This is a post with a bunch of quotes and an introduction to an informative book review.
First of all it is time recycle an old school statement:
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” – William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
There is a world out there for us to see. Not made of the stuff they told you in school. (By the way, did you see the new film by Erwin Wagenhofer called Alphabet? It’s tagline goes: “98% of all children come into this world highly gifted. After school it is only 2%”.)
Indeed, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught”, as that Wilde Oscar said. Recently an EU Parliament Report told us that “Europe Has 880,000 Slave Laborers” – they didnt say that in school, in fact they always said that we were the great liberators of the slaves. But there is more to it than that :”including 270,000 victims of sexual exploitation”.
Once the fog they filled our heads with has cleared, we see that we’re in a haze.
“The fact is that slaving was at the very centre of state-making. It is impossible to exaggerate the massive effects of this human commodity on stateless societies. Wars between states became a kind of booty capitalism, where the major prize was human traffic. The slave trade then completely transformed the non-state ‘tribal zone’. Some groups specialised in slave-raiding, mounting expeditions against weaker and more isolated groups and then selling them to intermediaries or directly at slave markets”.
Consider these words…
“Before, say, 1500, most populations had a sporting chance of remaining out of the clutches of states and empires, which were still relatively weak and, given low rates of urbanisation and forest clearance, still had access to foraged foods. On this account, our world of grains and states is a mere blink of the eye (0.25 per cent), in the historical adventure of our species.” (James C. Scott, 2013)
The work of James Scott is some of the finest that the academy has to offer. That doesn’t say a lot, of course, but it is certainly worth a read. His books are all interesting, even if some basic ideas are recycled, as is common in (academic) writing. Here is a selection:
- Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play. Princeton University Press, 2012 ISBN 0-691-15529-1
- The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. Yale University Press, 2009 ISBN 0-300-15228-0
- Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press, 1998 ISBN 0-300-07016-0
- Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. Yale University Press, 1990 ISBN 0-300-04705-3
- Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. Yale University Press, 1985 ISBN 0-300-03336-2
- The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia. Yale University Press, 1979 ISBN 0-300-01862-2
It is a review of a book by someone called Jared Semiprecious or something like that. Apparently not really that interesting in the end, but the review has some golden nuggets:
Crops, Towns, Government
James C. Scott
The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond
Penguin, 498 pp, £28.99, September,
It’s a good bet a culture is in trouble when its best-known intellectuals start ransacking the cultural inventory of its ancestors and its contemporary inferiors for tips on how to live. The malaise is all the more remarkable when the culture in question is the modern American variant of Enlightenment rationalism and progress, a creed not known for self-doubt or failures of nerve. The deeper the trouble, the more we are seen to have lost our way, the further we must go spatially and temporally to find the cultural models that will help us. In the stronger versions of this quest, there is either a place – a Shangri-la – or a time, a Golden Age, that promises to reset our compass to true north. Anthropology and history implicitly promise to provide such models. Anthropology can show us radically different and satisfying forms of human affiliation and co-operation that do not depend on the nuclear family or inherited wealth. History can show that the social and political arrangements we take for granted are the contingent result of a unique historical conjuncture.
It might also be worth taking a look at Richard Manning’s ““Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization”. “The End of Capitalism”, who says that “A new world is on its way. We are building it, one day at a time”, says this about Dick Mannings musings:
“The book begins by exploring the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, in many ways superior to our own even at the height of industrial capitalism. Hunter-gatherers, it turns out, ate a wider variety of tasty foods, worked far less, and lived much more sensually and connected than “civilized” humans. About 10,000 years ago, certain groups of humans traded all this in for security, namely the ability to stay in one spot and harvest grain to be stored for future food.
What this crop manipulation produced, however, was the first wealth inequality known to the species, as leaders left working the fields to their followers. In time, these stationary and hierarchical societies expanded and conquered/killed their hunter-gatherer neighbors. Soon enough crops like wheat, corn, and rice spread across the globe through violence and disease.”
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Philosophy, Politics and Historical Problems of Volunteering
This is a general and quick post in response to Frequently Asked Questions about the problems of choosing where to invest one’s time and labour when volunteering in foreign places with good intent. It started as a reply to a comment – part of a long thread about a conservation project in the Amazon – then expanded slightly to become this first draft of a short reply to questions concerning volunteering.
Where and what is good agency put into which structures? It is an endless journey through the soul and the corridors of political thinking, philosophical reflection, historical recognition and ethical considerations – and it is also that first single step of your journey. It begins in the mind, unfolds in the imagination and will have a material impact on the place you go to.
Over the years we have spend a lot of time and energy helping people finding their ways in Ecuador and Peru, we have spend a lot of time suggesting projects, providing contacts and so on. However, in the end, people mostly go and do their own thing anyway. However, if you have only 4-6 months time and want to connect sooner, and should you really want to do something in or around Tena, Napo, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, or in San Francisco in Peru, and if working on a small scale and community level with people outside of NGO structures, doing down-to-the-ground, bottom-up work, with lovely families, if that is your thing, then do get in touch.
Another press release:
RIGHTS: U.N. Condemns Land Grabs in Native Territories, By Haider Rizvi.
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 14, 2010 (IPS) – Millions of people around the world who belong to indigenous communities continue to face discrimination and abuse at the hands of authorities and private business concerns, says a new U.N. report released here Thursday.
It is happening not only in the developing parts of the world but also in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which champion the causes of human rights and democracy, the report says.
Despite all the “positive developments” in international human rights setting in recent years, the study’s findings suggest that indigenous peoples remain vulnerable to state-sponsored violence and brutality, which is often aimed at confiscating their lands.
“This carbon market insanity privatises the air and sells it to climate criminals like Shell so they can continue to pollute and destroy the climate and our future, rather than reducing their emissions at source…”
Press Release: Carbon Markets Violate Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Threaten Cultural Survival
“Indigenous Peoples are being forced to sign over their territories for REDD to the Gangsters of the Century, carbon traders, who are invading the world’s remaining forests that exist thanks to the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples,” denounced Marlon Santi, President of the CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, one of the most powerful native organizations in the world. “Our forests are spaces for life not carbon markets.”
Indigenous leader kidnapped and forced at gunpoint to surrender carbon rights for REDD in Papua New Guinea
New York, USA — As carbon traders hawk permits to pollute at the Second Annual Carbon Trading Summit, Indigenous Peoples denounced that selling the sky not only corrupts the sacred but also destroys the climate, violates human rights and threatens cultural survival.
“Carbon trading and carbon offsets are a crime against humanity and Creation,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network. “The sky is sacred. This carbon market insanity privatizes the air and sells it to climate criminals like Shell so they can continue to pollute and destroy the climate and our future, rather than reducing their emissions at source.”
The policing of COP15 has been totalitarian and democratic rights routinely suspended: no one is considered innocent until proven guilty, but simply arrested “preventatively”. Close to two thousand – 968 in one swoop – were arrested without committing any offence and been left to sit for hours in a freezing cold street, in their own piss and shit, with plastic strips around their bleeding wrists. Some, including delegates, have been severely beaten.
There have been riots in the animal cage prisons (illegal according to Amnesty) and some spokespeople have been arrested and will be charged with – so far all taking place behind closed doors! - the intentions to be violent against the police and for the intentions to incite riots. In part based on phone tapping of interviews with journalists and alleged illegal tapping of Greenpeace. This is what democracy looks like! The police has since admitted that they “only performed two illegal acts of surveillance of phones, nothing more” and Johan Martini Reimann, Director of Copenhagen Police, in order to calm the waters with an unwitting irony, ensures the public that “they have not operated in a manner differently from normal“. Nice to know that the Danish Police routine breaks the law – and as usual revealing to hear what total disregard for the rule of law that this institution has!
In other words, the rule of law no longer rules (did it ever?) the little rotten Duck Pond. There has been world wide reporting of the fascistic policing measures (see for instance: “Copenhagen: the sound of silence: Denmark’s reputation is being destroyed by police action outside the summit and the gagging of NGOs and poor nations inside“), which, of course, does not really surprise those familiar with the Danish police force and political system. Chavez has interestingly stated that Denmark is more repressive than Venezuela.
In connection with a funny, rather innocent, yet cheeky and coordinated Greenpeace action last night in front of and inside the Danish Parliament – Christiansborg – the Chief Inspector of Copenhagen Police, Per Larsen (currently accused of covering up a terrorist act for political gain) , now severely threaten people. First he states that such an action is “as stupid as anything can be. When you do that kind of thing, you are going to pay for it. And that bill is being prepared now“:
»Det er så dumt, som noget kan være. Når man laver den slags, så kommer man til at betale for det. Og den regning er ved at blive udstedt nu«, siger chefpolitiinspektør Per Larsen fra Københavns Politi.
That’s not enough for Per Larsen, however, who also threatens to shoot activists. He says that “the risk is present if anyone feels threatened. When you do such a thing you expose yourself to risks”:
»Den risiko er også til stede, hvis nogen havde følt sig truet. Når man gør den slags, så udgør man da en risiko for sig selv«, siger Per Larsen.
As we have seen throughout COP15 the Danish police do whatever they can, whatever the want, with whatever means necessary to repress protests and to intimidate and scare people from participating in saving the world from corrupt politicians and greeedy corporate pigs, but this is the first time that they directly threaten to shoot people. (Of course they have infamously shot at protesters in Copenhagen before – in 1993 when 113 rounds were fired at an anti-EU demonstration. Denmark just is like that!)
Obviously poor little Per Larsen is upset that the Greenpeace activists took the piss out of him and his imbecile force and now he wants revenge and speaks like a little boy who has had his toy taken away.
While activists climbed lamp posts etc. in front of the parliament building, three others, dressed in appropriate galla fashion entered the fine dinner where the Danish Queen were receiving the “leaders” of states for some pompous food and drink. The exact same style of action was carried out a week earlier in Brussels. EDIT: The four Greenpeace activists have still not been released, causing the Spanish state to “help” one of them, namely the Spanish head of Greenpeace, Juan Lopéz de Uralde.
All bets are off now, all targets – by any means necessary – are legitimate, it seems.
This is an unofficial translation of a Ecuadorian indigenous peoples’ statement on REDD:
CONFEDERATION OF INDIGENOUS NATIONALITIES OF THE ECUADORIAN AMAZON (CONFENIAE)
(Logo and letterhead, list of members including organizations of the Shuar, Kichwa, Achuar, Waorani, Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Zapara, Shiwiar and Andoa Peoples)
Unión Base, Puyo August 3rd, 2009
CONFENIAE REJECTS ALL KINDS OF ENVIRONMENTAL NEGOCIATIONS ON FORESTS AND EXTRACTIVE POLICIES THAT DAMAGE THE TERRITORIES OF THE AMAZONIAN INDIGENOUS NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLES OF ECUADOR.
colonos is reproducing here a text by Ben Powless on rabble.ca, including the “INTERNATIONAL DENUCIATION of President Alan García Pérez of Peru and his admistration” by the COORDINATING BODY OF ANDEAN INDIGENOUS ORGANZIACIONES – CAOI.
We have received various notices from people in the Amazon reporting about 10 – 40 indigenous protesters having been shot dead.
50 days of protest and one massacre in the Peruvian Amazon
I’m writing this right now from Peru after having taken part in a 5 day Indigenous Peoples Summit held in Puno, Peru in the high Andes. Read the rest of this entry »
When the Obamamania swept the public imagination of TV watching, non-critical minds and those so desperate for change that anything? seemed believable, the colonos blog, as so many others outside of the corporate conspiracy practices, pointed out that – if any change at all – Obama was for the worse. More intimately linked to zionist extremists, particularly through Rahm Emanuel, deeper in bed with corporate banks, particularly the zionist Goldman Sachs, and the elite intelligentsia, such as the racist, misogynist Larry Summers, who no longer need to be embarrassed about their president’s IQ, Obama is quite possibly the worst thing that has ever happened in political terms to the Planet Earth.
Uncle Tom the Warmonger in the White House of Profit. Calling him black is in itself a form of (warped) racism. Born by a white woman, raised by a white woman, taught by white men, elected by white people, he walks the walk and talks the talk of the White Man. What makes him black? The genetic input of an absent father? His “tainted” skin colour? White is as white does.
What is the point of repeating these so god damn obvious aspects of the elite’s new face of control? Well, they merely serve as an introduction to a recent summary of Obama, the Mad Men business as usual leader, by journalist John Pilger, which I shall leave you with:
Obama’s First 100 Days:
The Madmen Did Well
John Pilger, On April 28, 2009 @ 9:00 pm
The American soap Madmen offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the “smart” people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relations, became a way of deceiving on a scale imagined by those who had read Freud and applied mass psychology to anything from cigarettes to politics. Just as the Marlboro Man was virility itself, so politicians could be branded, packaged, and sold.
It is 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The “Obama brand” has since been named Advertising Age’s “marketer of the year for 2008,” easily beating Apple. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama’s election campaign “an institutionalized, mass-level, automated technological community organizing that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force.” Deploying the Internet and a slogan plagiarized from the Latino union organizer Caesar Chavez – Si se puede! – “yes, we can,” the “mass-level, automated technological community” marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W. Bush.
No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising – a record $75 million was spent on TV commercials alone – that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush’s wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush’s warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King’s legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous “change you can believe in,” it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. “We will be the most powerful!” he declared.
The recent, very violent policing of protests against the G20 meeting in London has become a matter of concern. The story that the authorities tell is one of disobedient police officers. The story, with a bit of imagination, could be understood as if, perhaps, there aren’t just a few bad apples in the barrel, some individuals: maybe there is a disease inside the institution, indeed it is “very worrying“:
“Some officers now appeared prepared to flout recent orders from senior commanders to display their numbers, Huhne said, with another officer photographed at the protest staged by Tamils in Parliament Square with his numbers disguised. “What we appear to have is repeated cases of police officers ignoring the direct orders of their police supervisors and this is very worrying.
“There’s only one motive for a police officer disguising his identity and that’s because he thinks he’s going to be doing something reprehensible.”
Senior Metropolitan police officers held a series of crisis meetings throughout last week and sources said Sir Paul Stephenson, the new commissioner, was determined to get a grip. One Met source said he was ready to “kick some ass” among senior officers. The IPCC has received more than 185 complaints about the G20 protests, of which 44 are not eligible for consideration, including complaints from people who saw footage on TV. Around 90 complaints about use of force included witness accounts as well as those from alleged victims.”
It is obviously wishful thinking that the current concern will translate into institutional reforms on a large scale. Most likely it will subside into a few firings, extended suspensions (paid holidays) and early retirements with golden handshakes. The police as an institution is intricately connected to the economy and representative democracy, representing industrial, private interests, as such it is a force of violence that is mobilised when the masses threaten the elite. The police are the arms of the agents of waste.
They were different, silly comments on the bottles, they were rare, then were all over the place and now they are in the pocket of the Evil Empire (also known as the Coca-Cola Company, the ones with the Nazi connections).
The Guardian recently reported that:
“The founders of Innocent, the ethically aware smoothie business that yesterday sold a stake of between 10% and 20% to the US drinks group Coca-Cola for £30m, are adamant that their ideals and eco-friendly sentiments will not be crushed as a result of striking a deal with a company best known for its less than healthy fizzy drinks.”
So they are not only greedy buggers, but rather ignorant, too, or think that the conscientious consumers, upon whom the lads have built their fortune, are completely ignorant: who, in their right minds, would think they were buying a nice, ethical drink, if the money goes to Coca-Cola?
For what it is worth, then, boycott (the very guilty) Innocent!
More from the India Resource Center:
“Innocent No Longer So Innocent
For Immediate Release
April 7, 2009
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584
San Francisco (April 7, 2009): Innocent – a UK based beverage company known for its ethical practices and providing natural and healthy beverages – has sold out.
The Coca-Cola company is buying a £30 million stake in Innocent, representing between a ten to twenty percent share of Innocent.
The WWF – the ones with the Panda logo – have published a report on the details about “saving” the Amazon rain forest by putting a price tag on every thing, – sorry, assets is probably a better term-, that the rain forest possesses.
The report – Pita Verweij, Marieke Schouten, Pieter van Beukering, Jorge Triana, Kim van der Leeuw and Sebastiaan Hess. Keeping the Amazon forests standing: a matter of values, WWF-Netherlands 2009 – is presented here by Mongobay.
This bizarre fashion of price tagging everything starts with the realisation that the market mechanisms have failed the environment, which is a pretty good observation, but then proceeds to suggest that the very same paradigm of thinking – the economistic, capitalistic reductionist line of thinking – should simply also be applied to “the environment”, since it provides humans with valuable “ecosystems services“. If it is not tagged with a price, why care for it?
While this whole business, as it were, sounds rather disturbing (Can two wrongs make a right? Can a problem be solved from within the paradigm it was created? Einstein famously answered the latter question, of course), the report has some very good bits – it is a very comprehensive report that deserves wider attention, but the price tagging horror really does not appeal very much – at all – to colonos or any of the people we have worked with in the forest. Essentially, it sounds like a lose-lose scenario: either lose the forest or sell it to the highest bidder? And bidding is low these days of financial collapse, so one could hardly imagine worse timing for the publication of this report.
Interestingly, it has a pretty good section on IIRSA, which has been covered again and again here, but the section does not include reference to the Manta-Manaus/Manaos corridor. This goes to show just how big the “biggest infrastructure project in history” is: an otherwise detailed and comprehensive report does not need to list the Manta-Manaus corridor in order to show just how much of a horror show that IIRSA is threatening to be:
Assuming that there is a global crisis – financial, climate change and starvation – and assuming that something could be done about it – what would it be? The initial reaction has been to push for more of the same – more debts to be created in order to keep economic power in the same hands. Maybe a few policy changes to avoid too extreme corruption and self-aggrandisement, removal of some draconian measures, but that’s about it. Spend more, that is way to go. It sounds so simple and in a sense it is: wiping the rich people’s slates clean so that they can lend more money for the poor to spend. If it makes you think of spiralling further down into an abyss we’re on the same wave length.
In order, then, to get the American people to spend more money that they don’t have - the total outstanding credit card debt carried by Americans reached a record $951 billion in 2008, constituting a next level in the financial collapse of a system based on ever-increasing debt – president Obama is suggesting “a $410bn (£290bn) spending bill due to be voted on this week“. Part of this bill seeks to lift some of the extreme anti-Cuban legislation that was introduced during the administration of Bush the Second.
There is no doubt about it, Obama – the man in the White House – gives good speeches, but even an old World Banker takes note of the fact that Obama’s grand plan to save the world and “the hardest working people on Earth” (he says it as if it a good thing??) from their predicaments is insubstantial (These videos gives you an insight from the inside – if you really want to know about all the little sheenanigans of a failed system or just want to see the Emperor of the Free World sit before you in his shiny new clothes. Characteristic of times of crisis he looks and sounds like a rhetorical stooge with a nationalistic appeal “the greatest force of progress and prosperity [and climate change?!]“)
Anyway, the Cuban news is a tangent that invites viewing the world from a Latin American perspective.