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It’s beginning to feel a lot like end times

I don’t know about you, but things are beginning to feel a bit apocalyptic for me, what with the US embarking on another major war – an obvious conflict of religious or semi-religious beliefs – in the Middle East, the Ebola epidemic in Africa threatening to affect a million people (recent New York Times article), conflict in Ukraine that could bring the US into a serious confrontation with Russia for the first time in a generation, and global warming (the “fire next time”?) poised to wipe out our species – and many others – if not dealt with in a revolutionary way within two years (This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein)…Arguments about how to feed the world’s billions in coming years (GMOs?) are also heating up, with many ignoring the greatest threat of famine: the upcoming lack of petroleum for fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel for tractors and shipping.

Our “way of life” in the so-called First World, encouraged by “business as usual” corporate capitalism, which rules the world politically, is killing us via environmentally-caused cancer and other diseases, resource wars, and the refusal to give up climate-changing fossil fuels until the last penny of profit is wrung from them by our financial and corporate rulers. What will we do? What can we do? Thousands all over the world marched on September 21st to demand that climate change finally be seriously addressed, but how many of the marchers realize that the current economic and political system of corporate control must be dismantled before that can happen? And how effective are demonstrations, voting, and letters to political representatives in forcing such a behemoth of a ship to turn course?

It’s all very daunting, taking me back to the heart of this blog, the reason I started it in the first place – as a way to deal with my fear, despair, and concern about the “world situation,” and as the best way for me personally to work for positive change. It’s when you feel most discouraged and overwhelmed that you have to call on your deepest spiritual resources and reach out to others. You need to rest, de-stress, and escape for hours at a time, and you need to keep working for what you know is right the best way you can. As someone said at the climate change rally in my hometown, we need to do what we know is right without any assurance that it will “work.”

Many of the national leaders involved in Sunday’s events believe that only a mass movement can create the impetus for the huge changes needed economically, politically, and culturally. I think they’re right, as is Naomi Klein, whose new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate, says flat out that capitalism is incompatible with Life with a capital “L,” as well as a lot of other things, like democracy.

The final horseman of the apocalypse is, after all, Death, and that’s the cliff our current system is headed toward (and the cliff it’s already gone over for many species, cultures, people, and other beautiful and irreplaceable natural creations). Our so-called way of life, our capitalist system, is a Death Machine, an infinitely greater terror than any Islamist fundamentalist group could ever be, as awful and frightening as they are. This means that, despite disagreements with Derrick Jensen, Arick McBay, and Lierre Keith’s Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet (2011), I have to accept the book’s major premise: that we need to do whatever is necessary, including sabotage and self-defensive violence, to save the Earth and ourselves, to preserve Life.

“The Earth is our Mother; we must take care of her,” folks sang at our small-town demonstration this past Sunday, and it’s true. She has always done Her best to take care of us…and without Her, we will die.

I hope you’ll join me and others in this effort, whatever form it takes…Listening to Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” is indispensable to me, as will be finishing Naomi Klein’s book (I hope you can buy or borrow a copy).

Ideas, comments, and just plain solidarity from you are welcome, as always. Thanks for “hearing” me and for caring. Please let me hear from you.

It’s the capitalism, stupid!

I’ve just read two books that make the case for a view I’ve long held: that capitalism is to blame for just about everything that’s wrong with our world.

The first, Days of Destruction, Days of Rage by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco describes four “sacrifice zones”: the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in southwestern South Dakota; Camden, NJ, a former port and manufacturing town turned third world city; southern West Virginia, devastated by mountaintop-removal coal mining; and Immolakee, Florida, where poor migrants from Mexico and Central America break their backs and are subjected to toxic chemicals picking tomatoes for a pittance. Hedges’ eloquent words and Sacco’s black and white ‘cartoon journalism’ images assault your mind, soul, and senses — you want to turn away, and you can (just like you can stick your head in the sand) — but the people who live in these places can’t. And, Hedges, warns, this is what the capitalist system has in store for the great majority of us, unless we say, “Hell, no!” How? Hedges thinks the Occupy movement provides a good model of living another way, in harmony with nature and each other — valuing each life and respecting life in general, as our current economic system, a cruel juggernaut that turns life into death or ugliness (waste) in the blink of an eye, does not.

The second book, Ecology and Socialism by Chris Williams, focuses on climate change, and demonstrates that nothing meaningful will be done about this problem — or the general problem of environmental destruction — under capitalism. Capitalism, which must continuously expand production to cope with the interest-bearing debt on which it’s based, cares only about short-term profit — it can’t support any other value. Williams believes that only renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal is sustainable, and suggests ways that it can be stored to be consistent. Continuing to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas will make severe global warming inevitable, causing 50-75% of species to go extinct, and dooming the few remaining humans to a miserable existence.

Williams also shows how hunger and poverty are caused by capitalism, not overpopulation. His conclusion: Only by holding land and the instruments of production in common and producing to meet social need rather than profit will the simultaneous exploitation of nature and humanity end [italics mine].

You can read my synopses of these books on this website, if you wish. Just go to the Resources section at the top of the page, and click on the title under “Non-fiction books.”