Instead of trying to “save the earth,” Kingsnorth says, people should start talking about what is actually possible. Kingsnorth has admitted to an ex-activist’s cynicism about politics as well as to a worrying ambivalence about whether he even wants civilization, as it now operates, to prevail. But he insists that he isn’t opposed to political action, mass or otherwise, and that his indignations about environmental decline and industrial capitalism are, if anything, stronger than ever. Still, much of his recent writing has been devoted to fulminating against how environmentalism, in its crisis phase, draws adherents. Movements like Bill McKibben’s 350.org, for instance, might engage people, Kingsnorth told me, but they have no chance of stopping climate change. “I just wish there was a way to be more honest about that,” he went on, “because actually what McKibben’s doing, and what all these movements are doing, is selling people a false premise. They’re saying, ‘If we take these actions, we will be able to achieve this goal.’ And if you can’t, and you know that, then you’re lying to people. And those people … they’re going to feel despair.”
-Daniel Smith, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It … and He Feels Fine,” The New York Times
A very interesting article about Paul Kingsnorth, a former environmental activist who advocates “uncivilization” and coming to terms with the nearing collapse, rather than the futility of fighting it
Are there higher levels of Aminomethylphosponic acid or vitamins in your vegetables? It depends on if you eat genetically modified, conventional, or organic food, according to a new study by independent scientists in Norway. Read about their findings here.
“One of the problems with traditional anti-capitalist thought is that it defines capitalism as a totality, which encourages us to imagine another totality, socialism, which we can try to replace it with. This totalizing perspective has colonized the imagination of anti-capitalism and left us waiting for a revolution we can never have.
In the book I argue that we see ourselves as inhabiting a complex social world that has some capitalist things going on in it as well as some socialist ones, some communist ones, and many where economics are not separated out of the broader fabric of life (such as sharing and gift giving, and mutual support). The way we get past capitalism is by building on the healthy non-capitalist aspects of our world while we also do pitched battle with the capitalist ones that we have a fair chance of winning against. In that way we build a better world and shrink the destructive capitalist practices that are part of the social fabric. “
-Cynthia Kaufman in a very interesting interview about her book, “Getting Past Capitalism: History, Vision, Hope”
“Sounds outlandish, I know, but if the NSA can listen to the cell phone of Angela Merkel in Germany, it can undoubtedly listen in on Barack Obama in Washington. I am not making an accusation but asking the question describes the true depth of distrust the government has brought upon itself.
Where is the president in all this? Mostly limp and unpersuasive so far in very restrained responses. He didn’t fire the CIA director nor the NSA director though both have lied to Congress and the public, and are obvious candidates for blame. The president did not launch a seriously independent inquiry nor does he seem to understand that, whether or not it’s fair, the blame falls at his feet. Why didn’t he get angry?
Because he knows the secrets, he is therefore vulnerable to reprisal.
The spies may not have tapped the White House phones but they do know what he knows and can always make use of it. This is the very core of the card game played by the intelligence agencies and it didn’t start with Barack Obama. When any new president comes to town, he is told the secrets first thing and continuously. The briefings can be chilling but also thrilling.
Ultimately, it can also be slyly coopting to learn what the government knows only at the very highest level. As the agencies take the White House deeper and deeper into the black box, it becomes harder for a president to dissent. It also makes it riskier to do so. The CIA or NSA know what he heard and know what he said when he learned the secrets. If the president decides to condemn their dirty work, the spooks and spies can leak to the press how in the privacy of the Oval Office the commander-in-chief gave the green light.”
-William Greider, “Spy Agencies, Not Politicians, Hold the Cards in Washington,” The Nation
“It is no coincidence that the intensification of long-standing patterns of state repression appears to be particularly acute in the countries that experienced large-scale street protest in the past three years. Ruling classes around the world have clearly been shaken to their very core by the sudden re-emergence of the multitude in the streets. The United States is no exception in this respect. This week, news emerged that, despite a recent ruling, the FBI continues to withhold information on an assassination plot — possibly involving a “law enforcement agency” — targeted at organizers in the Occupy movement. Ryan Shapiro, a transparency activist and PhD student at MIT who is investigating the plot, has been warned by the NSA that his research constitutes a threat to “national security”. (That’s the same national security in whose name the agency’s computer geeks have apparently been peeking through your webcam lately.)”