Monsanto, or the Death of a Maiden

I have written often enough about agriculture as a turning point in human history.  In fact, it may very well have signaled the start of what we now call “history.”  Agriculture has been associated with the birth of urban centers and the development of what we commonly understand to be civilization.  Yet it was the technological intensification of big agriculture – the use of plows and other deep tillage instruments for the large-scale cultivation of fields as opposed to the prehistoric digging stick – that was the decisive step, leading to greater productivity, food surpluses, and cost effectiveness. This was all pegged to a growth in human population, specifically within newly established urban centers behind newly constructed city walls.  It also led, not incidentally, to the articulation of the first civil laws, the rise of a political and legislative class (hierarchy), and the garrisoning of troops for the protection of the surplus food stores and other State properties.  And, perhaps not as obvious, it signaled a critical change in human perception of the earth and our place within it — creating a profound sense of homelessness, alienation, and anxiety.

This anxiety-ridden and, perhaps, wayward road of agricultural intensification upon which humans first trod not so many millennia ago, now finds its modern day avatar and hero in Monsanto, the chemical and agribusiness giant that claims to be improving our food supply, the productivity of our farmers, and the availability of food for an ever-expanding global population, while lowering its costs.  Like that turn towards intensification so many centuries ago, Monsanto too promises a tricky salvation.  But what is it really doing to us and our planet?

Most Americans know Monsanto as a chemical giant, producing some of the most toxic substances ever created, residues from which have left us with some of the most polluted sites on earth… What they may not know is that the company now profoundly influences—and one day may virtually control—what we put on our tables. (Vanity Fair 2008)

It is high time we deal with this shit on our tables, people!  Is it not bad enough that we have come to depend for our food upon wage slavery, and upon fossil fuels sucked from the ground, polluting our air, and running the eighteen-wheelers from coast to coast, and store to store?  Must we now depend upon, and settle for a belligerent, menacing and litigious chemical-giant that is infusing toxic substances into, and altering the genetic makeup of, the very foods we eat?

Monsanto has an equally toxic history of bribery, extortion, harassment, litigation, intimidation, corporate bullying, along with other deceptive and unscrupulous business practices. Such behaviors supplement its list of toxic products, including agent orange, DDT, PCBs, RoundUp, dioxin, aspartame, rBST rBGH milk Posilac, and a growing family of RoundUp Ready seeds providing us with genetically modified freak-foods.

In the 2010 growing season Monsanto [unleashed] its latest Frankenfood experiment on the American and Canadian public, a new version of genetically mutated corn with eight abnormal gene traits called Genuity SmartStax corn. It [was] the culmination of an astonishing scandal that [had] been steadily building over the past decade. During this time Monsanto’s mutated seeds have grown to 90% of the U.S. soy crop and 85% of the corn crop – and wheat is next on their agenda. Their efforts have been marked by corporate bullying and have drawn the attention of the Justice Department who is conducting an antitrust investigation. All the while they have been spending millions on lobbying to fast track their agenda before the American public even realizes what hit them… Monsanto is making an ominous power play to corner the worldwide market on food and seeds. In the process they are adversely altering the very nature of food itself.

Few people would eat Monsanto’s “food” if they understood what it was or knew that they were eating it. President Obama and his family won’t eat it. Neither did the Bush family. Even a Monsanto employee cafeteria rejects it. This is no laughing matter… Imagine your digestive tract turned into a Roundup Ready herbicide factory and other warped genetic signals slowly and progressively rotting away your health. Unlike acute food poisoning from infectious E.coli, it is a slow and insidious poisoning. [News from Underground]

On the one hand, Monsanto seems the perfect example of the modern corporate citizen, a true love child created in the image of the American corporate-State.  And, like its parent, the corporatocracy, it too seeks global control.  It wants to control our agricultural food supply – what we eat – to the exclusion of all competition, and without regard for natural boundaries or conditions.  It viciously “stomps down budding seed competitors,” pays-off politicians globally to get its GMO seeds planted, and outlaws the saving or sharing of seeds by ordinary farmers.  It has even seen to it that farmers in Iraq would be legally inhibited from replanting their seeds from year to year; US diplomat, Paul Bremer – administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority that ruled the “new Iraq” in its chaotic early days – was used as a conduit to feather a bed that Monsanto is sure to occupy sometime in the not-to-distant future as it continues its march of global food domination.

What Order 81 did was to establish the strong intellectual property protections on seed and plant products that a company like the St. Louis-based Monsanto — purveyors of genetically modified (GM) seeds and other patented agricultural goods — requires before they’ll set up shop in a market like the new Iraq. With these protections, Iraq was open for business. In short, Order 81 was Bremer’s way of telling Monsanto that the same conditions had been created in Iraq that had led to the company’s stunning successes in India. [AlterNet]

Yet, just in case no one has noticed, there has been an epidemic of farmer suicides in India of all places since Monsanto introduced itself, its toxic GM seeds, its litigious policies, and its debt instruments there.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of [Monsanto] GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds. Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands – only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed – two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

But, Monsanto had the best of teacher’s, the most vainglorious of role models. Their efforts systematically embody the very same tactics as our own American hegemony, arrayed in full battle mode, complete with the language and belligerent attitude of domination and harassment, even as we see it currently waged in our administration’s ongoing campaign against Iran. Indeed, such presumptuousness found full voice in President Obama’s State of the Union Address earlier this week when he said…

America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs, and as long as I’m president, I intend to keep it that way.

Such statements betray the profound arrogance and conceit of a nation (and a leader) that give breath and vitality to corporate monsters like Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, GE, among a host of others.  In a copycat, almost childlike manner, Monsanto apes its own way towards hegemonic control of the global food supply.  It demonstrates that it has learned lessons well from the corporate-State.  As our nation continues to intensify its own efforts in political, cultural, and military dominion over the planet, so too Monsanto proceeds apace, intensifying its own global march toward agricultural  domination.

As we have noted, Monsanto is not alone in such  behavior.  Attempts to manage and control every facet of life today are made by diverse corporate sponsors that now have the run of our country and very shortly may bring a final deathblow to the maiden. But, after all, it is America’s right, it is capital’s right, and it is empire’s right.  So the pitch or narrative goes.  But, the real frightening thing is that in Monsanto’s case we (and our children) are even now ingesting substances whose potentially debilitating impact on the ecology of the earth as well as the ecology of our bodies is not fully known and very possibly terminal.  And, yet, the federal government has refused to label foods as GMO on our grocers’ shelves, even as the public outcry for it continues.  So, eat at your own risk, my friends.  And for you farmers among us; plant at your own risk, and keep a wary eye out for Monsanto’s intellectual-property police: censorship makes strange bedfellows does it not? — entertainment, pharmaceuticals, agriculture. And make certain that no birds, bees or other little creatures have inadvertently delivered Big Brothers’ GMO seeds to your recently tilled field, otherwise you could pay with your farm, if not with your life.  Oh! and, by the way, watch out for that salmon you’re eating for dinner tonight… it could be GMO salmon, i.e., maybe not really a fish  at all!

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56 Responses to Monsanto, or the Death of a Maiden

  1. murph says:

    Sandy,

    Sure glad to see this posting. I have spent considerable time researching GMO seeds, herbicides and insecticides over the last year. I’ve got to say this; the problem is even worse than you have stated and that’s bad enough. These chemicals are also entering our food supply by indirect means that few people understand, and they are poisoning the land and air and water. They are long lasting except under very limited conditions and the farm animals that eat vegetable matter sprayed with this stuff have it accumulate in the muscle tissue and is excreted in the manure. The manure, incidentally, if used as soil amendment will kill a vegetable garden. The fastest breakdown of these chemicals, that I have seen reports on, is around 5 years. These chemicals are showing up in aquifers and surface water.

    In short, we all are being slowly poisoned by this stuff

  2. Angie says:

    In 1999 the US Environmental Protection Agency listed Monsanto’s Newleaf Superior potato -in and of itself – as a registered insecticide. Monsanto had enginered the genes of Bacillus thuringiensis into the potato’s DNA. (Bt is a bacteria that we organic gardeners occasionally spray where catepillars are grazing. It multiplies and eats their gut. We wash it off carefully). McDonalds, until they got sprung, was selling this registered biocide, a poison, as fries. Remember, a large portion of their fries market comprises young bodies, with years ahead to develop cellular anomalies in response to accumulated toxins. Big food companies still use the Newleaf.
    And things have not improved at all. No amount of public outrage will restore non GM soy and corn to our food chain. Monsanto is evil incarnate, unleashed by our complacency.
    Production and poisoning of meat and dairy is worse. Watch “Food Inc.”.
    Things really are bad. Isn’t it weird that we keep posting and reading about this, and then go off to sleep to do the usual work and leisure tomorrow, where people go about their business, apparantly unconcerned, and then we get online and read and write about all these signs speeding us to the collapse, and repeat business as usual?
    Who’s job is it to rescue the future? Anyone?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Angie – It is truly amazing, from an objective point of view, to observe the complacency of the American (Western) populace. But, when you think about it in the context of the narrative we have been told, and which is repeated on ad infinitum on TV, radio, movies, commercials, textbooks, politicians, and the other the institutions of our land, it is no wonder we are so complacent. Docile and subservient. And we have 200 generations of ‘civilized’ progress to validate our addictions. And even those among us who see the signs perhaps more clearly, we too find it hard to muster any other than personal action. Perhaps the machine is just too grand, to large for anyone to take down. Perhaps it is disbelief in the signs of the end, perhaps it is simple delusion.

      • Brutus says:

        Sandy sez:

        It is truly amazing, from an objective point of view, to observe the complacency of the American (Western) populace.

        I’m not complacent, exactly, but as important as the monstrosity of Monsanto has grown over the decades, adding it to my already overwhelming list of worries and concerns might well sink me. It would not surprise me if this issue trumps others (energy depletion, deforestation, overpopulation, and slow, mass suicide being the subjects of my usual outcries), but in truth, there are so many interlocking pieces that our collective powerlessness in the face of them all easily leads to paralysis.

        So while you can cast aspersions at the complacency of the population, even knowing about the horrors of the modern world is no immediate spur to action. The entire species behaves like a mob.

        • …even knowing about the horrors of the modern world is no immediate spur to action.”

          Brutus, our longing to do everything we can think of to help solve the existing problems can certainly overwhelm. We can, however, remind ourselves when in the grips of such a feeling that there is always something at hand that “I” can do. Sometimes we are in a position to run with it, other times we can walk at a pace. When this is not possible, perhaps we can crawl. Should we fail to achieve even this, we can pray for the ability to crawl. If the prayers seem insincere, one can resign to being patient and courageously resolve to wait for the present circumstances to adjust. I repeat Javacat’s thoughts:

          “Your call to act is needed. Each of us acting where we are, how we can, if nothing else than for our own sanity, our own spirit, and the possibility of change and greater community. On all levels, each us of need examine our habits, assumptions, attitudes, even the very words we use, to live a life more attuned to our Earth, to reconcile the Self and Other.”

          Each single cell in the body is called upon to perform its role as part of a system and, in most cases, for the good of the body. It would seem not useful or unhealthy for any one cell to take upon itself alone the burden of a situation that is outside of its purview or that demands the cooperation of other cells. Reliance upon what is greater than one’s self is grace.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Well stated; I agree, Brutus

    • nina says:

      It was heartening to see Erin Brockovich step up to the plate in an interview with Dr, Drew on HLN TV last night on the case of the 15 teens suffering from a mystery illness causing sudden unprovoked outbursts, ticks and seizures. In a matter of days she’s uncovered a long forgotten train derailment which spilled cars of extremely toxic chemicals 4 miles from the school these children attend. Over time, the chemicals seeped underground into the bedrock forming a huge underground plume which is being drawn directly to the school’s privately owned gas wells, behind chain link, on school property. The plume widens as it grows, is a mile at its widest point which is at the end, beneath the gas wells. Hopefully, her investigation will override the medical establishment’s latest theoretical diagnosis, Conversion Syndrome, in which psychosomatics adopt the symptoms of another person. At this point it is impossible to tell since attempts to get the proper agencies involved when the train derailed apparently took twenty years to provoke a response. When you look at these children suffering from strange, inexplicable symptoms, you may well be looking at the future, the immediate future and the future of whomever survives the present. It does not appear that our past, including Love Canal, the BP spill, the ongoing desecration of Niger, waste dumps in NV, Monsanto’s GMOs, and so forth, is taken as a warning. http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&hl=en&tab=nw#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&site=webhp&source=hp&q=Erin+Brokovich+interview+on+HLN&btnK=Google+Search&oq=&aq=&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=588b3e7678b699e9&biw=1168&bih=646

  3. Patric Roberts says:

    Sandy,
    How any human being could not be thrown into absolute indignation after reflecting on the India Farmers committing suicide with the toxins sold to them is beyond me. There are over 200,000 farmers in India that have committed suicide.
    Thank you for your courageous stance and intellectual insights,
    Patric

    • kulturcritic says:

      Well Patric,

      Since 2002, when Bt (Monsanto GM) cotton was introduced into India, there have been roughly 18,000 suicides per year. That seems alot to me. They say crop failure and subsequent debt was the major factor. But, of course, the cost of Bt cotton is exponentially greater than that of traditional seed. Hence the sense of hopelessness.

  4. Pete Hines says:

    If Monsanto were a person (and according to Mitt, it is), it would be arrested and subsequently found to be sociopathic, without an ounce of conscience. Of course, with its money and political clout, Monsanto would get off scot-free. The parallel drawn between Monsanto, as well as other large multi-nationals, and Obama’s statement in the state-of-the-union is of course fitting and just the end result of unfetterd capitalistic hubris. I often wonder if things will ever change because in the end, it’s just another case of the rich and powerful fucking over the poor and weak, and we all know that’s been going on forever.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Pete – of course you have the point, exactly. But, it has only been going on for a few thousand years. I am a cynic, but perhaps there is a way forward, after the Fall. sandy

  5. relentless says:

    Having come to realize i may perhaps be the only living primal plant backbreeder on the most beautiful planet in the Universe (go ahead, prove me wrong!), i need to share some thoughts on your MonSatan article (i refuse to call such evil by its given name). Having had national releases of some of my open-pollinated seeds (Fedco Seeds, Maine, the only major seed so. that refuses to sell seeds of MonSatan when MS purchased Seiminis Seeds) you could call me a bonafide plant breeder. However, as far distant from the biotechnologist life destroyers as possible. My goal is to decontanimate what the public calls GMOs or genetically-engineered lifeforms. A more accurate term is transgenetic manipulation–across natural speiceis barriers. Those on the frontlines of dismantling transgenes recent anti-life appearance on Earth realize this is a life or extinction issue. 1st, transgene biotechers must be called what they really are: transspecies genetic rapists, but worse, they as 3rd party pimp-prostitutes, force at least 2 biologically distinct species to engage in incest without their permissions. That is the reality. It’s both more complicated than this yet pathologically, egregiously, quite simple in its horrendous results–the eventual evisceration of life on Earth. For ex: one of the dirty little secrets of the Frankensteinian faux scientists is a term that doesn’t get airplay or what i refer to as inbrednet status (one species only communicating with itself!): pleiotropy, the REALITY that a single gene can and often does express itself in more than one way, and, get this, not the single way the MonSatanists, et al, claim. They do not know how a single gene will interact once lossed upon the genetic commons. NO ONE DOES!
    It gets worse. Already, not only have transgenes contaminated their wild relatives, becasue their genes have either, sometimes both, bacterial and viral markers, which ‘infect’ the entire plant, and is then ‘consumed’ by animals/insects, other bacteria and viruses, these genes enter the entire food web, yes, you, me, the entire planet–INCLUDING the soil microorganisms. Please extrapolate for yourselves. All life on the planet, all life, will be contaminated eventually by these transgenes, and, this is already beginning to be discovered in the soil of that which makes all life possible. Duh…ENDGAME.
    i nurture and defend 24 acres in Maine, what i call the EcoWeb, ground zero for decontaminating all the damage perpetrated by one hubristic, insane species. You might say i’m attempting to contaminate evil. i could use your assistance in whatever part of this wondrous planet you reside upon.
    For more insight into primal plant ‘backbreeding,’ read one of my published articles, ‘Backbreeding to the Future (Reconnecting with Our Genetic Reality)’ in the January 2010 issue of Acres USA (not yet posted on line…sorry). More articles forthcoming in Acres and other magazines.
    This IS a war we’re currently losing, be it ecological, climatically, financially, whatever…and, we may well lose on so many fronts as we all realize. There are means to take back the extraordinary beauty of this Earth we so love. Thingking beyond the common is where to begin. If ‘they’ contaminate, we decontaminate, or, and this is most important: we can contaminate ‘them,’ neutralizing their toxic mentalities. Think outside the box? NO! The box doesn’t exist, and only within your mind do you allow it nonexistence. ‘THEY’ do not own the planet, no one does. It’s time to occupy reality…the authentic reality that the Earth has gifted us with. Even police, soldiers, et al, besides writers, artists, primal plant backbreeders…whatever your gifts, give that wondrous talent to the most beautiful planet in the Universe. And don’t tell ‘them’ how you will personally accomplish this…just do it. Contaminate evil–NOW!

    • relentless says:

      i apologize for the spelling errors. i have no inbrednet service at home so must send e-fails quickly through other channels. The above was typed in about 15 minutes. i attempted to correct the errors but the ‘system’ didn’t allow it. My replies will always be extremely limited. i appreciate all you and your readers are attempting to accomplish with Kulturcritic Sandy. i consider civilization flypaper. Also, for those so interested, read the article in the current Orion Magazine by Paul Kingsnorth, which will also lead to the January Orion podcast with Kingsnorth, Lierre Keith and David Abram–we do have kindred spirits ‘out there’ who understand. This may also lead you to Kingsnorth’s Dark Mt Project and his mission statement: ‘Uncivilization.’ i’m confident all will be amused and gratified by his words…and perhaps energized, even though domesticated words are mostly imposters impersonating reality. At this late stage of civilization words best means of employment are as subverters of ALL the Kings’ languages, messengers best employed to contaminate and overthrow the farce called heirarchy and assumed power. That said: my current name for the modern species of Homo: Homo sapiens sapiens var. hubristisaurus, ‘Man’ knowing he knows but knows not at all what he thinks he ‘knows’ (translation: shit). This species is obviously a deviant evolutionary branch who
      erroneously veered off in a most fatal form apprx. 10 millenia past. Thank you all for allowing the rant. r

    • javacat says:

      r., you bring out passionately the gnarly tangle of science, greed, abdication of responsibility and destruction that M_ _ S _ _ _ _ [Think Harry Potter: “He who must not be named” ;-)] embodies. Modern science, less intentionally perhaps, and modern corporations, more deliberately, allow, encourage, demand that ability outstrip ethics, short-term implications and long-term consequences for the quick hit of ‘because we can,’ ‘because we want to’ and it makes (a lot of) bucks. I think that sometimes so much of this miasma of promotion is breathed in that those promoting it truly believe it–an epidemic throughout our modern Western culture.
      Your call to act is needed. Each of us acting where we are, how we can, if nothing else than for our own sanity, our own spirit, and the possibility of change and greater community. On all levels, each us of need examine our habits, assumptions, attitudes, even the very words we use, to live a life more attuned to our Earth, to reconcile the Self and Other.

      • Javacat,
        I am fortunate to have read many inspiring and insightful writings lately. This post is certainly one of them. It sees the far-reaching dilemma, encourages one to embrace responsibility, and sets one free to fulfill their unique role with a disillusioned and tranquil mind. May all of our tiniest of efforts to give and serve be blessed.

    • kulturcritic says:

      relentless – I share your name and your passion. I, too, am RELENTLESS!

      I also love the concept of “backbreeding” as an answer to the global life contaminators. I believe the same concept can be applied in any number of spheres. We need not only to “backbreed” our plants, but also our minds, our vocabularies, our creations (of whatever kind), and we need to “backbreed” the minds of those others who we can reach. I would love to see your article on plant backbreeding. And I promise to continue arm-in-arm with you, and all other decontaminators… we will contaminate the contaminators, and thereby, decontaminate the planet. In solidarity, and with much love, sandy

  6. Tim Gallagher says:

    Thanks Sandy for your post and “relentless for your good work”–yeah what box? When in India in the 60’s I bought a laptop size spinning wheel that Ghandi and company developed for each person to have to bring down the British textile imports AND THEY DID. I hear a lot of” wondering” how change will come about and I think that we’ve been spending too much time preaching to the choir and feeling beaten. It’s time to buy those good seeds from organic growers and plant on lawns and roof tops, where ever you find a few feet of land to cultivate. Small changes, by many people will bring results and you’ll have yourself a nice salad and veggies as well. Tim Ji

    • javacat says:

      Tim, your post is a great reminder for the power of change. I hadn’t known of the spinning wheel strategy before, and its concept is quite appealing.

      Along similar lines, back in November, OWS organized Bank Transfer Day, on which they reported 40,000+ withdrew their monies from banks and joined local credit unions instead. Simple collective action that had a noticeable impact.

      As for gardens: Last summer I saw a definite upswing in front-yard gardens in my small city. Despite ‘crack downs’ (i.e., alleged zoning violations) reported in other states, nothing of that sort occurred here. Some of the gardens were beautiful, inter-planting flowers and vegetables. Others were more serviceable: pots along a front walk–a movable feast. I suspect that folks chose this path from need and a desire for local control. I hope to create a photo-essay of these next summer, to promote the choice.

  7. B Miller says:

    Fighting a global giant like Monsanto requires a commitment to producing some of your own food and saving your own non-hybrid vegetable seed. This is not to say that hybrids are bad or evil. They are very different than GMO’s. But, non-hybrids give you the option to save your seed and grow the same variety again.

    Like Tim’s reminder about the spinning wheel in India one way to attack that power is to find a way to make it irrelevant. The Archdruid has been talking about a related them the past few weeks as it relates to technology. Sometimes we have the option to opt out.

    I’d suggest anyone interested to check out and hopefully join a network of similar seed activists at Seed Savers Exchange: http://www.seedsavers.org.

    Sandy, thanks for the post.

  8. jeff z says:

    Sandy,

    I’ve seen your plug for the blog several times on CFN, but haven’t checked it for a while, except that I saw you were posting about Monsanto. You’re right on as far as I can tell.

    I’d like to echo one of the previous commenters’ endorsements of Fedco Seeds. They truly are the un-Monsanto. A co-op of growers, mostly organic, located in the middle of nowhere in Maine. And they refuse to sell any Monsanto seeds, or knowingly sell any GMO’s. And their catalog is a work of art- with witty commentary about seed varieties to boot! What’s not to love?

    I am NOT a paid shill for Fedco. I am a loyal customer, having ordered from them for several years now. They offer high-quality, clean seeds at a better price than most. They deserve all the word of mouth advertising I can give them.

    I hope the intentions of your readers translate into action, if they haven’t done so already. There is farmable, gardenable land everywhere- especially in the turfed wastes of suburbia. Growing a garden is a more radical act than occupying wall street, and more damaging to the industrial food producers than all the Facebook campaigns put together.

    See my reviews of (mostly Fedco) seeds at: http://eighthacrefarm.blogspot.com/2011/12/seed-reviews-2011s-results-2012s-hopes.html

    • kulturcritic says:

      Jeff – thanks for speaking up, and for stopping by. And you are right, growing a garden is the most radical move one can do to stop the machine and help insure one’s own survival. best, sandy

      • Brutus says:

        So let me ask a question instead of spouting off as I usually do. If the overarching historical theme is that the shift to agriculture some several millennia ago begot the oppressive, hierarchical societies in which we live today, does gardening and localized food production really offer an alternative? Is repatriating to the countryside, since living off the land in the HG sense is no longer an option, really a radical move to stop the machine? Anyone can answer.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Brutus, all I can say is that the options going forward are limited. Those limits are a function of what we have done collectively to our world and our psyches. I would say that nothing will stop the machine except its own excesses; but some of us need to decide how we will continue to live, once the machine comes to a grinding halt. And certainly by “repatriating the countryside,” we do something to stop feeding the machine, and begin to feed ourselves. We cannot go back beyond horticulture. It is a minimum, because as you note, the conditions for the possibility of life in the HG mode no longer exist, ecologically, psychologically, etc. That is a brief response. Perhaps others have more wind in their sails just now for a more complete reply. sandy

          • “…we do something to stop feeding the machine, and begin to feed ourselves.”

            Sandy, I am not certain if you are using the word feed to mean only nutrition for our bodies? We can also at any time, in all situations, decide to stop feeding and being fed by the machine, the mechanistic paradigm. Our mechanical addictions to certain attitudes, patterns of thinking (such as either/or vs and/both), and the nature of our desires can be experimented with. Too many aspects of life are approached in mechanical ways for the quick and easy fix, which usually do not last nor get at the root cause of the problem at hand.
            Holistic and critical “thinking is hard.” Ignorance and arrogance are employed to protect us from this perceived “hardship.” 🙂
            Opening and stretching minds and hearts is a joyful enterprise. Still if one hasn’t gone in for it, one simply doesn’t know. The more you know the more responsible you are.

            • john patrick says:

              “The more you know the more responsible you are.” Nicely said, Ron. I’d like to add: Some things are not meant to be shared, but are unique gifts for the receiver who climbs the mountain of discovery.

              I look back at the many great inventors/artists and how their discoveries were later mis-used. Give the ability to gene-splice to a monster and what do you get? (or have the monster take it from you.) A great responsibility exists to keep things hidden until the children learn to be responsible with matches.

              Sandy touches on this in Veronika with regard to ancient wisdom. Some things are not meant to be shouted from the rooftops, but rather “Go home and don’t tell anyone.” Apply it to your own life and live it. A firewall exists between the ways of war and and the ways of peace. There is a reason for this, so that inherently beautiful things/truths are protected and respected and enjoyed by peaceful beings. Nobody is allowed to show up to a wedding feast dressed in chamo and a bullet-proof vest. It’s just the way it is…

              • Excellent points about the responsibility to care for the precious things that come into one’s care–not casting pearls before the swine. Rules and principles are useful but eventually must give way to individual experience when one is carrying out his/her worldly duties. True freedom is not a neat and tidy business.

                It is seems to always boil down to: only love matters. Yes, “apply it….and live it.” Good one, Brother.

              • relentless says:

                i have an odd philosophy that continues to bear the fruit of reality…”Genuis legitimizes civilization’s insanities.” And i so wish it weren’t so, wish that mantra could be completely disproved, though there seem to be so few exceptions…for me that would be, for example: Beethoven and The Beatles. Appreciate your thoughts JP.

              • john patrick says:

                I think all of us at one time or another have “discovered” something of great value. And often, feel compelled to “share” it with others. Why not? Isn’t community about sharing? But I have learned over and over (which means I’ve screwed up over and over) that discovery and sharing should have a time-delay between the two. Perhaps lifetimes. Or never. The intent to share is there, but retaining responsible authority over its present/future use has to be maintained. To rely on “market” forces, or like-needs, to bring about careful adaptation is like a shark finding a tuna and expecting the other sharks to share in the careful distribution.

                But, sharing bread/wine is okay. You can’t hold a gun and a wineglass in the same hand. And if you eat/drink too much you fall asleep.

        • Lara's Dad says:

          Permaculture !

          This is my favourite site. Tripp, the author is well-versed in energy descent, but is an optimist and a doer, a la SolarGuy (a commenter) from JHK’s blog (which is where is 1st encountered both Sandy and Tripp).

          Doom does not necessarily equate to gloom.

    • javacat says:

      Another long-time Fedco fan, I can also vouch for their quality and commitment. They are the real thing. I’ve ordered seeds, bulbs, bought grape vines, etc. and have found their message and their product consistent. These folks are in Maine. I’m guessing there are other similar sources in other parts of the country. Maybe there’s a way for us to pool our knowledge and resources and talents, and to build a network. Just some random thoughts on a Tuesday morning.

  9. relentless says:

    1st: Thank you Sandy for your impassioned thoughts. Am currently writing an article called “Subvert the Kings’ Languages.” Subversive? Bet your existence. #2: Brutus: i so read YOU. Look for a future article of mine in Acres, USA dealing exactly with this subject (and another that may or may not end up in Orion or elsewhere, even more to your well-made point), almost finished, currently titled “Growing Your Own Paleo Diet” which of course our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t do. However, i’ve rather updated the past in a way that ‘agriculture’ needn’t find itself disturbing, disrupting, or eviscerating the planet nor evenwe hubristic humans, though i’m not sure the latter is a wise move. Thank the Universe for this blog, its potential is infinite.

  10. troutsky says:

    Just from the activist/agent side of things I want to reply to Brutus and debate the notion that “growing a garden is the most radical thing you can do to stop the machine.” If you are ONLY concerned with building a lifeboat this is a practical thing to do but it doesn’t necessarily raise consciousness (the most reactionary elements in my community have great gardens) nor does Capital fret over this type of production in terms of profit loss or loss of hegemonic power.

    But it is an extremely popular pressure release valve. Many young people are turning to this as The Answer to the injustice they see around them because it is simple busy work, non-confrontational, no risk involved, it seems “alternative” and feels good.(I’m a gardener) This is not a problem in itself, but when they abandon radical struggle, developing a structural critique, or challenging power so that it must pay the cost of enforcement, it is a dangerous palliative.

    As for Monsanto, and Evil Corporations more generally, I am worried people are just looking at one form of Capital and are being distracted. They are a symptom, not the disease. As symbols, they focus resistance, which is good, but ending corporate person-hood, or money as speech or lobbying reform, etc.. will not remove the tumor. Even Sarah Palin is worried about Corporations.NPR is worried about them as is Obama. It is a misdirection.

    troutsky

    • kulturcritic says:

      Troutsky – I read you, but that is why I offer no political solution. Because in my view there is none. Look at Egypt, Libya, Tunisia. Look at Greece, Spain, Italy, etc. Its all musical chairs. There is no real change that can take place. The chess board has been built, now we just move people around. Can we find a nation more humanitarian, probably (maybe its Chavez) or maybe its in Bhutan. But, essentially the game must be played out until check–mate. That is why I think the life boat is the best course of action.

    • What keeps coming up for me as I read and listen to people who long to help solve all the problems with which this world is being presented, is and/both pattern of thinking. Anything could prove helpful, be it seemingly small or large, even, whether it seems to succeed or fail. The picture is just so large that without sufficient vision one just does not know. Few are that insightful. Of course, this will not nor should not prevent action, conscious inaction and change, be it growing veggies, changing diets, changing shopping and financial habits, writing, demonstrating or other types political efforts, etc.

      Every dab or stroke of paint added to the painting changes the whole painting. Personally, I take up what comes naturally and a few things that don’t come that way, but I make it a point to support in some manner what others are doing unless they seem destructive, in which case, I either let it be or attempt constructive criticism.

      Through reading the stories of others and experiencing my own life as it proceeds, I am convinced that no matter what happens something “good” can be gained from the experience if one is receptive. This is and always will be available to everyone all the time, and it lasts.

    • Brutus says:

      My point in asking the question earlier (yes, , I even make points even with my questions) was that the idea of being a gardener or gentleman farmer risks being doctrinaire at the same time it’s a really good idea, assuming one has the means. Let me add two further tidbits, which aren’t my own ideas.

      Albert Borgmann includes gardening among his “focal things” (e.g., running, music, the culture of the table) as an example of practices having ultimate concern and significance but yet are inconspicuous and even homely compared to nation- and wealth-building exercises typically undertaken by “great men,” whose legacies are immortalized in statues, history books, on the sides of buildings, and in articles of manufacture (thinking especially of Steve Jobs here, but Thomas Edison and Henry Ford suffice, too). The contrast between the individual getting dirt under his or her fingernails and nurturing something living with the grandiose, destructive, and death-dealing effects of industrial and political activity could hardly be greater.

      Stolen whole from the comments at Morris Berman’s blog, Frederick Douglas “iterated numerous times how a[c]quiring knowledge had been both a blessing and a bane. It seemed the more he became enlightened the more he suffered mental anguish. It was when he was forced to throw himself into the hard labors of the field that the thought of liberty and escape was put out of his mind. When he was tr[a]nsferred to less exhaustive work, he had time to reflect and would suffer more with thoughts of being free. Perhaps that situation is partly in play now. People throw thems[e]lves into their work and work longer hours not just to earn a living but to also not have time or energy for reflection causing a[n]guish and anxiety.”

  11. Frank Kling says:

    Monsanto sounds frighteningly similar to the Soylent Corporation in the prophetic film, “Soylent Green”. Although this film was produced in the early 70s I was struck by the statement made by the character played by the fabulous Edward G. Robinson, “The heat is overwhelming. It’s as if we are living in a greenhouse all year long.” Given the growth of the human population-290,000 more every 24 hours-coupled with the mass extinction of 30,000 animal and plant species every year, the film’s plot is not so far fetched.

  12. Bret Simpson says:

    We are on an inverted pyramid now..overshoot.Can’t go forward and can’t go back.Been working cattle now for the past 6 years…too much impact and takes too long.Tried veggies for a year but got tired of eating beans…wells here are polluted….left Alaska when the arctic haze and permafrost melting showed me the writing on the wall.Mars anyone?!

  13. Bret Simpson says:

    Sandy…been working cattle going on 6 years now.Forced into this situation…used RoundUp,Crossbow…hand cutting,etc.We try EVERTHING…you all come down here and work the farm for a summer….no BS.Have a room for you…got chickens,ducks…..came home in a blizzard..120- from John River,,Wolf almost got me in Colordo Ck,AK.

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