And Alternatives In Leadership And Protest.
Here’s to 2022.
A new year to displace one of the twenty previous warmest years globally since records began: the last twenty apart from 1998 with its strong El Niño.
The summer of 2021 saw the Met Office in the UK issue what was its first-ever “extreme heat warning.” Over in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, flash floods left more than 120 people dead.
“You don’t expect people to die in a flood in Germany. Maybe in poorer countries, you could understand it, but not in Germany” was a comment that went viral.
Question: What’s the difference between climate change and COVID?
Answer: We leave the Global South to COVID by keeping intellectual property rights that are profitable for large drugs companies. But to keep fossil fuel companies profitable, we don’t tackle climate change even to save our selfish selves.
To clear the air, let’s start with an antidote to disinformation, at least on climate change. Where better than from bipartisan-approved NASA?
Even the politically all-powerful Koch brothers felt the need to file a formal complaint when NASA stated this: that 97% of climate scientists agree global warming is human-caused.
Comparing man-made crises—
The 2007-9 global economic meltdown occurred in the wake of banks successfully lobbying for the repeal of the Great Depression Glass-Steagall banking act.
The Fed conjured up $1.2 trillion to combat the crash. As little as 1.2% of this would cover “the full range of projects falling under the rubric of the global clean energy project.” (Chomsky and Pollin)
Though not exceptional, the US for one is certainly in a position to do well out of solar and wind power. Less than 1% of land area would cover 100% of energy requirements.
If only we could just listen to the dire warnings of the scientists… But let’s try another tack. It’s so much about the framing.
Wrote Noam Chomsky in 2019, “If a civilization-as-we know-it-altering asteroid were hurtling toward earth and it had, say, even only a 5% chance of striking the planet, we would surely pull out all the stops to try to deflect its path.”
65 million years on, we are Chomsky’s “clone” of the first hit, the cause of species loss like nothing since. But under the assault of decades of propaganda, we’re hypnotized by the head-in-sand command, Don’t Look Up.
Transgender artist and activist, Anohni, sang:
“I Wanna Hear The Dogs Crying For Water. I Wanna See Fish Go Belly-Up In The Sea. All Those Lemurs And All Those Tiny Creatures. I Wanna See Them Burn, It’s Only Four Degrees. And All Those Rhinos And All Those Big Mammals. I Wanna See Them Lying, Crying In The Fields. I Wanna See Them Burn, It’s Only Four Degrees.”
If perpetrators like Exxon-Mobil and Shell knew decades ago about climate change, which they did, and doubled down on hiding, isn’t it the intention to see such devastation?
The Stop Ecocide International campaign is pushing for International Criminal Court jurisdiction over ecocide. Acts of mass environmental destruction would be recognized by the court as crimes alongside crimes against humanity, genocide, and illegal war.
Ecocide, like all other charges, though, might be circumvented by the famous “Hague invasion act”. The American Servicemembers Protection Act authorizes the use of military force should Americans or allies be held for trial by the Court in the Netherlands.
Following the Great Recession, the banking sector was revived only for JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, (instrumental in the repeal of Glass-Steagall), to pour huge resources into developing fossil fuels.
But were Dimon to move over, there’s always a next in line. The problem is at the very least, institutional.
Former US newspaperman, Karl Marx, “does not blame capitalists for the cruelties of which he shows them to be guilty; he merely points out that they are under an inherent necessity to behave cruelly so long as private ownership of land and capital continues.” (Bertrand Russell of the Russell Tribunal, also known as the International War Crimes Tribunal.)
General Motors received very much help from the American taxpayer. With 90% debt relief funding, led by profitability GM greatly increased production in low-wage nations, and cut those jobs in America.
But Can Not An Institutional Problem Be Subject To And Righted By Checks And Balances?
… A Big Cheer Erupts Clearly Representing The Greatest Force For Change At COP26: The Change Of Location.
As with the World Cup, the Olympics, or the Eurovision Song Contest, the delegations from each country can look forward to doing it all again, meeting up in their next locale this year. And what a locale. Not only warmer. Though always warmer overall. (They’ll see to that.)
Progressive Ilham Omar supported a call to boycott this year’s Olympics over China’s alleged human rights abuses. A consistent and progressive approach taking account of tens of millions of people displaced and millions killed in recent wars and occupations would however leave Omar’s own US very isolated sports-wise.
It’s COP27 though, and it’ll be in Egypt, which has 60,000 political prisoners, sponsored by the second-largest annual US financial aid allocation after Israel.
The administration now making the payments is overseeing a record pace of approvals of new oil and gas wells on US public land. According to federal documents, UN scientists’ new climate warning, “does not present sufficient evidence” to stop the plan to greatly expand offshore drilling, either.
President Biden’s “pledge” to cut 50 percent of U.S. greenhouse emissions by 2030 is also to be achieved despite the administration’s request to OPEC to boost oil production.
This is all a big change from those heady first days post-Trump.
Biden ordered a “pause” – careful word – on all new permits and leases for oil and gas drilling offshore. He rejoined the Paris accord, overturned Trump’s climate executive orders, canceled the Keystone Pipeline, and stopped drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
We could get on with our lives knowing that things were back to normal. And soon they were. The new normal. Just as Obama much increased Bush’s drone bombing, and Trump increased that, Biden wasn’t going to waste a new precedent.
Sure, Obama opened the Arctic to drilling, twice, when Shell asked him. His, also, was the century of energy self-sufficiency speech with fracking all the rage and causing the global bump in methane emissions.
But as on Assange, and silencing those who would expose their crimes (against humanity); and on Iran, when obliging another country to bend the knee with sanctions, so on the environment. Trump, being the last, worst, precedent is more Biden’s “boss” and role model than Obama.
But what does it mean for a country to “bend the knee”? Consider the 35 to 45 US military bases in countries around Iran, and think imperialism vs. sovereignty. Be within the global imperial state. Offer up your fossil fuels and other natural resources in tribute if you have them.
Over in Latin America, the country that is America’s closest ally is the one with the worst human rights in the hemisphere, Columbia. Adherence to human rights is not a criterion for membership, only nice if you are already an imperial subject.
Japan has been a subject as well as occupied, since World War Two. The Japanese would have surrendered to Russia had not the first atom bomb been dropped just 2 days before the agreed 90 days elapsed after which the USSR was also to invade.
The US continues to boast well over 100 military installations in Japan and more than 60,000 US military personnel.
Back to the global south. At COP26, the target of just $100 billion a year to help the nations who weren’t even responsible for the climate crisis wasn’t achieved.
The proposal might clash with the traditional US-led IMF multiple-strings-attached way of doing things.
Under readjustment, tariffs must be dropped, leaving the domestic market unprotected from the overwhelming foreign corporate competition. A priority is opening it up to cheap American foodstuffs leaving the country dependent, and the lowest-cost market for the sale.
Bill Clinton acknowledged his destruction of Haiti’s food production when he apologized for having forced the country to drop tariffs on imported subsidized U.S. rice. Clinton said he had struck a “devil’s bargain,” benefiting Arkansas rice growers.
If This Was “Evil,” Was It An Isolated Act?
On either side of Clinton, was a George Bush to depose Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the hugely popular first Haitian president in decades to offer progressive reform.
Only last month, Congress passed the Renacer Act sanctions on Nicaragua to the north. The Sandinista-run country though has strived to achieve 92% food sovereignty for just such a time as this.
Nicaragua also manages to produce over 80% of its electricity from renewables.
At 1997’s COP3 in Kyoto, Japan, developing countries wanted to address global equity. But they were cautioned not to bring it up for fear of driving Clinton’s United States government from the negotiating table. The U.S., sure enough, withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol.
Since then, Europe has reduced its emissions by 24%, while the US hasn’t reduced them at all. Europe also generates 40% of its electricity from renewable sources, while renewables provide half that in America.
US politicians have been relieved of the pressure to act, the fossil fuel lobby having much more success there in convincing the public against climate change.
But if checks and balances are unlikely to work, or even be imposed, are there other possible ways ahead considering the calamity awaiting us?
Nationalization of oil companies as a form of control happened in Venezuela where oil was for decades previously controlled by US corporations. Hugo Chávez took the action when the oil barons refused to produce unless Chavez stepped down though he was democratically elected.
Chavez then faced a US-sponsored coup attempt in 2002, followed by years of Western media demonization. His successor, Maduro, has faced Obama’s message of hope translated into sanctions — for US “national security” from Venezuela.
The sanctions were intensified under Trump and remain the same under Biden.
All for oil.
How Bad Is It Going To Have To Get For The Governments Funded By Industries That Facilitate The Control And Production Of Fossil Fuels, To Turn On Their Employers?
Should the West look to China?
Trump reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Biden proposed 28%, then 26%, and now it’s to stay where it is at 21%. Elon Musk paid nothing at all in 2018; Musk, the famous tweeter of “We will coup whoever we want.”
In China, huge wealth, like Jack Ma’s $42 billion, can be accumulated, but the rich are required to give back to tackle inequality and lift the community as a whole. Alibaba pledged US$15.5 billion in September for “common prosperity” initiatives in agriculture and industry.
Chinese interaction with the developing world extends the model. Loans are more negotiable than the IMF alternative, often have low or no interest, and are arranged as part of a policy of non-interference.
Towards bauxite for aluminum & alumina, China provided Guinea with a 650-km railway project & deep water port, while the US-trained the coup leader, and were training his units as the coup happened.
China’s focus has been on achieving 70% of global poverty reduction and during COVID ending extreme poverty. The nation’s army is in China for defense, while the US has 750 military installations worldwide for “defense”. In the US, deep poverty increased.
Craig Murray makes a good point when he writes, “I cannot think of any instance in world history of any power enjoying the level of economic dominance currently enjoyed by China, and yet showing such restraint and lack of interest in Imperial conquest.”
The US concept of democracy, alternatively, remains a globally enforced “open-door policy” for corporations toward the highest revenues. The new long-range missile systems on a chain of islands near China’s coast are supposed to help.
At home, “the difference between Democrats and Republicans — we’re fighting inside the 40-yard lines.”
Lively debate obscures its narrow range while a “rotating villain” (now Manchin) lets the Democrats not keep promises but follow Republicans rightward toward the imperialist corporate oligarchy.
Was Marx too nice about capitalist culpability?
In China, total emissions are 12% greater than the States’, while per capita accounts for much less than half. China has seen its share of climate-related records tumble, too. In July, record rainfall across Henan province led to the evacuation of 1,470,800 people.
From Chinese poverty through global integration to beyond climate change, is there an outlook here to shape the world as a whole? Can the answer for us all be one led by “socialism with Chinese characteristics?”
Not if the leader of the free world, Western allies, and US-led NATO, has anything to do with it. The Biden administration trades on Mike “we lied, cheated, and stole” Pompeo’s “genocide” allegation while admitting there is not enough evidence to prove it.
As the US is geographically secure from military threats, the American public must be brought onside with conditioning via narrative control. Hence Iraq WMDs, viagra for Gaddafi’s troops, babies flung from incubators by Iraqi troops (Gulf War), Syrian chemical weapons attacks, and genocide in China.
The US Definition Of Genocide Had To Be A “New” One.
Previously, Han Chinese couples were limited to one child, while Uyghur couples living in the town or country were allowed two or three kids respectively. Now, all may have two or three children, but the rule is more strictly enforced.
The famous “camp” image of a large crowd of seated men in blue overalls is an official photo taken by the Chinese authorities. The original had an identifying watermark, cropped later for the image’s better use as “investigative journalism.” The photo is of a de-radicalization program.
The accompanying 2014 press refers to talks from local Muslim leaders and presentations focused on “social stability” and “long-term peace.”
While the US killed many hundreds of thousands of ordinary Muslims, China has seen “hundreds if not thousands” of its citizens killed on its own soil by Uyghur militants in a “decades-long insurgency” as described by the Associated Press in 2017.
The AP mentions how in 2013, thousands of Uyghurs traveled to Syria to train with militant groups.
China’s solution was repressive but has been multiplied in scale, its context now concealed.
We may compare the situation to an entire prison system that disproportionately impacts people of color, a system with the world’s highest per capita population.
Jails as businesses lobby politicians for laws providing prisoners that are also a supplementary workforce for corporations paying $0.50 to $2 per hour. It recalls the 13th Amendment’s “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime.”
Black and brown people have been the targets in all the wars of the 21st century, from Iraq to wars on further countries known to be nothing to do with 9/11, as laid out by General Wesley Clark.
Millions walked the streets and carried signs to stop the attack on Iraq, though, to suggest it ought not to happen. But it did.
People can also carry signs asking their governments to abandon the interests of those paying them and take action against climate change. The permanent government application of narrative control, at least, suggests an obsession and a sensitivity to exploit.As Frederick Douglass said:
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
We must identify needs, empower, share tactics, combine, and learn from each other and the past, where all we face has been faced already.
If we all do what we are each individually capable of, the limits to what we think we can do will be next to go.
Palestine Action, a UK group, suggests that if 10% of the anti-war-on-Iraq protestors had gone to the weapons manufacturers and stopped the production or blockaded the export of those weapons, it could have been a significant disruption.
In 18 months, the group has caused more than £15,000,000 damage (say the police) to the UK sites of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private arms company producing weapons “battle-tested” on Palestinians.
The group’s method? “Bring water dyed red, fake blood or red paint – use a bottle, a bucket, any sort of container will do. Together, we will pour a river of blood, expose the lethal arms trade and take an active stand against the UK’s complicity with Israeli apartheid.”
The US arms company, Raytheon itself abandoned the U.K. in 2006 after nine activists forced their way in during the Israeli war on Lebanon, destroyed what they could, and were found not guilty two years later.
The Palestine Action activists, the first of the group to be tried after many dozens of actions, were also found not guilty last month.
Judge Waites’ judgment may be instructive: a conviction would not be proportionate with the activists’ freedom to protest. Also, that Palestine and the arms trade are important issues, the defendants believed in what they were doing, and the site was specifically chosen.
There are different ways to force the question.
In April 2010, over 30,000 people from more than 100 countries attended the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia.
“We are confronted with two paths,” former President Morales said: “the “Pachamama” (Mother Earth) or the path of the multinationals. If we don’t take the former, the masters of death will win. If we don’t fight, we will be guilty of destroying the planet.”