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“运动风”“抱怨狂”和“魔术师热”

“运动风”“抱怨狂”和“魔术师热”

贝一明

美国总统独立参选人

美国经济、制度与文化崩溃的速度有增无减,如今几乎人人都觉察得到,我们的国家从根本上出了问题,而报纸和电视台只会粉饰太平,简直百无一用。我们似乎只能眼睁睁地看着自己的国家沦为道德荒漠和只为少数权贵服务的奴隶王国。

然而,既然如此之多的人知晓我们的文化已经病入膏肓,我们为何依然无所作为,坐以待毙?为何这么多博闻强识、精明能干的美国人在危机面前无能为力,只能讨论零零碎碎的琐事?我们为何不能齐心协力,集毕生之力来改造社会,同左邻右舍一起创造更加美好的未来?

人们束手无策,其原因多种多样。七十年来,我们一直沉浸在一种甜腻的消费文化中,而创造它的,是各家广告公司。我们自从小时候会看电视起便开始接受这种病态文化的沐浴,逐渐沦为了影像和感觉的被动消费者。

社会腐朽得如此彻底,以至于我们心中的权威人士与德高望重之人也都变成了这场恐怖狂欢的参与者——这简直荒唐至极。

然而我并不想通过解剖社会来寻找其症结所在——尽管这样做可能会吸引来大批观众。

可以说,我们的国家在二十年前所遭受的可怕创伤已迅速地恶化为坏疽。我们没有鼓起勇气斩去遭受感染的手指、阻止腐坏进程,而只是把创可贴覆盖在了创口之上,此后便闭目塞听,任凭腐毒在社会的血管中肆虐,直至感染蔓延到国家的每一个角落。保守派、自由派、进步人士、社会主义人士——这场闹剧,人人都有戏份。

于是我们落得了如此田地。如果你尚未失业,倒是可以去冷血跨国集团旗下的星巴克同好友商量商量最近的假期该如何度过,或者聊聊你上周享用过的意大利佳肴。

然而,我们之中的大多数人都忍受了一整天的煎熬,拖着疲惫不堪的身体回到家中,有的要寻找生计——无论做什么都可以,有的则受尽艰辛却拿不到一丁点薪水。我们几乎连给孩子做晚饭的力气都没有;我们,还有我们身边的人都觉得了无希望。生活很快就会回归正轨的童话传入我们的耳中,但无人相信。

我们陷入了可悲的境地:没有自由,没有权力,被无形的大手抛来掷去。而此时此刻,我想谈谈导致美国当前困局的三股潮流。媒体灌输给我们的、关于国家的宏大叙事宛若天方夜谭,毫无意义;尽管如此,我们还是可以在商场中,在起居室里,在办公室内感觉到涌动于表象之下的暗流。

这三股潮流分别是“运动风”“抱怨狂”和“魔术师热”。这几个词并不为人所熟知,或许还会让人有不悦之感。这正常不过,因为我们就是要唤醒沉睡中的人们,让他们重新自行思考,让他们相信自己其实可以有所作为、切实地改变世界。在我看来,重要的不是老调重弹,告诉大家只要改正某些错误,世界会依然美好,而是震醒诸位——将当前的情况轻描淡写本就大错特错。

第一个问题是“运动风”。

“运动风”指通过组织公众集会、筹募资金和开展各种活动来推动请愿书的签署、为某种观点或政策争取背书。它注重曝光宣传、形象塑造,以及利用营利性报纸和社交媒体来博得颓丧群体的关注。

各大运动的领袖经常出现在主流媒体的报道中;他们不仅出书,还会同政要、歌星、皇室与其他名人会面。

最具“运动风”的典型范例包括2002年以失败告终的反伊拉克战争运动,以解决女性受性侵问题为宗旨的“Me Too”运动,以及由格丽塔·桑伯格开展、旨在呼吁大众重视气候变化问题的一系列活动。

这几场运动耗费了大量时间,耗资不菲,脸书上关于它们的热帖也数不胜数,让人们感觉媒体大力宣传的活动最终取得了某种成果。然而事实恰恰相反——上述运动的成效微乎其微,反倒分散了众人的注意力,令责任心更强、真正具有组织能力的活动家备受冷落。

沉溺于“运动风”运动的人往往满怀热忱,却毫不知晓自己的行动收效甚微。

于2002年9月发起、意在反对美国计划对伊拉克开战的一系列抗议活动均是典型的“运动风”运动。它们轰轰烈烈,成为了有史以来世界范围内规模最大的示威活动——至少我们听说是这样。还有几百名政府官员,甚至几位政坛名流挺身而出,抗议布什政府的所作所为。然而他们声势浩大的运动并未成功阻止那场旨在让少数精英攫取财富、毫无意义的战争。轰炸接连不断,两国的冲突持续至今。

究竟是哪里出了问题?既然提出抗议的人不计其数,为何一小撮权贵还能肆无忌惮地做出如此危险的决定?

为何关于上述抗议活动惨败原因的严肃讨论几乎无人开展?

在媒体上赢得关注至关重要——我们已经完全被这样的错误观念所误导。“运动风”的核心理念便是倘若大批民众了解真相,那么精英集团的决策过程也会多多少少地受到影响。根本没有人考虑超级富豪的价值观体系或许与我们的完全格格不入。

媒体暗示大家:无人关注不足以成大事;要开展运动,名人政客的支持必不可少。然而“关注”正是媒体贩卖的商品,名人政客也是媒体包装出来的偶像。“运动风”的关键所在是让观众相信一场场运动意义非凡、乐趣十足,通过社交媒体来吸引他们的注意力,而社交媒体恰恰可以通过宣传此类活动、博得流量而牟利。

然而唯利是图的媒体所报道的,都是那些无损于各大企业财团利益的活动。也就是说,这些运动无法在经济上独立,也没有人会引领公众去探寻媒体包装出来的“英雄领袖”是如何从企业财团渔利的。

“运动风”是推行空虚消费、宣扬自我崇拜的活动的延伸,其宗旨是自我实现,而不是构建齐心同德、为开展事业付出不懈努力的群体。

我们在甜腻的广告中沉浸得太久,想当然地认为一场运动在得到大笔资金援助、媒体的认可以及名人的背书之后,我们才能予以支持。

请记住,诸位,你们并非脸书和推特的使用者,而是被贩售给企业客户的商品。

脸书和推特服务的大企业为何要买下诸位?因为它们希望诸位在不产生任何实际影响的同时认为自己正在从事极其重要的事情。

那么,真正的运动应该是怎样的?

我们可以回想一下发生于19世纪50年代的反奴运动,它最终促成了美国经济转型,真真切切地改善了大批民众的生活条件。规模盛大的反奴运动鼓励人们积极加入地方团体、定期会面、讨论国事、开展激进行动。所谓的“激进行动”,包括暗中开辟通路,冒着生命危险接连不断地将非裔美国人运送出南方,以及为自发团结在一起、在南部的种植园内进行激烈反抗的奴隶们提供援助。反奴运动的参加者们付出的牺牲鲜有记载,但他们的组织依然愈发地强大。

反奴活动家们建立起参与性的机构,也缔结起终生不断的纽带。他们并不痴迷于投票选举、分发请愿书让人签名,因为他们知道此类无关大局的行动根本不可能终止奴隶制的罪恶——而正是有人依靠这样的罪恶大发横财。他们的王牌不是富豪慈善家们的支持,而是他们自己舍生忘死的气节与意志。

当时,反奴运动领袖弗雷德里克·道格拉斯写道:

“这场斗争也许是善与恶的交锋,也许是真刀真枪的实战,也许既包含道德较量,也要进行武力对抗,但这必须是一场斗争。没有外界的要求,权力不会让步——它从未,也永远不会自动让步。只要明白了人们会默默地服从于什么,就可以知道可以将多少不公与冤屈强压在他们身上,直到他们用语言、用行动,或者兼用语言与行动予以反抗的那一天。暴君能施暴到何种程度,要看受压迫之人能忍耐到何种地步。”

美国政治存在的第二个问题是“抱怨狂”:媒体进行报道、以及我们在同亲友开展日常谈话时,总是不停地抱怨美国哪里不好、世事有多么不公,但既不深刻地分析其原因之所在,也不为更加美好的未来绘制蓝图,甚至没有建议听众采取某种措施来提供帮助、改变现状。在这个方面,媒体的问题尤为突出。

新闻与政治探讨的这种论调令民众颓丧至极,以至于在面对灾难之时,我们认为自己无路可走,只能陷入深深的绝望。因此有人不禁怀疑,这种残酷的“抱怨狂”之风十分讨权贵的欢心。

政治危机正在恶化,因为非主流媒体也没有让人看到采取行动的机会。非主流媒体的报道或许更加准确,但它们并未提供任何有益建议,告诉人们去社区的哪个地方跟邻居们讨论大事、组织集体行动。至于如何在不依赖于亚马逊、脸书、维亚康姆和微软等垄断企业的情况下做事,我们也无法从非主流媒体得知。

充斥着“抱怨狂”气息的新闻将报道重点放在唐纳德·特朗普、乔治·索罗斯、杰夫·贝佐斯等少数“害群之马”身上,经常传递出这样的信息:倘若这些人更有爱心、更开明,诸多问题自然能够迎刃而解。

当前的经济结构是怎样成为贪婪与剥削的温床的?掌控金融、制造和贸易领域的少数人是怎样决定我们的经济状况的?我们根本看不到关于这些问题的分析。

企业如何通过国家发动战争、推广矿物燃料而获利,以及由此而生的利润怎样用于回馈组织运动、撰写“抱怨性”新闻的中产阶级知识分子,流入他们的退休金账户、或者变为他们的股票资产,这绝对是不可触及的禁忌话题。

知识分子本应站出来维护公共利益,做我们的耳目,可他们与企业利润之间有着不可告人的关系,因此无法做出客观公正的分析,无法建议公众如何行动。

我们如果组成团结高效、彼此互帮互助、为共同目标而奋斗的团体,便可以着手改变经济与政治体系——“抱怨性”新闻一向对此避而不谈。

媒体中抱怨之风的抬头与近三十年来知识分子话语的堕落不可分割。营利性媒体在做分析时根本不会严肃地考虑历史问题,在谈及白宫或者国会时,也绝不会介绍这些机构的制度史。在这些媒体的口中,现在的中情局或者谷歌与十年乃至二十年前别无二致;至于它们内部如何组织、如何管理,媒体则只字不提。

由于缺乏历史语境,读者只掌握了大量负面信息,既无法理解更深层次的问题,也不知下一步该何去何从。

最后一个问题是“魔术师热”——对政坛上的“魔术师”大加推崇。

媒体上的讨论时不时地透露出这样的观念:我们要选举出、要跟随出类拔萃之人,倘若他能力非凡,我们的问题即可得到解决。

还有人认为,身为公民,我们就应当等到十一月投票选出此人,随后回到自己的生活中,把一切问题都交给这位魔术师来化解。

在巴拉克·奥巴马的竞选宣传中,旨在塑造“魔术师”的花言巧语就发挥了巨大的作用。奥巴马围绕“改变”这一口号大做文章,由民主党赞助的广告公司也对其进行了大力宣传。

他们启动企业资金,利用媒体和娱乐集团告知民众,这位才华出众、能说会道的政治人物只要获得大众的支持,就可以让美国发生翻天覆地的变化。换而言之,美国在饱受克林顿执政晚期以及布什掌权时期的罪恶摧残之后,只需要让一个民主党人当选总统,便可以脱胎换骨、重振雄风。

这是赤裸裸的谎言。要解决体制性腐败问题,必须借助各阶层民众的力量,制定长期规划,清理门户——此举虽然危险,但十分必要。

但在奥巴马看来,一切都是那样地简单:我们只需要给他投票,再告诉身边的人他将会立下怎样的丰功伟绩。

然而随后,果不其然,“变革”代理人奥巴马便沉着冷静、却又极为迅速地着手为企业银行纾困,为削弱金融监管助力,以此来回报他真正的支持者——帮他占据各家媒体版面的金融界。

伯尼·桑德斯的竞选宣传也对民众颇具吸引力,然而他同样被包装为一个可以替我们化解各种问题的魔术师。他的竞选团队将工薪阶层赞助的资金献给媒体公司,让其在初选中播放极其昂贵的广告。桑德斯的初衷也许是好的,然而他的团队却没有投入一分钱来建立可长期发展的地方性公民组织,让民众得以在政治上自给自足,为自己的改革提供持续动力。倘若说民主、共和两党有共同之处,那就是它们都在培养公民的依赖性——这一点毋庸置疑。让他们革风易俗难于令老虎吃素。

西达·斯考切波教授的《 衰落的民主:由参与会员型到寡头管理型的美国公民社会》(Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life)一书详细描绘了美国人是如何逐渐远离基督教青年会、共济会、对外战争退伍老兵会、狮子会等定期组织集会、践行民主管理的地方性组织的。

五十年来,民众的活跃参与被一种政治性的管理文化所取代,导致社会民主与透明度大幅滑坡,这一后果是灾难性的:正是由于缺少公民参与,不负责任、暧昧不明的政治文化才能在今天大行其道。

请问,诸位是否收到过民主党或共和党的邀请,去发表自己的意见、参与政策的制定过程?

如果只是在脸书上发文、抱怨唐纳德·特朗普的腐败行径,我们根本无法改变美国有名无实的政治参与体系;健康的政治文化也绝不可能通过替政客从媒体集团购买广告来建立。

我们必须成立强势的、由公民组成、保持每日与民众互动的地方性机构。我们必须改俗迁风:关闭网络,敲响邻居的门扉,重拾与朋友讨论切实问题的好习惯。这些事没有人能够为我们代劳。

日本哲学家荻生徂徕写道:

“要成为棋艺大师,有两条路可以走。其一,通晓棋路,熟知开局布阵与收局技巧,步步为营——这条途径已被人们所熟知。而另外一条大师之路,则是由自己制定棋规。”

能让我们自己制定规则、创造崭新政治文化的机会少之又少。然而当前美国的政治危机极度严峻,其影响无所不至,令我们在如履薄冰的同时也看到了发起彻底变革的宝贵机遇。我甚至可以说,除了投身战斗,我们别无他法。

“I shall fear no evil” Declaration of Candidacy for President of the United States

“I shall fear no evil”

Declaration of Candidacy for

President of the United States

Emanuel Pastreich

Independent

February 24, 2020

There are turns in the river of history so dramatic, even overwhelming, that we must demand more than progressive adaptation, we must demand a fundamental restructuring of every aspect of our society.

This moment is such a moment and I declare my candidacy for president of the United States not because I desire the perks that accompany that position, perks that have grown gaudy as that institution has decayed, but because there will be no hope of stanching the flow of our nation’s lifeblood unless those who have benefited the most from our finest traditions are willing to throw themselves into the battle.

The time has come for a politics founded in truth, and not an appeal to whim or to fleeting emotions. We cannot look away from the profound moral decay that has laid waste to our beloved United States. We must combine a deep empathy for the sufferings of ordinary people with an inspiring vision for what this country could be.

This campaign does not offer you glittering false promises. Until we restore a discourse in politics that is honest and we reestablish a government that holds up an ideal, and implements that ideal, promises made by politicians, whether they call themselves “conservative” or “progressive,” will not mean much.

Today, our government, our journalism, our educational institutions, our communities and our families all teeter on the brink of collapse. Lost in self-deception we cannot even bring ourselves to face the wasteland that lies before us.

All that I contend for is this: We must struggle together to build participatory institutions in every neighborhood that will permit our citizens to establish the ideals, to practice the habits, and to prepare the policies that will form the foundations on which we will rebuild this republic.

If we cannot form communities, if we cannot see each other as anything other than objects to be used, to be exploited for profit, no degree of policy reform at the highest levels can save us.

Citizens today are no longer citizens, but mere consumers who are force fed pre-packaged fantasies cranked out by public relations firms, firms hired by the same corporations that shower money on every politician.

We are taught by the corrupt media that we have only a role as observers and that we have no choice but to send money to politicians who will never meet with us, or represent us, or even answer our phone calls. The media, controlled by a handful of powerful corporations, works hard to convince us that we must seek out magicians to solve our problems for us, and that we must shun leaders who could inspire us to build a better society with our own hands. There is no road to good government until we start to build it, with our own hands.

As Frederick Douglass wrote, “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow.”

This campaign for the presidency is not about exposure. It would be better to create our own citizens’ journalism than to grovel before the fetid media swamp that demands of us that we be its slaves. That media is unanimous in their contempt for me — and I welcome their contempt.

I do not ask you merely to vote in November. I ask you to join us a struggle to transform the United States, and to work with us, every day. Your efforts will create the sinews that bind citizens to a government which is accountable. If our neighborhood organizations are not democratic and participatory, they cannot support a national democracy.

Whether it is the sprawling prisons filled with the innocent, the decaying infrastructure that condemns our children to misery, or the promulgation of a culture of consumption and indulgence that has destroyed the virtues of frugality, modesty and humility, truly, the hour is late.

This republic should function like a delicate clock, responding predictably to the needs of citizens. But what do we do if the clock’s fan fly is gummed up with muck, if its escape wheel is fractured, or its hammer rod is warped?

Do we leave the clock alone, knowing that it will slow down, eventually coming to an irreparable stop? Or do we pause the clock for a moment, and clean the entirety from head to toe, repairing and improving? The later approach runs the risk of tempting tyranny. But the former virtually guarantees it. Better to prepare for a dangerous, but critical, surgery than to watch in idle indulgence the collapse of the republic.

When it becomes painfully self-evident that a long train of abuses and usurpations are born of the pursuit of absolute despotism, it then becomes our right, and our duty, to provide new guards for the people’s future security.

Let me suggest two fundamental principles that will undergird all future action:

The scientific search for truth

Democracy is the process by which the needs and the wisdom of the people are converted into policy. But if the people are misled, sated with distorted and embellished journalism, if they are taught to be self-indulgent and thus lose interest in governance, then we a democracy without people. If the debate on policy is not grounded in truth, then we have a fantasy democracy. However, and this is the hard part, truth is never democratic. If we are voting to determine what is true, then we have already slipped into an orderly, and all too reasonable, psychosis.

We will seek out the truth about the poverty in our country and its causes, about the motivations behind the foreign wars that we fight, about the decline of education and of communities, and we will encourage you, support you, as you go forward to investigate your neighborhood, and we will help you raise up in yourself the moral courage to formulate, and then to implement, solutions.

The establishment of a government that is, to quote President Abraham Lincoln, “of the people, by the people and for the people” is our purpose. This goal cannot be achieved through the election of a single person, or by the passage of a single bill. It will only come about as a result of a profound shift in our culture and in our habits.

We offer not fool’s gold to distract you from the massive transfer of wealth from the commons to the hands of the super-rich, bloody and deceitful men. We will speak the truth and fear no evil. Only then can we end those endless wars, only then will the ruthless exploitation of ordinary people in the United States be stopped.

A government for the people

The United States Constitution lays out a blueprint for a government that represents the people, and not the powerful. The process of building this republic has been imperfect, tainted by the crimes of slavery and marred by the slaughter of the natives. Nevertheless, we can still glimpse the flame of the Constitution shining from behind the shattered edifice that remains.

Now is the moment to reinvent government, not as a PR gimmick funded by corporations, or as a gateway for contractors in search of profits, but as something that protects the welfare of the people and defends those who oppose the powerful.

The radical concentration of wealth, the catastrophic collapse of our environment, and the foolish drive for militarism as a road to riches, these crimes are not even considered as topics for discussion in polite company today. Those who are supposed to lead us, prefer rather to wrap themselves in a blanket woven of cowardice and hypocrisy, and to ape the honored practice of the four monkeys.

But there is a terrible hidden cost for that choice of silence. Nightmares wrap around our youth, in the stark mountain passes of Afghanistan or in the dank hallways of Walter Reed Medical Center, where they lie in their own urine trying to piece together a fragmented mind, or in the cells of private prisons where they stare all day at blank walls.

Let us bring a ray of hope to those who must work constantly at miserable jobs, day and night, to feed their children. Let them know that a government will be created that places their interests at the center of the national agenda. Let them know that we are not afraid to call slavery, slavery and that we are not afraid to call war, war!

The Truth goes marching on

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering and forbearing, let us go forward together. Our campaign must be confrontational at times, but it will always be rooted and grounded in love. We will demand that the wealthy who gather by vanity shall be diminished and that those who gather by labor shall increase. We will make it clear to all that the most valuable things are precisely those that are invisible: the core values that guide us, as individuals, as groups, and as a nation, to sacrifice ourselves readily, not only for the benefit of the whole, but also for the pursuit of truth.

The damage done to our environment by petroleum and plastic, the trillions of dollars squirreled away off-shore by the rich, the manner in which the internet is used to reduce us to base animals with no self-control, these facts, and more, will be made manifest for all to see as part of this great transformation. Verily, fellow citizens, the truth shall set you free.

Emanuel Pastreich

2020

Seventeen Point Platform

1)

We will not recognize any election that is not fair

The current election system is so corrupt as to be meaningless. The qualified candidate is not allowed on the ballot, and his or her ideas, and activities, are blocked out by a media that denies citizens access to critical information. Votes are counted using computer systems designed to be hacked, leaving no evidence of the sacred choice of the people. Regions inhabited by the poor are supplied with so few voting machines that tired mothers and fathers must wait for hours in line, shivering as the dusk descends.

We cannot recognize as legitimate any election for president, or for any other office, until the nation holds an internationally-supervised election in which every citizen is guaranteed the right to vote in a manner easily verified, and every qualified candidate can present his or her policies directly to the people. The entire election must be handled in a transparent manner and commercial advertising must be banned.

We do not have legitimate elections, but we do have a moral obligation to reject this entire process. I do not worry that, running for president, no rich men will fund me, no political parties will back me. We know that the election of 2020 will be so fraudulent that we cannot accept the results, or recognize those who claim to have won. Moreover, those who are “elected” will soon prove that they do not represent “we the people” in any sense of the word. We the people will wait until a legitimate election is held, one in which candidates, like myself, are allowed to participate.

2)

Climate change is the overwhelming security threat;

The response must involve every aspect of domestic and foreign policy

A full commitment to a hundred-year plan for the mitigation of, and the adaptation to, climate change must be at the center of all security, economic and educational policy for the United States. We must devote all resources, committing ourselves to the equivalent of a war economy, in order to reduce the use of petroleum and coal to zero within two to three years.

The government will set forth directives that require the rapid reduction in the use of fossil fuels, that end the use of private automobiles and that restrict the use of airplanes. We will finance the installation of solar power and wind power generators in every neighborhood. All intellectual property rights for these technologies will be taken over by the government for this purpose. Upgrades for all buildings to near zero carbon emissions will be undertaken immediately, including maximum insulation for all homes within two months. The government will do so, employing 50-year loans that will make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels.

We will end all subsidies for petroleum, coal and uranium. Those fuels will be designated as controlled substances that cannot be sold for profit.

The military will convert to 100% renewable energy more quickly than the rest of the country and it will be transformed thereby from the greatest enemy of the environment to its most powerful defender. Polluting fighter planes and outdated aircraft carriers will be scrapped immediately without concern for the profits that they might generate for corporations. Those who stand to lose their jobs will be guaranteed employment in renewable energy projects.

Oil and gas corporations have made trillions of dollars pushing dangerous substances on citizens that they knew full well were destroying the environment. Such actions are criminal by law. The assets of these corporations, and of their owners, will be seized by the government and used to finance the transformation of our economy.

Wasting energy, food and natural resources will be recognized for the abomination that it is and will never be promoted as a symbol of a better life.

The government will supervise the creation of truly sustainable urban and suburban communities and undertake the restoration of wild areas to assure biodiversity. That will mean tearing up the malls, the parking lots, the factories and the freeways that have defiled our sacred forests and our precious wetlands.

3)

Eliminate nuclear weapons by any means necessary

Humanity faces an unprecedented risk of nuclear war, made even more dire by the promotion of “usable” mini nuclear devices. We will commit ourselves to the elimination of these dangerous weapons from the Earth, painful as that process will be. For the sake of our children, we will forcibly confiscate, and destroy, all nuclear weapons, starting in the United States, and then in all the other nations of the world. We will work with committed groups of citizens at home and abroad, inside government and outside. The development of nuclear weapons must be stopped.

4)

Launch international scientific investigations into the past that so many refuse to confront

We cannot come to grips with the threat of climate change and of nuclear war until we shake off the culture of denial that has gripped us for the last twenty years. We must conduct a fearless investigation into the actions taken by a small group of powerful men after the 2000 election, including the so-called “9/11” incident.

The power of the scientific method must be employed by international “truth and reconciliation” teams to reveal the honest story for our citizens, and for the world, to see. There should be no limits on how far the investigation goes. Granted the seriousness of the case, all related materials must be declassified. Nor should we be satisfied with simplistic tales that blame just one group or another. Murder on the Orient Express was a solvable crime.

5)

Bring the US military home and upgrade the United Nations

The United States must bring back the troops deployed around the world, troops often exploited in mercenary enterprises to serve the interests of the wealthy. We must be ready to fight, and to die, for true international security, but to do so only in the strictest sense as defined by the charter of the United Nations. It would be better to risk our lives in the noble battle against the forces of greed to protect the soil beneath our feet, to assure that the pure waters of our oceans are not poisoned, and to preserve forests in perpetuity than to fight these pointless wars.

The United Nations must be the primary space wherein we plan the future for our fragile planet, and then implement it. But that can only be done if that institution undergoes a complete reform that empowers it to represent the citizens of the Earth without the interference of corporations or of wealthy individuals.

6)

Corporations are not people;

The rich get only one vote

Corporations are not people and they have no role to play in the formulation of policy. The same is true for the super-rich and for the investment banks through which they exert their will. The information required by policy makers must be supplied by life-long civil servants, professors and other experts who can engage in an objective evaluation of the current state of our country without pressure to derive profit.

The rich are just people. They have no more rights than anyone else. They should not have a special role in the determination of policy. Those who use money, directly or indirectly, to influence policy are engaged in corruption and bribery; do not hide such criminality by using the innocuous terms “consulting” and “lobbying.”

We must empower the civil service so that the government regains independence from corporations and can produce strict regulatory systems to protect the people. We have done it before and we can do it again. In that process, many corporations, such as banks, or communications and energy companies, will be nationalized, and run by a competent staff of civil servants who have the common good as their sacred mission. Such ethical governance has precedents dating back to ancient times and does not require ideological decorations.

7)

An economy of the people and for the people

Without economic equality and the strict regulation of finance, democracy is not possible. While we slept, an elite faction generated great wealth by illegal and immoral means for decades and then hoarded it overseas. Most of our citizens cannot even conceive of the corruption that has spread everywhere behind the sparkling facades of industry and government.

All this will stop. We empower thousands of professional auditors at the Internal Revenue Service, and other government bureaus, who, supported by the FBI, will go forward and fearlessly conduct complete audits of all branches of government, including the Department of Defense. We will demand a full financial audit of the Congress and of all its members. So also will the entire Executive branch and all the major members of the Judiciary, be audited. We will not be afraid to fire, fine and imprison thousands of people, or more, if necessary.

Once the government is focused once again on the concerns of our honorable citizens, we will do the same for corporations and for the super-rich.

Remember that those who roll in obscene wealth obtained it through unfair access to capital combined with illegal business practices. Their assets must be cut down to size so that they can no longer use these funds to undermine journalism, politics or education. Finance from now on will be a highly regulated field, primarily overseen by government organizations accountable to the people. Regional banks will be transformed into cooperatives that are run by the citizens for the sake of the local economy.

8)

Support true education and investigative journalism

Politics cannot be legitimate if our citizens are denied access to the quality education they need in order to think critically about the state of our society and to make full use of the infinite potential locked away in their imaginations. They need to learn history and literature, philosophy and science, from a young age in order to be able to comprehend the complex issues of our generation.

We will create a new education system in which all citizens are treated equally. The funds for schools will never be tied to local real estate taxes. Teachers will be as well rewarded as any member of society. Everyone will be entitled to a quality education because we expect everyone to be an active citizen.

Journalism is an extension of education. Journalism should inform our citizens about real issues, not sensationalist happenings, and it should teach them how to think critically about the economic and cultural realities behind the surface of things. Sadly, journalism has degenerated into a disgraceful sludge that fills newspapers, TV broadcasts and internet postings with grotesque images and meretricious phrases, content that appeals to our worst angels.

Whereas citizens should be learning to think objectively and to work together to create a better society, they are bombarded instead with refuse that stimulates sexual desire or promotes mindless consumption.

The government must support an independent media at the local and national level that is dedicated to the pursuit of truth and that encourages citizens to think for themselves. Investigative journalism about the serious issues of our time, brave journalism, must once again become a viable career.

Art, whether painting, sculpture, design, drama, music or literature, must be part of our citizens’ lives. The government will support such activities because they give citizens the confidence to express themselves, and to articulate a vision for our future on their own, without relying on shiny images or glib phrases produced by the corporate media.

Fostering artistic expression will free youth from the banal and manipulative culture they face today, one which directs them towards short-term pleasures and robs them of the ability to contribute to their society. Giving them the opportunity to make their own films, their own newspapers and their own paintings and photographs, while being paid a decent wage for that work, will give them confidence they can change society. We will replace banal and demeaning commercial art with the redeeming and inspiring art of our citizens.

9)

The 13th amendment and the end of slavery

The 13th amendment of our Constitution explicitly prohibits slavery. Yet we have citizens, many forced into debt by contemptible practices, who work in factories and stores as effective slaves. We have citizens in prisons, often on trumped-up charges, forced to work for no pay, forced to pay for the right to see their loved ones. All these crimes are for the profit of corporations. These despicable practices will be ended, without exception, by the rigorous application of the 13th amendment.

10)

Trade must be ecological and truly free

Trade can be helpful on occasion, but as it is practiced today it is deeply damaging to our precious ecosystem and to our people. Trade has become another word for massive container ships, controlled by investment banks, spewing horrid smoke as they carry goods across oceans in the interests of the few, not of those who make the goods, nor of those who use them.

It is not a positive, and it is certainly is not internationalization, for local industries and farms to be destroyed by “trade” and for citizens to be rendered dependent on imported goods against their will.

We must, together, completely rethink what trade means and create a 100% fossil-fuel free trade system that is accessible to everyone and that respects the needs of local communities.

11)

Moral decadence lies at the core of this political crisis

The current crisis is above all a spiritual crisis. We have fallen deep into decadence and narcissism. They taint even those with the best of intentions. Modesty, frugality and integrity have vanished from our vocabulary. The invisible inner world of values and character has been replaced by a spectacle that renders the citizen a passive consumer of filth.

Until we can control our own actions and, only then, form communities that can demand justice and righteousness, until we can trust our neighbors, talk frankly with our children and uphold common values, we will be incapable of standing up to the powers that have seized control of our country.

Moral corruption means that many of those who speak of “freedom” and “justice” are happy to take covert payments that they avoid speaking too much truth. This also must end.

12)

Transform the military-intelligence complex

The out-of-control military allows corporations to take our tax dollars and transfer them directly to their bank accounts through the sales of overpriced weapons, not subject to outside review or to scientific tests.

We need men and women willing to give their lives for their country. Those noble sentiments have been cynically misdirected. The military, and the intelligence “community” that surrounds it as a penumbra, must be transformed and dedicated, above all, to the mitigation of, and the adaptation to, climate change, and to other real security threats.

The bravery of soldiers must be redirected to the dangerous duty of ending the rule of our country by fossil fuel giants, and their lackeys, and to the task of transforming our economy. Soldiers! If you cannot stand up to the energy czars, how can you call yourselves brave?

In violation of George Washington’s warning of the dangers of “entangling our peace and prosperity” with the intentions of foreign countries, we have launched into numerous secret treaties, casually termed “intelligence sharing” and “security cooperation,” that are leading us to a catastrophe like that of 1914. Back then, a horrific domino effect was set off by such secret treaties that dragged the world into a catastrophic war.

All of you who work at underpaid contract jobs for the NSA, all of you who must read through our endless emails, all of you required to harass simple folk over foolish things for wanton corporations, listen to me! Verily, I say unto thee, “Come with us! Thou hast nothing to lose but thy chains.”

13)

Stop the dangerous influence of technology on our citizens

The corporate media presents the exponential evolution of technology as an unmitigated positive. Yet, in most cases, exposure to such new technologies robs us of the ability to focus, deprives us of the power to think for ourselves, and strips us of the awareness necessary to function as citizens in society. Technology is used increasingly as a means of inducing in us addiction to short-term stimulation. Such products generate profits, but they render citizens incapable of understanding the seriousness of the crisis we face.

We want to interact with others, and we need jobs that let us cooperate with others. But all we encounter is recorded messages, automated checkouts and long rows of supercomputers coldly calculating corporate profits. We find ourselves entirely alone in a digital desert. This is no accident but rather a premeditated crime.

We must critically review how technology impacts society before we employ it. Technology can be immensely helpful, but only if it is applied to solve the real challenges of our age, and not used to manipulate us.

Scientific understanding of the state of our Earth, and of our society, must be our goal always. We confuse science with technology at our peril. As Paul Goodman wrote, “Whether or not it draws on new scientific research, technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science.”

14)

Halt the anti-intellectual campaigns to dumb us down

Our citizens are subject to unending campaigns that encourage anti-intellectual sentiments and that discourage thinking deeply about the world. These changes in our culture are not natural, but are imposed by hidden forces seeking to render us docile.

We must raise the level of intellectual engagement in every corner of our country, and encourage people to think for themselves, and to propose solutions of their own. Reading, writing and debate are critical to that process and must be encouraged. Citizens should never rely on the facile and jejune opinions offered up by celebrities.

We cannot allow the poisonous forest of advertising and public relations firms to dumb down the citizenry, to impose from above a culture of narcissism and to promote the insidious cult of the self. Terrible indeed is the damage they have already done. Our citizens confront banal wasteland that offers nothing, but has taken over every TV channel, occupied every mall and conquered every office.

The advertising and PR industry must be subject to the strictest regulations so that our citizens are exposed to images in the media which encourage intellectual engagement and that support a healthy community. Citizens have the right to read articles, and watch broadcasts, that the describe the reality of our lives in a scientific manner, and the right not to be subject to programs that hold up as a model scenes from the indulgent lives of the rich.

15)

Revive the Iroquois principle of seven generations;

End the cult of growth and consumption

Although the constitution of the Iroquois Nation had a profound influence on the United States Constitution, its focus on sustainability was tragically overlooked by our founding fathers. The traditions of the Iroquois, and of other native nations, must never be forgotten. The “seventh generation” principle of the Iroquois Nation demands that we consider how our decisions today will influence the lives of our descendants seven generations in the future. This principle is scientific and rational, and it stands in marked contrast to the irrational assumption that the oceans, forests and grasslands are commodities that belong to individuals or corporations, and can be destroyed for personal profit.

The “seventh generation” principle must be added to the Constitution as an amendment, serving as the basis for the complete revaluation of our economic and cultural assumptions.

We must stop using deceptive terms like “growth” and “consumption” to assess the well-being of the nation. We must consider together the health of all our citizens, the weal of the environment and the prosperity of wild animals and plants.

Cooperation is essential to our survival. We cannot solve problems through budgets if budgets merely encourage dependency on money. We must create barter systems between citizens so that neighbors can assist each other and set up programs for mutual support that make families and communities self-sufficient.

Health care cannot be provided merely by sloshing government money from one account to another. We must also empower citizens to care for each other, to learn enough of medicine, of herbal remedies and of proper exercise, to cure many illnesses on their own without using money at all.

16)

Farming for the people and a healthy and fair food economy

The rapid rise in temperature brought on by global warming will cause an exponential increase in the cost of food over the next decade and make farming once again the most critical activity for survival. We have not even started to prepare for this catastrophe.

We must leave behind this bankrupt system of industrial farming and return to farming by the people and for the people. The land must be distributed to large numbers of citizens to be used as family farms. There is nothing to lament or decry herein. The soil and the water granted to us by our mother Earth has never been, and never will, the property of corporations.

The entire distribution system for agriculture must be regulated and thereby made fair. It is far more important to produce food in a manner that does not damage our soil and water than it is for the few to make fortunes from agricultural exports. Americans must embrace sustainable organic farming, and do so now.

17)

Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party are described in the Constitution

The three-ring circus of impeachment revealed to us that the current political system has nothing to do with the Constitution. Governance is dead and politics has been reduced to a brawl between corporate lobbyists, investment bankers, media pundits and the rich whom they serve. The media, having long abandoned any scrap of journalistic integrity, merely eggs on the wrestlers like a drunken mob.

All debate surrounding the formulation and implementation of policy must be handled in a transparent manner within the government offices defined by the Constitution.

Yet today, policy is made by corporations, or debated within opaque and unaccountable political parties, in a blatantly unconstitutional manner. Do not be deceived. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are not described in the Constitution and they do not represent the vast majority of our citizens.

Leaving decisions on policy to political parties that are not regulated by the Constitution is both criminal and unconstitutional, and the practice must be stopped.

Political parties are an appropriate venue for citizens at the local level to meet and to exchange ideas. The Constitution grants the Democratic and Republican parties no role in governance or in the formulation of policy.

Original declaration in medium.com

“동북아, ‘위기’ 해결보다 ‘변화’ 추진에 나서야” 프레시안 2020년 1월 25일

프레시안

“동북아, ‘위기’ 해결보다 ‘변화’ 추진에 나서야”

2020년 1월 25일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

오늘날 미국은 동북아시아에서 무한한 재난에 직면해 있는데 이는 중국과의 경솔한 무역 전쟁, 일본 및 한국과의 동반 관세 분쟁 및 중국을 군사적 위협으로 홍보함으로써 광범위한 협력 노력을 악화시킨 데 따른 결과이다. 우리는 점잖은 무시가 악의적인 무시로 전이되는 것을 조용히 지켜 보고 있는 상황이다. 아시아인들은 말하기를 꺼리는 편이지만, 워싱턴을 파괴적인 세력으로 인식하는 이들이 급격히 늘고 있다.

트위터에 의해 지배되는 행정부와 국제 사회에 대한 ‘트럼프 퍼스트’의 새 버전은 UN 본부가 위치해 있고 핵확산 금지, 무역 및 테러 방지 등을 처리할 국제 조약을 지지하며 자유의 여신상을 통해 구현된 미국의 국제주의 전통을 묻어 둔 채 단기 이익만을 추구하는 경향을 가속화할 뿐이다.  

동북아의 이러한 위기는 평양에서 발생한 것이 아니며 오히려 탐욕스럽고 자기도취적인 워싱턴 모델이 아시아의 수도들에서 새로운 주인을 찾은 데서 기인한다.

미국이 잃어버린 명성을 회복하기보다는 오히려 아시아 지역에서 밀려나게 될 가능성이 매우 높은 신냉전을 조장하는 데에 납세자들의 돈을 실제로 소비해야 할 필요가 있을까?

또한 일본은 한국과의 군사적 충돌 가능성을 상정하고 있다. 우리에게는 한국, 일본, 중국 및 다른 국가 간의 무기 경쟁 및 경제 전쟁 발생에 따른 상상할 수 없는 악몽을 피할 수 있도록 새로운 방향을 설정하기 전에 낭비할 시간이 없다. 이러한 전개는 이 지역에서 미국의 역할이 끝남을 포함해 많은 것을 의미할 수 있다.  

이러한 동북아의 위기는 현란한 정상회담이나 의회에서 일부 법을 제정하는 것만으로는 해결되지 않을 것이다. 우리에게는 변화하는 동북아의 미래를 향해 나아갈 방법과 뚜렷한 희망을 제시할 수 있는 비전이 필요하다.  

일본의 철학자 오규 소라이에 따르면, 세상에는 두 가지 종류의 체스 장인이 있다고 한다. 규칙을 완벽하게 알아서 모든 게임을 쉽게 이길 수 있는 사람들과 체스는 경기할 규칙을 제정하는 사람들의 두 부류이다.  

후자의 접근 방식은 눈에 띄게 생소하다. 우리는 새로운 질서를 만들기보다는 제2차 세계대전의 종료 당시 제정된 세계 질서를 유지하는 데에 익숙해 있다. 그러나 점진적인 개혁만으로는 동아시아에서 점점 약화되고 있는 미국의 지위를 바꿀 수 없다. 이제 우리는 동아시아에서 미국의 역할을 근본적으로 바꿔야 한다.  

그리고 아시아에서 미국의 역할을 정의하기 위해 시작한 투쟁은 타자의 악마화가 조건이 아니며 예상치 못한 곳에서 답이 나올 수 있다.  

최근 UN의 기후행동 정상회의에서 이루어진 그레타 툰베리의 연설은 전 세계에서 기후 문제에 대해 대책을 요구하는 사람들의 요구가 절정에 달했음을 드러낸 사례이다. 수만 명의 열정적인 젊은이들이 기후변화의 재난으로부터 우리를 구할 수 있도록 기존의 모든 경제, 정치 및 문화적 측면에서 근본적인 변화를 요구했다. 그들은 기후변화가 최악의 결과로 이어질 수 있음을 알고 있다.  

세계에서 일어나고 있는 근본적인 변화에 대한 요구는 동북아에서 미국의 역할을 재정의하고 중국과의 대립을 해결하는 한편 한국과 일본의 협력을 장려할 수 있는 귀중한 기회가 된다.  

미국은 기후변화 자체가 해수면 상승, 해양 온난화, 사막화의 확산 또는 열대성 폭풍우와 같이 동북 아시아의 주요 위협이 되고 있음을 인식해야 한다. 그로 인해 많은 사람들이 죽어 가고 있으며 향후 수년간 수백만 명이 죽게 될 것이다.  

이러한 근본적인 변화를 달성하기 위해서는 우리의 모든 가정을 변경해야 하는데, 그레타 툰베리가 요구한 것이 바로 이것이다.  

이는 미국이 비행기, 배, 총알 및 미사일 등의 군사적 측면에 초점을 맞추어왔던 데서 벗어나 화석 연료의 사용 금지와 숲의 복원 및 해양 및 강의 생태계를 보호하는 것으로 안보의 주요 임무를 재정의함을 의미한다. 현재 최대 환경 오염 유발자 중 하나인 미군으로 하여금 오염을 정화하고 석유 시추 및 석탄 사용을 금지하는 데에 주력하도록 기본 임무를 재설계할 수 있다.  

이러한 비전은 지나치게 이상적일 수 있다. 그러나 문자 그대로 너무 큰 위기여서 모든 것을 재고해야 한다.  

동아시아의 경우 기존의 전투 수행에서 벗어나 나무를 심고 생태계를 보호하며 기업들로 하여금 지구의 소중한 자원을 영리 목적으로 파괴하지 않도록 함으로써 기후변화를 완화하는 데에 주력하도록 미군의 주요 임무를 변경함으로써 여러 전선에서 일본 및 한국군과 협력할 수 있을 것이다. 각국의 군대들이 기후변화에 대한 적응 및 완화에 군사적 초점을 맞추게 되면 중국과의 군사 협력도 쉬워질 것이다.  

군대는 애초에 그러한 변화의 역할을 수행하도록 만들어진 것이 아니므로 어쨌든 기존의 안보 및 방어 개념을 고수할 것이다. 그러나 군대가 그런 방식으로 역할을 하기 시작할 경우 민간 부문보다 그러한 변화를 더 빠르게 이행할 수 있다. 

군대는 수익성에 대한 우려 없이 첨단 기술 개발을 위한 장기 예산을 책정할 수 있는데 예를 들어 다음 달까지 모든 전력을 태양열이나 풍력을 통해 생산하도록 할 수도 있다. 우리는 미국, 한국, 일본의 노하우를 결합함으로써 그러한 해결책을 제시하고 기후변화 해결에 전혀 도움이 되지 않는 위험한 군사 시설 건설에서 벗어날 수 있다.

“Korea’s solution to the Middle East crisis: Go for zero” Korea Times

Korea Times

“Korea’s solution to the Middle East crisis: Go for zero”

January 18, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

The request from the Trump administration that South Korea join a new naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz, at precisely the moment the entire region is on fire, places Seoul in a difficult position. Not only is the push for military conflict with Iran, which is making Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immensely unpopular with many Americans (including many in the military), the plan has also been met with profound skepticism on the part of many American allies. Many question the legitimacy, and the logic, of assassinating Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Few think that there will be any positive result from military action.

The risk of South Korea being drawn into a massive, and crippling, military conflict, and one in which the United States does not have overwhelming advantage as was the case in the first Gulf War, are high. The threat that Iran will break off diplomatic relations with Seoul, and perhaps even encourage attacks on Koreans around the world, is real.

At the same time, South Korea has benefitted immensely from the U.S.-Korea alliance and the ties between the two countries in culture, education, politics and economics are profound. A decision by South Korea to avoid the Hormuz mission, as Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has suggested, could do significant damage to bilateral relations and create resentment the extends far beyond the Trump administration.

The choice is incredibly difficult, but it must be made.

I will not pretend to offer a miracle cure. What I would like to suggest here is that this crisis offers South Korea a chance for a profound consideration of its true national security and an opportunity to launch a complete transformation of its economy and culture that will make future choices more strategically sound and will keep South Korea out of such impossible positions.

Energy resources from the Middle East are critical to the Korean Economy at multiple levels. Korea uses those energy sources in its economy, it produces products that require those energy sources such as automobiles and ships that are sold globally (and is therefore sensitive to fluctuations in the price of oil), and Korea sells many products and services to the Middle East so that the economic health of that part of the world has a direct impact at home.

So dangerous it the instability in the Middle East that Koreans must respond by focusing their full attention on the solution (putting away their smartphones) and they must make energy security the national priority.

However, this crisis, which I think is the equivalent of war, does not mean that Korea must buy even more weapons systems, or send its military into the Middle East to face tremendous dangers in an ambiguous struggle. Instead, making Korea completely independent of imported fossil fuels must become the priority. We must create the equivalent of a military economy to get us there quickly. We have no time to waste.

The rapid end of dependency on petroleum and other energy sources imported from abroad must be made such a fundamental security priority that the response of the stock market, short-term profits for business, the convenience of citizens and traditional economic growth metrics become secondary in the discussion.

The government must reassert its authority to set a national long-term agenda and to mobilize citizens, working together with all sectors, so that we can rapidly transform our economy, our means of production and our culture. It is an imperative, “the moral equivalent of war,” to quote President Jimmy Carter, that we become entirely independent of fossil fuels in the next few years.

Once we recognize that the overwhelming priority for Korea is national security, and not economic growth, and that national security will only come when we end the importation of petroleum from the Middle East, and from elsewhere, we will make real progress. Climate change engendered by emissions from fossil fuels will destroy Korea over the next 40 years (and the predictions about global warming of scientists over the last 30 years have been quite accurate) and constant dependency on imported energy means that Korea can be economically destroyed at any time by a break in the flow of petroleum and coal into the country.

The first step is for the government to ignore the cries of short-sighted business representatives who have no long-term strategy for the nation and who are more interested in overseas profits than in the well-being of Koreans.

We must set an ambitious plan to make Korea 100 percent carbon-free in four years, or fewer. Such a plan will go even beyond the most ambitious efforts elsewhere in the world and make Korea number one. Moreover, it must be even more comprehensive an effort than the Korean drive for rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s. To be successful, this goal of independence from fossil fuels must become a critical part of the lives of all citizens, giving new meaning to every action and creating a new sense of community. Citizens should be placed at the center of this national movement to end imports of energy, thus encouraging a sense of common purpose and a habit of mutual support, as opposed to narcissistic self-indulgence and greedy competition.

We must make plans for South Korea in which energy independence is set as the top priority and in which policies are no longer evaluated with regards to the profits they may derive for wealthy investors.

First, the government must reinvent finance to serve in much the manner it does in a war-time economy. As was true in the 1960s and 1970s, finance must be nationalized and used for the common good. Foreign capital which is not directed at the long-term interests of Korea, specifically energy independence, must be rejected.

The goal of zero imported fuel is necessary for survival. Profit and consumption are far lesser concerns.

The entire economy must be mobilized to manufacture and distribute wind-powered and solar powered sources of energy. Those sources of energy should be heavily subsidized for the purpose of national security and must completely displace oil and coal power. The technology should be open source and all residents should be required by law to employ renewable energy. We must see solar and wind power devices attached to every residence, every office building and spread across the country. Every plane or bus or automobile must be covered with solar panels that generate energy.

But the process goes further than that. Buildings that waste energy must be entirely rebuilt for maximum efficiency, including the installation of insulation and the use of double or triple storm windows. We should not hesitate to demolish buildings that cannot be energy efficient. Moreover, we must increase the number of trees in public spaces, even tearing down many buildings in cities to make space for plants.

Employing electric cars that can be charged using solar panels will be a critical first step. But we can only do so effectively if we require that all existing automobiles be turned in for replacement with electric vehicles within six months.

But many people should simply give up their cars forever. Moreover, South Korea should move beyond its economic dependence on the automotive sector. The ultimate plan will be to eliminate most automobiles and to redesign cities so the vehicles are no longer needed.

The scale of the transformation will be massive and must be pushed forward by a social movement that includes all citizens. Citizens must learn at local meetings, much as they did in the 1960s and 1970s, about the dangers of climate change, about the imperative to stop the use of gasoline, of plastics, and of everything related to imported petroleum. We must educate everyone about the existential danger for Korea posed by climate change and the national security risks of dependence on imported energy. We must make everyone aware of how each of their daily actions, driving a car, buying a plastic toy, eating food wrapped in plastic and imported, make Korea less secure and increase the dangers that we face.

This movement should include everyone, from every block, from every village, across Korea.

To achieve such a goal we must make reading, writing, analysis and debate central to Korean society. The link between climate change and fossil fuels, and the deep threat to Korean security posed by importing energy, can only be made clear if we revive intellectual discourse in our society and make citizens participants in the process. We must encourage Koreans to be citizens and to engage their minds in policy, not just in mindless entertainment.

But there is more. To eliminate imported energy, and thereby assure national security, we must return to our traditional values. Koreans once held frugality, modesty, self-sufficiency and humility as the highest values. It was once considered shameful to throw away a grain of rice, or to dispose of any object that had still value. Koreans wasted nothing. Thrift was a great virtue.

But Korea has been taken over by an indulgent culture of consumption that makes waste a virtue. We are encouraged by television shows, commercials and the alien concept of consumption-based economics to waste. In fact, the more we waste, the better our economy will be ― or so we are told. We have thrown away close family ties and deep friendships. Instead, we pass our days buried in our smartphones, watching stupid videos, photographs of food, video games or pornography. This flawed culture encourages a fabulous waste of energy that makes the southern side of the Korean Peninsula visible from space. It is a catastrophe, not an achievement that South Korea is lit up, and this waste deeply compromises our security. All that energy is imported, and all that energy is destroying the climate.

As we push for true energy independence, we also will be forced to reconsider the concept of trade. Trade has been presented to us as a critical aspect of the economy, and this position on the importance of trade is shared by representatives of the left and of the right.

Trade is a sacred topic, one that no one can question.

But if Korea wants true security, we must ask the hard questions. The United States, and Japan and China have already started to ask those hard questions about trade.

The ships that bring us products from around the world also consume immense amounts of imported fossil fuels and they contribute to climate change. Moreover, Korea’s dependency on raw materials and finished goods that are imported vastly increases the risks for Korea in the case of a conflict. Whereas most tools and furniture were once made in Korea, now most must be brought from abroad. Jobs have been sacrificed, the nation’s security has been compromised and local expertise diminished. If trade stops in a crisis, the Korean economy will stop.

Increased self-sufficiency is critical to Korea’s survival; the myth that the only road to prosperity is through trade must be questioned. If trade makes us insecure, we must limit trade. We are in a position where most Koreans would starve in a few weeks if food imports ceased.

The Middle East crisis is as serious as it looks. But the ultimate message for us is NOT that we need to send warships and tanks into that growing chaos. No. Rather, we must come together in Korea, to exercise great political will, and to make Korea truly independent of imported energy. That is the first step toward true security.

The struggle to change direction will be enormous. Everyone must be involved. But as we know, Korea has succeeded against the odds before.

The argument for staying away from technical terms like “capitalism”

I have to say that to blame everything on “neoliberalism” or “capitalism” or “consumption” does not really answer the question. Nor does blame of the super rich answer the question. Ultimately there is a flaw in human nature, in the structure of the human brain, that lies behind the chaos and destruction we witness. We tolerate things we should not tolerate. We are able to convince ourselves that things which are not seen are not important. And finally, the human brain is made of different parts which interact, but do not conform to an administrative hierarchy. The pre-frontal cortex may put together arguments for rationality, and also promote contemplation, but it runs in parallel with the amygdala which responds with fear to events and refuses to permit a careful consideration of anything but initial impressions. Then there is the brain stem which functions in an entirely instinctive manner, without a concern for logic, or even for whether the human will survive the current situation, or not. We are ultimately an interference pattern of these elements and our brains can be manipulated by technology, by repetition, by images that have pre-programmed connotations, and by complex fictions that are convincing as reality, or more so.

Such technical terms should also be avoided because they cost us an audience among ordinary people. Everything that we attribute to “capitalism” can be described in an objective manner without ever using that word. In fact, using that word often results in people ceasing to think carefully about the details of economic processes.

Is it okay to be in denial about nuclear war and climate change?

Of course it is a strategy of sorts to simply pretend that you have no idea what the risk of nuclear war is, or what the catastrophe of climate change is that awaits us. It is easy enough to be in denial. And we can understand those who do so. But if you have received a good education, if you have some economic means, if you do not have to work all day long at a fast food restaurant to survive, then such behavior is simply inexcusable. You have a responsibility to speak the truth and to do what you can, even at considerable sacrifice. That is your duty in light of the benefits you have received.

“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.

“Creating Fossil-Fuel-Free Communities Globally” Foreign Policy in Focus

Foreign Policy in Focus

“Creating Fossil-Fuel-Free Communities Globally”

November 18, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

Now that the movement to address climate change at the systemic and cultural level has gained unprecedented momentum, it is critical for us to establish a viable alternative economy that committed citizens around the world can join. The basic unit of that economy should be fossil-fuel-free (FFF) communities.

In these FFF (fossil-fuel-free) communities, to be built from the ground up, nothing eaten or consumed, no form of transformation or communication employed, and no aspect of housing, furniture or utensils will contain fossil fuels (including plastics or fertilizers). Nor will any of these items be produced, transported, or manufactured using fossil fuels.

Such FFF communities can serve as uncompromised building blocks of a truly carbon-zero economy, polity, and culture. Although small at first, such communities will not be dependent for food, energy, or finance on corporations or banks tied to fossil fuels.

Creating such communities will require considerable bravery and sacrifice, and the number of people willing to commit will be limited at first. But recent demonstrations around the world suggest that a critical mass is in place. It will not be long before small-scale FFF communities can become powerful economic and political players that can take on investment banks and oil companies and demand an immediate end to all use of fossil fuels in the place of a vague and open-ended plan to phase out fossil fuels in a manner that does not affect profits.

Such FFF communities make for their small size with their complete independence.

Growing Food

The core of FFF economics will be organic farms that produce 100 percent organic food and transport it without the use of fossil fuels to its citizens. At the beginning, citizens of these communities will encounter a significant drop in the diversity of their diet because the food will be grown at home, or in the neighborhood, or it will be brought in from local farms without the use of fossil fuels.

Food will be sold (or exchanged through barter) in communal markets that encourage collaboration between farmer and citizen, rather than a transaction between a corporation and a consumer. Such markets will serve as the foundation for new patterns of economic exchange that are entirely detached from fossil fuels. We do not have such communities these days, but they were the dominant paradigm for hundreds of thousands of years.

Partial models for self-supporting fossil-fuel-free economies exist today among the Amish (currently the fastest-growing farming communities in the United States). Although the media often portray communities who engage in organic agriculture without the use of machinery as odd, they alone have embraced a sustainable economy while the rest of the United States embraced an unsustainable system of industrialized agricultural production tied to global trade.

Such food production will give young people paying jobs in agriculture and distribution that will be morally dignified—and without the deep alienation created by most modern work. To produce and deliver food in a manner that does not contribute to the destruction of our Earth is a noble act that can inspire many to join the effort. The use of carbon-free transportation, even if profoundly limiting at first, will eventually be seen as acts of moral bravery not merely unpleasant inconvenience.

Making Things

Another critical part of the FFF community will be manufacturing. Production must not involve fossil fuels or plastic in the manufacture, the transportation, or the disposal of products. Moreover, manufacturing for the FFF community must start out 100% local, at least until 100% FFF transportation systems are in place to link communities in the region and across the world.

Local manufacture without the use of fossil fuels will require producing items that will last: desks and chairs, bookshelves and chopping boards, shirts and sweaters, cups and pots that can be used for 20 to 50 years, or longer. That shift means both an end to a commercial, consumption-driven culture and a focus on well-made products. Such manufacture will also guarantee long-term jobs for the next generation.

The greater challenge is how to make integrated circuits and supercomputers without employing fossil fuels. A massive effort will be required to find new technologies that deliver the advanced technologies without falling back on petroleum or coal.

New mechanisms of finance will also be necessary to support this transition. A sturdy sweater that can last for 30 years might cost $400. The current economic system produces cheaper products that don’t last as long and are produced in a manner that destroys the environment. By contrast, if financing were readily available on a small scale, that sweater could be paid off over 10 years and the real cost would be less than a less durable version. Similarly, solar panels financed at zero interest over 30 years are cheaper than using natural gas or coal immediately, even for those with no assets.

The establishment of an FFF currency can be immensely helpful in this process. This currency would represent the contribution of the individual to society and would be backed by agricultural products and other manufactured goods that are produced in the community. As the use of this currency expands across the local economy, and eventually extends to the global economy, it can help support a parallel financial system.

Finally, global trade contributes a great deal to climate change. Shipping goods across the Earth in the search of financial advantage does tremendous damage to the environment through carbon emissions and the destruction of forests and jungles to produce factories and factory farms. Displacing the ecological costs of cheap production to India or China allows people the world over to enjoy cheap products whose sticker prices do not reflect their true cost. FFF communities, whether in Nebraska or New Delhi, offer a meaningful alternative to this destructive cycle.

Changing Culture

At the deepest level, the response to climate change must start with a revolution in people’s attitudes and perspectives, not with innovations in technology and governance. The FFF community can be a space where such a cultural transformation can take place without being interrupted by commercials promoting automobiles or the thoughtless consumption of food. The cult of the self and glorification of immediate gratification promoted in a commercialized economy must be replaced by a culture based on moral philosophy, frugality, humility, and the simple virtue of participation in society. These communities, because of this intellectual and moral independence, can create a culture that offers the earth’s citizens a true alternative to the dominant commercial culture.

Such FFF communities can start to undermine the false assumptions promoted by the ideology of modernity which holds that human condition is improved by excessive consumption, a vast increase in possessions, urbanization, and transportation via private automobiles and airplanes. Without challenging this larger ideological framework, a fundamental social shift cannot take place. Without such a transformation, “going green” will be limited to cosmetic changes within an economy built on fossil fuels (green lipstick on a filthy pig).

FFF communities can introduce a new set of values such that citizens feel that the tasks required to create a society without fossil fuels have greater value than activities destructive to the environment.

The FFF community can also help dethrone the misleading concepts of real estate and private property. For example, a pledge by those joining the FFF community to end their ties to fossil fuels could be central to membership. This action parallels the village contract that was so central to agricultural communities in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and elsewhere up until the establishment of enclosure acts that ended the commons and the promulgation of the concept of real estate. The modern village contract should spell out in a binding, rather than symbolic, manner the responsibilities that each individual has to contribute to the production of food, tools, furniture, transportation, and governance as well as the commitment of the community to provide for the members of the community for a lifetime.

Membership in the fossil-fuel-free community must be open to everyone, not just those with the assets the education or the cultural sensitivities necessary to act green. It’s a dangerous delusion to think that the upper middle class can create a green economy by driving Teslas and installing overpriced solar panels. Everyone should have access to information about the climate crisis, and be qualified for membership in a FFF community. The climate crisis disproportionately affects the poor and the working classes. Their participation in FFF communities, accompanied by access to quality education and other opportunities, will be essential.

At first glance, it seems mysterious that those who risk everything in demonstrations about climate change return home by automobile to eat food produced and cooked with fossil fuels. For all their spiritual commitment, they have not been able to break out of the carbon cycle. But there is no mystery. Breaking away from fossil fuels is not a matter of progressive policies, but of revolutionary politics.

Establishing fossil-fuel free (FFF) Communities

Establishing fossil-fuel free (FFF) Communities

Emanuel Pastreich

October 14, 2019

We came away from the climate march, the climate strike and the enormous swell of political commitment among ordinary citizens in the week leading up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit with a new mandate for action.  Even the commercial media which had previously ignored this climate catastrophe was forced to face the music. Whether it is the strikes at high schools or the declaration of a climate emergency by local governments, we are witnessing a fundamental shift in consciousness in all corners.

But even the positive turn cannot erase the dread of impending catastrophe adumbrated by forest fires in Siberia and the Amazon, the heat waves sweeping India and Europe and the complete failure of the central governments of any major country to make a fundamental commitment to the elimination of fossil fuels even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of impending doom.    

The emphasis so far has been on appealing to top government officials to recognize climate change as a crisis and change policy. Perhaps that was the appropriate first step. But the time has come to move to the next stage.

Sadly, the most committed climate activists, after they are dragged away to prison for their civil disobedience, find themselves washing with warm water heated with coal or natural gas, or even nuclear power and eating vegetables that were shipped on cargo ships and trucks powered by fossil fuels, and wrapped in plastic produced from petroleum. The components in the computers and cell phones they used to coordinate the protests, or write moving articles, were produced using coal and other noxious chemicals in India, in China or in Thailand and the power that drives most internet networks is similarly unclean.

The specialists who conduct research on the impact of climate change have retirement funds tied up in companies with direct, or indirect, ties to fossil fuel profits (often links that are not disclosed to them).

That is to say that protestors may raise attention about climate change to the highest levels, but they return home to a nightmare world wherein there is no escape from the fossil fuels. The individual may have the choice of whether to eat meat, or whether to protest, but he or she has no choice about whether to participate in an industrial economy run according to a bankrupt ideology of consumption and growth. 

Activists can block traffic, or lie down on train tracks, to force politicians to pay attention to their demands, but the vast majority of their actions, from the moment they turn on the lights in the morning and check their email to the last plastic wrapped snack they eat from refrigerator before bed, are tied to fossil fuels. Moreover, they can fight to get articles about climate change in the existing corporate media, or in public textbooks, but there is no broadly circulated newspaper or television news that focuses on climate change.

But if there were a choice, even if the scale was small at first, it would be possible to make every aspect of one’s life into protest action by participating in a global economy, a global intellectual network, which is from start to finish 100% fossil fuel free (FFF). Although bravery and sacrifice are required, such FFF communities are entirely possible. But we are rather told that we must put up with the existing system of dependency on petroleum and coal until such moment as the entire country is net zero.

But if we create large parts of local economies that are 100% fossil-fuel free (FFF), those communities themselves will become powerful economic players that can go toe-to-toe with investment banks and oil companies. Imagine if you had people knocking on your door regularly asking you to become a part of a FFF community which would guarantee that all the energy you use, all the food you eat and all the items in your home are produced without fossil fuels? When that starts to happen, we will have started the real revolution.

Establishing a fossil fuels free (FFF) Community

The general assumption among the vast majority of citizens who are even aware of the threat of climate change is that we will all wait until 2050 and then the government, which has been entirely gutted and privatized) will determine through laws that the entire economy of each nation is transformed into a sustainable. The amount of reporting in the commercial media proposing such a solution is so overwhelming that most people, awash in the half-truths that flow through the smart phone, take this proclamation at face value.

The scientific data shows overwhelmingly that 2050 is far, far, too late. But equally importantly, the current power structure is such that although there are media events about climate change from time to time, there is zero change in your neighborhood. There is no option to select 100% renewable energy, no option to purchase food wrapped in plastic and no meetings of the local citizens to discuss climate change, dependency on petroleum or the other serious problems that we face.

Freedom will start when we have a choice and that choice will only exist if we establish 100% fossil fuel free (FFF) communities around the world on a small scale that will permit committed citizens to opt out of the corrupt system that forces us to use fossil fuels, whether we want to or not. Once there are small communities which are literally 100% FFF (no fossil fuels used in the production or transportation of fabrication of anything employed), there will be the choice for those of conscience to choose (at an initial sacrifice) to join these communities. Without any doubt, many will join. And over time these communities will expand until they become a substantial part of the domestic, and international economy.

Currently, it is possible to participate in protests about climate change. But when the protest is over, for most it is back to normal life in an industrialized society. If we have fossil fuel communities, however, the protest can go on 24 hours a day and a real positive step can be made to stop destroying our Earth now, and not when some politician decides so. We do not need the approval of business leaders or politicians to start that process at the local level. All we need is the will, the vision, the motivation and the tenacity. Such FFF communities give us more than just a good feeling. They bring with them economic independence from a corrupt fossil fuel economy which influences every aspect of the political economy. Those FFF communities can serve as the base for numerous other political, social and educational movements.

The first step for creating FFF (fossil-fuel free) communities at the local level is to gather together a small group of people who pledge to support the community, and each other, for the long term, and to support themselves exclusively on the FFF products produced by this community. There are now, among those willing to be arrested at protests, those who are deeply committed to being vegan. If we have a critical mass of them willing to commit to these FFF communities, and to sink what assets they have into the community in the understanding that those communities will pledge to support them going forward.

There are a few basics for a fossil fuel free community, and they may not be perfect at first, but can be made 100% in a short period of time. The core for our new economy is the establishment of organic farms that produce 100% organic food and transport it without the use of fossil fuels to those who will eat it. At the beginning, those who join these groups will encounter a significant drop in the diversity of their diet, but they can be certain that they have established the foundations for a truly fossil fuel free economy. The food may be grown locally, or brought in from local farms, or grown at home. The point is that fossil fuels do not intrude at any point in the process.

Food can be sold at communal markets in which the collaboration between producer and consumer is a core feature. That is to say that the markets are jointly owned and that the act of buying is linked to a cultural and political act of stepping out of the fossil fuel economy. We can start with one such communal market and then expand them out around the world—what is important is that people are invited to join.

The model of the Amish or the Mennonites is worth considering here. Although we do not have to accept every aspect of their production systems for food without fossil fuels, they offer us best practices that we can use. What we need to make sure is that our communities are expansive and invite in all those who take an interest.

We can create FFF gardens in every corner of the city, like victory gardens in our struggle to win back our economy from the agricultural and transportation corporations who want to make us slaves to petroleum and petroleum byproducts. Give the youth who create this food jobs and pay them in food and currency for their efforts (like the growing of food during WW II but even more extensive). Within a month, we can get a significant chunk of the UK economy made of FFF communities.

It will be critical to come up with fossil fuel free transportation for food and other goods immediately, rather than waiting for corrupt politicians to provide it and to make it clear that making do with limited FFF transportation is not an unpleasant inconvenience for the citizen, but a form of moral bravery, the front line of the battle against climate change. The first step is not technological, but rather attitudinal. If working all day shoveling mulch, or transporting food by cart, or generating electricity on an exercise bike (which is good exercise) is seen as an ethical imperative, much will become possible. If these actions are treated as secondary, something to be left to others, and the narcissism of posting on Instagram dominates our culture, we will not get very far at all.

Transportation reform means reform of the concept of real estate and of community. That we must become social beings again who can share everything and we must give up our private land in order to support ourselves and our community through local food production.

Another critical part of the FFF community must be manufacturing. Establishing FFF manufacturing is an enormous challenge. First you must start making everything yourself, in your community, make it without using fossil fuels. Products, whether desks and bookshelves, or shirts and sweaters, or cups and pots must be made to last for 20-50 years. That means that they must be well-made, that the culture of consumption and constant replacement must be replaced with a culture of sustainability within the FFF community, and we return to local production for most everything.

Starting our own stores that sell only products produced without any fossil fuels and offering jobs to our children and the children of our neighbors in those stores, which we patronize because we are in part owners of them, it is key to creating FFF communities.

It goes without saying that this move is the end of the global trade that we have staked our economy on for the last hundred years. Shipping goods across the Earth does tremendous damage to the environment and also to encourage the inhuman mass production of foodstuffs and other products in certain regions to supply the world. That approach to production and distribution has destroyed local economies and distorted the global economy. It is possible to have trade using entirely renewable energy in the future, but there is no need for it ever to be on this scale.

Some might take this statement as an anti-internationalist, or even anti-Chinese, statement. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is essential that local communities work in an international manner to address climate change long-term. That will be an internationalist project, but it will have nothing to do with global capital investments by the wealthy. It is not anti-Chinese to suggest that China must reinvigorate its local economy and stop the large scale exports that damage the environment by switching back to local, non-polluting manufacturing and agriculture. New technologies can make this process far easier and more effective than was true in the 19th century. Moreover, the shift will make China more independent and more self-sufficient. The same hold true for other nations who have staked their futures on global trade. We must recognize, quickly, that this system is finished.

Finance and Currency

The end of a consumption culture driven forward by corporate advertising must be coupled with a drive to restructure finance and lending to meet the needs of this new community. We must create local banks that lend out money to purchase these products by means of 30-year loans. That is to say that if you buy a shirt, or a desk, that will last for 50 years, it will take a lot of work to make and it will be expensive. But if there is a bank that will lend you money for the purchase immediately using a loan over twenty years to purchase that product, then the product becomes affordable immediately. The same is true for solar or wind power.

It is a tremendous burden to suddenly go out and buy solar panels and have them installed. But if the whole package is funded using a 30-year, or 50-year loan, then it is immediately competitive with paying your monthly bill from the very start. Most people would start using renewable energy immediately.

We need to completely restructure banks, starting with local banks and the banks established by FFF communities. The primary function of banks will be to make rapid conversation to 100% renewable possible. That means that finance must be focused on the small item, not the big infrastructure programs that investment banks love. For example, if a pair of pants that will last for 40 years (and can be passed on and on to the next generation, and is made locally, ends up costing $150, the bank should offer microloans that will make that product cheaper than a pair of pants imported from Vietnam that will last for six months. The bank will serve, starting from the FFF community, to reshape the nature of economics so that loans are primarily concerned with distributing cost for critical investments for sustainability so that those investments are never avoided because they are too expensive. The bank will be cooperative in nature, owned by the members of the community and will not have profit as a goal.

Moreover, the very nature of the economy, whether at the bank of in the newspapers circulated at the FFF community, must fall on long-term development (50-100 years) so that the true cost of petroleum, coal and consumption is manifest. That requires that we transform the study of economics, policy, security and welfare so that all disciplines focus on the long term. We can start this transformation of education from elementary school in the FFF community and quickly expand it around the world.

Part of the process can be the establishment of an eco-currency, a form of money that is completely detached from the fossil fuel banking-industrial-military complex and that ties the state of the environment directly to the value of money. Such a currency can start at the local level, and be expanded in its use at a later date (See “Ecocurrency”).

Education   

More often than not, the solution to the climate catastrophe is presented to us as a matter of technology. Although there are certainly critical new materials that can help us to create energy more cheaply from wind and sun, and that satellites allow us to study the state of the biosphere, it will be the humanities that will be decisive in the response to climate change.

The much-neglected field of philosophy will be central. We need to make study of philosophy central to all of our plans for the future and to recognize that it was the war on metaphysics, epistmelogy and moral philosophy which has brought on the current intellectual crisis that has permitted climate change to reach this stage without any response.

The privileged feel entirely at peace with themselves consuming goods that are produced using fossil fuels in other countries while living in comfortable home with minimal pollution. They are happy to have cheap energy produced by coal power plants as long as those power plants are far away. The ability to conceive of that which is not immediately visible as atrophied for the vast majority of the population. Discussions about philosophy, philosophic topics and scientific discussions about the nature of our human experience should be expanded to be a central part of our lives, replacing the commercial consumption dominated media that takes up most of our lives.

Only strong foundations in philosophy will allow our citizens to step back from the drive to make a profit right now, to satisfy their desires immediately, and think about the long-term. Philosophy does not mean, however, that we must bury ourselves in the abstract writings of Hegel and Heidegger. Rather the essential questions about human existence and the meaning of our experience must be made central in all discourse and the consumer culture aimed at stimulating the amygdala must be ended.

The consumption culture that is destroying us creates profits because it encourages, stimulates, the individual to desire more and bigger, to create an imbalance in the individuals self-perception so that some exterior object must be purchased in order to obtain wholeness. Whether it is the worship of growth or the praise of consumption, the blindness towards how our economic assumptions feed climate change must be overcome.

One critical part of that transformation consists of the discovery of the infinite within. As Leo Tolstoy noted in his masterpiece on this subject “The Kingdom of God Is Within You” there is infinite spiritual depth, infinite intellectual and artistic potential within us, within a blade of grass. Such a spiritual and philosophical understanding of human experience is essential to moving beyond our self-destructive current culture and learning how to control technologies, rather than have technology control us.  

The importance of the humanities goes beyond philosophy. We must create a community in which all citizens can fully express themselves and live deep, meaningful and fulfilling lives without ever feeling a need to do something that requires fossil fuels. Humans did it four tens of thousands of years before. They may have suffered as a result of the lack of modern medicine and they may have been malnourished, but we should not assume their experiences were less spiritually and intellectually.

Odd though it may seem to people whose brains have been rewired by computers and the internet to respond to instant messages, it is possible for you to spend months reading books, writing letters, painting and sketching, exercising, playing music or dancing without employing a single drop of petroleum. Moreover, your memory will improve and you will find it easier to keep track of complex issues in your head as a result. Making things with your hands from clay or wood gives a concrete quality to experience that is effective in addressing the alienation in our society.

 The return of art, literature, and the public debate will greatly improve the state of our society and make us better equipped to respond to climate change. It is hard to imagine such a shift, but within FFF communities we can start the revolution.

 

These fossil fuel free communities require a deep personal commitment. Like members of alcoholics anonymous, we must pledge never to use fossil fuels and support each other so that we do not fall back to our old habit. We must feel a sense of shame, and we should spread that sense of shame broadly. Every time you use fossil fuels to warm your water, you should think that you are killing off children in Chad. Every time you throw away a plastic spoon, you should feel as if you are dumping raw crude oil in the ocean.

 

Restoring the culture of modesty and frugality that has made up much of human history is critical for our future. That will be part of our education programs, our media programs and our approach to evaluating human progress. We must reject the standards by which we have analyzed the world for over a hundred years.

Shame must be a part of that education. Every citizen must think about all the energy and the suffering that went into every drop of petroleum, the pollution and contamination that is behind every bite of processed food, and also the damage done by every little piece of plastic we through away, every piece of fish we waste.

Education about climate change should begin today, not for those who are reading this article, but for those who live in blissful ignorance, or who have been denied educations altogether. We must work outside of our FFF communities to tell every single citizen what is happening to the climate and what needs to be done. We need to think that we are competing against the commercial media that seeks to lull citizens to sleep and render them as harmless consumers. We must, by contrast, must meet them on the street with posters and other readily understood materials to tell them what is going on in terms they can understand. We must go door to door in every neighborhood and tell them the truth and invite them to join us.

We must not make the mistake of assuming that climate change is an issue for the upper middle class, or for progressives. We must seek out working class people, conservative Christians, everyone, and tell them how climate change impacts them.

More importantly, we must make it clear that those who commit to join the campaign against climate change are our friends. We do not want people to just show up for an event, just vote for a candidate. If they are willing to walk with us, and work with us, we will help them for a lifetime. If we have better educations, better connections, we will commit to helping their families, to looking out for their interests, if they join us. It is that sense of community, of a true contract, that is at the core of a political movement that will last for decades.

 

 

“重新考虑东北亚的真正危机” 多维新闻

多维新闻

“重新考虑东北亚的真正危机”

2019年 10月 8日

贝一明

美国如今在东北亚地区面临着不折不扣的灾难,这完全是其咎由自取:它轻率地对华发起贸易战、坐视日本和韩国之间的关税战,同时竭力宣传中国军事威胁论,令多方为合作交流付出的广泛努力付之东流。在我们默默的注视之下,善意的“不干涉”政策转变为恶意的无视。亚洲人或许会对此缄口不言,但“美国是破坏性力量”这一观点正在他们之中迅速传播。

“推特(Twitter)治国”以及“国际社会要以特朗普为先”的崭新观念反映出人们对眼前利益愈发重视,而正是这一趋势埋葬了美国的国际主义传统。美国拥有自由女神像,是联合国总部的所在地,也曾全力支持为解决核扩散、贸易和恐怖主义问题而制定的全球性条约——这些都是其国际主义传统的象征和体现。

东北亚危机的源头并非平壤,而是华盛顿——华盛顿的贪婪和自大在亚洲的首都城市找到了新的宿主。

我们是否真的需要将纳税人的钱用于在亚洲掀起新一轮“冷战”?要知道,美国或许非但无法借之以挽回失去的威望,反而会被抛出该区域。

日本也已将韩国视为假想敌,预测可能会与其发生军事冲突。我们必须即刻探索新的途径,避免军备竞赛的发动,阻止韩国、日本、中国和其他国家之间的贸易战愈演愈烈,否则可怕到难以想象的噩梦就会降临。所谓“新的途径”内涵甚广,改变美国在东北亚地区的角色便是其中之一。

无论是言之无物的峰会还是美国国会采取的行动,都无法解决东北亚危机。我们需要放眼东北亚的未来,助其开展变革,令其踏上光明之路。

日本哲学家荻生徂徕曾写道,世界上有两种棋艺大师:一种通晓规则,赢遍天下而不费吹灰之力;另一种则能够自己制定规则。

对于我们来讲,后者颇为陌生。我们已经习惯于维持二战结束后确立的世界秩序,从未尝试过破旧立新。但我们在东亚逐渐瓦解的地位无法通过缓慢的变革来挽救,我们必须彻底转变美国在亚洲担当的角色。

在考虑上述问题时,只要放弃以妖魔化别国为条件,答案就会跃然而出。

世界正在深受气候危机的困扰——瑞典女孩葛莉塔·桑博格(Greta Thunberg)感人至深的演讲将这一问题推到了风口浪尖。无数心怀热忱的年轻人都曾呼吁为了让人类免遭气候灾难之害而彻底改变全世界的经济、政治和文化模式。他们知道,倘若坐视不理,承受可怕后果的将是他们自己。

他们改变世界的诉求为美国重新定义自己在东北亚的角色,为解决中美之间的对抗,为鼓励日韩之间的交流合作创造了宝贵的机遇。

美国必须认识到,海平面上升、海洋变暖、沙漠蔓延、热带风暴肆虐——不论气候发生何种变化,这种变化本身便是东北亚地区面临到重大威胁。许多人正在垂死挣扎,数以百万计的人会在几年内死于非命。

然而要实现上述根本性转变,我们需要彻底调整自己的观念,而这正是葛莉塔所呼吁的。

这意味着美国需要把关注点从军事,从战斗机、军舰、子弹和导弹上移开,重新定义自己的安全使命,令国家摆脱对矿物燃料的依赖,重新造林,保护海洋、河流以及整个生态系统。尽管军队是主要的污染源,但还是可以将其加以规范,使其为清理污染以及推行石油开采、煤炭使用的禁令贡献力量。

这样的愿景似乎太过异想天开,无法实现。然而气候危机已经如此严重,以至于我们不得不全盘重新考虑。

以东亚问题为例,倘若美国能将目标从发动常规战争转移到遏制气候变化(植树、保护生态系统、防止企业为谋利而破坏地球上的宝贵资源),我们就会发现,美、日、韩三国的军方其实可以在多个领域通力合作。倘若中美两国的军方都能关注如何适应、缓解气候变化,双方的合作根本无需多加考虑。

设立军队的初衷并非达成上述目的,其所秉持的安全与国防观念未免已经不合时宜。然而,倘若军方能够积极行动起来,其实现上述转变的效率将比行政部门高得多。

军方可以不计收益地制定长期预算、用以发展科技,可以规定全国一律使用太阳能、风能发电的时限并坚决执行。我们应当集中美、日、韩三国的经验与技术,研究气候危机的解决方案,而非反其道而行之,大搞军事扩张。