"Balance" by Chicana Muralist Judy Baca (used by permission)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Apocalypse No! Part 6: The Tower: Breaking the Death Grip of Profit and Power

Apocalypse No! Part 6: The Tower: Breaking the Death Grip of Profit and Power

By Juan Santos

If we don't take action now
We settle for nothing later
We'll settle for nothing now
And we'll settle for nothing later

- Rage Against the Machine -

“When the confluence of events described in this article occurs, it
will be very difficult to maintain order and control in our society
and the world. Once the stun of reality wears off, the bonds of
social order will be loosened. Authority and power, as they are
today, will be at risk. For those who hold power and authority, these
will be turbulent, dangerous times that our rulers believe will
require strong laws and the use of strong police power. For the many
of us who have neither power nor authority, this will be a time when
our own community and ingenuity and will to survive will be tested.
We will be tested as much by the times to come as by the control
mechanisms that will be imposed upon us in response to them.”

- Zbignew Zingh -

“I cannot stand by while the world is destroyed, and I see no hope of reform. This is true whether we talk about the lack of realistic possibility of psychological or social reform, or whether we talk about the structural impossibilities of civilization ( which requires the importation of resources) ever being sustainable. And, really, think about it for a moment. This culture is changing the climate – changing the climate – and those in power are doing nothing to stop it. In fact they’re burning more oil each year than the year before. If changing the climate is not enough to make them change their ways, nothing will. Nothing. Not petitions, not letters, not votes, not the purchase of hemp hackysacks. Not visualizations. Not sending them love. Nothing. They will not change. They must be stopped. Through any means necessary. We’re talking about the life of the planet. They must be stopped.”

- Derrick Jensen -

It is worse than anything I can imagine, to be so alone, in a practical sense, almost entirely in the absence of a living community, so alone in being willing to face the meaning of this Time and to prepare for the devastation that awaits. The title of a famous science fiction novel by Harlan Ellison almost captures the feeling: I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream. But that’s not quite it. I have a voice. I am whispering, reasoning, incanting, pleading, screaming - but you have no ears. I’m not telling you “We’re all going to die!” Of course, we’re all going to die. That’s not news. The news is that billions of us are going to die more or less at once. The dying is going to start Soon.

Not that the official story can be believed- not at all- but there is a reason that the image of the jet slamming and melting into a cloud of smoke against the second of the Twin Towers has become the image of our decade.

It’s because we’re all going down together. There’s a pilot on this plane who knows the trajectory, and who is hell bent on the ecstasy of impact. There are madmen with him who will kill anyone who tries to stop it.

It’s like a nightmare. The pilot is Bush, the mad terrorists with him are the police - enforcers of every description, from the ghetto streets to Guantanamo – the building is Earth, and I imagine myself with a group of passengers – with practice you can spot the type in a glance - people who imagine themselves immortal and immune - who cannot really think of death - or who are so brainwashed with the automatic fear of authority – any authority, however illegitimate, that breaking the shell of benumbed passivity, even to grasp the reality of the situation, much less to act in response to it, is far beyond their capacity or potential. They have no ears, but I cannot act alone and succeed. There are only minutes to spare.

They have no ears and I must scream.

All of these people - pilot, guards, and passengers – are killing the world in the most literal sense, taking ecosystems and economic systems past the point of no return. The meltdown is happening faster than anyone predicted – not only the meltdown of the Arctic – which didn’t wait to collapse for the quarter-century scientists supposed it would, but the economic meltdown hasn’t waited either - it’s on us now, as well. It didn’t wait for the impacts of peak oil, the way we imagined. Bush and company collapsed it early, just like they collapsed the Towers.

As a child, Bush used to put firecrackers in the mouths of frogs, light the fuse, throw them up in the air, and blow their heads off. Even now, he can’t wait for the thing to blow. The man has the same psychology as the suicide bombers he’s obsessed with, except that he lacks the courage to blow himself up, and except that he’s not desperate and crazed from oppression and occupation, but, rather, by whatever terror drove him to splatter frog’s blood through the air as a kid. Please, don’t take it wrong. The man is perfect. Bush is the poem to white America’s prose, the metaphor that completes the American anthem. He’s the walking Revelation of the nature of the American Beast.

The problem is not the man; it’s the psyche of a nation, a civilization. He’s not to blame as a lone individual, and being rid of him would change little, in any immediate way, one way or another. It’s just that he’s terribly ill and in his illness he’s become the perfect storm trooper for the perfect storm, the perfect conductor for the screeching finale of the New American Century, the Final Emperor, the perfect terrorist for the ultimate target – the entirety of Life on Earth.

His sabotage of the Bali accords is just his latest frog. Before that it was the threat of world war against Iran, based on his lies about a nuclear weapons program there, and before that it was the lies about Iraq, also centered on “weapons of mass destruction” and “terrorism.” He used “terrorism” as an excuse to drop white phosphorous bombs on Fallujah, bombs that blackened, burned, and literally melted down the faces of innocent children there. They, too were Bush’s frogs, and so are the inmates of Guantanamo, and all those he’s disappeared and tortured – each “rendered,” just as he rendered the frogs into tiny, headless, bleeding, pulsing husks. His sickness is not his alone; it’s the American sickness, the sickness of the “civilized,” with its mask stripped down to the bone, down to the headless, shattered spine.

Bush is not alone. In America, frogs don’t matter, Life doesn’t matter. The coming extinction of a million species doesn’t matter. Just search Google News under “Global Warming.” You’ll still see headlines saying global warming is a “hoax.” What’s the big deal, after all, about a little firecracker and a frog? And, even though their lives are literally at stake in the matter, people stand for it. There’s a truism among public opinion pollsters and market researchers – that what you don’t reject you accept. And almost no one says a word – or, rather, we’re getting nothing but talk and more talk. Almost no one is doing anything real to stop this. Not even the end of the world seems to stop the trance of business as usual, the business of terror, abuse and death. Some of us even call the trance being “spiritual.”

One way or another, we’ve been hypnotized into going along with it, We’ve even been hypnotized, by now, into imagining that global warming is everyone’s fault, the fault of the wealthy and the poor alike; just as if the destruction of the topsoil brought on by the cotton plantations of the Old South were equally the fault of the African slave and the European slave master.

But it’s not like that. It’s time to drop such illusions. Here in California, the statistics prove otherwise. Almost all of the greenhouse gases come from industries owned and operated by the wealthy, for the wealthy, and which profit no one but the wealthy. You would think in California- the world’s fifth largest economy and the most car-dependant place on Earth – that the sources of greenhouse gases would be omnipresent, but they’re not. Exhaustive research by the California Air Quality Board has pinpointed a mere 800 sources that, by themselves, produce 94% of the state’s greenhouse emissions - 800 large industrial facilities.

According to the L.A. Times, these industries include “electric generators and marketers, oil refineries and cement plants -- any industrial outlet that emits more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and other gases each year.” In California, at least, it’s known with certainty exactly who is killing the world, exactly who is “profiting at the expense of all life” as the traditional Hopi elders put it. We know exactly what industries to target, and why. We know exactly where to apply the leverage to force them to stop, and we must do so by every means possible, if there is to be a future for Life on this planet. That said, Exxon Mobile, the world’s largest oil company, a corporation that has spent huge sums funding global warming deniers, is the single largest source of global warming gases in the world. Its operations alone account for the production of 5% of such gases on a global scale. All of these operations must be radically curbed, or better yet, they must cease entirely.

Since the production of global warming gases is so heavily skewed toward industry, even in car-dependant California, what, then, is the case in places like New York, Boston, Atlanta, London or Paris, places where mass transportation is either serviceable or ubiquitous? Or in the Third World, where cars are scarce? Who – exactly who – really profits at the expense of all life? (Certainly it’s the common people in post-communist China. Following the coup by the infamous capitalist roader Deng Xiao Ping, China has been turned into little more than a massive sweatshop for the West.)

The future of Life depends on finding these answers, and on terminating the ability – at the source - of these people to destroy us.

Not that this alone would let us off of the hook - the entirety of capitalist culture – including patterns of mass consumption in the West - will have to be radically transformed on a planetary scale, and it will have to be transformed or be eradicated very quickly indeed, if Life on Earth is to remain in any way viable for humans, much less for the million species that the industrialists will slaughter in the next 45 years to maintain their death grip on production, profit and power. Responsibility is a meaningless concept if it is not accompanied by the power to choose and to act in decisive ways. In capitalist societies only the capitalist has such power, and thus only the capitalist class has primary responsibility for the devastation of the world.

The working person and the “consumer” have no alternative, there are no choices to choose among, and no means available to create alternatives. The means of production, including means of producing alternatives, are monopolized by the capitalist and imperial classes, and remain unavailable to us - they are not, by definition, under capitalism, socialized. We have no power over them, nothing like any direct control of the distribution and application of the available resources that would allow us to make the social choice to create alternative sources of energy, nothing like direct control over whether we want to engage in the kind of massive biofuels program the capitalists are now pushing, nothing like control over whether Brazil, for example, goes in that direction under the US whip, and nothing like control over whether Brazilians and others around the globe starve en masse as a result. The only real alternative we have is whether to continue to live under such a system, or whether to risk our lives to overcome it. It’s a life or death choice, and one that cannot be evaded, in the final analysis. In the final analysis, we face life or death as a planet. No one can escape the decisions we face.

As Richard K. Moore wrote recently:

Only when you have reached that deep level of hopelessness, where you see no avenue of escape, can you clear your mind enough to begin to see where the real problem lies. The real problem lies, my friends, in the fact that you and I have nothing to say about how our societies are run. Any one of us has more sense than the people who are running things, and we certainly have our fellow beings more at heart. Our problem lies in our own powerlessness, leaving power in the hands of those who always abuse it, in one way or another, in one age after another.

Our challenge as a sentient species, and our response if we seek to do anything about the growth-thru-genocide agenda, is to begin to empower ourselves, us ordinary people, without reference to the useless political process. How to pursue our empowerment must be the aim of our investigations, and pursuing that empowerment must be the point of our activism."

There’s not much time left before we slam into the Tower. It’s immensely dangerous that the first of the shocks we’re in for, economic collapse- a recession or depression - is widely predicted, even in the mainstream press around the globe, for 2008, G.W. Bush’s last official year in office ( On January 8, 2008, in fact, the BBC declared “Recession in the US 'has arrived'”)

Here in the US, and perhaps around the world, the conditions will be ripe for the imposition of what Naomi Klein has called The Shock Doctrine. In the U.S. there is a real likelihood that the massive stripping away of democratic rights that has been formalized in law since 9-1-1 will be used to impose a system of fascistic control that goes far beyond a mere formality of law, and that the Bush regime will spring into vicious practice with the declaration of national emergencies, mass incarceration, and sweeping economic changes reminiscent of the torture state in Chile that followed the coup by Augusto Pinochet in 1973. It would be a fool’s game to assume that Bush and company, having laid the legal foundations for fascism following the “shock” of the Towers episode, would be reluctant to implement the laws they’ve emplaced outside the barbed wire gates of Guantanamo, given the opportunity presented by an even deeper shock.

Almost everyone, including capitalist cheerleader Al Gore in his speech at the Bali conference on global warming, has been counting on the 2008 US elections to rid the world of the Bush gang. The delegates to that conference staked the future of the Earth on that notion, thanks to Gore’s speech, striking a “compromise” on global warming that assumed that Bush would soon be gone and replaced with more moderate imperialists.

But if Bush uses the Defense Authorization Act of 2006, for example, to impose fascist rule in the wake of an economic collapse in the short term, the idea of peaceful regime change in the US may prove to be nothing but a fantasy. Not only might formal democracy and formal democratic rights die in the U.S., but a sudden turn to open fascism in the U.S would mean a green light to similar moves by US client states on a global scale and radically increase the dangers of global war. In either case, business as usual efforts – such as they are - to mitigate the impacts of global warming could sink in a pile of rubble, and put every living being and every form of life on the planet in an even more extreme peril than we already face.

The world can’t wait, Life can’t wait. If Bush and company take the final step, if they cross the line into open fascism, it’s going to be a hell of a fight - literally a fight for all Life - a fight to the death, either our death or the system’s death. Either their insane drive for production, power, and profits come first, or our lives, the lives of our children, and the lives of the animals comes first. In such a scenario, there is no other possible outcome. One side is going to win, and one side is going to lose. There is no negotiating. Bush himself has said this way of life is not negotiable. There is no win-win to be had. However it’s fought, there is only win- lose or lose-lose. If the wealthy and their system win, then we all lose - the rich included. If they win, we all die. If we win, they too, will have a chance at life, but not, any longer, as systematic destroyers, abusers, profiteers, nouveau fascists and mass killers. Not even as killers of frogs. They will lose that power. They must lose that power.

Now, one way or another, the game is over.

Notwithstanding the possibility of a few survivors, and a slender hope of rebirth and a renewal of the Earth in the far future if we fail now to really change the world, there is no longer any other way out.


Prairyearth said...

Thank you Juan for speaking what many think, but are to afraid to say on their own. My heart agrees with what you have spoken.

I love butterflies and birds, children and animals, water and the humble blades of grass, fireflies and yes, even frogs. I love life.

You are correct, "the world can't wait. Life can't wait." Our planet is in the greatest peril it's ever known.

We must continue to battle for our Mother Earth and all life.


jonet said...

Im grateful for the article post. s12888 Really thank you! Want more.

gabriel said...

It as nearly impossible to find experienced people about this topic, s128 apk but you sound like you know what you are talking about! Thanks