Monthly Archives: December 2019

Emanuel's study in McLean, Virginia

Here are the walls around the desk where I do most of my work in McLean, Virginia, these days.

(from upper left) Photo with my mother Marie-Louise Rouff, my friend Neil Katkov, and my friend Eric Marler, summer of 2003. Historical entry for Zhu Yun of the Han Dynasty, photo of me sitting with Yu Hui-seok (유희석) and Chung Byong-sol (정병설) at a cafe across from Yonsei University for a discussion about literary theory in 1996, photo of Benjamin building a boat at Houghton Academy (2017), and poster for Daejeon, Korea, that I designed in 2010.

(Top) calligraphy of Seolsong, the greatest calligrapher in Daejeon reads “these is a great treasury in a book” (书有金屋) (bottom from left) photo of me walking in Mt. Auburn Cemetary taken by Eric Marler (1993), quote from the Analects “If the nation loses its way, wealth and status are something to be ashamed of,” The original design I made for a poster for Buam-dong district in Seoul where we lived for five years from 2016 (with photo of me and Rachel), text from the Analects on the “rectification of names,” phrase from Analects, “Virtue is never alone; there will always be those nearby” (includes a recent sketch).

Close-up of Daejeon poster and picture from Mount Auburn Cemetary.

Emanuel Pastreich on North Korea Worker's Party statement ("By All Means Necessary") Dec. 30.

Emanuel Pastreich on significance of Kim Jong Un’s comments at North Korea Worker’s Party Conference

“By All Means Necessary”

North Korea Analysis from minute 29

(from minute 29)

Jacquie Luqman and Sean Blackmon are joined by Emanuel Pastreich, Founder and Director of The Asia Institute to talk about Kim Jong-un’s statements at a Worker’s Party leadership meeting in the DPRK over the weekend, the shared interests of North and South Korea in reaching a peace treaty, the lack of expertise exhibited by the Trump administration in their negotiations with the DPRK, and the ripple effect of US/DPRK nuclear talks on the northeast Asia region.

"Climate change and the future of security for the United States" speech

“Climate change and the future of security for the United States”

Emanuel Pastreich

Director

The Asia Institute

As I pen these words, I am tempted to double my dosage of anti-psychotic medication. After all, I wake up every morning to what seems to be a normal world. I have a cup of coffee with friends at Peet’s Coffee, I attend thoughtful seminars near K Street and then I read newspapers and books that describe what appears to be a normal and functional world. But when I go home at night and look at my email, all I see are dire reports about the death of the oceans, the rapidly increasing temperatures in Australia and the Artic, and the melting of the permafrost releasing carbon setting off a positive cycle that is anything but “positive.”

I am left scratching my head. Could it be that we face a security crisis on a scale unprecedented in human history and that, at the same time, the vast number of people who ride the Metro into Washington D.C. with me each morning, many of who work on “security,” are unable to conceive of a solution to this overwhelming crisis, and many of them treat the topic of global warming as a taboo subject not to be raised in polite company?

Part of the problem is that the shifts in our society, and in our civilization, that are necessary if we are to be able to identify climate change as the primary security threat for humanity, and respond, are so enormous that they overwhelm everyone. I include myself as one overwhelmed; I am not without sin and I am not qualified to cast the first stone.

But I will cast the first stone anyway.

Much of the battle against climate change has to do with values: frugality, conservation, and the pursuit of a spiritually meaningful life that does not compel us to use more than we absolutely need. We must return to that pre-consumer, pre-industrial, life. But we can only get there through the development of communities, by working with our hands. We will never get there with solar panels or smart cities.

The current threat of climate change cannot be responded with any specific technology or strategy. We must embrace the values of the Iroquois Nation. Like them, we must think about how our actions will impact those seven generations in the future. That shift in our culture, demanded by national security, will completely upend everything we have ever been taught about growth, development and success.

The essential question will be, If we are brave enough to march into battle, will we be brave enough to face the truth of climate change, and then speak about it with everyone.

What is the military’s role?

Although the primary response to climate change must start with a shift in our thinking and in our civilization, the military will be critical because we have so little time.

But if the military is to play a key role, that role cannot be simply a matter of fighter planes dropping seedlings, or infantry men planting trees when they are not training. No. We must have the bravery to completely transform the military, to change its very function. That step may be even harder for many than walking into battle.

Let me introduce a few rather controversial ideas that will help us to get thinking about this crisis.

Did I say that we do not have much time?

Remember that the US military as it stands today is one of the greatest polluters in the world, whether it is the emissions of fighter planes, aircraft carriers, and tanks, the dumps for toxic chemicals, or our contaminated bases around the world. The current situation is grim.

Moreover, the military is tasked with securing fossil fuels around the globe, thereby promoting our terminal addiction to petroleum, natural gas and coal.

It may sound odd to some, but seizing and protecting fossil fuels was not the intended role for the military.

Many have made the argument, especially on the left, that we should simply shut down the military, shut down all of those polluting weapons, close down all bases and then throw all that money at the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change.

That argument is not without merit if we consider the scale of the current climate crisis, which now threatens human extinction. Or, to be more precise, you may not be extinct, but you are going to wish you were.

But this argument misses two critical points.

First, the military is not going to simply disappear, fade away; its members will not give up all those jobs and those big budgets. There is a whole “ecosystem” of contractors, subcontractors and sub-sub-contractors who will literally fight to the death to keep their snouts in that wide and deep trough.

Therefore, the only meaningful way to focus those funds and that expertise on climate change is to transform the role of the military (which is possible) no to ask the military to disappear (we will go extinct before that happens).

If what we call the “military” was an organization that was committed to dealing directly with mitigation and adaptation regionally and globally, its budget would be just about right.

We have seen the first steps towards confronting climate change over the last ten years, especially in the Pacific Command (less so the Indo-Pacific Command) including large-scale projects to develop electric batteries, promote conservation and efficiency and to increase awareness of climate change. Some of those efforts continue today, in spite of fossil fuel interests controlling the executive branch. But the argument about climate change advanced in seminars on security and military issues in Washington D.C., is one for a limited concept of its impact.

Military experts talk about the impact of rising seas on US military bases, the implications of a changing environment for the conduct of military operations. The conclusion is that we will need to upgrade facilities around the world and plan carefully future bases and weapons systems so as to take into account climate change. 

In addition, there is much discussion about how climate change acts as a multiplier, exacerbating conflicts over water, food, and other natural resources around the world. The nightmare scenarios sketched out by military planners echo the conflicts resulting from climate change limned by Christian Parenti in his landmark book Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011).

The emerging consensus on the need for a transformation of the military is described by Michael Klare in his book All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change. The awareness of the problem is broad, but the military paradigm remains unaltered.  Klare notes that officers are “proceeding in their efforts to prepare for combat on a climate-altered planet” but the book offers no suggestion that the military has a plan to end climate change, or even reduce it.

The sad truth is that we have not even started the real conversation on climate change in the military. The assumption is that climate change will impact military actions but the same weapons will be used and the same sorts of conflicts will take place—only more frequently. The possibility that the very nature of security will be altered (that we must so completely reinvent the military and that weapons will no longer be the primary tool) is not even being considered.

But it is possible, even necessary, to imagine a complete transformation of the military whereby mitigation and adaptation become the primary role. The military should be transformed so that it is focused on the rapid restructuring of the US economy, under orders to make sure that the use of fossil fuels ends as quickly as possible and enforcing a reduction in consumption overall.    

Or, might it be possible for the military to take the lead in bringing justice to our society and to our economy by rapidly transforming the very economic and industrial system that we rely on? Whereas much of the military does the bidding of fossil fuel corporations today, securing oil fields or natural gas wells, and protecting sheiks and their hangers on, enough bravery and imagination could make the opposite the case.

Or it could be that the military will be the part of the government which apprehends the owners of fossil fuel companies, the criminals who have conspired to promote dangerous substances like petroleum and coal, and then rendered us addicted to them for our daily lives in the manner of drug kingpins? Fossil fuel interests knew about the dangers to the atmosphere of emissions in the 1960s but hid those facts from the public. They paid (and still pay) phony “experts” to lie to Congress, and to the American people, about the dangers of those substances. 

Such criminal offenses would mean, for you or for me, that our assets would be seized and we would be thrown in jail. If the Justice Department cannot find a way to prosecute and imprison those fossil fuel shareholders, perhaps the special forces can do so—much as John Brown set out to end a similar crime of cheap energy at a hidden human price: slavery.  Once the military has those executives all in jail, and those ill-gotten wealth is directed towards recovery of the climate, once all their  lobbyists and experts silenced, then, and only then, can we have a debate on climate policy.

There are tremendous dangers involved in unleashing of the military to solve things. We should not fool ourselves and we should also expect any miracles. However, we need to be realistic. We must brace for an extremely painful period when the willingness to risk one’s life is going to be a significant commodity.

We also do not have much of a choice.

The role of the military in American society will continue to increase, whether we like it or not. The legislative and the executive have become so corrupt, and so dysfunctional, the toys of the super-rich and multinational banks, that they are losing the ability to govern. The military is not untouched by this culture of decadence; vast sums are wasted on useless weapons systems and officers see their highest loyalty to be towards the military contractors who will offer them retirement packages. But many of those who actually run the military, as opposed to those who profit, are still capable of planning and governance.

We must to assume that the unprecedented military budget of $738 billion (plus much spending not disclosed) stipulated by the 2019 National Defensive Authorization Act will permanently alter the nature of governance in the United States, perhaps rendering the military the only part of the Federal government that is able to carry out its mission, in light of the ruthless cuts elsewhere.

In the long term, we create a healthier, and more peaceful, government that focuses on the needs of the people. But we will get nowhere if we do not first face the reality of increasing domestic and international chaos and the relative stability (and capacity for long-term planning) within the military.

There is another point to remember before we dismiss the military as a risk, a monster searching for wars to justify its budget.

There are parts of the military’s culture that will be essential to any meaningful response to climate change. Turning the tide in this battle against indulgence, greed and ruthless exploitation is going to take extreme bravery. Speaking the truth to power about climate change, mobilizing in the face of adversity, creating and implementing strategies, along with culture that will bind together groups of people committed to this project—these are tasks that a military is best capable of carrying out.

The dire situation for the climate will require that we transform the economy rapidly and completely. We need more than a functional government, which we do not have now. If we can get real leadership in place, the military could say that the country will not be using any more petroleum eight months from now, that all buildings will be fully insulated in a year, and then it can proceed to implement that order for the entire nation. The military, if completely revamped, if subject to a rigorous housecleaning, could set up a fifty-year plan for adaptation along the coasts to respond to rising oceans.

Only a militarized economy can undertake a transformation and scientists tell us that such a mobilization is necessary for human survival. It is, to be blunt, a no-brainer.

But we need to think very carefully about what a “militarized economy” means.

Let us consider what Jill Stein of the Green Party wrote when she introduced the original “Green New Deal” (since mimicked in a weaker form by the Democratic Party).   

Jill Stein wrote,

“Building on the concept of FDR’s New Deal, we call for a massive mobilization of  our communities, government and the people on the scale of World War II – to transition our energy system and economy to 100% clean, renewable  energy by 2030, including a complete phase out of fossil fuels, fracked gas and nuclear power.”

Think about the significance of what she proposes. When Stein writes of a “mobilization” that will be “on the scale of World War II” she is talking about a completely militarized economy.   

If we look back to the source, to the New Deal implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s, we find an effort by the government to address, on a massive scale, the ecological, economic and institutional crises that seized the United States during Great Depression. During that period, a real government, capable of analysis, planning and implementation, replaced a complacent, do-nothing government that assumed, to quote Calvin Coolidge, that “the business of America is business.”

During that period, Frances Perkins built within the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) a powerful organization capable of engaging and inspiring the unemployed to address critical issues in agriculture, ecology and energy in a systematic and comprehensive manner. It was a government that could transform, rather that passively respond to situations.

Similarly, the NRA (national recovery administration) was established in 1933 to set prices and to enforce fair practices so as to eliminate “destructive competition” and overproduction—thus reducing many of the market forces that had brought on the depression in the first place.

What is often left out of the story is the degree to which the CCC and NRA were modelled on the policies for economic and industrial mobilization undertaken by Woodrow Wilson during World War I. The New Deal was, in effect, a military economy that was not for war, but focused on resolving ecological catastrophes like the Dustbowl and economic challenges like overproduction and unemployment.

The crisis today is much larger, and much more serious, than was the case during Great Depression.

We must also recognize the fact that climate change cannot be stopped by the protests of a few NGOs. We need a nation-wide campaign that reaches down to every citizen and promotes frugality, awareness of climate change and a concern for the environment. We must go door to door and make sure that everyone is 100% renewable by next week—and to offer them the means. If an NGO was capable of doing that, in a few weeks, for the entire country, it would be in effect a government.

We must create a functional government that can set these priorities for the nation and then implement them unimpeded.

Let us turn to two critical speeches by American presidents that can help us to grasp the significance of this moment.    

The first speech is President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address of March 4,1865, which is engraved on the marble walls of the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln put forth, with considerable bravery, a vision for the United States that moved beyond the cruel system of creating cheap energy by the use of slavery. Lincoln spoke of the necessary sacrifice in the speech, perhaps anticipating his own death as a result of this commitment to the end of slavery.

One thing is clear. Lincoln did not believe that the transformation of American culture, economics and society necessary to end slavery could be carried out by NGOs, advertising campaigns or appeals for corporate social responsibility. Lincoln saw government as key to such a massive change and the military, sadly, tragically, ended up as part of that process. Slavery was not abolished in a congressional subcommittee. It was ended by the brutal Wilderness Campaign.

When Lincoln spoke, he did not try to hide the cruel truth from his audience,

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”

In the decadent political culture that infests Washington D.C. today, it is hard to imagine a president saying anything so profound, or so difficult, to the citizens. Lincoln did not aim to please, or to flatter. He spoke so as to compel by moral means, to challenge intellectually, to inspire to reach for a higher truth.  

The second speech is President Jimmy Carter’s “Moral Equivalent of War” speech of April 18, 1977. Carter pushed for a radical reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels in the United States and he postulated that the government would play a central role in the process. Carter was focused on ending our growing dependency on imported oil, rather than the threat of global warming (which was not well understood at the time).

Carter’s speech was the last great effort to imagine a government capable of transforming society, rather than being toyed with by powerful interests.

Speech is even more relevant to us today.

Carter spoke,

“By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us. Two days from now, I will present my energy proposals to the Congress. Its members will be my partners and they have already given me a great deal of valuable advice. Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices.”

Carter’s speech should have been the turning point for the United States. But we were lulled to sleep by our good fortune, seduced by our comfortable lives.  

No one wanted to hear about sacrifices then.  

But sacrifice will be the name of the game from here on out. We will not avoid multiple massive catastrophes, at home and abroad. We will need a society in which citizens are willing to sacrifice for each other and work together for a common, difficult, goal.

If we can articulate a larger plan, as Lincoln did, and Carter did, we can give meaning to the upcoming struggle and we can thus create a space wherein a moral vision is expressed even in the midst of crushing ambivalence.

If we can take that step forward, we will be on the road to addressing the climate catastrophe and mapping out a solution, though it take a hundred years.

The military will have to be at the center, but it will not be pushing crackpot geoengineering projects that are meant to further enrich the enriched rich, but rather by dedicating itself once again to sacrifice, to the defense of the national interest, and the interests of the citizens. Taking on  climate change as its primary goal is the best, and perhaps only, way to do so. That decision will allow us to establish a government for the United States of the people, for the people and by the people.

(talk delivered at seminar “The Intersection of Climate Change and Security” held on December 12, 2019 in Washington D.C. by the Asia Institute & Foreign Policy in Focus)

"The Intersection of Climate Change and Security" (Video)

The Asia Institute & Foreign Policy in Focus

“The Intersection of Climate Change and Security”

asia institute fpif climatechange

December 12, 2019

Larry Wilkerson
Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy,
Department of Government
William & Mary College
Alice Hill
Senior fellow for climate change policy
Council on Foreign Relations

Emanuel Pastreich
Director
The Asia Institute

Moderator:

John Feffer

Director, Foreign Policy in Focus

Climate Change and Security

The world faces two grave threats: nuclear war and climate change. The Trump administration has ended four decades of U.S. efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear war, withdrawing from the INF Treaty and preparing to deploy nuclear weapons around the world. At the same time, it denies the existence of climate change and supports leaders around the world who are laying waste to the environment.

But another security policy is possible, and necessary, right now. This seminar sponsored by the Asia Institute and Foreign Policy in Focus, explored how the US could seize the initiative on arms control and link it to a global rethinking of security in light of climate change.

NRA (National Recovery Administration)

Hard to imagine that there was a Federal organization dedicated to helping ordinary citizens and rebuilding the economy that was empowered to tell corporations what to do. But believe it. It happened before and it could happen again. It is, to use an Americanism, “as American as apple pie.”

Organic in Plastic

“Organic”?

When did petroleum-based plastic become organic??

Or is it just the food that counts? The Earth does not see it that way. And most “organic” is a throwaway expression, like “exciting” or “hot”

「外国人のものの見方」 孫崎享とエマニュエル・パストリッチのイベント

外国人のものの見方

孫崎享とエマニュエル・パストリッチ

孫崎享・元外務省国際情報局長とエマニュエル・パストリッチ・NGOアジアインスティチュート所長がジュンク堂でトーク!孫崎享氏「外国人のものの見方は極めて的確であって、簡潔に本質を突くというところがある」 2019.10.20

2019年10月19日(日)19時半より東京都豊島区のジュンク堂書店池袋本店にて、元外務省国際情報局局長で『日本国の正体』著者である孫崎享氏とアジアインスティチュート所長で『武器よさらば』著者エマニュエル・パストリッチ (Emanuel Pastreich) 氏による講演会「自著を語る『日本国の正体』(毎日新聞出版)VS『武器よさらば 地球温暖化の危機と憲法9条』(東方出版)」が開催された。

Internship at Asia Institute available (Washington DC)

Internship available

名刺 が含まれている画像

自動的に生成された説明

The Asia Institute

Flexible hours

The Asia Institute, a major think tank with offices in Seoul, Tokyo, Hanoi and Washington D.C., is looking for interns to assist the director, Emanuel Pastreich, to organize events, market, develop outreach programs, and conduct research in Washington D.C.

Undergraduate or graduate students with a strong interest in China, Japan and or Korea, international relations, technology and society or climate change are encouraged to apply for this opportunity to work directly with Professor Pastreich as an intern. Many of our previous interns have gone on to play critical roles in international relations.

The internship is unpaid but offers a unique opportunity to work in a unique research institute committed to ethical governance and the scientific analysis of contemporary issues.

If interested, please send an email to

epastreich@protonmail.com

Emanuel Pastreich

https://circlesandsquares.asia/bio/

asia-institute.org

“질문하는 미술관: 그림으로 보는 8가지 사회문제”

“질문하는 미술관: 그림으로 보는 8가지 사회문제”

“jilmun haneun misulgwan: Geureon euro boneun 8gaji sahoe munjae”

이만열(임마누엘 페스트라이쉬) & 고산 (고영주)

앤길출판사 2019년 ISBN : 9791190396004

현대를 살아가기 위해서 필요한 것은 방대한 정보가 아니라 정보를 연결하여 자신만의 지식으로 만드는 일이다. 차별, 혐오, 불평등, 위선, 중독, 탐욕, 반지성, 환경오염 등 8가지 사회문제를 그림과 연결해서 설명한 이 책은 그림에 대한 높은 안목과 사회에 대한 날카로운 인식을 함께 배울 수 있다.

그림을 보는 이유는 저마다 다르겠지만 사고의 확장과 통찰력을 기르기 위해서라면 사회와 연결해서 보는 시선이 중요하다. 그림과 사회는 서로를 투영시키고 미래로 나아가게 만들었기 때문이다. 특히 현대 사회를 가로지르는 주요 키워드와 함께한 이 책을 따라가면 자연스럽게 생각하는 힘이 길러질 것이다.

목차

들어가며

01 차별

우리 시대 꽃뱀이 된 메두사

훔쳐보고 싶은 욕망

빛의 가면 뒤에 숨은 문명의 어둠

편가르기, 그 불편한 끼리끼리

02 혐오

나와 다른 그대, 고로 혐오한다

내 늙음도 내 잘못으로 받은 벌이 아니다

그 쓸쓸한 욕망, 샹그릴라 신드롬

03 불평등

저 계단의 끝에는 행복이 있을까?

금수저들의 견고한 성

살찐 고양이 앞에만 생선을 쌓는 시대

04 위선

지킬의 가면을 쓴 하이드

아버지라는 이름으로

기억하고 싶은 것과 기억해야 하는 것

보이는 것만이 진실은 아니다

05 탐욕

가득차는 것을 경계하라

거위는 스스로를 지키기 위해 굶는다

거품의 바람이 불면 이성은 잠을 잔다

06 반지성

어리석음에 대한 변명

부끄러움을 가르칩니다

지성을 잃어가는 사람들

07 중독

술이 떡이 된 사람, 술이 덕이 된 사람

황홀한 비행은 충격의 불시착으로

08 환경오염

이성이 잠들면 괴물이 태어난다

여기에 빛은 없었다

미스트, 그 치명적인 자욱함이란

나오며

접기

"Establishing Fossil-fuel Free (FFF) Communities” (Global Research)

Global Research

“Establishing Fossil-fuel Free (FFF) Communities”

November 27, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

The response to the increasing awareness of the threat of continuing a fossil-fuel driven growth and consumption economic model is a ruthless effort to block out serious reporting on climate change in the media and to downplay is seriousness in education and in the policy debate.

It is inspiring to see youth take leadership roles in the struggle to address climate change, but we have not even started to transform our economy, let alone our civilization.

Sadly, even the most committed climate activists, even those willing to risk prison time, or bodily injury, still find themselves washing with warm water heated by coal or natural gas, eating vegetables that were shipped on diesel-powered cargo ships, transported on trucks powered by diesel fuel, and wrapped in plastics derived from petroleum.

The components in the computers and cell phones that activists use to coordinate their protests, or to write articles about climate change, were produced using coal and other noxious chemicals at factories in India, China or Thailand. The electricity that powers the internet connecting them with fellow activists is equally unclean.

For that matter, the academics who conduct research on the climate change’s impact on our future have their retirement funds tied up in the stocks of companies with direct, or indirect, ties to fossil fuel profits (links that are often not disclosed).

We face the contradiction, of using disposable felt pens made of plastic in factories powered by coal in Malaysia, and transported by petroleum-fueled trucks and airplanes, to write protest signs condemning the fossil fuel industry.

Protest draw attention to hidden truths, but when the marches are over, we return home to a nightmare world that offers no escape from the fossil fuels. We have the choice to eat meat, or not, but there is no option to reject this industrial economy run in accord with the bankrupt ideology of consumption and growth.

But if there were a choice, even if the scale was small at the beginning, the nature of the protest could be expanded so that all our actions, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, became a part of it.

If citizens of the Earth had the opportunity to be a member of an economic system that had absolutely no ties to fossil fuels, or to the money generated by them, then every single action of ethical citizens, from brushing their teeth in the morning to turning out the light in bed at night, would be a form of protest.

Such communities would open the gate to an alternative economy, as opposed to a bit of greenery in the middle of an extractive and predatory economic order.

The next step of our protest must be the creation of local communities, linked together as part of global networks, whose economies are in word and deed 100% fossil-fuel free (FFF). Creating such economic, social and political units at the local level, even if they can only support 100 people, or 500 people at first, will offer the public a viable alternative. Those fossil-fuel free FFF communities will make it possible for those with a deep ethical sense to fully commit to a fossil fuel free Earth in word and in deed—not just “recycling” plastic at the supermarket, but never touching plastic again.

Moreover, the first steps towards FFF (fossil fuel free) communities can be taken immediately. There is no need to wait for some cynical politician to implement a carbon-neutral economy twenty or thirty years in the future.

Creating FFF Communities

Creating FFF (fossil fuel free) communities will require considerable bravery and sacrifice at first, and the number willing to commit will be limited. But we have that critical mass already. Remember, because 100% FFF (fossil-fuel free) communities will not be dependent for food, for energy or for finance on corporations, or banks tied to fossil fuels in any way, they will be able to speak freely in a manner that communities cannot today. Their power will be far greater than their initial scale would suggest.

Such will be a model for other communities around the world, and they will produce journalism and educational systems that others cannot because their dependency on funding linked to fossil fuels compromises their efforts from the start.

It will not be long before small-scale FFF communities will become powerful economic and political players capable of taking on multinational investment banks and oil companies and can offer a vision for an immediate and unconditional end to the use of fossil fuels-rather of a vague and open-ended plan to phase out fossil fuels in a manner that does not impact profits.

Scientific data shows that the date given in reports of governments and corporations of 2050 for the creation of a carbon-neutral economy is laughably late. Many experts write that we have only a matter of years, or months, to avoid a scenario in which billions of humans (and other species) will die, whether from floods and storms, from rising seas, spreading deserts, from starvation, and unbearable heat, or from hybrid wars waged for control of remaining scarce resources.

Although the main-stream media covers protests and declarations by governments of a climate emergency, there has been zero change for the majority. You may see a solar panel go up on an occasional house, but there are few laws even being considered (let alone being enforced) that require all food be locally and organically produced, all buildings be fully insulated and equipped with solar and wind power, and all transportation to powered by 100% renewable energy.

We must gather together a small group of people who will pledge to support the community, and each other, for the long term, and to rely for their needs exclusively on the FFF products produced by the community at the local level (until 100% FFF transportation systems are established). If we have activists who are willing to be arrested, we can find among them those who are willing to make a commitment to a FFF community.

Such a commitment must be a serious one. There must be a binding contract that commits new members to the community and commits the community to those members. FFF communities cannot operate in accord with the superficial culture of consumption, distraction and short-term thinking that got us in this trouble in the first place.

Perhaps new members of the community will commit their assets to the FFF community in return for a commitment from the community to care for them for a lifetime. Or some other form of deep social and ethical commitment is possible.

he fossil-fuel free community will provide a model, first on a small scale, for what human society could be if we embrace a consistently sustainable approach. We have few models now—and that is no accident.

The core of the economy of the FFF community will be organic farms that produce 100% organic food and transport it without the use of fossil fuels. At the beginning, citizens of the communities will encounter a significant drop in the diversity of their diet, but through their efforts and sacrifices, they will lay the foundations for a truly fossil fuel free economy. The food will be grown at home, on roofs and in empty lots in the neighborhood, or be brought in from local farms.

A revolution in thinking is essential: we must recognize that working together with neighbors to create a society free of fossil fuels is at least as important as writing articles for newspapers, lobbying the rich and powerful or giving (fossil-fuel tainted) money to environmental NGOs. The struggle to create a community free of fossil fuels in the full sense (no plastics, no products produced using fossil fuels, no products transported using fossil fuels) can be the defining effort for those who are involved.

Food should be sold (or exchanged through barter) in communal markets that encourage collaboration between farmer and citizen (rather than a transaction between a corporation and consumer). Those markets can serve as the foundation for new patterns of economic exchange entirely detached from fossil fuels and they can be expanded across the region, and then around the world. There is nothing radical about such organic farming communities. They are how humans managed to survive for thousands of years without destroying the climate.

We can find models in the communities of the Amish and the Mennonites. Although we grew up considering these groups who far, without machinery or artificial fertilizers as odd, they alone have pursued a sustainable economy while the rest of the United States embraced an insane system of industrialized agricultural production tied to global trade.

Organic farming for the immediate community will provide youth real jobs in agriculture and distribution that will be both paid and morally dignified. The ability to create food which is not contributing to the destruction of our Earth is a moral action that can inspire many to join in the effort.

The creation of fossil-fuel free (FFF) transportation for food and other goods is the other critical condition for such communities. Our citizens must understand that vowing to use only FFF transportation offered, even if it is profoundly limited at first, must not be viewed as unpleasant inconvenience, but rather as a pledge of moral bravery. We cannot wait for politicians to provide such “clean” energy (as politicians are easily persuaded to consider natural gas, electricity and even nuclear power to be clean).

Another critical part of the FFF community will be manufacturing. We must completely rethink manufacturing: the production of, and the use of, the necessary items for life. We must ask first how we will produce all the items we use without ever employing fossil fuels or plastic. At the same time, we must definitively end the promotion of, and consumption of, frivolous and status-related products.

Manufacturing for the FFF community should start out 100% local (until we have 100% FFF transportation we can use to link communities in the region, and across the world).

Eliminating fossil fuels means that we must cut back on how we use daily and we must manufacture items that will last for a long time. We need desks and chairs, bookshelves and chopping boards, shirts and sweaters, cups and pots that will last for 20-50 years, or longer. That shift in our economy means both an end to a commercial, consumption-driven culture and a focus on well-made products that are built to last, and that are valued for what they are, not what images they are associated with. No IKEA or GAP will be found in FFF communities.

The production and the distribution of 100% fossil fuel free products will create long-term jobs for our children and for our neighbors’ children. Manufacturing must be local and the return of crafts that produce durable goods will contribute much to our environment. We must move away from the dangerous concepts of competitiveness, free trade and industrialization. The misguided concept of growth must go also.

Changing culture, concepts, and attitudes

Fossil-Fuel Free Communities must be free of fossil fuel propaganda and the ideological assumptions planted by corporations that we cannot live meaningful lives without consuming large amounts of energy, seen or unseen. The response to climate change starts with an attitudinal revolution, not with progressive innovations in technology and governance. The FFF community must be a space wherein such a cultural transformation can take place without commercials that promote automobiles and the thoughtless consumption of food.

Not only must all citizens comprehend that climate change is an immediate and overwhelming threat in the community, we must create a culture wherein the practices required to respond, whether shoveling mulch, recycling glass and scrap metal, collecting human feces for use as fertilizer transporting food by cart, or generating electricity on an exercise bike (which is also good exercise) are perceived as an ethical imperative, as the valuable contribution to society. The cult of the self and immediate gratification promoted by a commercialized economy must be replaced by a culture based on moral philosophy, frugality, humility and the simple virtue of participation in society.

This shift is not entirely “progressive.” In a sense it is also a return to conservative values like modesty, frugality, and the importance of intellectual and spiritual engagement. The larger these communities become the more powerful will be this alternative to the commercial culture that dominates globally. We must unmask the false assumptions promoted by the insidious ideology of modernity that the human condition is improved by electrification, consumption, a vast increase in possessions, urbanization and transportation via private automobiles and airplanes. Unless we challenge the larger ideological framework, we cannot bring about the fundamental shift we require for survival.

Going green must not be limited to cosmetic changes in an economy that is based on the consumption of goods and services and that is rooted in the production and distribution of those fossil fuels.

We must make visible the hidden hierarchy behind the myth of modernity, one that is hammered home for all citizens in the movies (and in the commercials that come before and after them) and in news reports that we watch. The insidious assumption is that those who employ I Phones and who work multinational corporations, those who are shuttled around from capital to capital around the world in expensive automobiles, or luxurious planes, those who live in spacious homes and eat fine meals, are somehow doing more important work than those who transport goods, who clean our public spaces, who grow our food and cook our meals.

The criminal waste of resources, the pollution of our environment by fossil fuels and the concentration of wealth in a tiny handful of people is presented in the commercial media as a moral good.

The FFF community also must undertake a complete reform of the misleading concepts of real estate, private property and ownership that have done so much damage. Our society is controlled by contract law and corporate law which citizens are made completely ignorant of by the media. But we have no binding contracts between members of our community to help each other, or to preserve the ecosystem. The FFF community will be the complete opposite.

A pledge of loyalty by those joining the FFF community to end their ties to fossil fuels should be central to membership. We need the equivalent of a village contract, once central to agricultural communities in Europe, Asia, the Americas before the promulgation of the concept of real estate and the concentration of capital in the hands of the few. Such a village contract should spell out in a binding, rather than symbolic, the manner the responsibilities that each individual has to contribute to the production of food, tools, furniture, transportation and governance, and the commitment of the community to provide for the members of the community for a lifetime.

Reviving the Constitution of the Iroquois Nations, which made the relationship of human settlements with the environment central to governance, can be help us to overcome the legal distortions born of a focus on finance, property rights and real estate.

Currently, it is perfectly acceptable for progressives to participate in protests about climate change while investing their assets in companies making profits related to fossil fuels. We must demand zero tolerance and make sure all investment is tied of the community’s activities and tied to the creation of a FFF economy.

Membership in a fossil-fuel free community must be open to everyone and not segregated in accord with assets, level of education or cultural sensitivities. We must abandon the delusion that somehow a green economy focused on the upper middle class, those who can afford Teslas or big layouts for solar panels, will save humanity. Everyone should have access to information about the climate crisis as part of their education and of the media which surrounds them.

It is as critical that we explain the climate crisis to the poor and to the working class in terms that they can understand and to make a commitment to help them obtain quality educations, and economic opportunities, in return for their participation in the response. Addressing climate change by gala dinners, handouts from billionaires, and other stunts cannot effect a transformation of our society.

The establishment of our own FFF currency can be immensely helpful in this process. Our currency will represent the contribution of the individual to society and be backed by agricultural products, and other manufactured goods, produced in the community. That currency, even if extremely limited in its use at first, will have tremendous value for us in that it will not be linked to fossil fuels at any level. That means that as that FFF currency expands its use across the local economy, and eventually extends to the global economy, it can serve as currency without any links to fossil fuels, and the core of a similarly independent financial system.

The greatest travesty of our age is the silence about the link between global trade and climate change. Shipping goods across the Earth in the search of financial advantages for investment banks does tremendous damage to the environment because of pointless carbon emissions and the destruction of forests and jungles to produce factory farms and just plain factories in the eternal search for profit at the expense of nature. The inhuman mass production of foodstuffs (especially of meat) that is pushed in global trade does long-term damage to soil, forests and rivers and oceans. Moreover, the industrial approach to production and distribution of food and products has destroyed local economies and encouraged an unprecedented concentration of wealth. Fossil-fuel free communities offer the citizen a way to opt out of this destructive nightmare for the first time.

Conclusion

We witness a battle in the media, and in discussion groups, between those who argue that we must focus on changing our habits and our thinking first as a means of saving our Earth and those who hold that because most emissions can be traced back to a handful of multinational corporations we must first deal with them first, rather than allowing us to naively assume that because our own lives have less of a carbon footprint we are saving the world.

Although there is a danger that we can be distracted from the deep contradictions in our economy if we become overly myopic in our pursuit of personal sustainability that should not lead us to underestimate the importance of changing how we act daily. As the number of people out there increase who will not compromise on certain principles, we will start to shift the global culture and that culture will radiate up even to the most protected elites deeply imbedded in the fossil fuel economy.

That said, the best route is to combine the two strategies: to make personal choices into community choices and to make that community into an economic unit which will serve as the building block for an alternative economy from the ground up.