by Ronnie Cummins
May 09, 2011
In just a few short months,
we've witnessed people power in action. From the Middle East to the
Midwest, movements have risen up to overturn tired dogma and
challenge entrenched power. Many of us were inspired by these
events. And many of us were surprised. Perhaps we were growing
skeptical that people power could still work. Maybe we had forgotten
a vital fact about our world: that bold citizens, united around a
common mission, can still come together to create major change
against enormous odds.
Even when people are willing to take action in concert to
redistribute the pie, whether by Gandhian mobilization or use of
force, this may resonate falsely, for the pie is disintegrating. Its
recipe and ingredients are obsolete. And freedom attained in harsh
austerity, characterized by intense competition for food, will be
doubtful or of little comfort.
- Jan Lundberg
"Social Justice Activists Must
Take Into Account Ecological, Cultural, and Economic Transformation"
After seven generations of industrial Business
as Usual - burning up fossil fuels, waging war on nature and public health,
and discharging greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere like there's no
tomorrow - we've peaked.
Distracted by know-nothing climate change
deniers and betrayed by cowardly politicians, we're suddenly face-to-face
with the Xtremes:
...and evermore deadly "natural" catastrophes,
including hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, typhoons, and earthquakes.
Held hostage by out-of-control energy
corporations, make-believe terrorist threats, and indentured politicians, we
lurch from disaster to disaster. Last year the BP oil spill, this year the
Checking our gauges for oil, food, water, topsoil, clean air, climate
stability, ethical business practices, and democracy - we're running on
catastrophic oil spills
contamination of aquifers
through natural gas
fracking and oil sands extraction
dirty coal and
genetically engineered "Frankenfoods" and agrofuels
endless wars for oil and strategic resources
...welcome to the
New World Order of 2011.
Bend down for the New Global Lords, our
planetary Board of Directors:
Out-of-control corporate globalization and
hyper-consumerism have pumped so much carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous
oxide into the atmosphere (390 parts per million of CO2; and 438
ppm of CO2, CH4, and N20 combined) that
we're fast-tracked for disaster.
Melting glaciers and polar ice caps; thawing out
the 1,600-gigaton permafrost methane time bomb of the Far North; burning up
the tropical forests of the Global South, we are hell-bent for catastrophe.
Leading climatologists such as Dr. James
Hansen and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have
delivered the final warning:
either turn away from unsustainable
drastically reduce fossil fuel use by
90% by 2050 (starting immediately)
restore the natural greenhouse gas (GHG)
sequestration capacities of our soils, forests, farmlands, and
pasturelands through conversion to organic management practices, so
as to safely bring CO2 levels in the atmosphere back down
to 350 ppm and all combined GHG back down to 393ppm,
...or else prepare to live in climate hell.
In the planetary past, when volcanic eruptions, meteorites, changes in the
Earth's axis, or other mega-disasters oversaturated the atmosphere with
greenhouse gases (GHG), the oceans, living soils, plants, and forests were
able to sequester billions of tons of greenhouse gases and re-stabilize the
Unfortunately these climate stabilizing carbon
sinks or sequestration centers are now being destroyed by the Business as
Usual practices of the transnational corporations and a crazed narcissistic
culture of hyper-consumerism.
We are careening toward the final precipice.
Either we join the
global grassroots uprising to
Global Lords and their Military-Industrial Fossil Fuel Empire,
either we downshift our energy-intensive culture and practices, and
re-localize our economy, or else...
Although billions are still asleep at the wheel or dozing in front of their
TVs..., although the majority are still brainwashed or else mentally and physically
broken down, a critical mass of enrages across the world are waking up and
taking action. A new Green Internationale is spreading
its roots in local communities and regions across the globe.
A growing corps of global citizens and organizations in hundreds of
thousands of communities are turning their attention and ire toward,
...and starting to work on building sustainable
alternatives and resilient communities that can survive the coming economic
and energy collapse.
The outlines of this new decentralized Green
Commonwealth are slowly but surely becoming visible:
community supported organic food and
open source media and communications
holistic health care, alternative
schools and education
renewable energy, housing and
relocalized commerce, bartering,
sustainable finance, and participatory decision-making
Damage to the Body Politic
A suicidal Business as Usual still predominates in much of the developing
world, and in the industrialized nations as well, because billions of us,
the Underclass, are struggling with the nearly impossible task of trying to
survive and support our families in a profoundly non-sustainable economy and
society, often deeply in debt, living on minimum or starvation wages.
Other would-be rebels, indeed a large percentage
of the world population, are held in check by the understanding that, if
they step too far out of line, they will be brutally repressed. Another huge
segment of the body politic are physically ill, drug-addicted, malnourished,
or psychologically incapacitated.
In the workaholic, media-saturated culture of the industrialized nations,
now spreading to the developing world, an army of lonely and alienated couch
potatoes remain distracted, drugged, or hypnotized by rampant consumerism,
political charlatans, and fake-Messiahs (such as Obama).
Brainwashed and programmed to believe you can't
"Fight City Hall" or the big corporations, why not just jump in your car and
go to the mall, or sit down and turn on the TV or the computer? Drink
another beer, pop another prescription pill, stuff your face with junk food,
kill the pain?
Unfortunately as we move to confront the Xtremes, more often than not, we
find civil society divided and disempowered by single-issue silos and
tunnel-vision identity politics; or else mystified and mislead into
believing that everything will turn out all right, if we just nudge the
politicians and the corporations a little bit more.
Although it's obvious that we will never have a sustainable energy, housing,
agriculture, health, or transportation system in the U.S. without
transferring hundreds of billions of dollars a year from military spending
into building a full employment green economy, the peace movement is over
here, while the alternative energy, climate, organic, and green jobs
movements are over there, each marginalized in their own respective corners
Similarly we'll never be able to fund a global green economy, or provide
universal health care, or offer a living wage for workers, until we force
the rich and the corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, democratize
the media, take away the legal fiction, so-called "rights of corporate
personhood," and get special interest money out of politics.
And yet we have a tax reform movement over here,
a single-payer health care reform movement over there, a media reform
movement in that corner, a union movement over there, and a vast array of
isolated local and state movements (Wisconsin, Michigan, California and a
dozen other states) trying to fight corporate-driven cutbacks and giveaways.
And of course none of these life or death
reforms will be possible until we get over our fear of confronting and
taking down the 800 pound gorillas in the room:
It's time to come together, unite our forces,
and address the fundamental root causes of the Crisis. It's time to get over
our fears of being called radical or Utopian and offer real solutions.
It's time to broaden the discussion, link the
issues, expand our coalitions, and fight the Xtremes.
The Global Uprising -
Is It Already Too Late?
People in increasing numbers are connecting the dots, standing up and
fighting for their rights and the rights of the future generations.
Many of us now realize that it is extremely
unlikely that things will ever return to "normal." The energy, cultural,
political, and socio-economic system that we've grown accustomed to - based
upon cheap fossil fuel energy and a predictable stable climate, is headed
for collapse. The urgent priority is to channel this coming collapse (think
of it, hopefully, in terms of a descending stairway, rather than a plunge
off a cliff) into a mass movement and a national community building process.
Before collapse metastasizes into panic and
martial law, we still have time to lay down the foundations for a new
But before we can rise up as a subversive and creative force, a critical
mass needs to be prepared, both psychologically and politically. Only
individuals with deep self-respect and communities with profound
self-confidence will be able to move beyond halfway measures, so-called
liberal, progressive, or libertarian solutions, and address the radical root
causes and solutions to the Crisis.
We must be strong enough and confident enough to
face, with brutal honesty, the current situation, and have the courage and
fortitude to "tell it like it is."
The irreplaceable prerequisite for a democratic
revolution and a sustainable society are healthy, resilient individuals with
a high-degree of consciousness and self-respect, and energized resilient
communities with a high degree of self-confidence and solidarity.
No Pasarán (They Shall
Not Pass) - Stand Up and Fight
Through decades of activism, extending from the anti-war and counter-culture
movement of the 1960s, to my current role as director of a nationwide
activist network, the Organic Consumers Association, and a national
campaign, called Millions Against
Monsanto, I've been anxiously waiting for a
critical mass of Americans to stand up and fight.
From Johnson to Nixon, Ford and Carter, from
Bush Jr. to
Obama, along with so many others,
I've fought the good fight, participated in all the front-line movements and
protests, voted for the best candidates, greened up my lifestyle, and never
lost hope - even as powerful forces of evil hijacked democracy, wrecked the
environment, and destabilized the climate.
But basta ya - enough is enough. We have reached the outer limits of
democracy, climate stability, energy resources, and indeed human survival.
It's time to stand up, unite our forces, and fight for power - or else
After decades of sucking up to liberal foundations and funders and lesser of
two evils politicians who keep telling us to "tone it down," and "stick to
what's practical," we stand on the crowded deck of the USA Titanic. Amid the
bedlam, and a growing sense of panic, our options are severely limited.
We can keep arguing among ourselves about how to
arrange the deckchairs - whose issue is more important, which magic bullet
reform will save us, which candidate or corporation is slightly better, or
who is the most oppressed.
We can make a run for the lifeboats - even though
most of us, especially our children and grandchildren, won't make it.
Or we can unite our forces, storm the captain's
quarters, and turn the ship away from the Xtremes.
I'm sick and tired of a thousand
different single-issue campaigns, identity politics, wimpy liberals,
progressive infighting, armchair philanthropists, and limited-focus
I'm terminally weary of just "fighting
the good fight" against a corporate Goliath who always seems to win,
or voting for alternative candidates who usually lose
I'm sick of lobbying hopelessly corrupt
politicians to be a little more humane, and pressuring corporate
criminals to be a little less greedy
And finally, I'm horrified to ponder the
thought that my teenage son may have to struggle for sheer survival
in a brutal, ecologically devastated, martial law state
Minor political reforms and corporate "greenwashing"
at this stage of history are too little, too late.
The lesser of indentured evils in the White
House is not going to save us. Increased market share for organic, green,
and Fair Trade products will amount to little or nothing in the closing era
of the Xtremes.
What we need is a bold determination to carry
out regime change and build a new green and egalitarian society, inside the
deteriorating infrastructure of the old. What we need are supercharged and
inspired "networks of networks," online and on the ground; mass-based
multi-focus campaigns and electoral insurgencies, led by Live Wire
organizers who bring together and frame the burning issues and popular
passions of a critical mass of the majority Underclass.
What we need is a massive new synergy between
strategic sectors of the presently fragmented progressive/radical rainbow,
supercharging a new wave of positive solutions, structural reforms,
community building, survival planning, and electoral insurgency.
On the personal level this means breaking with
deeply ingrained habits and ways of thinking, and integrating our daily
lives and practices into the building of a new transformative and
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on the relative desperation of your
situation, objective conditions for a grassroots global uprising are quickly
The current ruling junta has overextended
themselves, and a powerful conflagration of disasters is waking up a
critical mass of the global grassroots. We now have a political opening in
the United States that has not existed since the Watergate Era and the fall
of Richard Nixon in 1974.
But time is of the essence.
At the risk of stating the obvious, let's keep these basics in mind:
The Republican and Democratic parties
are both totally controlled by all-powerful corporations at the
national levels (if not yet always at the lower levels).
mainstream media is controlled by
corporations that suppress real information and cynically manipulate
U.S. elections are controlled by
corporations and rich donors (with the direct support and
involvement of the major parties) who buy the candidates and
restrict access to the press by new or upstart candidates.
Electronic voting machines and optical scanners (as opposed to
hand-counted paper ballots) enable elections to be stolen, on a
regular basis, by hired hackers and Black Box computer technicians.
The root causes of the Great Recession
are "free trade" globalization policies, tax evasion by corporations
and the rich, a trillion-dollar war machine, and the looting of the
nation by the big banks and Wall Street speculators.
Until we are willing to overthrow the
corporate and military-industrial dictatorship, we will not be able
to deal with the fundamental power imbalances, injustices, and
crises of the nation.
Climate change is real and getting
worse. We are literally standing on the eve of destruction. Radical
energy conservation, reducing fossil fuel use by 90%, retrofitting
the nation's 50 million buildings; retooling our transportation
system, rebuilding our electrical grid to run on solar and wind, and
restoring the carbon sequestration capacity of our billion of acres
of farmland, pasture, and forests through organic land management,
are absolute priorities.
We need to create a framework for a
massive local to national alliance for survival that addresses the
life-or-death issues head-on and is open to all methods of action,
from legislative insurgency, to direct action, to civil
Walk your talk. Stop bowing down to
Business as Usual and the dictates of the ruling class. Nurture your
health and self-respect and, at the same time, nurture the
collective self-confidence of all the rebels and visionaries in your
circle of friends, family, and community. Align yourself with people
and organizations you can trust and rely upon.
Stay informed. Open your eyes to what's
going on. Stay in touch with the daily evidence circulating on the
Internet that a global grassroots revolution has begun. Pay
attention to the housing, transportation, health, and food and
farming alternatives that are already being built, even if many of
our sustainable alternatives currently exist only in embryonic form.
Keep in mind that the Xtremes are likely
to get worse, not better, and that most of our elected public
officials, especially on the federal level, are bought and sold by
the corporations, and therefore are hard-wired for destruction.
Don't hold your breath for Obama, or any other national politician
to change things. Go local with an emphasis on community building
and local public policy change.
Focus on building crash-resistant
organic food and farming systems
holistic and preventive health practices
an urban and rural green jobs
infrastructure with a low carbon footprint
Stay inspired. Stay in touch with the
fact that the technological, economic, political, and social
alternatives we need to survive and prosper are already being put
into practice. Find examples of these across the nation or the globe
and in your local community and join up.
Stay vigilant. Stay positive. Stay
strong. Prepare for the worst, as well as the best. Those who hold
the power are not going to give it up without a tremendous fight.
The fossil fuel System is going to collapse. Revolutions bear little
resemblance to polite disagreements at a dinner party.
media can and is being manipulated. People's fears and prejudices
are being engineered. Elections based upon "black box"
computer-controlled electronic voting machines and optical scanners
can and are being stolen.
The only elections that cannot be stolen
are those based upon hand-counted paper ballots, where the ballots
are tallied at the precinct level in clear public view immediately
after the polls close.
Keep the faith. Revolutions never seem
possible until objective conditions ripen, until serious splits
develop among the ruling class, and until a critical mass of people
decide they won't take it any more.
Look at Egypt. Look at Tunisia,
look at Yemen. Look at Wisconsin. Look in the mirror. Ready to lead
the Uprising in your local community? Send me an email at ronniecummins[a]gmail.com.
All power to the people!