Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Revolutions

Julian Assange is incarcerated, by the English. Visa, Mastercard and Pay Pal have prevented us from donating to WikiLeaks. He is not really in jail because of the release of diplomatic cables, but for the sexual misconduct charges in Sweden. It is possible that Mr Assange has been corrupted by power, the power to influence Governments, knowing that both Governments and Corporations are afraid of him; he may have abused that power and hurt women. It is also very convenient, these charges. They don't have to be true. It is not about the truth necessarily. If it happens that three years from now he is exonerated, will justice be served?

Visa, Mastercard and Pay Pal don't give a damn about leaked American Diplomatic cables. No less than the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates doesn't think it's a problem. Many are saying it might be beneficial, showing us that American Diplomats are human, clear eyed and resolute. The attack on Julian Assange is not about diplomatic cables, it is about sensitive Bank of America documents, etc. I have written before about Bank of America's purchase of Merryl Lynch, how Bank of America defrauded America of 30 Billion, how the SEC fined BofA 125 million for this transgression. What will those documents say about that? What will they say about the Federal Reserve bailout? How many banks and corporations received a portion of the trillions of dollars that did not exist, money "conjured" out of the ether, and what do these institutions and the sky gods who control them really think about that?

Clearly, they do not want us to know. Hackers, unite. Bedevil them. Whistle blowers, take courage. America was betrayed and the truth must come out. This is a peaceful revolution - transparency and accountability are the objective; our purpose is to save the Republic from those sky gods who would destroy it.


I was listening to a program on public radio this morning, about the climate change summit in Cancun and the proposed green economy. What is striking to me about the American attitude is, there is an increasing awareness that a change is coming. I hear more and more talk about a green economy. The trouble is, the discussion invariable stands on an assumption that the end of fossil fuels will be nothing more than a blip in the progress of our great Nation. We tend to assume that whatever happens, our standard of living will not fundamentally change.

Make no mistake, the end of fossil fuels is nothing short of a fundamental, broad scale restructuring of the entire culture, of everything we have come to assume as the normal way of things. Take my home State as an example. We have perhaps a million houses in Minnesota, 99% of which were built according to a fossil fuel paradigm. If you do not heat those houses with natural gas, which is generally the case, you must use heating oil, wood or coal. If you don't have access to natural gas, you probably don't have access to heating oil. If we try to heat those homes with wood we will deforest the state in a few years. We could heat those houses with coal, but that will reduce the average lifespan, and radically ratchet-up climate change.

Then there is electricity generated by Nuclear. To heat homes for 300 million Americans? A devil's bargain.

We could rebuild those houses to take advantage of solar energy, and cut our fossil fuel inputs by half or greater. But where the Market is god, that is not going to happen. Our standard of living prevents it. It would cost too much.

That standard of living, by the way, is the most resource intensive standard of living of any culture in the story of the species, by a long shot - as if we can forever and always consume 35% of the worlds resources. Our economy is 70% consumer spending, which is by definition antithetical to the health of the Earth.

Is there a way out of this mess? It entirely depends on whether or not we remember why this Nation was created, whether or not we can restore in ourselves a reverence for the Earth, and a reverence for Life, and whether or not we can accept a less affluent standard of living with dignity and grace.


There was an officer of the law at my front door yesterday. For all the talk about the ugly reputation of the Minneapolis Police Department, I have yet to meet an officer I didn't like. This officer was at my door to inform me that someone had broken into my next-door neighbor's house. Whoever it was, they kicked in the back door at five in the afternoon. Brazen. There have been several burglaries in my neighborhood, which is not what you would consider a high-crime neighborhood. I probably should have run down that white dude who tried to steal my garden tools, last Fall.

I expect more of that. The richest country in the story of the species, under the sway of the Market inspired ethic of Every Man for Himself. What is happening to the Republic? Wealth is increasingly aggregated at the peak of the social hierarchy, which is to say, the richest are getting a whole lot richer. The way in which these men (mostly) sustain and increase their wealth does not necessarily entail the creation of jobs. They generate their wealth through opaque financial schemes that depend on individual and institutional debt. In 2008, there was a recession. In 2009, there were 58 new billionaires in America. In some ways, the more indebted the Republic becomes, the richer these men become.

"Republicans" genuflecting at their feet. Obama caving in. He is no strategist. He could have forced the "Republican" party to choose between protecting the middle class and these sky gods whose self-interest supersedes the health of the Republic. But then, self-interest superseding the health of the Earth and the health of the Republic is the American Way, these days. "Republicans" are saying we are all in this together. We are all Americans. Don't believe it. When you start hearing sky gods demanding to pay more in taxes, with the requirement that government spending is cut across the spectrum, so we can reduce the debt, then you can believe it. Expect it. Demand it. Americans.

I make a point of thanking every officer I meet for their service. But service is not a thing reserved for officers of the law, or the military. Service is a thing we all can aspire to. The health of a Republic depends upon it. The health of the Earth depends upon it. It will be fundamental to the viability of the species, in the face of increasing resource and energy constraints, if we hope not to destroy ourselves in the transition to a so-called "green" economy, which is to say, to an economy that is healthier for the Earth and for people.

We are in the midst of a revolution, whether we want to admit that or not. It doesn't have to be a violent one. It shouldn't be. But it will be, if we fight to maintain a standard of living that is so energy and resource intensive. If we choose that path, there will be no limit to the pain.

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