Voting 'Yes' on Nov. 5th Will Be a Step, a Big Step, in the Organic Food Direction.

Saw a TV ad from Washington State, it was funded by the forces of evil, slick and full of lies. BigAg is dumping million$ into defeating mandatory GMO-Labeling in Wash. Those same forces are following the same strategy they did on Prop 37 because it worked and because the labeling issue is integral to the future direction of agriculture.

On Nov. 5th the folks in Washington have an opportunity to punch BigAg in the nose. The 'Yes' campaign, ahead in the polls and hearts, is far behind when it comes to raising money. The 'Yes' campaign website is full of excellent info. about how/why erecting a STOP sign in Washington is important and doable.

In other parts of the world things more encouraging than here in North America. There are 64 countries with mandatory labeling laws according to the 'Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Laws Map'. This past week saw Hungary take a stand against GMO crops with a total ban and Russia announced it may ban import of products containing genetically modified organisms. The US and Canadian governments are gambling with America’s food future and security. The consequences of industrial agriculture are contributing to destruction of the biosphere and endangering humanity. Hungary should be a “role model” for other countries in the world!

Industrial Ag triggers a devastating web of pollution but without GMOs many other parts of the web would have room to adjust. As a 40 year multinational, multidisciplinary, peer reviewed study said, "If farmers could stop planting GMOs, and make the transition to organic farming, farm and ranch land would become a significant sink or sequestration pool for greenhouse gasses, literally sucking excess greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and sequestering them safely in the soil, where they belong."

We have the technology to save the planet. By abolishing industrial factory farms and GMO crop cultivation and making a Great Transition back to carbon ranching and organic farming, we could potentially sequester 100 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and bring the CO2 level back down to the safe level of 350 ppm. Organic farms produce more food, more jobs and higher incomes than industrial monocultures. Mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity and increasing food security can thus go hand in hand.
Voting 'Yes' on Nov. 5th will be a step, a big step, in that direction.


The IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), is a Great Rorschach Test, Results: 'Believing is Seeing'

The release of IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) a couple days ago provided a nearly perfect scenario to test the 'beauty in the eye of the beholder' hypothesis. Turns out the IPCC's Summary for Policymakers is a great Rorschach test. Those folks who agree with the vast majority of the scientific community and the basic global warming theory automatically click on, read and agree with stories like this one from Canada's 'TheStar'. Contrarian folks slide on over to places like another Canadian 'news' outlet. 'SunNews' to read and agree with its perspective on the report.

As Walter Cronkite said every night, "And that's the way it is...", especially in the connected now, a person can live and learn from within a silo of agreement, no need for messy questions from those who disagree. The silos allow folks to follow the echo and hide from a larger issue. Global warming and climate change are just a symptom of the much broader diseases that our environment faces. The psychotic human diseases of materialism and conspicuous consumption are at the root of all of our environment's problems of which global warming is one.

Somehow though the broad environmental movement lost its way when it allowed CO2 pollution driven global warming to become the 'issue'. Environmentalists fell into the trap of mistaking a symptom for the disease, well maybe they got pushed a little too by the opinions on Easy Street. .Nonetheless, confusing the definitions of symptoms and diseases has led the broader environmental movement into a dead end of endless debate between believers in opposite worldviews. This confusion has allowed the entire environmental debate, which should be about the broader causes of the disease, to be hijacked by one narrow controversial issue - the role of human CO2 production in today's observed climate change.

Jorge Majfud wrote, "Trying to reduce environmental pollution without reducing consumerism is like combating drug trafficking without reducing the drug addiction." It's important to notice that Majfud refers to the broad issue of environmental pollution, not just to global warming. There is un-debate-able empirical evidence of so many depredations the bio-sphere has suffered at the hands of the consumer culture we should be focusing on as our proof on the interconnected-ness of the causes instead of debating the significance of .1 degreeC per decade.

There's two great articles here and here about the changes happening around us every moment. There's new stories like them all the time that confirm the effects of extractive capitalism's widespread destruction in pursuit of profit, profit earned by fulfilling the demands of the demanders, those very same folks that silo thinking suits so well.

Searching any of the issues on list below will show that though fossil fuels and global warming are part of the disease created by the demands of the consumer culture they aren't alone or even the most immediately catastrophic. Only when the focus shifts back to the causes, back to consumerism, will there be even a slim chance of meaningful change for the broad environment.

1. Contamination of Drinking Water
2. Water Pollution
3. Soil Contamination
4. Wildlife Conservation
5. Air pollution
6. Biological pollutants
7. Carbon footprint
8. Climate change and global warming
9. Consumerism
10. Dams.
11. Ecosystem destruction
12. Energy conservation
13. Fishing and over-fishing.
14. Food safety
15. Genetic engineering including GMO foods.
16. Industrial farming
17. Land degradation, desertification and soil and land pollution.
18. Urban sprawl and habitat destruction
19. Logging and deforestation
20. Mining pollution including toxic emissions and heavy metals.
21. Nanotechnology
22. human induced 'natural' disasters
23. Nuclear issues
24. Other pollution issues like light light pollution and noise pollution
25. Overpopulation
26. Ozone depletion
27. Resource depletion
28. Non-Sustainable communities
29. Human introduced toxins - a long list
30. Waste such as litter, landfills, incineration, marine debris...


The Un-Exceptional US Empire Is, Like Every Wounded Beast, Now More Dangerous Than Ever

America's claim to exceptionalism is far from unique, every totalitarian, every imperialist wannbe has used the same pathetic crap to justify murderous actions since the dawn of history. Not that long ago, during the 1930's, an odd little Austrian character was running around Germany telling the world how extra special his nation and its Volk were. He proceeded to massacre millions all the while insisting that Germany and the Aryans were extra, extra special. They weren't.

The British thought themselves exceptional, the French, the Spanish, the Czarists, the Turks, the Romans, the Greeks, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Inca, the Maya, and many more...all used the same twisted logic, usually in conjunction with being anointed by their imaginary, invisible god as special, to justify their actions as a rogue state to conquer and murder.

Many others, including Russian president Putin who wrote in his N.Y. Times op-ed  'A Plea for Caution From Russia' that, ”It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation." We've definitely stepped through the looking glass when Putin begins to sound and act like a stalwart of progressivism. Another very insightful article that looks closely at the truth of Amerika's culture instead of it's uber-patriotic bullshit and that includes some easy to understand graphs is 'The Real American Exceptionalism'

Perhaps one day the psychiatric community will diagnose exceptionalism, American and others, as the dangerous mental disease that it is. Perhaps one day the delusion of imperial exceptionalism will be seen, like the delusion of religious exceptionalism that it is an offspring of, as selfish and dangerous nonsense.

Until then it's important to remember that for 67 years successive US governments have resisted calls to reform the UN security council. Eighty-three times the US has exercised its veto. On 42 of these occasions it has done so to prevent Israel's treatment of the Palestinians being censured. On the last occasion, 130 nations supported the resolution but Barack Obama spiked it. Looming over all this is the great unmentionable: the cover the US provides for Israel's weapons of mass destruction.

Chemical weapons treaty wise: In 1997 the US agreed to decommission the 31,000 tonnes of sarin, VX, mustard gas and other agents it possessed within 10 years. In 1998 the Clinton administration pushed a law through Congress which forbade international weapons inspectors from taking samples of chemicals in the US and allowed the president to refuse unannounced inspections.In 2007 it requested the maximum extension of the deadline permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention – five years. Again it failed to keep its promise, and in 2012 it claimed they would be gone by 2021.

Usage wise: The US used millions of gallons of chemical weapons in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. More recently they've poisoned Iraq for generations to come with thousands of tons of depleted uranium. They used white phosphorus on civilians in the battle of Fallujah.

The Empire, like every wounded beast, is more dangerous than ever. Drone murders, NSA spying, the black eye they received from the world community about Syria, the Iraq and Afghan wars, the banking debacle, even the corporate spawned global environmental catastrophe are all spears thrown by the world's war weary and poverty stricken at the belly of the beast. One day it will collapse as every other empire in history has. Meanwhile the wounded beast is more dangerous than ever.


Happiness Formula - Hard+Work = the Thrill of Victory, Credit+Debt = the Agony of Defeat

As Edward Abbey said, “If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: That was the American dream.” Like many of Abbey's words, these too get truer as time marches on.

Many folks are re-discovering the simple formula: Hard+Work=the Thrill of Victory Nothing beats hands on, mud under your fingernails, gardening when it comes to hard work and the thrill of reaping what you've sown into the ground you've sweated over preparing, then weeded occasionally, fretted over occasionally and are now carrying up to the kitchen to feed to your family. It is the highest high i've ever known.

Another formula Abbey's quote also illustrates is that:Credit+Debt=the Agony of Defeat. There is an incredible bounty of healthy food and triumphant feelings to be had but the fact is that it also takes incredible ingenuity to find good land that can be gardened/farmed without incurring massive debt to buy it. It's a dilemma, to live Abbey's American Dream means finding a way around a massive mortgage so that each step forward isn't undermined by debt's demands.

There are tried and true solutions from bank robbery to indentured servitude that have at certain times in certain places worked to allow some folks to avoid the dilemma of debt's demands, one that's gaining popularity globally is the Land Trust. A Land Trust is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to the long-term protection of natural and/or cultural heritage. A land trust may own land itself, or it may enter into conservation covenants with property owners to protect or restore natural or heritage features on the owner’s land.

Everywhere, including here in BC, different groups are evolving ways for the older generation to pass on their land to younger, stronger folks in exchange for the older folks enjoying their remaining years through supported living on the farm. A covenant that's a sorta new-wave indentured servitude eh. There's no doubt that as many of us baby-boomers will be forced into making the type of choice that, if the banker's advice is heeded, leads inevitably to the next generation on the horns of the debt demands dilemma.

Maybe one day the Land Trust concept will combine with the local food movement in a collaborative effort to build a more locally based, self-reliant food economy to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of our communities. They could be part of the solution to the corporate control of local purchasing and local economies. Nothing is more local than your backyard though. It takes zero carbon emissions to turn over the garden beds in preparation for fall.

Right now it's just past the fall equinox, time of the harvest moon and garlic planting. For me re-planting the garlic each fall is a positive postulate, a statement, supported by the work needed to prep the area as part of the yearly rotation of the garden.After saving of some the best bulbs from the mid-July's harvest for re-planting, this fall's work will bear fruit again next mid-summer - Victory Through Vegetables


Turn On-define the problem, Tune In-study its roots, Drop Out-of the cycle causing it

At this time in history the Evil Empire is impervious to change via the imaginary process called democracy and, because of its global police state structure, equally unassailable by traditional revolution. But there is another way and Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN is again showing us that way. In his recent series of essays, 'Us and Them', Marcos points out the very real Achilles heal of extractive capitalism when he says that the real danger the empire faces is from "Those who look to the other side, who leave the mold, or break it, or ignore it."

Getting to the point of being able to ignore the empire is a process and Timothy Leary's advice to 'Turn on, Tune In and Dropout is still good advice about how to proceed. The process is ontological and must occur for our species and many others to survive.

Fortunately many folks worldwide, maybe even the majority, have 'turned on' to the fact that our world isn't going in a good direction. The process whereby folks educate themselves to the reality of and reasons for our current state is the 'tuned in' part. By 'tuning in' to the cause of this global dis-ease many folks already see that the broad environment is deteriorating due to the strain put on it by conspicuous consumption, greed and the cancerous growth of materialism shared by liberals and conservatives - two disciples of Mammon who share the same upwardly mobile creed.

At this point, folks having used their intellect to 'turn on', then 'tune in', can use their new found awareness to act. As i said above, the empire is invulnerable to either democratic change or violent revolution, but it is vulnerable to folks ignoring it, it can be undermined by non-participation, by folks simply 'dopping out'.

Folks can't adopt an alternative strategy, especially one as revolutionary as living a life of voluntary simplicity, of becoming a dropout, without first grocking to the fact there is a problem, without then learning the causes of that problem. Without this understanding the anti-materialist point of view (which I share) falls on deaf ears. With it, it's POP GOES THE WEASELs, capitalism itself is seen as the biggest bubble. With it living a life of voluntary simplicity until the collapse becomes the 'way', with it folks become Green Dragons.

The website 'Collapse of Industrial Civilization' always offers interesting articles that educate and inspire folks tuning into the roots of our problems, i highly recommend it. Check out 'Armageddon Nervous-The Apocalypso Song' from there below.


Over 90% of Global Warming is in the Oceans Not Surface Temp. as Contrarian Articles Contend

Focusing on surface air temperatures misses more than 90% of the overall warming of the planet

In advance of the upcoming release of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) the mainstream media is awash in confusing articles about the reality of continued global warming. Contrarian organizations like The Cato Institute have recently published articles like 'The IPCC AR5 Is in Real Trouble' which have then been exaggerated and re-published over and over again by the drooling right-wing media in the hope that their audience of investors will...well continue investing and the consumers will keep consuming now that their consciences are a bit cleaner.

Every one of these contrarian articles focuses on the fact there has been a “pause” in global warming. The "summary for policymakers" that the Mail on Sunday cites, states that the world is warming at a rate of 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade since 1951, compared to a prediction of 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade since 1997. The error in that argument involves ignoring over 90% percent of the warming of the planet, most of which goes into heating the oceans. When we account for all of the data, global warming actually appears to be accelerating.

An excellent example of how this mis-information amplifies with each iteration can be understood by comparing David Rose's article in the ultra-conservative tabloid Mail a few days ago with the reaction by actual climate scientists as they take the Mail on Sunday to task at The Carbon Brief. The 'summary for policymakers' of the yet to be released AR5 report that the Mail on Sunday uses as its source states that the world is warming at a rate of 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade since 1951, compared to a prediction of 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade in their last assessment published in 2007. Remember, this overestimated .01 degree Celsius is in global mean surface temperature and 98% of the energy being trapped is going into the ocean.

As The Mud Report said some months ago this 17 year surface temp. pause is meaningless because well over 90% of Global warming happens in the oceans. As everyone who follows this blog knows i'm no fan of the IPCC itself due to the overly political nature of its process. Nor am i a fan of climate modeling in general due to their exclusion of all but the simplest criteria. But as Skeptical Science says, "Let's get real.  Global warming is (still) happening.  Humans are causing it [at least some proportion of it-ed.].  If we don't do something to stop it, the consequences are going to be very bad.  So let's stop looking for distractions and excuses to delay action, and get on with solving the problem, before we run out of time."

Of course solving the problem is another huge and very complicated matter that The Mud Report has focused on many times [and will again in the near future]. Certainly there will be plenty of disagreement with the AR5 as its 4 stages are released over the next year or so. And certainly there could be black swan events or new discoveries that totally change global warming science, but a discrepancy of .01 degree Celsius in global surface temperature isn't either a black swan or a huge discovery no matter how hard the bloviated capitalist press tries to spin it into one.

The IPCC's  Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)  will consist of three Working Group (WG) Reports and a Synthesis Report, to be completed and released in 2013 and 2014:
WG I: The Physical Science Basis – mid September 2013
WG II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability – mid March 2014
WG III: Mitigation of Climate Change – early April 2014
AR5 Synthesis Report (SYR) – October 2014


Living Simply Leads to Action Based on Personal Responsibility - the Opposite of Materialistic Desire

This morning's emails included an inspirational essay by Ben Croser titled 'This has got to be the Nadir of Materialism'. It was sent by an old friend and Mud Report reader named Jeff. He and i have been exchanging emails often lately about the consumerism and materialism and their deleterious effects on the world. The heart felt anti-materialism essay posted on Guy McPherson's website 'Nature Bats Last' included the paragraph below which wonderfully sums up those emails:

"Materialism dominates our world view, our cosmological view, if not every individual, then a vast majority, and all the nodes of institutional legitimacy and power to such a degree, Materialism dominates such that we accept the most horrendous abuses to ourselves, or the greater underclasses within cultures, and our planet, all in the name of supplying an ugly over-abundance and sheer terror of waste, resulting in a cascade of pollution, species and ecosystem loss, and the extreme dehumanisation, and dishonour of Homo sapiens."

As i said to Jeff in my reply, i used to go to Guy McPherson's site often and i agree with him that economic collapse as the only realistic way out of the self-imposed blinders of materialism that have led us to consume the very essence of what makes this a wonder-filled life. Many of us realize the odds of humans rejecting this material madness through awareness are very slim, but, IMO they aren't zero.

In the essay Croser quotes Chris Hedges saying that "the modern Adam Smith dictum that at the core of our being is self interest". IMO, in not defining how the materialistic paradigm hides our real self interest Smith and Hedges are mistaken. For us to find our way out of this madness we must re-realize what our self interest really is. We must each realize that consumerism and materialism lead only to wanting and desiring more.

Over 2,500 years ago a young man named Siddhārtha Gautama Shakyamuni, or simply 'the enlightened one' realized, after much inner reflection, that all suffering is rooted in this unquenchable desire. Siddhārtha, now called the Buddha, realized that living simply is the way to happiness and fulfillment, that materialism and desire are the way to suffering.

Gautama was a simple human just like you and i who found the way and in so doing showed us that we can too. The Buddha taught us that we can find the way to peace and happiness. That Nirvana, is everywhere and that living simply is the road to it. Living simply leads to action based on personal responsibility which is the opposite of materialism IMO. Breath deeply, tend your garden, marvel in the wonder-filled world, be happy and peaceful.


Will Obama Attack Syria After Losing House of Rep. Vote? Or Turn to the International Criminal Court?

The usually arrogant, egotistical, glib Obama looks more tired and weak every day now that he can feel the walls of the corner he has himself backed into. His bluff has been called, he and his pawns have been spinning what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism” across the US and around the globe but it isn't working. The faster he and they spin the stronger the opposition grows. The US Senate may or may not support Obama but as FireDogLake's Whip Count shows the House, all of whose members face elections every two years, will overwhelmingly vote against attacking Syria.

Total Vote Count Last Updated: September 6, 1:35 p.m:
Firm Yea: 29   Lean Yea: 31
Lean Nay: 128   Firm Nay: 105

The illegality of a US attack on Syria is clear. The UN Charter prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of political independence of any state.” The UN Security Council has not authorized an action. Congress has not declared war or even passed a use-of-force resolution, the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Treaty of Paris both outlaw war as a means of settling disputes and the Nuremberg Charter forbids planning any war of aggression.

Further, as Dennis Kucinich's article 'Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria' there are many unanswered questions about the 'intelligence' that Obama is using to support his rush to war. There are other options, legal options under international law, but they are being ignored by the war-mongers in Washington and their lackeys.

Of course speculations about why Obama is pushing so hard instead of pursuing charges against Assad at the International Criminal Court run rampant on the Internet. IMO a good place to start looking is their own illegal drone murders of innocents, kidnapping and indefinite detention, warrant-less spying at home and abroad, Gitmo, refusal to get rid of its own stockpile of banned weapons, etc. In reality the US doesn't have a moral leg to stand on in response to any use chemical weapons of such by Syria.

For one thing U.S. policy appears to be that while it is legitimate for its allies Israel and Egypt to have chemical weapons Syria must not. Remember that Egypt used phosgene and mustard gas in the mid-1960s during its intervention in Yemen’s civil war without a whimper from the US or its lackeys. Then there's the fact that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention by inspecting laboratories, factories, and arsenals, and oversees the destruction of chemical weapons is prohibited from inspecting the US's facilities.

The Middle East has a long and sordid history of chemical weapon usage. The first country to use them in the Middle East was Great Britain in 1920, as part of its efforts to put down a rebellion by Iraqi tribesmen when British forces seized the country following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Then during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s the Iraqis used banned chemical agents supplied by the US to kill 20,000 Iranian soldiers and cause tens of thousands of long-term injuries when US 'intelligence' told Saddam where the Iranian troops were. Saddam went on, in 1988 in the northern Iraqi city of Halabja, to massacre up to 5,000 Kurdish civilians with those same chemical weapons provided by the US. The United States continued sending aid to Iraq even after the regime’s use of poison gas was confirmed.

Then there's napalm, another chemical weapon the US had no qualms about using extensively for years in Vietnam. And don't forget that the US is the only country ever to use the ultimate weapon of mass destruction - atomic bombs - against the civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The US has gone from being that 'shining city on the hill' to losing all credibility and becoming the most hated, feared and distrusted country on earth in my lifetime. Obama could perhaps turn global opinion somewhat if he were to listen to the opposition then, after losing the vote in the House of Representatives, climb down and press for charges at the International Criminal Court. Further he could announce a huge relief effort for the two million Syrian refugees and set an example by destroying the US's huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weaponry then calling on Russia, Israel, Egypt, Iran, Britain, etc. to follow suit.


Real Conservation is a Heresy That Threatens the Core Beliefs of Consumer Capitalism

“Workers of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!”- The Communist Manifesto, 1848

The most thought provoking article i ran into yesterday - Labour Day - about the gestalt of the 99% was written by Gary Engler, vice-president of CEP Local 2000 and the co-author a new book titled 'The New Commune-ist Manifesto — Workers of the World It Really is Time to Unite'. Engler's article, 'Work Is Undervalued in Society’s Obsession with ‘Stuff’ asks, Why is there so much attention paid to people as consumers, but so little to people as workers? Is it because the mere mention of our rights as workers suggests uncomfortable truths that threaten the very ideological foundations of the current economic system?

IMO, the framing of this second question unfairly limits the range of answers because the only ideas or opinions on every issue that are given a turn at the mainstream media's microphone are those that don't "threaten the very ideological foundations of the current economic system". The doctrine of neo-liberalism, like all belief systems, fears heresy above all. Why? Because once a person thoroughly believes in a doctrine, every question must be answered by that doctrine's dogma, everything he or she sees, everything that happens is a manifestation of the doctrine's 'truth'. Neo-liberals see the 'free market' as the solution to everything because it's a core 'truth' that can't be changed or even challenged without the whole house of cards tumbling down.

Accepting the imaginary 'free market' belief system mandates that a person defines themselves within the doctrine's terms of reference. By neo-liberal definition we are all consumers. This imaginary 'free market' is of course bullshit as both the original Communist Manifesto written in 1848 and Engler's newer version points out. The 'free market' flimflam is the problem not the solution. it takes real wealth away from workers and all other parts of nature and gives it to a the elites. The 'free market' doesn't create jobs it replaces workers with machines [inappropriate technology] financed by the banks. The imaginary 'free market' steals worker's wealth as it devalues their hard earned wages by making them equal with fiat currency and interest created out of thin air by banks.

Abraham Lincoln pointed out in his first state of the union address, "The real makers are the many ground-level workers who actually do the making. Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." Today those common sense ideas of Lincoln's wouldn't be given access to the microphone because they overturn the imaginary neo-liberal applecart.

When Engler goes on to say, "Even some unions become complicit in this alienation, focusing exclusively on squeezing out more money, in essence agreeing that what really counts is consuming. Instead, workers and their unions must learn to dream bigger. We must learn to demand more than simply being able to buy more stuff." he approaches the boundary of what's culturally acceptable by liberal and conservative alike, wanting less .

Consider this simple thought experiment: What would happen if everyone were to suddenly embrace a Gandhian ethic of voluntary simplicity? Commerce would contract; jobs would vanish; pension funds would lose value; tax revenues would shrivel, and so would government services. The result would be a deep, long-lasting economic depression, a collapse.

"As all economists know, a decline in consumer spending, confidence, and optimism, can plunge an economy into recession. This entirely uncontroversial view is one step away from its categorical version which turns out to be the foundation of liberal economics: that not only can a lack of demand cause a recession, the lack of demand—when considered in its broadest sense--is really the ONLY thing that could cause an economic recession or slow down." - Erik Lindberg

Those most heretical ideas of - wanting less, consuming less, real conservation of the biosphere we are embedded in - turn out to be the only ones that can save us from the imaginary neo-liberal 'free market' belief system that is consuming the earth and our identity. Those who find solace by conforming to the safety of any belief system should read Jared Diamond's Collapse, and weep.


Labour Day Grew From a Great Vision of What 'The Power of the People' Could Be...But

As E. J. Dionne said, "The union movement has traditionally espoused a set of values—solidarity being the most important, the sense that each should look out for the interests of all. From this followed commitments to mutual assistance, to a rough-and-ready sense of equality, to a disdain for elitism, and to a belief that democracy and individual rights did not stop at the plant gate or the office reception room. Dionne goes on to say that, "these values are increasingly foreign to American culture".

Woke up today, Labour Day, wondering: Where did these values go? In those first semi-conscious moments it seemed like i was watching/listening to the great ghosts of North America's labor/labour movement's long history roll over in their graves. An ethereal Eugene Debs, a committed American union leader and one of the founding members of the Wobblies [the IWW - Industrial Workers of the World] upon seeing the sorry state of today's labor movement moaned that "even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over ... and being kicked".

Labour Day grew from radical roots. No one told the story better than Howard Zinn author of 'A People's History of the United States'. Though Zinn's masterpiece focuses on the US it's Canada's history too. Canadian authorities of that time were challenged by the Knights of Labor [and others], which organized not just the skilled trades, but all workers, including women. Pierre Berton's grandfather, Phillips Thompson, was a Knight of Labor and in his book, 'The Politics of Labor', published in 1887, he warned "capitalism is a wrong, an usurpation, and a growing menace to popular freedom." Thompson further pointed out that "the poverty of the many is caused by the unearned, and therefore stolen, wealth of the few."

In those days before the labor movement had been co-opted by the elites and transformed into another special interest group the movement offered an alternative vision to today's consumer capitalist mono-culture. As Abraham Lincoln said his first state of the union address, "The real makers are the many ground-level workers who actually do the making. Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

When i left college in the early days of 1969 labor organizing was what i dreamed would be my little part in the great global fight of the workers of the world to unite because, as Marx said, they "had nothing to lose but their chains". It took about 5 years and being an activist in 3 different unions to extinguish that flame.

Even by then, the early 70s, the majority of union members never considered the wider community a priority, above all they valued their own material advancement. For instance in every negotiation the bosses side offered a choice between job security and wage increases as they neared completion. Time and again i rose at union meetings to explain that the wage increases would be paid for by the job losses of the most junior workers which would only impoverish the greater community. In addition i'd argue that the work those junior workers did would eventually be done by inappropriate technology - machinery - which would be financed by the bankers thus enriching the elites by impoverishing their fellow workers and the broader community. Finally, attempting to appeal to their self-interest, i argued that each of them would suffer the same fate sooner or later as they became the most junior members and became vulnerable to this insidious logic. Inevitably, the majority of members were more interested in buying a bigger boat or? and voted for the raise.

The labor movement and the working classes lost much of their clout during that era when they voluntarily chose to embrace their chains when they accepted defined contribution pension plans and eagerly bought into the RRSPs and 401k flimflams. From that day forward the proletariat began to believe that they had a stake in the system that was actually enslaving them.

Today, Labour Day 2013, the share of income which goes to corporate profit is the highest it’s been since they started tracking it in 1929, while the share going to people – as salary and wages – is the lowest. Today we've become a fast food culture, while the many track their meager slice of the 'market', the banksters are running things as they have been for hundreds of years.

Labour Day grew from a great vision of what the power of the people could be. Ah, but we were smarter then, we're dumber than that now.