on burning the organic remains of ancient organisms, but at the cost of destroying the stable climatic conditions which supported its very construction. The thirst for fossil fuels by our globalized, high-energy economy spurred increased technological development to extract the more difficult-to-reach reserves, but this frantic grasp for what was left only served to hasten the malignant transformation of Earth into an alien world.

The Fossil Fuel Age did not end for lack of fossil fuels, but because there was no place left to store its CO2 waste. Earth’s overwhelmed carbon sinks became carbon sources. Humans with their hubristic technological overreach had been living on borrowed time for a long time; techno-fixes were not able to artificially expand the carrying capacity of the planet any longer. The climax of the ecological crisis had arrived.

The ruling class tried to hold things together for as long as they could by printing money, propping up markets, militarizing domestic law enforcement, and orchestrating thinly veiled resource wars in the name of fighting terrorism, but the crisis of capitalism was intertwined with the ecological crisis and could never be solved by those whose jobs and social standing depended on protecting the status quo. All the corporate PR, greenwashing, political promises, cultural myths, and anthropocentrism could not hide the harsh Malthusian reality of ecological overshoot. As crime sky-rocketed and social unrest boiled over into rioting and looting, the elite retreated behind walled fortresses secured by armed guards, but the great unwinding of industrial civilization was already well underway. This evil genie was never going back in the bottle.

The melting of the glacial poles meant that global weather patterns and jet streams were irrevocably altered. Consequently, extreme floods and drought wreaked havoc on agriculture. Sea levels also rose much faster than predicted, inundating coastal cities and salinating farmland. Currency markets collapsed, cell phones went silent, transportation systems ground to a halt, and grocery shelves went bare. The disintegration of globalized trade, the dissolution of nation states, and the exhaustion of the biosphere brought forth a new dark age. Deadly microbes and pathogens that had lain dormant or been restricted to certain outlying areas of the planet were now free to migrate and proliferate in new regions. This opened the door for a string of global pandemics that the world had never seen before. Pestilence and famine whittled the population down to under a billion within a few decades.

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Entropic Wastelands

The electric glow of the world’s cities was blotted out; the stars and moon were the only sources of illumination in the pitch black of night. A ghostly silence replaced the hustle and bustle of people and machinery that once animated the city. Time was no longer measured with the hands of a clock, but by the rise and fall of the sun and the changing of the seasons. A carpet of overgrown grass, weeds, bramble, and trees silently overtook the crumbling city, uprooting and splitting concrete and asphalt. Skyscrapers, once the temples of corporate power and wealth, were now nothing more than monstrous sundials casting their long shadows across the decaying wastelands. Never again would there be such a complex, globe-spanning civilization on Earth.

Haunted for millenia by the legacy of mankind’s fossil fuel binge, roving bands of human survivors were condemned to wander this angry Earth. Only the most physically and mentally fit were able to eke out an existence in an increasingly inhospitable world to pass through the evolutionary bottleneck. They huddled together at night around bonfires and fed the flames with old office furniture and business papers from abandoned buildings. Without electricity, modern medicine, and sanitation systems, life became a short and brutal affair. Nature’s primal forces could no longer be disregarded; their harsh reality sharpened all the senses. Nearly all the technology that had enslaved and anesthetized modern man for so long was now of no use in this neo-medieval world. Megacities were reduced to entropic wastelands, their detritus scavenged by these post-apocalyptic tribes.

Like a rocket disintegrating in mid-flight, capitalist industrial civilization rushed headlong into oblivion, always believing human ingenuity and free markets would solve the mounting number of crises. It turned out humans were extraordinarily clever at deceiving others and, in turn, equally clever at deceiving themselves. They burned the devil’s excrement, split atoms to play with lethal radiation, and tinkered with the building blocks of life, but they never heeded numerous warnings against such folly. Like Icarus who, flying too close to the sun, forgot that his wings were made of wax, humans ignored their earthly origins, believing too much in their own technological infallibility.

A passage from The World Without Us:

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There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.


~ Sara Teasdale

The Global Reality Freak Show

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Post-apocalypse

“Mother nature is a brutal bitch, red in tooth and claw, who destroys what she creates.”
~ Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

The root of the problem

Despite modern man’s unparalleled ability to gather and synthesize mountains of data on climate change and other growing dangers, he is helpless to stop the inevitable and well-worn trajectory that all previous complex societies have followed. This time, however, is different in that the scale of environmental overshoot is planet-wide – the world’s oceans are becoming too acidic to sustain life, the soil too eroded and degraded to grow food, and the atmosphere too polluted with heat-trapping gasses. As the green mantle of the Earth is swallowed up in the geologic blink of an eye, eon-long processes of plant and animal evolution are stopped dead in their tracks. Of all the horrors modern civilization has brought forth, the most damaging and longest-lasting legacy is the wholesale loss of genetic and species diversity. Global ecocide is certain suicide. 

Faith in technology and “free market” capitalism to solve the planet’s ills has already proven to be a very dangerous and faulty belief. Politicians are always looking for easy solutions to complex problems, and they see technology as the mechanism by which to reconcile endless growth on a finite planet. Public Relations and greenwashing are all-pervasive. Science has been privatized to the highest bidder. Essentially, those who are anti-environmental and those who claim to be environmentalists are both proponents of the same omnicidal death machine. One recognizes that fossil fuels are indispensable to industrial civilization while discounting or refuting anthropogenic climate disruption(ACD). The other acknowledges the reality of ACD but falsely believes that “renewable energy technologies” can harmlessly supplant carbon-based energy sources. In both cases, neither can accept that the root of the problem is capitalist industrial civilization. Neither the anti-greens nor the faux environmentalists are willing to give up their globetrotting airline flights, sprawling suburbia and car culture, oversized McMansions, overprocessed fast food, virtual world of cyberspace and all the rest of their energy-intensive, unsustainable way of living:

…This “standard of living” is a product of an alienated society in which consumption for the sake of consumption is the new god. In a grow-or-die economy, production and consumption must keep increasing to prevent economic collapse. This need for growth leads to massive advertising campaigns to indoctrinate people with the capitalist theology that more and more must be consumed to find “happiness” (salvation), producing consumerist attitudes that feed into an already-present tendency to consume in order to compensate for doing boring, pointless work in a hierarchical workplace. Unless a transformation of values occurs that recognises the importance of living as opposed to consuming, the ecological crisis will get worse. It’s impossible to imagine such a radical transformation occurring under capitalism, whose lifeblood is consumption for the sake of consumption…

As Murray Bookchin argues, “If we live in a ‘grow-or-die’ capitalistic society in which accumulation is literally a law of economic survival and competition is the motor of ‘progress,’ anything we have to say about population causing the ecological crisis is basically meaningless. Under such a society the biosphere will eventually be destroyed whether five billion or fifty million people live on the planet” ["The Population Myth" in Which Way for the Ecology Movement?, p. 34]… – link

Civilization is not in of itself evil; the problem lies in how it is organized and functions. Capitalism encourages the unregulated growth of gigantic corporations that exploit the environment and people, create economic disparity, promote hyper-consumerism, and usurp and corrupt governments. In addition to using military might for exploiting foreign resources and pools of labor, capitalism encourage war for the sole purpose of profit, i.e the military industrial complex. It also encourages overpopulation by the gross maldistribution of wealth:

…There is an inverse relationship between per capita income and the fertility rate — as poverty decreases, so do the population rates. When people are ground into the dirt by poverty, education falls, women’s rights decrease, and contraception is less available. Having children then becomes virtually the only creative outlet, with people resting their hopes for a better future in their offspring. Therefore social conditions have a major impact on population growth. In countries with higher economic and cultural levels, population growth soon starts to fall off. Today, for example, much of Europe has seen birth rates fall beyond the national replacement rate. This is the case even in Catholic countries, which one would imagine would have religious factors encouraging large families.

To be clear, we are not saying that overpopulation is not a very serious problem. Obviously, population growth cannot be ignored or solutions put off until capitalism is eliminated. We need to immediately provide better education and access to contraceptives across the planet as well as raising cultural levels and increasing women’s rights in order to combat overpopulation, which only benefits the elite by keeping the cost of labour low in addition to fighting for land reform, union organising and so on. However, the “population explosion” is not a neutral theory, and its invention and continual use is due to its utility to vested interests. We should not be fooled by them into thinking that overpopulation is the main cause of the ecological crisis, as this is a strategy for distracting people from the root-cause of both ecological destruction and population growth: namely, the capitalist economy and hierarchical social relationships it requires. – link

We also discussed this consumption and overpopulation issue in a previous post entitled Overpopulated by Homo Colossus.

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Ferguson is only a small spark before the conflagration

Those communities that are the most discriminated against and disenfranchised will be the first to erupt in violence as the social fabric is stretched to the breaking point. The city of Ferguson, Missouri experienced ‘white flight’ since 1990 which changed its demographics, creating a majority of African-American residents but with whites still dominating the institutions governing the city. The racially charged social unrest in Ferguson has its roots in the rapacious system of capitalism. Several policies and effects of neoliberal capitalism worked to drain wealth and opportunity away from Ferguson: outsourcing of American industry, the housing bubble and credit crunch, and education reform and privatization”. In addition, the militarization of local law enforcement and targeting of African-Americans with fines to fund the police department is another tactic of rogue capitalism preying upon the poor:

    • Emerson Electric, the dominant employer in the area, offshored its production little by little over time to foreign factories with cheap labor.
    • Many African-Americans bought homes in Ferguson during the housing bubble, only to become underwater in their mortgages in the credit crash and Great Recession that followed. As of 2013, 49% of homes in the Ferguson zip code were underwater.

Mortgage lenders targeted predominantly black and Hispanic areas for the highest-risk, highest-cost types of mortgage loans, such as adjustable-rate mortgages and loans with high prepayment penalties. This led to higher-than-average default rates, according to the Housing Commission established by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

The mayor of Ferguson and its all-white city council then collaborated to keep property values low around the historic district for reinvestment and redevelopment.

    • On the basis of its state test scores, the impoverished Normandy School District where Michael Brown attended was declared a failure and its accreditation was pulled by the state. Because of this, Normandy School District was obligated to pay for the transfer of its students to other wealthier schools. (This is one of the schemes of the privatization of education and “school shopping” that the state is using rather than funding and providing resources to these schools.) The costs of student transfer bankrupted Normandy School District, so the state then dissolved the district and created a new one which it exempted from accreditation so that students would no longer be allowed to transfer out to other better-funded schools. The pipeline from such poverty-stricken, failed educational systems to prisons–many of which are for profit–is direct.
    • The militarization of the domestic police force in the U.S. has been occurring for several decades and is in line with the ever-increasing militarism of America’s foreign policy. With the entire globe now treated as a battlefield in the ‘War on Terror’, summary executions can be carried out by remote-controlled drone aircraft. Americans have now joined the ranks of those in South America, the Middle East and the rest of the Third World who have been exploited by the neo-coloniali exploitation of U.S. corporations over the last century. As the economy fails to ‘improve’ and global unrest becomes more frequent, the brutality of a fascist corporate state will reveal itself right here at home in more overt ways. The growing police state in America is the response by those planning to protect their elite positions at the top of the capitalist hierarchy in this corrupt state of ever-widening wealth disparity, resource depletion, and environmental collapse:

…Combat in large cities is central to the military doctrine that is being developed by the US armed forces. This is spelled out in a document entitled “Megacities and the United States Army: Preparing for a complex and uncertain future,” which was released in June by the Army’s Strategic Studies Group and endorsed by its chief of staff, Gen. Raymond Odierno.

Predicting that it is “highly likely that megacities [described as metropolitan areas with populations of more than 10 million] will be the strategic key terrain in any future crisis that requires U.S. military intervention,” the report reveals that the Pentagon has conducted “case studies” and “field work” in preparation for such interventions in: Dhaka, Bangladesh; Lagos, Nigeria; Bangkok, Thailand; Mexico City, Mexico, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil … and New York City.

Describing the conditions that it anticipates will require US military intervention, the report warns, “As inequality between rich and poor increases … Stagnation will coexist with unprecedented development, as slums and shanty towns rapidly expand alongside modern high-rises. This is the urban future.”

“Radical income disparity,” is further described as the foremost “driver of instability” in these far-flung urban areas.

In other words, the Pentagon brass is seeking to prepare the US military for directly counterrevolutionary interventions aimed at quelling popular revolts that it sees as the inevitable consequence of the unprecedented social inequality created by world capitalism in crisis… - link

As reported by Cyrano’s Journal Today, the Obama administration’s call to review U.S. government funding of military equipment for local/state police departments is simply a PR ploy to calm the nerves of uneasy Americans. In reality, the U.S. government will work to normalize and standardize the militarization of domestic law enforcement:

…The aim of the Obama administration’s review—beyond being a public relations exercise—will be to cut down on such unprofessional displays and make the use of domestic military police more systematic, widespread and regular. In this it will be similar to the administration’s reviews of its domestic spying programs, each of which has only resulted in the extension of illegal spying by the US intelligence agencies.

Far from acting as a restraining influence on local police departments, the federal government has been the most active facilitator of police militarization. In June, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report entitled “War comes home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” which concluded that “the federal government has justified and encouraged the militarization of local law enforcement.”…

    • To add insult to injury, the Ferguson police made it a practice to feed off the poor by filling its coffers with millions of dollars in fines and court fees that it collected by specifically targeting and harassing African-Americans. I seldom quote ZeroHedge here because it is pro-capitalist and attributes all social and economic problems to Federal Reserve monetary policies rather that correctly placing the blame on the inherent workings of capitalism, but I did read an informative article from them on the scale of poverty that is affecting not only Ferguson, but all major metropolitan areas in the U.S.:

The biggest concern, however, is that Ferguson is merely the canary in the coalmine. According to Brookings, within the nation’s 100 largest metro areasthe number of suburban neighborhoods where more than 20 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line more than doubled between 2000 and 2008-2012. Almost every major metro area saw suburban poverty not only grow during the 2000s but also become more concentrated in high-poverty neighborhoods. By 2008-2012, 38 percent of poor residents in the suburbs lived in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. For poor black residents in those communities, the figure was 53 percent.

A long history of colonialism, slavery, and racism underlies the economic, political, and social disenfranchisement of African-Americans today in communities like Ferguson. Their exploitation has been institutionalized, and thus deemed acceptable.

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We’re just an extra in this global reality freak show

The world certainly appears to becoming much more unstable with Russia and the Ukraine flirting with nuclear war, barbaric decapitations at an all time high in the perpetually destabilized Middle East, the failure of Japan’s ice wall to stop its radioactive clusterfuck fallout, redneck commando wannabes of America’s local police departments running roughshod over those they are sworn to “protect”, the Wall Street Casino Royale reaching all-time highs as average Americans get new lone shark PayDay loans to pay their previous lone shark PayDay loans, and our corporate overlords celebrating even higher profits while paying even less taxes. And while this circus of humanity plays out, both poles continue their meltdown with new outgassings of methane promising to wipe us out with one monstrous belch.

The techno-utopians will continue their crusade to save mankind from himself. The free market fundamentalists will seek comfort in the fantasy that Adam’s Smith’s invisible hand will fix everything. The climate change deniers will continue to rationalize the increasingly destabilized biosphere as a new normal that has happened before. The things we know that should be done to save ourselves are only philosophical narratives running in our head, never to see the light of day. All you can do is watch it all unfold because this reality freak show is global and you’re just an extra in it, whether you want to be or not. After all, I don’t think any of us are completely free from some sort of delusion. If we were, we wouldn’t be human.