Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Don't Start the Revolution Without Me (part2)

My choice of pictures to top off the various parts of this 4 part series on the New American Revolution was by design. In Part 1 I used a scene from the French Revolution. This kind of armed rebellion some are calling for is never good and usually ends with the revolutionaries and government alike visiting the Glorious Barber of Paris. I will admit, that once it is over things are much quieter and those that survive get left alone for the most part but still the suffering is great and the cause never realizes its goal of freedom. It simply trades one form of tyranny for another.

For Part 2 I use the colorful, flower-child, 60s-ish Revolution logo you see above. Why? because the revolution is happening now - but it is not happening with weapons. It is a back-to-the-earth revolution; a moving away from the Wall Street, Madison Avenue, plastic society we have become. What is remarkable is that this revolution was started, however imperfectly, in the 60s.

Wendell Berry, in 2009 essay entitled, Simple Solutions, Package Deals... describes this nouveau 60s ideology like this.

"Given the growing demand for local food, and the increasing numbers of farmer's markets and Community Supported Agriculture farms, it is becoming possible to imagine the development of local farm and food economies in which communities and localities produce, process, market, and consume local farm products, marketing any surplus to outside demand [or the non-local buyers]."

The basis of this New American Revolution, that is enduring in fits and starts from our predecessors, the hippies my parents hated, is a rebellion against having our food choices made for us by Monsanto, the FDA, the USDA, and foreign countries. If we think the White House, the House of Representatives, or the Senate is representing us then we are naive. If we think they are controlling us, well, then we are simply paranoid and we are pointing that paranoia at the wrong parties. We are without representation on a national level (we have to face this fact) and we are being controlled in at least two ways by large corporations, investment companies, marketing agencies, and foreign governments who willingly allow corporations to exploit their own people for the sake of their own false economies.

Here's how it works: The goods we produce are sold to outside interests, tomatoes for example. A farmer, in order to sell his tomatoes to Wal-Mart must have the produce and his farm inspected by the USDA. An expense the farmer is held to bear. Because "free market" rules require WalMart to buy at the lowest price possible and because the farmer needs cash flow, he accepts this price. At this point the farmer is separated from the larger economy as a seller; he then becomes a buyer because he must spend with other outside interests to buy the things he needs. Meanwhile, the conglomerate processes and sells the tomatoes at a much higher price to the consumer. In this picture of the "free-market" only one party is free. That is the conglomerate. The burden of producing the tomato is solely on the farmer. In this example, WalMart is the money making middle man.

Most of the laws in place, ostensibly, to protect food safety, really only make it difficult, if not impossible for a small acreage farmer to compete in this so called, free market. It thus either drives the farmer out of business or requires him to become a conglomerate in order to take part in the "Free Market".

This is how we are controlled. We are controlled by the "Free-Market", which is not free, and which is made to function by the large corporations controlling the pricing, marketing, and selling of the produce. This happened mainly because in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan, relaxed the anti-trust laws which allowed mega corporations, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, and many others, to operate (take over) the markets almost unhindered. Now, 50 years later, America has ceded its freedom to produce, sell, and enjoy their profits, to strangers - the conglomerates, who do not really care about my local needs but operate solely for the increasing of profits. This disconnect between the local producer and his community and the customer allows the conglomerate to use up the small farmer resource, requiring him to quit or get bigger, while the corporate monster realizes all the profits. This, then is the real enemy. Our federal government is simply a tool adeptly used by the corporations to keep this false economy going the way it is. Do you not think it odd that one large company now controls most of the seed, pesticide, and herbicide? Is it just me or does the fact that Monsanto controls most of the world's food supply? Does it bother you that essentially 3 major corporations own the market of processing Monsanto's food for us? It should.

Again Wendell Berry: " If you can control a people's economy, you don't need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant. If you control a people's choices as to whether or not they will work, where they will work, what they will do, and how well they do it, and what they will eat and wear, and the genetic makeup of their crops and animals, and what they will do for amusement, then why should your worry about freedom of speech? In a totalitarian economy, any "political liberties" that the people might retain would simply cease to matter. If, as is often the case already, nobody can be elected who is not wealthy, and if nobody can be wealthy without dependence on the corporate economy, then what is your vote worth? The citizen thus becomes an economic subject." (1994)

This. then, is the enemy of this New American Revolution. Our vote means nothing, Democrats and Republicans, and Independents, and Tea-Partiers (whatever they are) all have to eat and buy clothing, and drive their cars to work.

There are really only two options to help drive down this false-mega-"free market" economy. Either of which will return the economic power to the local communities.

Firstly, a total disaster on the order of the US purposely devaluing the dollar, or a major catastrophic natural event that wipes out the conglomerates ability to transport, sell, or process our food and clothing. Say on the order of major crop losses nationwide, long-term electrical failure, or fuel shortages of massive proportions; any of these would remove the ability of the small farmer to sell his product outside of his own community.

The second option, and more preferable, in my opinion is what we will discuss in Don't Start the Revolution Without Me (part 3)

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