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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query anarchosyndicalism. Sort by date Show all posts

September 20, 2014

A 'crisis of bigness'

from “This economic collapse is a 'crisis of bigness'” by Paul Kingsnorth, The Guardian, 25 September 2011:

To listen to a political leader at this moment in history is like sitting through a sermon by a priest who has lost his faith but is desperately trying not to admit it, even to himself. Watch Nick Clegg, David Cameron or Ed Miliband mouthing tough-guy platitudes to the party faithful. Listen to Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy or George Papandreou pretending that all will be well in the eurozone. Study the expressions on the faces of Barack Obama or Ben Bernanke talking about "growth" as if it were a heathen god to be appeased by tipping another cauldron's worth of fictional money into the mouth of a volcano.

In times like these, people look elsewhere for answers. A time of crisis is also a time of opening-up, when thinking that was consigned to the fringes moves to centre stage. When things fall apart, the appetite for new ways of seeing is palpable, and there are always plenty of people willing to feed it by coming forward with their pet big ideas.

But here's a thought: what if big ideas are part of the problem? What if, in fact, the problem is bigness itself?

The crisis currently playing out on the world stage is a crisis of growth.



Published in 1957, The Breakdown of Nations [by Leopold Kohr] laid out what at the time was a radical case: that small states, small nations and small economies are more peaceful, more prosperous and more creative than great powers or superstates. ... Kohr's claim was that society's problems were not caused by particular forms of social or economic organisation, but by their size. ... [O]nce scaled up to the level of modern states, all systems became oppressors. Changing the system, or the ideology that it claimed inspiration from, would not prevent that oppression – as any number of revolutions have shown – because "the problem is not the thing that is big, but bigness itself".

Drawing from history, Kohr demonstrated that when people have too much power, under any system or none, they abuse it. The task, therefore, was to limit the amount of power that any individual, organisation or government could get its hands on. The solution to the world's problems was not more unity but more division. ... Small states and small economies were more flexible, more able to weather economic storms, less capable of waging serious wars, and more accountable to their people. Not only that, but they were more creative. ...

Bigness, predicted Kohr, could only lead to more bigness, for "whatever outgrows certain limits begins to suffer from the irrepressible problem of unmanageable proportions". Beyond those limits it was forced to accumulate more power in order to manage the power it already had. Growth would become cancerous and unstoppable, until there was only one possible endpoint: collapse.

human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

Green Capitalism: The God That Failed

By Richard Smith, Jan. 9, 2014

[excerpts]

The project of sustainable capitalism based on carbon taxes, green marketing, "dematerialization" and so forth was misconceived and doomed from the start because maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, here and there, they might coincide for a moment.

‘Despite all this good work, we still must face a sobering fact. If every company on the planet were to adopt the best environmental practices of the "leading" companies - say, the Body Shop, Patagonia or 3M - the world would still be moving toward sure degradation and collapse. ... Quite simply, our business practices are destroying life on earth. Given current corporate practices, not one wildlife preserve, wilderness or indigenous culture will survive the global market economy. We know that every natural system on the planet is disintegrating. The land, water, air and sea have been functionally transformed from life-supporting systems into repositories for waste. There is no polite way to say that business is destroying the world.’ (Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce)

But two decades on, for all the organic groceries, the energy-efficient lightbulbs, appliances and buildings, the carbon trading and carbon taxes, the global ecology is collapsing faster than ever.

[T]he capitalist market system is inherently eco-suicidal. Endless growth can end only in catastrophic eco-collapse. No amount of tinkering can alter the market system's suicidal trajectory. Therefore, like it or not, humanity has no choice but to try to find a way to replace capitalism with some kind of post-capitalist ecologically sustainable economy.

[C]onsumerism and overconsumption are not "dispensable" and cannot be exorcised because they're not just "cultural" or "habitual." They are built into capitalism and indispensable for the day-to-day reproduction of corporate producers in a competitive market system in which capitalists, workers, consumers and governments alike are dependent upon an endless cycle of perpetually increasing consumption to maintain profits, jobs and tax revenues.

Paul Hawken and Al Gore call for "offsetting" carbon taxes by reducing income taxes. Hansen's "tax and dividend" plan proposes "returning 100 percent of the collected tax back to the public in the form of a dividend." Yet, as ecological economist William E. Rees, co-founder of the science of ecological footprint analysis, points out, if carbon-tax offsets are revenue-neutral, they are also "impact neutral." Money returned to consumers likely will just be spent on something else that consumes or trashes the planet.

If we're talking about 90 percent cuts in CO₂ and other greenhouse emissions, then we're talking about the need to impose huge cuts in everything from farming to fashion.

Either we radically transform our economic system or we face the collapse of civilization.

Even when it's theoretically possible to shift to greener production, given capitalism, as often as not, "green" industries just replace old problems with new problems: So burning down tracts of the Amazon rain forest to plant sugar cane to produce organic sugar for Whole Foods or ethanol to feed cars instead of people is not so green after all. Neither is burning down Indonesian and Malaysian rain forests to plant palm-oil plantations so Britons can tool around London in their obese Land Rovers. ... Aquaculture was supposed to save wild fish. But this turns out to be just another case of "green gone wrong," because, aside from contaminating farmed fish (and fish eaters) with antibiotics to suppress disease in fish pens, farm-raised fish are carnivores. They don't eat corn. Feeding ever-more farmed fish requires capturing ever-more wild forage fish to grind up for fishmeal for the farm-raised fish, which leaves ever-fewer fish in the ocean, starving those up the food chain like sharks, seals, dolphins and whales. So instead of saving wild fish, fish farming has actually accelerated the plunder of the last remaining stocks of wild fish in the oceans. "Green certification" schemes were supposed to reduce tropical deforestation by shaming Home Depot and similar big vendors into sourcing their wood and pulp from "certified" "sustainable" forests - the "sustainable" part is that these "forests" get replanted. But such wood "plantations" are never planted on land that was previously unforested. Instead, they just replace natural forest. There's nothing sustainable about burning down huge tracts of native Indonesian or Amazonian tropical forests and killing off or running off all the wild animals and indigenous people that lived there to plant sterile eucalyptus plantations to harvest pulp for paper. To make matters worse, market demand from overconsuming but guilt-ridden Americans and Europeans has forced green certifiers to lower their standards so much to keep up with demand that today, in most cases, ecological "certification" is virtually meaningless. For example, the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), the largest such organization, has come under fire for allowing its tree-with-checkmark logo to be used by rainforest-raping lumber and paper companies, for taking the word of auditors paid by the companies, for loosening its standards to allow just 50 percent certified pulp to go into paper making, and other problems. The problem is that the FSC is not an international government body with a universal mandate and authority to certify the world's lumber. It's just a self-funding NGO environmental organization like the NRDC or the WWF or Greenpeace. Such organizations live on voluntary contributions from supporters, on contributions from corporate funders or on payment for services. As these organizations grew in size and ambition, they sought bigger budgets to better fulfill their "missions" - more than they could solicit from individual contributors. With few exceptions, nearly all these organizations eventually adopted "business" models that drove them into the arms of corporate contributors, in this case, typically lumber companies. When the FSC was founded in 1993, it certified just three producers whose lumber was 100 percent sustainable and not many more in the following years. But by 1997, as the organization faced competition from new "entrants" into the green product-labeling "field" (to use capitalist lingo), the FSC faced the problem, as the Wall Street Journal reported, of "how to maintain high standards while promoting their logos and increasing the supply of approved products to meet demand from consumers and big retailers." This is ever the contradiction in our capitalist world. They started off seeking to protect the forest from rapacious consumers. But demand by luxury consumers in the North is insatiable. To make matters worse, because no one certifier has a monopoly, new certifiers could come into the market. And if they were not so fussy about their criteria for "green certification," they might be more attractive to big retailers hungry for "product." So competition ensued, and, in the end, the FSC could hold onto its dominant position, aka "share of the market," only by caving in - introducing more-relaxed labeling standards, letting producers use just 50 percent sustainable pulp in paper manufacture, letting industry pay for "independent" FSC auditors and so on. In the end, "green" lumber certification has steadily drifted away from its mission and become more and more a part of the corporate plunder of world's remaining forests.

[E]ven if a shift to renewables could provide us with relatively unlimited supplies of clean electricity, we can't assume that this necessarily would lead to massive permanent reductions in pollution. That's because, on the Jevons principle I discussed elsewhere, if there are no non-market constraints on production then the advent of cheap, clean energy production could just give a huge solar-powered green light to the manufacturers of endless electric vehicles, appliances, lighting, laptops, phones, iPads and new toys we can't even imagine yet. But the expanded production of all this stuff, on a global scale, would just consume more raw materials, more metals, plastics, rare earths, etc. It would produce more and more pollution and destroy more and more of the environment. And the products ultimately would end up in some landfill somewhere.

[C]oal is not only burned to generate electricity, coal is critical for making steel. And coal provides carbon for aluminum smelting. And coal and coal byproducts are critical for paper making and many other products, from rayon and nylon to specialist products like carbon fiber, carbon filters, etc. So no coal, no steel or aluminum. No steel and aluminum, no windmills or solar panels or high-speed trains ("goods"). No coal, no carbon fiber, no superlight "hyper cars." So "taxing coal out of business" would undermine some of Hawken's other environmental goals. Same with oil. Oil and oil byproducts are indispensable for petrochemicals, plastics, plastic film for solar panels, plastic insulation for electric wires and countless thousands of other products. Oil is so critical for so many industrial products and processes that it is just inconceivable to imagine a modern industrial civilization without oil. Rare earths mining is a no less dirty process. But no rare earths, no windmill generators, no electric cars, no cellular phones or iPads. And the search for lithium to make the batteries for all those future electric cars threatens fragile ecologies from Bolivia to Finland, Mexico to Canada. Metals smelting is, likewise, an extremely polluting process with little real potential for greening, which is why producers try when possible to do this out of reach of US and European environmental laws. But no copper, no electric lines from those solar panels and no electric motors for those windmills and electric cars. No aluminum, no windmill generators or light vehicles. ... Many metals are recyclable, but world demand for aluminum, copper, steel, nickel and other metals, not to mention "rare earths," is soaring as more and more of the world modernizes and industrializes.

The problem for eco-futurist inventors such as Lovins is that they understand technology but they don't understand capitalist economics.

So if the reality is that, when all is said and done, there is only so much you can do in most industries, the only way to bend the economy in an ecological direction is to sharply limit production, especially of toxic products, which means completely redesigning production and consumption - all of which is impossible under capitalism.

[E]ven in Hawken's "restorative economy," toxic polluters would still be free to spread their carcinogens everywhere - if they just pay to pollute. It is hard to imagine a more bankrupt strategy, guaranteed to fail, nor for that matter, a more hypocritical and immoral strategy.

[H]ow can we "reject consumerism" when we live in a capitalist economy where, in the case of the United States, more than two-thirds of market sales, and therefore most jobs, depend on direct sales to consumers while most of the rest of the economy, including the infrastructure and military, is dedicated to propping up this consumerist "American way of life?" Indeed, most jobs in industrialized countries critically depend not just on consumerism but on ever-increasing overconsumption. We "need" this ever-increasing consumption and waste production because, without growth, capitalist economies collapse and unemployment soars, as we've seen. The problem with the Worldwatch Institute is that, on this issue, they're looking at the world upside down. They think it's consumerist culture that drives corporations to overproduce. So their solution is to transform the culture, get people to read their Worldwatch reports and re-educate themselves so they understand the folly of consumerism and resolve to forego unnecessary consumption - without transforming the economy itself. But it's not the culture that drives the economy so much as, overwhelmingly, the economy that drives the culture: It's the insatiable demands of shareholders that drive corporate producers to maximize sales, therefore to constantly seek out new sales and sources in every corner of the planet, to endlessly invent, as the Lorax had it, new "thneeds" no one really needs, to obsoletize those thneeds just as soon as they've been sold, so the cycle can begin all over again. This is the driving engine of consumerism. Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentice Victor J. Papenek had it right: "Most things are not designed for the needs of people, but for the needs of manufacturers to sell to people." This means that "consumerism" is not just a "cultural pattern." It's not just "commercial brainwashing" or an "infantile regression," as Benjamin Barber has it. Insatiable consumerism is an everyday requirement of capitalist reproduction, and this drives capitalist invention and imperial expansion. No overconsumption, no growth, no jobs. And no "cultural transformation" is going to overcome this fundamental imperative so long as the economic system depends on overconsumption for its day-to-day survival.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

August 13, 2014

One people …

A sign has been often seen at recent rallies in defense of Israel’s attacks on non-Jewish Palestinians, as seen in this example from a counter-demonstration to a protest in Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014, photographed by Oren Ziv and posted at activestills.org:


The Hebrew is: OM AChD - MDYNH AChTh - MNHYG AChd

In English: One people. One state. One leader.

Which might sound familiar as one of Nazi Germany’s rallying cries: Ein Volk. Ein Reich. Ein Führer.


This is kinda scary.

Update: Ultra-Zionists protest Muslim-Jewish wedding saying miscegenation is ‘gravest threat to the Jewish people’

human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

June 17, 2014

Why Not Wind: an open letter

To whom it may concern:

This is a brief representation of the reasons industrial-scale wind is a destructive boondoggle that only fools – or worse – would approve.

Unlike “conventional” power sources, wind does not follow demand. As the Bonneville Power Authority in the Pacific Northwest of the USA has shown (www.wind-watch.org/pix/493), the relationship between load and wind generation is essentially random. That means that wind can never replace dispatchable sources that are needed to meet actual demand.

The contribution of wind generation is therefore an illusion, because the grid has to supply steady power in response to demand, and as the wind rises and falls, the grid maintains supply by relying on its already built-in excess capacity.

That is also why meaningful reductions in carbon emissions are not seen: because fuel continues to be burned in “spinning reserve” plants which are kept active to kick into electricity production when needed for meeting surges in demand or, now, drops in the wind. Denmark’s famously high wind penetration is possible only because it is connected to the large Nordic and German grids – so that Denmark’s wind power actually constitutes a very small fraction of that total system capacity. To make further wind capacity possible (despite a public backlash that has essentially stopped onshore wind development since 2003), Denmark is now building a connection to the Dutch grid.

Another reason that meaningful reductions in carbon emissions are not seen is that the first source to be modulated to balance wind is usually hydro. This is seen quite clearly in Spain, another country with high wind penetration: The changes in electricity from hydro are an almost exact inverse of those from wind (https://demanda.ree.es/generacion_acumulada.html). This is also seen in the USA’s Pacific Northwest (http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/Wind/baltwg.aspx).

Finally, on systems with sufficient natural gas–powered generators, which can ramp on and off quickly enough to balance wind’s highly variable infeed, wind forces those generators to operate far less efficiently than they would otherwise. It is like stop-and-go city versus steady highway driving. According to several analyses (e.g., www.wind-watch.org/doc/?p=1568), the carbon emissions from gas + wind are not significantly different from gas alone and in some cases may be more.

And again, whatever the effect, wind is always an add-on. The grid must be able to operate reliably without it, because very often, and often for very long stretches of time, wind is indeed in the doldrums: It is not there.

And beware the illusion of “average” output. The fact is that any wind turbine or group of turbines generates at or above its average rate (which is typically 20%–30% of the nameplate capacity, depending on the site) only about 40% of the time. Because of the physics of extracting energy from wind, the rest of the time production approaches zero.

As an add-on, therefore, its costs are completely unnecessary and wasteful. And even if, by some miracle, it were a reliable, dispatchable, reasonably continuous source, its costs would still be enormous – not only economically, but also environmentally. Wind is a very diffuse resource and therefore requires a massive mechanical system to catch any useful amount. That means ever larger blades on ever taller towers in ever larger groupings. And the only places where that is feasible are the very places we need to preserve as useful agricultural land, scenic landscapes that are so important to our souls (and to tourism), and wild land where the natural world can thrive.

Besides the obvious damage to the land of heavy-duty roads for construction and continued maintenance, huge concrete platforms, new powerlines, and substations (while making no meaningful contribution to the actual operation of the grid) and the visual intrusion of 150-metre (500-ft) structures with strobe lights and rotating blades, there are serious adverse impacts from the giant airplane-like blades cutting through 6,000–8,000 square metres (1.5–2 acres) of vertical airspace both day and night: pulsating noise (including infrasound which is felt more than heard) that carries great distances and disturbs nearby residents (especially at night, when there is a greater expectation of – and need for – quiet and atmospheric conditions often augment the noise), even threatening their physical health, pressure vortices that kill bats by destroying their lungs, blade tip speeds of 300 km/h that also kill bats as well as birds, particularly raptors, many of which are already endangered, and vibration that carries through the tower into the ground with effects on soil integrity and flora and fauna that have yet to be studied.

In short, the benefits of industrial-scale wind are minuscule (if that), while its adverse impacts and costs are great. Its only effect is to provide greenwashing (and tax avoidance) for business-as-usual energy producers and lip-service politicians, while opening up to vast industrial development land that has been otherwise fiercely protected – most disturbingly by many of the same groups now clamoring for wind.

Industrial-scale wind is all the more outrageous for the massive flow of public money into the private bank accounts of developers. It is not surprising to learn that Enron established the package of subsidies and regulatory “innovations” that made the modern wind industry possible. Or that in Italy, the Mafia was an early backer of developers. It is indeed a criminal enterprise: crony capitalism, anti-environment rapaciousness, and hucksterism at its most duplicitous.

After decades of recorded experience, there is no longer any excuse to fall for it.

 ~~
Eric Rosenbloom
President, National Wind Watch, Inc. (www.wind-watch.org)

Mr Rosenbloom lives in Vermont, USA, where he works as a science editor, writer, and typographer. He has studied and written about wind energy since 2003. He was invited to join the board, and then elected President (a wholly volunteer position), of National Wind Watch in 2006, a year after it was founded by citizens from 10 states who met to share their concerns about the risks and impacts of wind energy development. National Wind Watch is a 501(c)(3) educational charity registered in Massachusetts.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

February 20, 2014

Three-dimensional chess

While U.S. President Obama denies involvement in Ukraine yet decries the remarkably restrained government response to violent protesters as repressive and antidemocratic, even as his Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs is recorded going over her plans for regime change, and nonsensically insists that (democratically elected) Ukraine President Yanukovich has refused to negotiate with protesters when it is clearly the other way around, here are a few pieces from Counterpunch about this week's state of the great game (of hypocrisy).

Masking Tragedy in Ukraine, by Chris Floyd

Obama Pushes for Regime Change in Venezuela, by Mark Weisbrot

Do We Care About People If They Live in Bahrain? by David Swanson

human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

February 11, 2014

More on science fetishization

The corporate bullies of GMOs, wind power, “smart” meters, etc. invariably appeal to “science” to dismiss concerns of harm and tout the claims of good. But the actual good is invariably the benefit to their companies’ or research teams’ viability and profits. There is no questioning of their necessity or consideration of what is to be lost or taken away (e.g., farming freedom, open and wild spaces, privacy, etc.).

Their appeal to science is amoral. Their defenders apparently believe that a conclusion is “good” simply for being reached logically. And that criticism of science, however logical, can not in fact be so, because logic has already determined that it is good.

The problem, of course, is an infantile division of human thought between “rational” and “emotional”. Both religion and science operate with both, but the latter claims the exclusive mantle of “reason” and then self-servingly stops there. Any questioning of what science does in the name of reason, or what companies do under the name of science, is called an attack on reason itself, even when it is itself quite reasonable.

The business of science, as its own gatekeeper, is often deaf to reason outside its own self-serving logic. A prime example is the swallowing by GMO supporters of the claim that Roundup-Ready crops would reduce pesticide use, when they are expressly designed to tolerate the company’s own pesticide, thus removing an important check on that pesticide’s use. The result has indeed been an increase in pesticide use, and the “anti-science fear-mongers” who warned of super-weeds and the threat to monarch butterflies have been proved correct. While “golden rice” has been talked about for many years without any practical results, the actual results of GMO “research” have been “terminator” genes to prevent seed saving and plants that produce their own pesticides, as well as pesticide-tolerant crops. Even if golden rice were a beneficial reality, it has nothing to do with all that is wrong with the GMO business.

The assertion that humans have always manipulated the genes of plants and animals illustrates the amoral logic that actually, in the service of corporate science, avoids thought. There is a big difference between selecting the results of a plant or animal’s own natural processes and splicing genes between species and even kingdoms. The latter represents a violation of the natural order that science purports to study.

Reason without consideration of ethics or morals, or simply without considering potential harms or seriously assessing actual benefits, is a mark of a sociopath. Human reason is not a good in itself. It is ultimately self-serving: hence the term “rationalization”. And rationalization of corporate depredation and profit — along with demonization of those who question it — is not science.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

January 30, 2014

Social aspects of wind energy development

“When people are talking about changing the way we harness and use energy, industrial wind instead entrenches a centralized and inefficient system. When people are talking about reducing the burning of fossil fuels, industrial wind entrenches the grid’s dependence on them. When people are talking about moderating the corporate control of society, industrial wind entrenches the worst of predatory and crony capitalism that works to move more public money into private hands, transfering the common wealth of the many into the pockets of a few without regard for human, societal, or environmental cost. Big wind operates much like — and is often firmly embedded in — the military-industrial-banking complex subverting democracy and fairness by making politics a stepping stone to private riches, with the frisson of riding a wave of green-technology utopianism. Only those who have sworn allegiance to their program are citizens of their country. The rest of us are only resources to exploit and barriers to overcome.”


wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, , anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

January 29, 2014

And down with all kings but King Ludd!

He may censure great Ludd’s disrespect for the Laws
Who ne’er for a moment reflects
That foul Imposition alone was the cause
Which produced these unhappy effects
Let the haughty no longer the humble oppress
Then shall Ludd sheath his conquering Sword
His grievances instantly meet with redress
Then peace will be quickly restored

“The concerns and causes and methods vary, but there is to it all, at bottom, the message that is unmistakable Luddistic:  Beware the technological juggernaut, reckon the terrible costs, understand the worlds being lost in the world being gained, reflect on the price of the machine and its systems on your life, pay attention to the natural world and its increasing destruction, resist the sedutive catastrophe of industrialism.”
—Kirkpatrick Sale, Rebels Against the Future (1995)

environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

January 1, 2014

Have a fascist new year.

In a year-end wrap-up of U.S. politics last week, which I caught on NPR by chance, the guest noted how both Democrats and Republicans have lost favor. The host, oblivious to reality, or perhaps determinedly fending it off, asked if this provided an opportunity for a third party, "something more centrist".

In that question, he persisted in the story line that the Democrats are the party of the left and the Republicans the party of the right, which has in fact never been true. The Democrats and Republicans as a whole have always marched hand in hand as two faces of one imperial capitalist party, sometimes playing the game as understood by the NPR host to keep their control. Thus, for example, during campaigns, if not while governing, Democrats once reached out to unions, Republicans to the upwardly mobile. It shifts with time and demographics, but the parties deftly divide the market between them.

There is no "center" between them. They represent two styles of imperial capitalism. Occasional individuals may break ranks on single issues, but they dare not truly break away and challenge the narrow range of action allowed by this system, let alone the assumptions of hegemonic exploitation as necessary to their comfort.

What the NPR host lacked is perspective, perhaps honesty. The center is not between the two imperial capitalist parties, but between the people and that government. The center is not some magic place of smorgasbord compromise, but a place of mediation. It is real government in communication with the people, not as targets of marketing to keep them buying a bill of goods, but as citizens.

It is the difference between democracy and fascism.

human rights, animal rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

September 7, 2013

Democracy according to the CEO of the free world

The people don't support this action, so the congress should vote their conscience, that is, support this action against the will of the people, because if they don't I'll do it anyway.

You see? Conscience is the prerogative of the leader. The people don't have it. Their disagreement with this action is a failure of marketing. Their disagreement is thus testimony to the righteousness of this action, because it is so important that we couldn't be bothered with trying to make a credible case for it. Consequently, until the people demonstrate the full benefit of our sales pitch, that is by supporting this action, there is no reason to consider their views.

[http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/running-transcript-president-obamas-press-conference-in-russia/2013/09/06/7d1a39e0-16fd-11e3-804b-d3a1a3a18f2c_story_4.html]

Also:  Such a blatant violation of international law must be punished to discourage others, even if we have to violate international law to do so. And it would compromise the power of international law if we had to show irrefutable evidence to justify this action, because nobody else cares about international law as much as we do.

More:  11 years ago today: "From a marketing point of view," said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein, "you don't introduce new products in August."

And:  “Right makes Might makes Right.” (circular logic of imperial prerogative)

tags:  , ,

August 17, 2013

A circle closes

Deutsches Bundesarchiv: Presidential elections, Nazi public address van at Berlin-Pankow, 10 April 1932

Ground was broken [Tuesday, Aug. 13] for a wind farm that will have five turbines located on 1,500 acres east of the Pantex [nuclear fuel fabrication] Plant, about 18 miles northeast of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. The project is expected to be completed by July 2014.”

The 11.5-MW facility of five 2.3-MW turbines is being built by Siemens Government Technologies. It will be paid for by energy savings guaranteed by Siemens, that is to say, by the generous tax breaks paid for by you and me.

But the actual facility being built is far less than the one originally planned.

In fiscal year 2010, the plant spent $2.7 million on electricity usage from Xcel Energy and uses about 7 megawatts of energy daily, according to federal data. Bidders must commit to producing at least 10 megawatts a day, a federal proposal said.”

The facility “will generate approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is more than 60 percent of the annual electricity need for Pantex, or enough electricity to power nearly 3,500 homes.”

Note how misleading it is to characterize the generation in terms of "homes", when these five giant wind turbines are intended to provide only three-fifths of a single factory's needs.

Also note that the hoped-for 47 million kWh represents an average production rate of 5.37 MW* (which is 77%, not 60%, of the plants apparent load of 7 MW), quite a bit less than the initially sought guarantee of 10 MW. That 47 million kWh represents a capacity factor of 47%. In both 2011 and 2012, however, the average capacity factors for wind turbines were 34% in Texas and 41% in Oklahoma.

The federal government expects the wind facility to "save" $2.8 million annually, that is, to pay for itself. At a 40% capacity factor (i.e., 40.3 million kWh annually), that would require a cost difference of 14.4 cents per kWh from what they are now paying.

Presumably, this crucial plant is not actually going to rely on the intermittent and highly variable power from the wind turbines and instead it will be sold to the grid from which the plant will buy its more reliable electricity just as before. So add the generosity of ratepayers to meet the inflated price the grid is expected to pay for this merely symbolic boondoggle.

[Siemens' use of slave labor from, even in, work/death camps during World War II was publicized in 2002 when its Bosch division sought to register the trademark "Zyklon" for a range of home appliances, including gas ovens. Siemens already marketed a "Zyklon" vacuum cleaner. The insecticide Zyklon B, of course, was used to kill large numbers of the Nazis' prisoners in camp showers, after which their bodies were burned in ovens. Siemens helped to build V2 rockets (again, with SS-provided slave labor). And here they are still, now generating income from a nuclear weapons plant.]

*47 million kWh = 47,000 MWh; ÷ 8,760 hours in a year = 5.365 MW

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

April 29, 2013

Hasta la victoria siempre!

“Men and women of the new age: you have arisen to do battle for the race! . . . There is no easy victory before us.

“This night is a beginning. This battle that is coming, this battle that rushes upon us to-night, is only a beginning. All your lives, it may be, you must fight. Take no thought though I am beaten, though I am utterly overthrown. I think I may be overthrown.

“I come out of the past to you, with the memory of an age that hoped. My age was an age of dreams — of beginnings, an age of noble hopes; throughout the world we had made an end of slavery; throughout the world we had spread the desire and anticipation that wars might cease, that all men and women might live nobly, in freedom and peace. . . . So we hoped in the days that are past. And what of those hopes? How is it with man after two hundred years?

“Great cities, vast powers, a collective greatness beyond our dreams. For that we did not work, and that has come. But how is it with the little lives that make up this greater life? How is it with the common lives? As it has ever been — sorrow and labour, lives cramped and unfulfilled, lives tempted by power, tempted by wealth, and gone to waste and folly. The old faiths have faded and changed, the new faith—. Is there a new faith?

“Charity and mercy; beauty and the love of beautiful things — effort and devotion! Give yourselves as I would give myself — as Christ gave Himself upon the Cross. It does not matter if you understand. It does not matter if you seem to fail. You know — in the core of your hearts you know. There is no promise, there is no security — nothing to go upon but Faith. There is no faith but faith — faith which is courage. . . .”

—The Sleeper Awakes, H. G. Wells, 1899

anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

January 7, 2013

One way to look at it

William Blum writes:

Capitalism can be seen in historical evolutionary terms, independent of any moral point of view or judgement. Broadly speaking, the organization of mankind's societies has evolved from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. And it's now time for the next step: socialism.

Socialism or communism have always been given just one chance to work, if that much, while capitalism has been given numerous chances to do so following its perennial fiascos. Ralph Nader has observed: "Capitalism will never fail because socialism will always be there to bail it out."

Capitalism gave rise to some very important innovations, such as mass production and distribution, and many technological advances. But now, and for some time past, the system has caused much more harm than good. It's eating its young. And our environment. We can take the advances instituted by capitalism for the purpose of profit and use them to create a society based on putting people before profit. Just imagine.

human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

December 31, 2012

“Money supersedes or warps values in the US”

“Citizens of the wealthiest country in history cluck and squabble at the prospect of jobs like chickens come feed time, hat in hand, servile as serfs, mumbling specious self-reassuring nonsense as the changes happen like weather.”

“C.P.T.L.”, comment, “Vermont resort pulls in big foreign investments”, New York Times, Dec. 31, 2012

human rights, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

October 23, 2012

Freaking Out!

Robin Beck of Moveon.org is "freaking out":
I'm freaking out. Despite President Obama and Vice President Biden dominating the past few debates, the race is still incredibly close. ... It's scary. And I'm not sleeping much any more. This whole election is coming down to which side can turn out the most voters. And the only thought that helps me fall asleep—rather than staying up worrying—is that I know I can count on MoveOn members like you, ——, to step up and help us win.
Relax, Robin.

First, it's a close "race" because it's bogus. The "contest" is set up and reported (shaped) to be close so that real differences are not possible.

Second, it's close because the only difference is that one party and its candidate represents Wall Street and the Military with lip service (but not too much!) to so-called liberals and the other party and its candidate represents Wall Street and the Military with lip service to so-called conservatives). To win, each also has to pay lip service to the other group as well. That's what fighting for the center means. And that's why it's necessarily always "close". It is a system designed not to challenge the hegemony of Wall Street and the Military.

And relax, all of you who receive these Moveon.org or similar e-mails. They are fundraising devices, nothing more. Moveon.org is part of the whole machine that requires this "fight" for the center so that they can foment fear among "liberals" just as the tea party foments fear among "conservatives". Meanwhile, Bush expanded Clinton's security state and submission to the banksters, Obama expanded Bush's, and Romney would only expand Obama's.

The threat of fascism is real, but it is already here, it started in a concerted way 30 years ago with the election of Ronald Reagan, and it continued to grow without slowing under every Republican and Democratic administration, Congress, and Supreme Court since.

So relax about the election. It's a charade.

There's plenty of real stuff to freak out about.

anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

October 8, 2012

Why Obama can't debate

Obama was always a poor debater, so the only surprise in last week's match-up was Romney's gusto.

Obama is a poor debater because he does not stand for anything. He is essentially a servant of Wall Street hiding in cliché liberal rhetoric. He is moderator-in-chief.

He can not respond to critics from the left, because he wants to believe he is on their side but would have to admit they are right, that he is not at all on their side.

And he can not respond to critics from the right, because he would have to show that they are wrong, which he can not do, because he needs his liberal supporters to believe he is on their side.

Poor man: how to reassure the fascists as well as the vestigial liberals.

And any challenger can easily upset his delicate balancing act by upping the ante, forcing him to defend one or the other, to take on the role of conservative or liberal in the charade of U.S. elections. The incumbent wants to remain neither, throwing rhetorical and occasional executive sops to one constituency or another, and the challenger, if victorious, will become neither in the same way (and in turn challenged in the same way). Thus we are asked to choose between Coke and Pepsi, and those that would choose neither (thinking a cup of tea, perhaps, or glass of seltzer would better serve) are ostracized, clearing the field for this mock politics.

Update, Oct. 18:  When Romney tells you that Obama's responses to the Bush recession didn't help middle class families, he should be asked how his family fared. But that would reveal that Obama has done very well by Romney, which neither of them want to publicize.

anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

October 7, 2012

Billionaires versus society

Michael Hiltzik wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
Walker's own initiative, like others carrying the Peterson imprimatur, properly acknowledges that fiscal responsibility requires tax increases as well as spending cuts, though people can argue in good faith about how to balance the two. But the hallmark of [billionaire Peter] Peterson's worldview is to view social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare strictly as fiscal expense items, ignoring their roots as moral commitments to American citizens that cross generations and unite economic classes.

These programs form the warp and woof of the American fabric. Portraying them, as Peterson does, as "safety net" initiatives that have outlived their relevance for all but the most destitute Americans is an artful way of destroying their universal appeal.

The danger in the economic debate in Washington comes from treating our fiscal problems as if they spring from the structure of our emblematic public social insurance programs, when the truth is that ill-advised tax cuts and unrestrained military spending have played a more important role.

The shame of Washington, on the other hand, comes from the fact that almost every organization promoting the grand fiscal bargain in which those programs will be on the table has accepted, somewhere and somehow, money from Pete Peterson.
That's an important characterization: Social Security and Medicare — and their future expansion — are not “safety nets” but rather the very fabric of a vital society.

human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

September 8, 2012

War is theft

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

—Dwight Eisenhower, President, USA, April 16, 1953, New York Statler Hotel, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors [click here to go to complete text]

Of course, he was crowing over the death of Joseph Stalin and hoping for capitulations from the Soviet Union. But still, this kind of rhetoric today gets you branded as a fringe leftist. Or, as in the case of Ron Paul, simply a nutcase.

human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

August 29, 2012

Post Cold War

Thought for the day:

The victor of "The Cold War" between totalitarian communism and democratic capitalism has proved to be totalitarian capitalism.

During the cold war, each system fought within itself as well as against each other: totalitarianism versus communist ideals, democratic ideals versus capitalism. Each system defined itself to a great extent by the other. They attempted to reconcile the opposite pulls within their own systems: totalitarians justifying themselves as essential to communism, capitalists as essential to democracy. But still, because of the presence of the other system, the ideals, communism and democracy, had meaning.

After the collapse of both systems, the worst elements of both systems were free to discard those ideals, and totalitarian capitalism has become the dominant world system.

Broadly speaking, only in South America does there remain hope for something better: a democratic socialism.

anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

August 15, 2012

Ridden by the Wind

The story of industrial-scale wind energy, that is, large wind turbines connected to supply the electric grid, is the same old tale of exploitative industry, of predatory capitalism, of consumerism run riot over the concerns of nature and humanity.

Wind energy does not represent change from a consumption-driven quest of continuing dividends for the investor class. It is a change of brand, nothing more. The same people behind digging up the tar sands of Alberta, drilling in the Arctic, blasting off mountaintops for coal, fracking the ground beneath our feet for methane, mowing down the rain forests, are industrializing rural and wild landscapes with the sprawling tax shelters called wind “farms”.

Like American politics, where choice is limited to which waiter you prefer to serve you from the same Wall Street kitchen (as Huey Long described it), energy policy around the world is “all-of-the-above” with politicians pretending to position themselves against one or another source to flatter different diners. Wind energy operates entirely within that game. As the realities of large-scale wind development — the decimation of habitat, birds, bats, health of human neighbors, and more — have made it harder to sell as “green”, the industry lobby group American Wind Energy Association has strategized: “We need to create a space for the wind energy industry without defining it as an alternative to fossil fuels and coal and that goes beyond being one of many ‘renewables’” (Leadership Council and Board of Directors Meeting, Carlsbad, Calif., Nov. 2, 2011). The reality is that a consumption-based economy dependent on continued “growth” doesn't need alternatives, only more choices: all of the above, whether it works or not. And that imperative excuses all.

As Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said on June 4, 2012, at the AWEA’s annual convention in Atlanta, “Anyone standing in the way of this industry, frankly, they’re un-American.”

Because there are “important” people making a lot of money in wind, and the opening up of previously undeveloped land will enrich them well beyond wind.

Enron invented the modern wind industry by buying the support of environmental groups for large-scale “alternative” energy and all that makes it profitable: tax avoidance schemes, public grants and loan guarantees, artificial markets for “green credits”, and laws requiring its purchase. Texas Governor George W. Bush was instrumental in getting the first of these implemented at the national level on behalf of his friend Ken Lay, Enron's CEO. Texas is the USA’s leader in wind energy development, not because of some environmentalist vision, but because of the opposite: Wind energy is just one more extractive industry, and with the collaboration of Enron's environmentalists it opens up land normally off limits to such development.

The twisted rationalizations of former environmentalists to excuse the obvious adverse impacts of industrial development in the form of wind “farms” are a study in madness, akin to the military “logic” of having to destroy a village to save it. The typical refrain from the likes of the Audubon Society or Sierra Club — when they acknowledge adverse impacts at all — is that wind energy, by its theoretical and never documented reduction of carbon emissions from other electricity sources, saves more birds etc than it kills. They cling to this even as only the latter is increasingly documented and the former is increasingly clearly not. They further flaunt their moral bankruptcy by dismissing the adverse effects as a drop in the bucket compared to all the other killers of birds etc. And they join the reactionary chorus of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in presenting their plea to shovel more public money to big energy investors as one for (“American”) jobs (at any [public] cost).

At the same time, neighbors of giant wind turbines who suffer adverse health effects are derided as hysterical or mendacious. The unsurprising acoustic effects of jumbo-jet-size turbine blades cutting through vertical air spaces of almost 2 acres are simply denied. Wind's apologists reverse cause and effect and blame the victims for publicizing noise problems even as ever larger blades are increasingly documented to generate intrusive throbbing and low-frequency noise, both of which not only disturb sleep and raise stress but are increasingly tied to direct adverse physiological and psychological effects. Yet the industry fights all efforts to set even inadequate minimum distances between turbines and homes or noise limits. The CEO of Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, Ditlev Engel, wrote to the Danish Environment Minister on June 29, 2011, against such limits: “At this point you may have asked yourself why it is that Vestas does not just make changes to the wind turbines so that they produce less noise? The simple answer is that at the moment it is not technically possible to do so.” Especially because, as he goes on to note, they are planning even larger machines.

And if human neighbors are treated with such naked contempt in the mad logic of corporate profit growth, pity the wildlife whose last refuges are invaded, divided, and destroyed by big wind (and now big solar as well) — all with the blessing of many environmental groups.

Invaded, divided, and destroyed — nineteenth-century colonialism and twentieth-century globalism are now openly revived against our own communities. Just as the Spanish company Iberdrola steals farmland from the Zapotecas of Oaxaca, and the Indian company Suzlon steals forest from the Adivasis, wind developers in more “developed” countries — in Europe, North America, Australia — prey on their rural populations, pitting paid-off landowners against their neighbors, leaving bitterness and discord, a blighted landscape, shattered peace and quiet, an industrial waste land from which the limited liability companies extract what profit they can and then move on to the next marks.

Industrial wind development may not be the worst scourge on the planet, but that does not excuse it. Big wind is not separate from the rest of exploitative and extractive industry. It is not separate from the persistent efforts of the investor class to hoard for themselves more of the public wealth. It is, however, particularly evil because it presents itself as the opposite of what it is. It is not even an alternative evil: To add insult to injury, wind is not even a good way to generate electricity for the grid: Since it does not blow according to customer demand, it still has to be 100% backed up by other sources.

Break the spell! End the charade!

See the swindle for what it is. Big wind is an enemy of the planet, its animal and plant life, its people. It is a new brand in an old game whose rules were written to ensure one winner only, and it isn't you.

—Eric Rosenbloom

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism