Endgame Premises Archives: 11: Civilization is a culture of occupation

From the beginning, this culture—civilization—has been
a culture of occupation.

Visit the global 11: Civilization is a culture of occupation archives for posts from all DGR sites.

Biotech & Departments of Agriculture closed-door meeting

From GMO Free Hawai’i Island:

It recently came to our attention that NASDA, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, is having a closed door meeting in Kona next week, and they will be discussing the setting of the agenda for agriculture throughout all the states for the next five years. And what is most troubling besides the meeting’s secrecy and use of public agencies, is that the speakers and agenda items mostly concern the interests of the biotech industry.

Speakers include:

  • Marjory Bronster – the lawyer who is suing three counties in Hawai’i on behalf of the biotech industry for passing laws regulating GE agriculture
  • Dennis Gonsalves – the creator of the GMO papaya, and the chair of the whole national association
  • our own Hawai’i Department of Agriculture chair Scott Enright

One can speculate what the reason is for having this meeting in private on Hawai’i Island; most of the chemical companies have their experimental GE field trials and grow outs on the other islands, so perhaps it will be easier to paint a rosier picture of “the success of GMO farming in Hawai’i,” and use this as a model to follow through the rest of the country without the distraction of having to contend with communities most affected by these toxic farming practices. With agenda items such as “Preventing Flawed Food Safety Research From Becoming Scientific Dogma”, and the chosen speakers, it seems pretty clear that the ongoing exposure of the promotion of junk science conducted by the biotech industry, and studies showing the ill effects of these technologies on animals for example are increasing the need on the part of the biotech industry to control the messaging in order to save their business model from the public finding out about the actual science that shows harm.

GMO Free Hawai’i Island is considering holding a protest on the highway in front of resort; email them at gmofreehawaiiisland@gmail.com if you would be able to attend on Sunday, September 13th at the Sheraton Kona Resort.

You can read the official press release, or see the agenda.

Pesticides in paradise: how do we fight back?

The problem of pesticides

The islands of Hawai’i, especially Kauai, are frequently described as “ground zero” for GMOs. As an unwilling host to parasitic chemical agriculture, the land is bombarded with pesticides and chemicals at concentrations unseen in most other places; the test and seed crops grown by agribusiness can be dosed at much higher levels than crops meant to be eaten. The effects on the aina and its people are predictable: sterilization of the soil, massive pollution of the waters, and widespread negative impacts on human health. Though much of this harm is inherent to agriculture, even organic agriculture, the severity is drastically worse in these modern operations.

Indirect action

Legal response

Residents on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island responded by passing laws reducing the harm the chemical companies are allowed to inflict on us, but this has two big drawbacks:

  1. It operates from a framework of limiting, but still permitting, the companies to poison and destroy life, rather than establishing a normative expectation of healthy landbases and sustainable operations, with all actions evaluated against that.
  2. It doesn’t proactively address the constitutional structure in place in the US, deliberately set up to facilitate corporate extraction of resources. Under the hierarchy of preemption, local municipalities are explicitly denied the power to enforce protections stricter than those allowed by the state and federal governments. Unsurprisingly, agribusiness immediately used the court system to strike down most of the restrictions fought for and won by the people.

Symbolic response

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

The response by the people in early August was the “Aloha Aina Unity March” through the streets of Honolulu to protest the diverse manifestations of civilization in the islands, including pesticides, the TMT construction project, lack of home rule, and militarization. Though it roused an impressive turnout of 10,000, this sort of symbolic protest is unlikely to be effective without organization into a credible threat to those in power. Simply asking them nicely to do the right thing won’t get us anywhere.

Direct confrontation

CELDF

A more strategic approach via the legal system is offered by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). They help localities draft bills declaring and enforcing the rights of communities and of nature against corporations. Their tactics expect and leverage legal challenges to the passage of such bills, using any pushback to highlight the undemocratic nature of our system, galvanizing and radicalizing further opposition. A CELDF representative visited multiple islands in 2013, presenting their strategy and offering assistance if a group on the ground wanted to put forward a bill or initiative. That remains as a promising possibility if anyone wants to organize towards it.

Deep Green Resistance

transmission-sabotage
Another approach is that advocated by Deep Green Resistance: trace all these problems back to the root problem of civilization, especially industrial civilization. While strengthening local communities and rebuilding sustainable practices, work to end the ability of the rich to steal from the poor, and of the powerful to destroy the planet.

Given the small number of people willing to question civilization, let alone confront it, and given the desperately short timeline we face before the planet is pushed to irreversible and catastrophic collapse of its life support systems, DGR believes it necessary for some people to carry out direct attacks on critical infrastructure. By disrupting the underpinnings of systems of control, including communications, energy transportation, and electrical distribution, hypothetical underground groups would directly erode the power of those working against life, and make them more likely to concede to demands by the more “reasonable” of us in aboveground groups.

It’s uncomfortable, and even scary to contemplate life without the conveniences of civilization to which we’ve grown accustomed, but we should keep in mind:

  • These conveniences come with costs usually unseen until we actively investigate: exploitation and murder of life here and abroad, human and non-human, in the present and in generations to come. Nothing civilization can give us is worth the death of the planet.
  • Hawaiians lived good lives here for centuries before European contact. Depending on what you most value ― family, intimate connection to community & aina, a clean environment, and meaningful work; or short-lived labor-saving devices, fleeting visits to places far and wide, and flashy gadgets ― one could argue Hawaiians lived much better lives than we do now.

Resources

For more on the issues in Hawai’i around industrial agriculture, chemical company influence, and GMOs, see:

For more on potential big-picture solutions, see:

Get involved:

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  • Fill out our Volunteer for DGR form or our Join DGR form.
  • If you have questions specific to DGR Hawai’i, email hawaii@deepgreenresistance.org

Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is a War

So many good-hearted people want to see change in the world, with an end to environmental devastation, social injustice, and exploitation of women; but aren’t prepared to face the full difficulty of righting these wrongs. Those in power do not enforce their policies of extraction, oppression, and domination by accident or through mutual agreement with those giving up their resources. Rather, to maintain their control, those in power use the persistent and systemic threat of force with judicious enactment of violence when the threats aren’t enough. Much of this is hidden: domestic violence usually occurs behind closed doors; we don’t widely discuss the enslavement of more humans today than crossed in the entire history of the Middle Passage; and corporations maximize their bottom line with governmental police and armies to enforce laws written by the corporations themselves.

On every front we are at war, under siege, and we have been since the beginning of agriculture and civilization. It’s scary to acknowledge this reality, as it has serious implications for how we pursue justice. If exploitation and this horrific imbalance of power are not accidents; if we can’t expect that asking nicely for what’s right will effect change; if we must expect those in power to inflict violence in retaliation for any truly effective action; then what do we do?

The answer to that question is not straight forward, and will be different for each person and each circumstance. But we must bravely face reality so that we can make grounded and informed decisions.

Will Falk writes about this reality in our islands:

Sitting outside the 10 by 20 foot makeshift tent that has served as my home for the last 34 days on Mauna Kea, I watch the tent poles shudder to the concussion of US Army howitzer cannons firing live shells at their training grounds below. When the wind blows just right, from the south, the rattle of automatic rifle fire reaches the occupation. There’s no denying it: A war rages in Hawai’i.

He discusses how this fact might affect the strategies and tactics of those fighting for Mauna Kea and for Hawaiian sovereignty, and what resisters should consider as they decide their course of action. These issues are relevant to all struggles for justice, and his essay is important reading even for those not involved in this particular battle. Please read Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is a War.

Oppose geothermal night-time drilling January 19

What: Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) community meeting
When: January 19, @ 6:30pm.
Where: Pahoa High School Cafeteria.
Why: PGV plans to drill without following the county ordinance that prohibits drilling between 7 PM and 7 AM

The county representatives for Puna are looking out for geothermal interests at the expense of community health. Following is an email alert from Bob Petricci of Puna Pono Alliance:

Geothermal Update

Drilling Alert

PGV has joined forces with Puna Council reps Greggor Illigan and Danny Paleka to actively campaign against the night time drilling ban we enacted to protect our community from PGV’s previous impacts due to 20 years of poor drilling practices.

Specifically, Paleka and Illigan support PGV’s stated intention to drill 24/7 in violation of the night time drilling ban.

Several major accidents and missteps at the PGV power plant last year resulted in harm to our community again, and both DOH and EPA cited PGV last year for numerous violations of their permits.

In discounting and essentially disregarding what this community has endured at the hands of PGV, both council members Illigan and Paleka have said publicly they support PGV intention to drill at night regardless of the law. That of course is in direct conflict with the communities best interest. These council reps are doing this with no legal experience to speak of and without even bothering to ask for a legal opinion from the Corporation Council. They instead are relying on a special interest (PGV) to interpret the law. This is an example of how bad government works to the detriment of the community, we should shine a light on this type of improper behavior by our our elected officials. In this case corporate interest have clearly been put ahead of the public interest by these 2 elected officials to benefit a special interest at expense of our community.

I went to Danny’s office to talk to him about this and ask for a copy of corp council’s opinion, he told me he never talked to them. He then promised to do so promptly, but don’t hold your breath. We will probably have to do that as well.

I also spoke with Council member Aaron Chung (an attorney), who told me he disagrees with Paleka, Illigan, and PGV. In fact he agrees with PPA and the community – the law applies to PGV as written. He based his opinion as do we on reading the law and the permit requirements that “PGV obey that law and all county laws.

In my opinion it is dangerous and unfortunate that Illigan and Paleka appear to be playing fast and loose with the best interest of our Puna community to benefit a special interest (PGV). I see no valid reason for them to fight for PGV against the community on this law. It is a sad commentary on the state of our county government.

Puna Pono Alliance needs your support now, this is our chance, let PGV know how you feel about the planned drilling now – before it starts.

Background

On January 19, next Monday, Puna Geothermal Venture is holding a community meeting. At that meeting they will be discussing upcoming drilling, currently scheduled from late January until March. During that drilling, PGV does not plan to comply with a county ordinance that requires drilling activity to stop between 7 PM and 7 AM.

This intended action is an insult to the community and to those who must bear the personal cost of PGV actions. If you live close to PGV, we ask that you come to the meeting in a show of solidarity in which we say you must stop placing community families second. If you live elsewhere we ask that you show your support for our neighbors that are being sacrificed to corporate convenience.

Thank you again for your past support in helping us defend our neighborhood from industrialization. We passed a law, now we need to let them know we intend to see the law enforced.

PPA Noise Committee

As you may have heard, PGV is planning to begin drilling a new well on January 25 and they say they expect it to go on for 3 months. The last time they drilled a well, it went on for 5 1/2 months and it made life miserable for people near the plant.

Despite a Hawaii County ordinance which bans nighttime drilling from 7 pm to 7 am, passed by the Hawaii County Council in response to PGV’s last drill , PGV says they will drill day and night because–they say–the ordinance does not apply to them.

We need the help of those that live close to the plant because if we don’t step up, PGV will continue to drill day and night–and they drill new wells every few years.

Paul Kuykendall and Suzanne Wakelin are working to document the noise and its impact on neighbors to force the county and state to address it as a health and quality of life issue.

The good news is that we live in an age where we can capture data via crowd-sourcing that will build our case with some very cool, high tech tools. We are going to use NoiseTube to collect and collate data using mobile phones which we can later analyze and show on google maps to quantify the noise impact.

To learn more about NoiseTube, please read this short Scientific American article

Or visit the NoiseTube webpage for more information:

We need your help to be successful. Please support us by doing the following:

1. Email lists@punapono.com with your phone number and consent to receive email updates on this project.

2. Please meet us at HAAS this Tuesday January 20 at 3:30 pm (before the usual Puna Pono Meeting) for a 30 minute training on how to use the crowdsourcing App

Please be prompt because we will only have 30 minutes.

3. If you can, please download the free app to your mobile phone by following the link below. It has instructions on how to download to an Iphone and an Android phone. If you do it before the training, we can show you how to use it.

4. Please share this email with friends and neighbors who could be negatively affected by the drilling noise.

If you want to help us stop PGV from illegally drilling at night, we need help this Monday,

If you want to connect with PPA, please come to the 4 o’clock meeting this Tuesday at HAAS School.

Review of Assata: An Autobiography

Review by Norris Thomlinson, Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i

Once you understand something about the history of a people, their heroes, their hardships and their sacrifices, it’s easier to struggle with them, to support their struggle. For a lot of people in this country, people who live in other places have no faces.”

–Assata Shakur

A World Apart

assata-autobiography

I grew up in the same country as Assata Shakur, but as a poor black woman, her autobiography reveals an experience a world apart from my own middle class, white male upbringing. She ably captures these differences in a series of anecdotes revealing that she did in fact grow up in a different country: “amerika”, while I enjoyed the facades of democracy, peace, and justice in America. I’ve been aware of the shocking statistics of incarceration rates of people of color, disproportionate distribution of wealth, heartbreaking inequity in education systems, increased exposure to toxins, decreased lifespans, and on and on. But I haven’t read much by black authors about their personal experiences navigating these systems of oppression and injustice. Shakur’s autobiography is surpisingly easy to read and even enjoyable, despite and because of its humorous tragedy, and makes an excellent introduction to a different reality for those of us born into white and/or male privilege.

Beyond her personal insights into the impacts of class, race, and gender, Shakur shares her astute political analysis, and draws a logical line from her childhood acceptance of the systems of America to her adult revolutionary struggle against amerika. Based on voracious reading, observation of the world around her, and careful thinking, she developed a radical analysis of structures of power and how to fight them. She understands that “What we are taught in the public school system is usually inaccurate, disorted, and packed full of outright lies” and that “Belief in these myths can cause us to make serious mistakes in analyzing our current situation and in planning future action.” She links the “interventions” and invasions of the US abroad to its theft of indigenous land and oppression of people of color at home.

Shakur knows none of this is an accident, fixable by asking those in power to change their ways. The people need to fight back, using violence if necessary:

“…the police in the Black communities were nothing but a foreign, occupying army, beating, torturing, and murdering people at whim and without restraint. I despise violence, but i despise it even more when it’s one-sided and used to oppress and repress poor people.”

Horizontal Hostility

Shakur explains that while those in power use schooling, media, the police, and COINTELPRO to divide and conquer those who might oppose them, the solution is simple (though not necessarily easy):

“The first thing the enemy tries to do is isolate revolutionaries from the masses of people, making us horrible and hideous monsters so that our people will hate us.”

“It’s got to be one of the most basic principles of living: always decide who your enemies are for yourself, and never let your enemies choose your enemies for you.”

“Some of the laws of revolution are so simple they seem impossible. People think that in order for something to work, it has to be complicated, but a lot of times the opposite is true. We usually reach success by putting the simple truths that we know into practice. The basis of any struggle is people coming together to fight against a common enemy.”

“Arrogance was one of the key factors that kept the white left so factionalized. I felt that instead of fighting together against a common enemy, they wasted time quarreling with each other about who had the right line.”

Parallels with Deep Green Resistance

It seems many of Shakur’s insights directly informed the Deep Green Resistance book, or the authors came to the same conclusions after studying similar history. For example, Shakur clearly states the need for a firewall between an aboveground and a belowground:

“An aboveground political organization can’t wage guerrilla war anymore than an underground army can do aboveground political work. Although the two must work together, they must have completely separate structures, and any links between the two must remain secret.”

She sees one of the main flaws of the Black Panther Party as having mixed aboveground political work with a militancy more appropriate for a belowground, especially in attempting to defend their offices at all costs against police raids. While understandable as symbolic of their pride and a willingness to fight for what was theirs, the simple reality was that the Panthers weren’t ready to go up against the military might of the state, and it was suicide to attempt to hold this symbolic territory. In asymmetric warfare, you must give way where the enemy is strong, and strike where the enemy is weak.

Perhaps most importantly, Shakur emphasizes several times the necessity of discipline and of careful, logical, long-term planning. She recounts an embarassing situation where she and some friends smoke marijuana in a public park while carrying radical literature, risking beatings or arrest by relinquishing full control of their faculties. After another revolutionary group helps them out of their precarious situation, a dazed Shakur resolves to take the struggle more seriously. This contrasts sharply with the drug- and sex-fueled Weathermen and their contemporaneous white radicals, whose self-indulgence in machismo and rebelliousness resulted in a strategy of instigating fistfights and rioting in the streets.

It reassures me that so many of Shakur’s hard-won lessons are foundational to Deep Green Resistance, as it reinforces my confidence in DGR as a well-researched analysis of historical movements and a solid guide to proceeding from here:

“There were sisters and brothers who had been so victimized by amerika that they were willing to fight to the death against their oppressors. They were intelligient, courageous and dedicated, willing to make any sacrifice. But we were to find out quickly that courage and dedication were not enough. To win any struggle for liberation, you have to have the way as well as the will, an overall ideology and strategy that stem from a scientific analysis of history and present conditions.

[…]

Every group fighting for freedom is bound to make mistakes, but unless you study the common, fundamental laws of armed revolutionary struggle you are bound to make unnecessary mistakes. Revolutionary war is protracted warfare. It is impossible for us to win quickly. […] One of the hardest lessons we had to learn is that revolutionary struggle is scientific rather than emotional. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t feel anything, but decisions can’t be based on love or on anger. They have to be based on the objective conditions and on what is the rational, unemotional thing to do.”

Read This Book

If you want to better understand racism, read this book. If you enjoy a well-told story of a unique and fascinating life, read this book. If you’re interested in historical revolutionary movements, read this book. If you’re interested in a modern revolutionary movement, read this book, read Deep Green Resistance, and let’s start putting the theory into practice.

“It crosses my mind: i want to win. i don’t want to rebel, i want to win.”

–Assata Shakur