Archive for category Continuing Crisis

Ten Points for a Trade Union Strategy Against Climate Change | The Bullet No. 1039

 The climate struggle is about democratization of the economy and society, redistribution of wealth, the free use of our common knowledge

Ten Points for a Trade Union Strategy Against Climate Change | The Bullet No. 1039.

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More on the People’s Climate March

Here are a few links to article you might want to take a look at concerning the People’s Climate March that was held yesterday, September 21. 

The big question after an event like this is: What happens next? Will this march be a catalyst for change, and if so, what change should we hope for? Are there flaws in the strategy?

So have a look at what others who are asking these questions are saying:

Arun Gupta

 So we have a corporate-designed protest march to support a corporate-dominated world body to implement a corporate policy to counter climate change caused by the corporations of the world, which are located just a few miles away but which will never feel the wrath of the People’s Climate March.
Rather than moaning on the sidelines and venting on Facebook, radicals need to be in the streets. Join the marches and more important the direct actions. Radicals need to ask the difficult questions as to why for the second time in fifteen years has a militant uprising, first Seattle and then Occupy, given way to liberal cooptation. What good is your radical analysis if the NGO sector and Democratic Party fronts kept out-organizing you?

Cory Morningstar

 The oligarchs do not bankroll such a mobilization (via millions of dollars funnelled through foundations) without reason.
There is an agenda. The information that follows makes the agenda very clear and the only thing green about it is the colour of money. The term “green”, in reference to environment is, officially dead.

Lawrence MacDonald 

[on the strategy of “deliberative polling”]


Here is a cheat sheet on how to argue with climate deniers.


Here is a piece from the Wall Street Journal that raises some important (arguable) points. Consider the source (as in every claim in this discussion) but consider the questions, too.


(I may update this post as I find more articles of interest.)

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Lovers

Yesterday, I wrote about the haters. Today, I’d like to say a few words on behalf of the lovers in this world.

As I write these words, my wife, Kellie, my sister-in-law Joan, and my nephew Jackson are all on their way to New York City to raise their voices in support of efforts to deal with our climate change challenges. These challenges are significant, and to handle them it is going to take a concerted effort on the parts of individuals, organizations, institutions, and governments around the world. No small task!

I am very proud of Kellie, Joan, and Jackson. They are taking time out of their busy lives and money out of their own pockets to join in a direct way this struggle for a better world for all of us. They are doing it for love — love of their families, love of their communities, and love of our planet-home. As the t-shirt Joan is wearing today says, Love is the only answer.  And so it is.

So I humbly ask for your prayers for Kellie, Joan, and Jackson, as well as all the other participants today in the People’s Climate March that their day might be peaceful, safe, and fruitful. A simple prayer for well-being is just one way to show them back some love for the love they are showing all of us today. (You can follow the action from a distance on Twitter — @Peoples_Climate and #PeoplesClimate.

I would also ask your prayers for the abolition of ignorance and willful stubbornness and human hybris. For such prayers to be answered, of course, it will take a miracle of epic proportions! But still, I pray and I ask you to do so, also. The abolition of ignorance would mean that those who deny the simple facts of climate chaos (and the real potential for devestating ecological, economic, and political disaster) must get their heads out of the sand, and in many cases, if you will excuse me, out of their asses and face up to these facts. May it please God, let such ignorance and the complicity it engenders to be abolished!

But, like the climate that is being whip-sawed, the solution to climate chaos is complicated. To be frank, it is not just a matter of recycling your newspaper (or of a simple calculation of the environmental costs of print vs. electronic production of newspapers).

First of all, it is a global problem requiring a global solution. As with any change which carries the risk of unintended consequences, no one wants to go first. On the one hand, we all seem to be followers in search of a leader, but on the other we no longer trust leaders. Most sovereign states and not a few individuals refuse to recognize the leadership of others.  In many ways, that is understandable. We tend to think that no one knows any better than anyone else what is going on and what to do about it. We realize that, often, we follow “leaders” at our peril. I am all for that vigilance.

And yet we are sheepish followers in so many other ways that we, ourselves, refuse to recognize or acknowledge. Most of the time we live our lives unreflectively, and we are at the very least uncomfortable with having questions raised about how we live and what we value. Many times, we are violently reactive to such questioning. We think however we live, whatever we desire, and whatsoever we do is natural, and therefore right. Indeed, we fiercely defend our right to do what we do — without considering whether what we do is right or wrong. Fatally, we have lost the very notion of right and wrong, however much we pay lip service to the idea.

These are strong claims. My guess is that you do not like hearing them. You do not believe this pertains to you. You are wrong, though. It pertains to all of us (including me).

The second element to the complexity of finding solutions to climate chaos is capitalism. Capitalism is the root of this evil (indeed, it is the root of many evils). The propaganda of the nation in which I live has brainwashed us citizens into thinking that capitalism is, again, natural, and that there is no viable alternative to it, and in fact all proposed alternatives are evil. All three of these claims are patently false. They are as false as climate chaos is true — factually, demonstrably, plainly visibly true. Only heads in sand or asses cannot see these facts.

No, I take that back. Some people can’t see the truth. Some people won’t see the truth (it’s too uncomfortable). However, there are those who do see the truth but do not want anyone else to see it. Why not? Because the false serves their own selfish (and false) purposes very well. This is the ism part of capitalism at work. Capital — some seed money and tools to create additional convenience, comfort, pleasure, or wealth, is a fine and perhaps necessary thing. Capitalism is not fine, and it is not necessary. As an analogy, science is a fine and necessary thing (“All men by nature desire to know,” says Aristotle in his Metaphysics), but scientism is not a fine thing, and it is not necessary. The trouble with the isms is the same in both cases. Capital and science serve at the pleasure of us human beings, but isms demand that we bow down before them (and those that wield those isms like weapons). The isms claim to be “natural” and answer all questions and solve all problems. But in fact they create problems we never had before. And the “solutions” they offer are really only more problems rebranded in an Orwellian marking ploy as “solutions.” They never offer real solutions because the solutions we need are those that uproot the isms all together.

So I pray that those acts of love today in New York City (and around the world) that are directed at the climate chaos challenge will also sow additional seeds of love that will take root and uproot the stifling miasma of the isms that are killing the planet. Today is also International Peace Day. Let us make peace with the planet as well as with each other. The only way to do that is to bring the freedom back to the fake-free markets of corporate (i.e., fictitious entities) capitalism and to recognize the ignoble lie of infinite desire that is the core of the capitalist system.

To meet the challenge of climate chaos, we must first face the fact that it is real and threatening. Then we must admit that the economic monstrosity that is consuming the globe is at the root of the problem and work to uproot it. But we must go further and reconsider the very notions of work and wealth. Any basic understanding of capitalism includes the idea of the intense pressure for efficiency leading to profit. Efficiency and profit: are these really the goals of our labor? Although they have real world effects, both are abstractions. I pose just two questions for your consideration. First, if you were to enjoy your labor (because you chose it, it is creative, and you reap the benefits of it yourself), why hurry or try to get it over with quicker? Second, why can’t your labor and anything it produces be their own reward? If you can imagine satisfying answers to these questions, you will have rejected central tenets of capitalism. Of course, such satisfying answers would slow the world way down, and life as we currently experience it (if indeed we can catch our breath long enough to experience it) would evaporate. Such a transformation of wage-work into meaningful labor, however radically disruptive such a change would be (and it would be severe!), would very likely contribute to diminishing substantially our climate threats.

Are we willing to do this? I doubt it, quite frankly. Yet I fervently pray we will give it a try and be patient with each other as such change plays itself out. Except for the “one-percenters,” perhaps, we’d all be much happier in days to come.

To find the courage and the resources for such a transformation, you have to look inside yourself. Not the capitalist-consumerist generated fake-self that is a function of the current system, but your true self. And that means finding your true self. And that means finding a way to find your true self. We lack that way, for the most part, and so the prospects for finding our true selves are dim, and thus the solutions we need are unlikely to be immediately forthcoming. That is how hard our problems are!

It is a matter of a certain kind of faith. They say that faith is lacking today, but I disagree. I find that most people today are fervent believers. Alas, the object of their faith is a lie, a false god, an idol. What most of us worship is the beast, the monstrosity of capitalism. And capitalism has no more loyal adherents than those who are religious in the usual sense of that term. I admit, I’ve become seriously disillusioned with the religions (plural) of the world, mainly because of the stupid, mean-spiritied, and violent things they lead so many to do. Religion is conservative in the attenuated sense of that term, meaning only bound to the status quo (“It’s god’s will.”). That’s why capitalism loves religions.

It does not love religion (singular), however, because religion in that sense is not just another consumer good to market and sell or social networking club to join. Religion, in that sense, is about the transcendent, that which cannot be packaged, that which is not for sale. Religion, in that sense, recognizes that there is eternity as well as quarterly accounting statements and daily stock reports, and all makes sense only in terms of the eternal. Religion in this sense is, paradoxically, both a powerful and a weak thing, both a dangerous and a salutary thing. It is powerful in that it drives people who sense the transcendent to live and love not only for themselves and for today. It is weak in that uncontrollable and uncontrolling. It does not lend itself in any necessary way to be wielded as a sword or as surgical knife. And it is therefore dangerous for the same reason: it is easy to be mistaken about it, to think it is something that can be mastered and used for one’s own purpose. Yes, people do use “religion” as a club to beat others, but this weapon is not really religion, which is a weak force. The religions of this world are a masquerade, an often dangerous one. Real religion is salutary. It compels us to find our true selves, to find the real truth and meaning of our lives.

To deal with our climate issues, we will need to recover real religion. We will need to rediscover that we are bound to something that transcends the quotidian concerns of capitalist consumerism, that we are and ought to be in its service and not in the service of the priests of Baal of the current economic system. Because — again paradoxically — to be in the service of a transcendent weak force is to be free indeed; to be in the service of capitalism is to be a slave, watching from our chains as the planet is ever-more rapidly degraded.

So I pray we find this God…or let this God find us willing to be transformed, to have a change of mind and heart. To learn to love our world, our neighbors, and our true selves. That love would be true religion.

But I’m a realist, and it’s hard to be optimistic. If you’re reading this, you’re probably “doing well-enough” — maybe even very well. You look out your window and see the weather looking more or less like it always has (as if weather and climate are synonyms). You can’t or don’t see the problem, so for you there is nothing to fix. This little plea of mine is some left-wing claptrap that Fox News has sufficiently “debunked” for you. If all that’s accurate about you, I can hardly expect you to make changes or even want to make changes. But I say we’re like the frog in the pot of water that is slowly being heated. It’s all good…until it isn’t. But then it will be too late.

So maybe it doesn’t matter to you after all. But take a good look at your kids and your grandkids, and think again. Please. Make a change for love’s sake.

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Haters

I am tired from reading my Facebook stream this morning. For some reason, the cute little baby pictures, amusing jokes, and forest fire updates are being peppered with posts expressing hatred of somebody or another or some group or another. It is so tedious. “Every (fill in the blank) is an evil, untrustworthy, lying terrorist, and all of us (your name here) are good, kind, peace-loving innocent people who would never hurt a fly except when we need to kill the (repeat name in first blank). They definitely have it coming.” These hate-posts practically write themselves.

Now, to make sure there is no hypocrisy or unintended irony here, let me be clear: I do not hate the hate-posters one little bit. Their posts I can do without, but the posters are (for the most part) simply scared little small-minded persons in a world that has been presented to them by the powers that be to be filled with dangerous enemies, enemies that “fortunately” it is very easy to identify. They are the (repeat name in first blank, above). I pity them, really, and that would be the end of it if they were not such an obvious danger to others and even to themselves. It is quite sad.

Are there bad, bad people in the world, people hoping to do bad, bad things to others? You bet! Are “we” (innocent or not) within our rights to try to stop them? Of course. With violence? If necessary (in my opinion…I am not a pure pacifist). But could we please go back to a time (if there ever really was such a time…) to where we believed…indeed, we knew…that these bad, bad people were individuals more than groups and that they were rather rare in the world and that most people — no matter to which group they belonged – were probably just like us, trying to make it through the day?

No, of course we can’t.

Why not, you ask? Because hate has become the fashion. Everybody is working on honing their hating skill set — and they’re doing quite a good job of it, if social media and the news of the world are any indication (and they are).

So I am going to try to tune you out, all you haters, and hope for the best (and expect the worst, of course). And if you would be so kind, please stop posting your hate-stuff on my social media. I like the baby and cat pictures quite a lot, and you are definitely harshing my mellow.

Over and out.

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On the American Empire

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It’s really Revolution Day

[From the archives: first posted July 4, 2011]

Why do we call the upcoming U.S. holiday (holy day?) simply “the 4th of July”? Why don’t we call it “Revolution Day”?

Because God forbid we remember that it is supposed to be a revolution that we’re honoring. Okay, it was a certain kind of a revolution, one that favored the best interests of a certain group of people at the expense of others (one should always ask, cui bono…who benefits?). Still, it was a revolution of sorts, and a world-historical one at that.

What would happen if we really thought about revolution? It is probably too much to ask, to dangerous to consider. I get that, I suppose. I’m comfy…aren’t you?

But here is Tom Paine (from “The American Crisis“), with some updates underlined to ponder:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain [or America], with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us [and any other country it chooses] in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER,” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Ponder that…. I know I got my comfiness pretty cheaply, if truth be told.

See things from a different perspective.

See things from a different perspective.

William Godwin, in hisEnquiry Concerning the Principles of Justice (1793), patiently and at length explains the dangers of government, whose power (as Lord Acton rightly noted) inevitably corrupts. And then Godwin asks what is to be hoped. He answers, speaking here of the juridical power of the state:

The reader has probably anticipated me in the ultimate conclusion, from these remarks. If juries might at length cease to decide and be contented to invite, if force might gradually be withdrawn and reason trusted alone, shall we not one day find that juries themselves and every other species of public institution, may be laid aside as unnecessary? Will not the reasonings of one wise man be as effectual as those of twelve? Will not the competence of one individual to instruct his neighbours be a matter of sufficient notoriety, without the formality of an election? Will there be many vices to correct and much obstinacy to conquer? This is one of the most memorable stages of human improvement. With what delight must every well informed friend of mankind look forward to the auspicious period, the dissolution of political government, of that brute engine, which has been the only perennial cause of the vices of mankind, and which, as has abundantly appeared in the progress of the present work, has mischiefs of various sorts incorporated with its substance, and no otherwise to be removed than by its utter annihilation!

[vol. II, ch. 24]

Thomas Jefferson wrote, in a letter to William S. Smith, Nov. 13, 1787, this famous line (with its subsequent, not-so-famous line attached):

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

In other words, revolution can be good sh#t!

But Jefferson’s metaphor is apt: revolution is not mere destruction. It’s more like horticulture, gardening, growing beautiful & nourishing things. And sometimes in life, for the sake of something better, you’ve got to prune.

Our Founders pruned. But pruning is not a once-and-done deal. Not in gardening, not in political life.

In the lead-up to “Revolution Day,” why need read a little more of Jefferson’s letter to Smith:

I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: & very bad. I do not know which preponderate. What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: & what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life. Wonderful is the effect of impudent & persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independent 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusetts: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen-yard in order. I hope in God this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted.

TJ wasn’t always right, wasn’t always on the side of the angels, was he? Be he has a point here….

[2013 Update – Yesterday, the people of Egypt, via their military, threw off their democratically elected government. That government came about via revolutionary action that through off a dictator and military rule. Revolution is a messy business. I would not presume at this distance to know what is really going on in Egypt, but the papers today said that 30% of the populace back the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, 30% back the old guard, and 40% were tired of both of them. I don’t know why exactly, but that reminds me of our own political situation (simmering at a far cooler temperature, of course). My optimistic take-away from the events in Egypt is that the people, in general, do not like dictators or fascists of any stripe — not the fundamentalists, not the military, not any kind. They realized that just because you have an election it does not necessarily mean you have a democracy. A wise lesson learned.]

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Some Recent Articles & Discussions of Interest to Adjuncts, Philosophers

It is hard to keep up with all the discussions about adjunct/contingent faculty issues in general and the philosophical “marketplace” specifically.  A few recent links:

Adjuncts and Affordable Health Care Provisions

On the “Political Economy of Philosophy Instructions”

Fighting for Non-Tenure Track Faculty (from the Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association)

ICYMI: A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members (June 2012 .pdf)

About Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) as Dating-Services (for employers and potential employees)

 

 

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