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Just last week the US congress passed through the American Clean Energy and Security Act, with 219 people (211of whom where democrats) voting for the act and 212 (168 of whom where republican) voted against the bill. The Bill, does many things- from increasing funding for “green energy developments”, the expansion of “weatherization programs, and most controversially the implementation of a “cap-and-trade program.” Not surprisingly the majority of Republicans and business groups are opposed to the law while most liberals support it. The liberal left will tell you that Cap and trade is a good first step towards substantive climate change. This sort of incrementalism, which is the mantra of the liberal left is meant to be a “first step” towards a more comprehensive climate policy and I mean, honestly, isn’t something (no matter how small and inconsequential) better than nothing? Of course, left support for the law is not universal- for one GreenPeace has come about against the bill, as they rightly see Cap and Trade as a “false solution” to climate change.
So what is wrong with Cap and Trade? Why should we as environmentalist, revolutionary ones at that, be opposed to such legislation?
Of course, the cap-and-trade program that the US congress is pushing for will do little, if anything, to address the impending climate crisis. At its best cap-and-trade will be nothing more than accounting magic- having no impact on limiting real carbon emission but making the world a better place on paper. In fact this might be the intended goal of cap-and-trade. Like most “market mechanism” attempts at policy, cap-and-trade intends to provide capitalist an incentive to cut carbon emissions efficiently and effectively while not “harming” the economy in any measurable way (unlike what Republican’s claim- the odds are Cap and Trade will make a few people really rich, and have little impact on “consumers.”). This of course does nothing to address the root sources of climate change- over consumption, dependence on cheap fossil fuels, and rampant global inequalities, i.e.., capitalism. In fact, instead of undermining capitalism, over consumption, etc, cap-and-trade commodifies the carbon emissions, making just another way for capitalists to profit from the destruction of the earth.
Instead of Cap-and-trade, what we need is a real climate proposal one that doesn’t cut C02 by 5% in 10 years, if at all, but one that really does cut c02 by 80% by 2050. Anything less than that will be meaningless, and of course the longer we wait the more we have to cut immediately. Anything less than this will do nothing more than remove short-term liberal guilt about consumption and increase governmental control over the economy and regulation on every day life.
As anarchist’s we need to really think through our politics and try to foment a way to address climate change, cut c02 but also weaken the power of the state. Right now all ‘solutions” to climate change require the expansion of federal government power and the extension of world governmental authority. This is one of the critiques of the policy by “conservatives’ (ala Glenn Beck) but their critique has more to do with regulation of the economic sphere, but they do have a point. Expanding the federal governments power to regulate the economy, might be a worthwhile goal to some, but as anarchists we need to be suspicious. Can we expand governmental powers in the name of confronting climate change? Is there a way to push the state towards its end by expanding its power?
The issue is expressed rather well in The Coming Insurrection. The anonomous author(s) write:
“Managing the phasing out of nuclear power, excess C02 in the atmosphere, melting glaciers, hurricanes, epidemics, global overpopulation, erosion of the soil, mass extinction of living species…this will be our burden. They tell us, “everyone must do their part,” if we want to save our beautiful model of civilization. We have to consumer less to be able to keep consuming. We have to produce organically to keep producing. We have to control ourselves to go on controlling. This is the logic of a world straining to maintain itself while giving itself an air of historical rupture. This is how they would like to convince us to partipate in the great industrial challenges of this century. (pg. 78)”
So, the newest issue of Green Theory and Praxis has come out. Its a great looking issue with articles from Greta Gaard, Samuel Fassbinder , a book review from my friend Quin and me. I have an article on the ELF that I would love comments back from. So please let me know what you think of the article and please get a hold of me if you want to write a book review.
Notice of Publication:
Please be advised of the recent publication of Volume 4, No. 2 of Green Theory & Praxis: The Journal of Ecopedagogy (ISSN 1941-0948 / DOI: 10.3903/gtp). This peer-reviewed journal is dedicated to research at the transformative nexus of ecological politics and culture, critical theory and sustainability education. We are always looking for essays, reviews and other materials. Visit our homepage: http://greentheoryandpraxis.org/.
The current issue is online at:
Table of Contents
Richard Kahn pp. i-ii
Why the George Lakoff and Mark Johnson Theory of Metaphor is Inadequate for Addressing Cultural Issues Related to the Ecological Crises
C. A. Bowers pp. 1-10
Toward an Ecopedagogy of Children’s Environmental Literature
Greta Gaard pp. 11-24
Just War and Warrior Activists
Lisa Kemmerer pp. 25-49
Understanding the Ideology of the Earth Liberation Front
Sean Parson pp. 50-66
Being Sentient and Sentient Being: The Animal Rights Movement and Interspecies Boundaries
John C. Alessio pp. 67-86
Capitalist Discipline and Ecological Discipline
Samuel Day Fassbinder pp. 87-101
The Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place, by Greta Gaard (2007)
quin aaron shakra pp. 102-105
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revoution, and How It Can Renew America, by Thomas L. Friedman (2008)
Samuel Day Fassbinder pp. 106-110
Rural Literacies, by Kim Donehower, Charlotte Hogg, Eileen E. Schell (2007)
Wanda Baxter pp. 111-114
Rural Voices: Place Conscious Education and the Teaching of Writing, edited by Robert E. Brooke (2003)
Fred Waage pp. 115-118
Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics, by Timothy Morton (2007)
Antony Adolf pp. 119-120
Retrieving Nature: Education for a Post-Humanist Age, by Michael Bonnett (2004)
John Bruni pp. 121-123
Deliberative Environmental Politics: Democracy and Ecological Rationality, by Walter F. Baber and Robert V. Bartlett (2005)
Richard Besel pp. 124-126
The Greening of Southie, by Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, Dir. Ian Cheney (2008)
Brandon Tauscher pp. 127-132
ASLE 2008 (Association for the Study of Literature in the Environment), Edinburgh
Mary Been pp. 133-136
Richard Kahn, Ph.D. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Green Theory & Praxis: The Journal of Ecopedagogy
The Greek anarchists are still at it- making today the fifth straight day of insurrection. I wanted to give a heads up to the best blog I have found regarding the Greek insurrection. Check it out. Its an amazing source of eye-witness sources. In addition, indymedia has a lot of great information about Greece as well.
Anyone have any ideas what folks outside of Greece can do to support the resistance? It seems that Greece consulates across the world are being protested or occupied. The only one on the west coast, that I know of, is in San Francisco. Anyone know if stuff is happening there? I have no idea what I can do from Eugene other then cheer them on. Also, anyone know any other good blogs to check out?
Long time no post….. Oh well.
There are some really cool things going on in Greece lately. It seems that the anarchist youth there have started rioting and the rioting is reaching its third day. Fuck ya! I am not the biggest fan of a politics of pure destruction but destruction is a needed phase for any revolutionary politics. We have to destroy the old order in order for the new one to flourish.
I would love to find out more info about the grassroot, on the ground, anarchist activism going on in Greece. Anyone know about that stuff? I am sure that they have developed a strong inf0shop/social center scene, I am sure that they have a thriving squatter movement, etc. I wonder what they are doing differently though, because it appears that the Greek anarchists are currently the numerous, organized and really militant. I really just do not know much else about their politics. I would love to see this sort of development in the US.
For folks who want more info:
George Carlin, the greatest contemporary social critic, died last night. Instead of writing a bunch for him, I am going to let his own material cover all that. Below is a piece he wrote after his wife died in 1997. It is a great reminder of all that is important in life- something that only loss seems to bring up.
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Well, remember George in a way that he would like- listen to his stuff, get angry, and do what you can to change this fucked up culture and world we live in. George, you will be greatly missed!
On location at USC (1977)
George Carlin: Again (1978)
Carlin at Carnegie (1982)
Carlin on Campus (1984)
Playin’ With your Head (1986)
What am I doing in New Jersey (1988)
Doin’ It Again (1990)
Jammin’ in New York (1992)
Back in Town (1996)
You are all Diseased (1999)
Complaints and Greivances (2001)
Life is worth loosing (2005)
George Carlin: Narcotics Anonymous World (2005)
How is it that a culture that so proudly proclaims mental health a moral failing has so many people on depression, bi-polar, ADD/ADHD, erectile dysfunction, and other “mental health” medications? How can being “mentally ill”- depressed, bi-polar, schizophrenic, ETC- be considered abnormal if a majority, or at least a sizable plurality suffers these debilitating diseases? What are the foundations of these “illnesses?” Are they a natural part of human existence? Is the recent epidemic a bi-product of post-capitalist production and consumption (Delueze and Guattiari)? The result of a morally repressive culture (Sigmund Freud)? Or a constant state of PTSD that resulted from our splintering from the natural world (Chellis Glendenning)?
I have no answer for the causes of “mental illness”, and it is very likely and probable that there are multiple causes.
I am going to try to work through my nascent understanding of mental health, depression, and American culture and claim that it has emerged as an epidemic from the destruction of community relations and the sense of loss and feelings of isolation that serve as foundational component of American culture and capitalism.
This thesis is nothing new and is built up from the theories of Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.
First off, the basis of western culture is the belief in a body/mind dualism- in which the two are separate and treated unequally. In this worldview, the mind serves the same role that a captain does on the ship. The mind is responsible for steering the ship, for deciding its course, and for keeping things together. The mind does not experience the world in the same way that the body does; the experiences of the material are mediated through your sense of touch, smell, sight, and hearing. For anyone who has lived in the real world it is obvious that these two are not separate and that what happens to your mind impacts your body and what impacts your body greatly affects your mental well-being.
Coming from this dualism though, illnesses of the body are given priority- they can be mended- while “disease” of the mind are the responsibility of the individual. We mend broken bones; we treat for cancers and other “life threatening” diseases; but we never examine mental health with the same concern and enthusiasm. For much of western history those with depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, etc where seen as being the result of morally weakness and spiritual deficiencies.
American culture- a culture that emphasizes individualism, self-sufficiency, and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps (which is something that is physically impossible but that might say more about the American dream then does any sociological research agenda)- compounds the body mind dualism as does the culturally constructed gender roles and rampant consumerism that people are forced to live with. By isolating individuals into atomized selves, destroying the basis of community that has sustained human life for hundreds of thousands- if not millions- of years, and then creating normative definitions of success, masculinity, and happiness that are all rooted in financial and material success. American culture both looks down and marginalizes those who fail -mental, physical, but often financially- and diffuses any societal imperative to help. Forced into an artificial feeling of aloneness and believing that you are to blame for your feelings we all come to internalize our psychosis. If you are poor and unable to pay rent you feel depressed and pathetic. You have failed to meet societies assumptions for success- you are not wealthy. Likewise, if you are a wealthy CEO you still feel isolated and alone. You have everything that society claims is needed for happiness- money- but you still feel like slitting your wrists. How do you deal with the situation in either case? You consume. If its good for General Motors its good for you.
When you feel hollow inside, devoid of any sense of worth or joy, the simplest way to create a feeling of happiness in this culture is to consume, even if that happiness is fleeting. Why is that? There are many reasons but one important one is that consumptions and consumerism are the only way to feel apart of any greater community. If I get the cool shoes I will be a part of something, same if I see that new hit movie, or have a nice car. In America one of the only things we feel we all have in common are the material objects/commodities in our lives. The easiest way of removing the feeling of aloneness and to connect with others in this culture is to consume.
Maybe we realize that we are trading our labor (in the form of money) for some one else’s labor. In this way, at least subconsciously, we have at some relationships- between producer and consumer, between costumer and consumer, between worker and work. At the same time, as a consumer, I have a relationship with all other consumers. I can talk about the newest video game with people and feel a sense of connection, or I can join a Hummer fan group discuss the awesomeness of my brand new H2.
In addition, we place in those objects a relationship that is unhealthy and unnatural; the commodity becomes a surrogate for interpersonal bonds. Anyone who has ever collected something- from comics, to stamps, to coke products- you will know the sense of accomplishment you feel when you expand or complete a collection. This relationship with material objects takes the place of interpersonal human relationships. I feel the same joy, if not more, when I get that latest comic, or complete my collection of 19th century French stamps, or buy a new car as I do when I hangout with my friends or make love with someone I cherish. These cheap consumer goods become a repository for my sense of yearning and desire for relationships.
Some of you might say, well I am not alone: I have a family who loves me, a wonderful committed partner, or a loving dog or cat. I ask you this in response? Does the addition of one more person remove this feeling of being alone? Does it replace the loss of a community (both animal and human) that has sustained human life for the vast majority of its existence? I contend that marriage, partnerships, families and even friendships do not replace this feeling of loss. These relationships instead become nothing more then another form of consumption. We cling to relationships and to individuals in much the same way that the stamp collector clings to his stamps. This is not universally true, but is commonly the case. Some people- both those in monogamous and in polyamorous relationships- have found a way to be happy but in most cases marriage, partnerships, and families do not free us from the unhealthy happiness of consumerism but instead exacerbate the problem. You often turn to buying ones love from another; fearing that without them you are alone, and that only material gifts will make them happy and stay with you. This is why even though proclaim our love for others from hilltops, in front of priests, and on state issued documents current conceptions of family and friends does nothing to replace the loss of community.
Finally, the medical answer to most mental healthy problems in the United States is through consumptions as well. Do you not sleep at night? Do you feel anxious? Do you sometimes have a hard time getting an erection? If so take this pill. It will remove your sense of longing, make you numb to your surroundings, and most importantly make the pharmaceutical and psychiatric industries wealthy and successful (therefore they are at least happy?). This does not mean that medication is not an important component to mental health for some people. There are millions for whom these pills have saved their lives and I would never tell someone who has improved their lives through chemistry to stop. Nor do I believe that therapists are evil, misinformed, or make bad choices. Therapists want to help their “patients” and these the fact is that these pills work; they allow an individual to function in society, live, and hopefully address some of their own core psychological problems and improve their life.
What they do not do is confront the root of the problem- a loss of community and a break down of human relationships with each other and the natural world. They do not question the foundational philosophy of capitalism, the state, or civilization, and as Gilles Delueze and Felix Guattari claim psychology does not attempt to free us from our existence as machines; consuming, producing, eating, and fucking machines. They do not try to re-create and re-imagine life, but assume that life is dead and the machine, or at least the cyborg, is all that exists.
One group that is at addressing mental health in a holistic, egalitarian, and radical way is the Icarus Project. They are attempting to “call for new space and freedom for extreme states of consciousness, and alternatives to the medical model and the traumatic legacy of psychiatric abuse” while embracing an openly anti-capitalist, anti-statist, anti-racist, feminist, and non-hierarchal foundation. Instead of calling for increased medicalization of mental health they call for a holistic community sense of healing. Instead of viewing those with bi-polar disorder or depression as being “mentally ill” they question the basic assumption and power dynamics that exist within that assertion. The do not consider anyone to be ” essentially diseased, disordered, broken, faulty, [or] existing within the bounds of DSM-IV diagnosis.” Finally, they embrace an empowering vision of health that includes individual realization and empowerment with a strong sense of community and friendship. The Icarus Project might not have “the” answer to mental health and there is no one answer to this problem. But they are treating people as people- not machines and not as defective humans- and realize that we are all, even those who do not realize it, suffering from life under capitalism and the state. In fact, in a world so fucked up- with colonization being called liberation, with ecocide called progress, and with our strongest emotional connections existing towards characters on TV, the only sane person is the schizophrenic; they are the only one seeing the world for what it is- confused, destructive, irrational, and fake.
Addressing the root problem, as I have laid it out, can never be done through medication, or therapy. The only way to address the root cause of “mental illness” is through the re-creation of communities, the abolition of capitalism and collapse of western civilization and our post-modern existence. It requires a radical re-articulation of what it means to be happy, free, and successful and requires us to re-connect with the natural world and to destroy the body/mind dualism that has plagued western thought since the Greeks. If we, as a species and a culture want to be free we need to address and confront the sources of domestic abuses, exploitative relationships, and interpersonal violence. To do so we need to confront the systemic reasons for depression, schizophrenia, and the general feelings of malaise and hopelessness that are ever present in society. This means more then just revolution, more then just the destruction of the current order- the end to capitalism, religion, and the state- though this is essential. It requires the creation of communities and healthy relationships.
So, I saw on the news a few days ago that there is a mysterious illness that is decimating the bat population in the northeast. The three dominant theories for why are: 1) Climate change is making bats hibernate later and they are too weak and starved to survive, 2) that the spraying to kill mosquitoes and stop the West-Nile virus is causing an illness that is killing them or 3) a fungus has developed due to agricultural toxins that is killing the bats.
This is very important and when you take this into account with the massive bee die off, and the horrible mutations and extinction of frogs. What we have are canaries dying left and right in the coalmine we call civilization. How many more signs to we, as a society, need to see before we start radically rethinking our policies, or politics, and our philosophies? The entire project of modernity is a failure; it needs to be abandoned and it needs to be abandoned ASAP. If we do not I fear that environmental collapse will become inevitable (if it is not already). I do not want this to happen. Every life is valuable, human and non-human, and any collapse will lead to a massive die off of possible 80-90% of the humans on this planet and countless other species.
At least there are more and more signs of resistance every day. The ELF action in Seattle, the bombing of the recruitment center (right on!), the fire-bombings in Greece and riots throughout Paris are all signs that people are having enough and are fighting back. Of course, for ever person who confronts society through active resistance countless others drink themselves to death, kill themselves, shoot up malls or schools, or release their frustration and anger on their children, partners, and friends. It is about time that we realize that the increased school shootings, the spread of mental health problems, and the epidemic of child/partner abuse are a direct result of our separation from the natural world and a direct result of civilizations culture of death. So, if you feel frustrated and depressed by the current world do not take it out on yourself, your children and family, or strangers, focus your rage at the source of the problem (the state, the market, and all components of social control) and look to the ELF, the recruitment bomber, the insurrectionary anarchists in Greece, and the Muslim underclass in Paris as inspirations.
“Built Green? Nope black! McMansions in RCDs r not green. ELF”- Sign at the Fire
So, I have been in the blogging doldrums but I feel that there is finally something worth bringing me out of it. As of early this morning a fire was set in some rich neighborhoods in Seattle. Authorities are claiming that it was set by ELF “activists.” For more info check out Fox News, MSNBC, Local TV, and the Seattle Times. As more comes in, and as I get more time to drink coffee and wake up, I will add some commentary. All I can say now is I loose no tears for multi-million dollar sprawl developments. I hope they all burn down (with no one in them of course).
Bombs and Shield and Green is the New Red have both posted some info/commentary on the ELF action. I also heard that Fox News (the bastion of good reporting) had an hour long special on “Eco-terrrorism” did anyone see this or know a torrent or site that it is hosted on? I would like to see what they say about it and who they interview.
…George Carlin has expressed my views 100% times clearer then I could. So here is my overall opinion on the primary season and should give some evidence to how I am going to (not) vote on election day.