November 21, 2014

Give our species a fighting chance

GUEST: Orion Kriegman, food sustainability activist, writer and Co-Director of NET New England, will talk about an alternative food paradigm that fosters public health as well as social justice.

Both Gary and I share an interest in the exploration of the local food revolution. It seems to me that it offers a template for other revolutions, perhaps even the non violent peeling away of the empire. The Soviet Union accomplished it; why can't the United States?

In a way, the corporations have gone beyond America already. The multinationals are using trade agreements to free themselves from any democratic control. Although the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated in secret, it will surely erode further the people's right to set labor and environmental standards. Think child workers, and pesticide laden foods. Think the end of safety standards for any product produced by the global monopolies. 

The multinational corporations have reduced the United States government to running the war and spy machines, instruments of their global domination. Think the Pentagon and the NSA. The rest will gradually be cut away, including any services that benefits those who are not extremely rich already. The political fights in Washington will be about who gets the bigger paycheck from the corporate lobbyists. 

Can we the people resist by asserting local control? Can we refuse to send our sons and daughters to fight in the Middle East? Can we pay our taxes for education, healthcare, housing and things that matter to our lives. Can we starve the empire from within?

I know it is a lot to ask the food movement to do. But I think it is a template we can begin to use, if just to give our species a fighting chance against this century's Horsemen of the Apocalypse, nuclear war and global climate change. 

November 16, 2014

It's time we got over it

GUEST: Rebecca Martin, local water rights activist and founder of Kingston Citizens, talks about the adverse environmental impacts of the proposed Niagara Bottling Company and its plans to bottle water from Cooper Lake reservoir in Woodstock.

We haven't done much on water rights, except for some news stories about Detroit. Water privatization has been coming for some time, and may represent the Brave New World of neoliberal thinking. Can the privatization of air be far behind?

I was impressed with how much and how little Ms. Martin had to do with local officials. She is obviously good at organizing local meetings and inviting elected representatives. But she keeps away from local politics. In other words, her Kingston Citizens group is obviously much more than a front group for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. By keeping her organization independent, she does not risk it shriveling away after any given election (like the peace movement after Obama's first win).

Although we didn't talk about it, the approach is much closer to Howard Zinn than to Move On. Zinn teaches us that social movements create change. Party affiliations only detract from a movement's effectiveness.

You would think everyone would know that by now anyway. Look and Andrew Cuomo or Hillary Clinton. Could there be any two candidates closer to Wall Street, the military industrial complex, and neoliberal privatization? Can anyone still believe that party matters? 

Voting the "lesser of two evils" only makes sense when the parties stand for something different. They don't, and it's time we got over it.