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Pacifism as Pathology
WATCH: Ella Baker: “The Fight for Freedom Every Day”

WATCH: Ella Baker: “The Fight for Freedom Every Day”

“Life-long human rights activist and movement organizer, Ella Baker, addresses 1974 Puerto Rico solidarity rally about the need for every person to make the struggle for human dignity and freedom every day.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Friends, brothers, and sisters in the struggle for human dignity and freedom. I am here to represent the struggle that has gone on for three-hundred or more years — a struggle to be recognized as citizens in a country in which we were born. I have had about forty or fifty years of struggle, ever since a little boy on the streets of Norfolk called me a nigger. I struck him back. And then I had to learn that hitting back with my fists one individual was not enough. It takes organization. It takes dedication. It takes the willingness to stand by and do what has to be done, when it has to be done.

A nice gathering like today is not enough. You have to go back and reach out to your neighbors who don’t speak to you. And you have to reach out to your friends who think they are making it good. And get them to understand that they–as well as you and I–cannot be free in America or anywhere else where there is capitalism and imperialism. Until we can get people to recognize that they themselves have to make the struggle and have to make the fight for freedom every day in the year, every year until they win it.”

[Source: Peaceable Power”]

WATCH: Conspiracy AND Class Power [Michael Parenti Lecture, 1993, Berkeley, CA.]

WATCH: Conspiracy AND Class Power [Michael Parenti Lecture, 1993, Berkeley, CA.]

 

 

“No ruling class could survive if it wasn’t attentive to its own interest consciously trying to anticipate control / initiate events at home & abroad both overtly & secretly.”

 

“The dirty truth is that many people find fascism to be not particularly horrible.”

 

— Michael Parenti

 

Defend critical thinking.

Defend the right to question/challenge narratives that serve ruling class.

Lecture by Michael Parenti discussing the relationship of conspiracy to the larger political economic context.

“The speech on Conspiracy and Class Power (1993) was lost for several years and only recently discovered in the collection of a listener in Seattle. Michael Parenti spoke before an overflow audience in Berkeley, CA.” [Source: Dandelion Salad]

 

Timpsila, Medicine for Tech-No-Logic

Wrench in the Gears

August 7, 2020

By Alison McDowell

 

 

John Trudell, Native American activist and poet, spoke prophetically of a predator energy that mines the “being part of humans.” He called it tech-no-logic. Every January since the early 1970s, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) power brokers have assembled in Davos to plot out the next steps of their planned tech-no-logic coup. We’ve now reached a tipping point with the introduction of “stakeholder capitalism.” It is a vast program of poverty mining meant to transform the masses into human capital data commodities for financial speculation and ubiquitous surveillance. This emerging investment sector runs on poverty and trauma, two things the response to Covid-19 has manufactured in abundance.

We are experiencing the lead up to WEF’s planned transhumanist future. Covid has paved the way for a reset meant to usher in their Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is a revolution in which artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, 5G, robotics, and synthetic biology threaten to consume humanity. We’re on the brink of normalizing biocapitalism – humans and nature as batteries for financial markets. Picture derivatives mixed with bioengineered eugenics, deceptively sold to the public under the brand of “green” capitalism. The plan is to channel the concentrated wealth of the world’s largest asset holders through structured deals aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Pull back the curtain and see a program unthinkingly embraced by so many progressives and liberals exposed for what it is – not climate justice and not liberation of the poor and dispossessed, but instead an orgy of mechanistic spirit eating.

“What Is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?”

The next phase of Davos’s mining program involves deploying nano-tech human computer interfaces at the population level to begin to meld us into a single hive mind. This technology will be packaged as cutting-edge therapeutics meant to keep us “safe and healthy.” Liability waivers will be put in place to ensure the companies developing such abominations, in coordination with DARPA’s mad scientists, are never held responsible for the harm they cause. I anticipate “personalized medicine” and “preventative care” in the form of a series of mRNA vaccines will be mandated to harness humanity to Bill Gates’s “software of life.”

mRNA Software Of Life Moderna

 

Moderna Gates

 

The Harvard Business Review asserts this global campaign must be rolled out “equitably.” Satellites are poised to track Black and Brown bodies from space and compel the full vaccination coverage needed to carry out these malevolent intentions. Look up Microsoft’s planetary computer. The oligarchs speak of a world where “no one is left behind.” Everyone tagged and tracked into the Internet of Humans master database, domesticated livestock with no autonomy whose life force is sucked dry to satisfy the unrelenting greed of predator energy. GAVI’s vaccines, which are being integrated into digital identity systems, may very well push humanity across the threshold into the WEF’s terrible vision.

Harvard Vaccines Satellite

 

Globalists have long targeted vulnerable populations as “social impact” fuel, this is corporate predation branded as paternalistic “care.” Within the tech-no-logic system, total compliance will be demanded. Approved behavior becomes currency, tokenized on blockchain and monitored by sensors and AI. They are training us for a future where we compete with one another to see who is the best behaved, the most docile. Surviving will mean conforming to the strident terms of psychopathic financial agreements. To obtain the data needed to verify claims embedded in twisted “pay for success” deals, our mother, the earth, must be remade as a geo-fenced digital prison using 5G and satellite constellations. All of your data will be added to your “permanent record” to evaluate your value as human capital for investor portfolios. The billionaires envision a future where freedom is a privilege limited to themselves, their functionaries, and the robots they control. Be assured AI is already keeping tabs, and social credit scoring is well underway.

Sophisticated propaganda campaigns and strategic cooptation of grassroots movements have groomed the public to embrace this model with open arms. The trap has been set. Submit now and EVERY aspect of life, which through bioengineering can now be tweaked at the cellular level, will be controlled to profit the global elite. This is not just about surveillance and policing, it is about the wholesale domination of mind, body, and spirit through smart technologies. Biometric health passports will bring these systems to scale through ID2020. Central banks will soon bring latent human capital bond markets online.

Moreau River

 

This planned future, however, is NOT preordained. Totalitarian transhumanism is not a foregone conclusion. Trudell’s remedy? Change our perception of reality through active non-cooperation. Manifest in our hearts, minds, and actions the world we desire. Where they engineer disconnect, RECONNECT with intention; not only with one another, but with ALL our relations and the land and the spiritual beings that exist beyond our senses. We must synchronize to change the vibrational reality, and that power exists within us as children of the earth.

Our relationship to the sun, sky, and universe is the cosmic web that must be rewoven. According to Trudell, awakened humans have a responsibility to use the intelligence given to them by the creator to face the violence of the tech-no-logic machine. It is up to those of us who see to do this with clarity and coherence. By becoming “thinkers” we reclaim our stability and step outside the control system that manipulates those who passively “believe.”

Trudell’s philosophy inspires me and offers a bulwark against the panic I feel watching the rise of tech-no-logic fascism steeped in medical martial law. To counter this grim vision, I want to share with you a story of the timpsila braid hanging in my kitchen. To me, it embodies the triumph of the creator and Indigenous life over disastrous tech-no-logic white western thinking. It is a reminder to check my tendencies towards despair and to work to manifest a different reality within my heart as a clear-thinking and feeling human being. When I am tempted to dig deeper into the darkness I will strive to shine a light and imagine a future of reciprocity, gratitude, community, and care.

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip - a wild food gathered by the Lakota people.

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip – a wild food gathered by the Lakota people.

 

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip, is a wild food gathered by the Lakota people. Its silvery green leaves and piercing purple flowers punctuate the prairie hills. Its tubers are wild-harvested in June after flowering. The tops are carefully placed back in each dug hole so their seeds can complete the life cycle and restore what has been taken. Slender roots braided together allow the tubers to be dried for storage. Rehydrated, they are used in stews or ground as flour. It is a durable food, a survival food. A Timpsila braid is a sign of abundance and a deep connection to the earth.

I was given two gifts this summer, the first was a gift of a month on the land and the second was the gift of the braid. That first gift extended a chance for me to knit myself back into the cosmos. My being had come perilously close to slipping into the dark embrace of algorithmic “life.” Wrenchinthegears.com is my blog, and it has been literally wrenching to watch the treacherous plans I’ve been investigating for years emerge full-blown against the Covid backdrop. Time and space to disconnect from tech-no-logic’s predator energy was an unexpected and precious offering that took me by surprise.

Initially I hesitated. Could I leave my family for the six weeks needed to drive, quarantine, and do what was needed? Could I step away from my job for that long? Was my 50-year-old not-too-fit body up for the task? I’d never done anything like that before. There was a world out there waiting beyond my kitchen table. Perhaps I would find community; perhaps I would learn more about myself; perhaps I would restore my relationship with nature – so many possibilities. In the end, I chose to step away from my laptop, put my power-mapping on hold, shift from brain work to heart work, and put my body into a project I hoped would help to feed people.

I bought a tent and dehydrated food, gathered up books and yarn and my teddy bear then headed west as spring gave way to summer. If you know you me in person, you know I’m a planner, a box-checker, and a striver. Not proud of it, but its part of the package of how I was trained up to be. To make this choice felt highly irregular, but also profoundly right. Uncertain times led me to look inside myself and trust the process. If we’re committed to changing the dominant paradigm, one shaped by empire, violence, competition, and hyper-consumerism, we have to be willing to risk healing when a door is opened – to follow the lines, as John Trudell said, with intelligence and coherence. Maybe in doing the work of healing ourselves we can help heal the world and build anew.

Before I set off, a friend who stewards an African-diaspora urban farm told me to move slow. Learn the land first. The work needed to come from a spiritual place. He offered some horticultural guidance, but cautioned that I might not end up doing what I thought I was going there to do. The challenge was to be attuned and humble. Look closely and listen carefully. Another friend suggested I go down to the river, the Schuylkill, before my trip and ask for guidance on the journey. I’m new to and rather clumsy with ceremony and ended up ankle deep in the gooey tidal mud. In a real sense I was hoping this gift of time and space would offer a measure of transformation. So the lesson I took away from my visit to the river is that if your goal is transformation, there is no tiptoeing around the edges. You have to be willing to step forward with both feet and get dirty.

 

Tidal mud

 

In the days before I left I saw many precious garter snakes, including one that was nestled in a strawberry plant in a bed I was weeding. A beautiful blue racer sped out of the tall grass to greet me in the garden one of my first days there, and the day before I left a five-foot bull snake spread itself luxuriously across a back road as a friend and I looked on appreciatively. Surely on this journey I was meant to shed some of my old skin.

To change the world, we must be willing to look deeply within ourselves. We must unpack the ways in which compulsory education, religion, politics, and consumer culture seek to contain us within a larger control system. Thus confined, the predator energy of which Trudell spoke can easily feed off the manufactured discord that is continuously inflamed to profit the Davos elite. If we can secure a new lens and commit ourselves to restoring right relationships, we might then be able to chart a new course. At this pandemic moment of the WEF’s attempted global economic reset (aka global coup via mass impoverishment) my goal was to unplug, step out of time, and carry out my own internal reboot.

So, I pointed my aging Subaru away from life in a “smart” city to a land of grass, wind, and sky. At the end of the road the IDEA of a vegetable garden waited for me in a quiet river valley. Those who’d asked me to come wanted to build a garden that would complement a chicken-raising effort: manure, insect control, feed, a circular system. The goal was to develop a prototype that with material and technical support might allow small communities to access healthier, more affordable food.

Food independence is radical. This is why counter-insurgent warfare targets the people’s ability to feed themselves. This is why the Black Panthers were considered so dangerous to the power structure. This is why corporations keep us sick with highly processed GMO consumables. This is why we are seeing consolidation of supply chains under Covid. Advancement of hydroponic, petro-chemical fertilizer-based vegetable production and lab-grown “meat” are a central feature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Food is meant to be medicine for body and spirit. Putting hands to earth is medicine. Saving open-pollinated seeds is medicine. Heirloom seeds contain histories of struggle and survival. I arrived with a spade and shovel seeking to be part of this medicine work, my hands ready.

 

Vertisol Soil

 

When I first saw it, the area for the planned garden was a lush carpet of grasses, yarrow, wild onions, and sagebrush. They grew out of a silty clay soil unlike anything I’d ever put my hands in before. It is the kind of soil that when moist you can turn into a clay pot, but once dry hardens like concrete and splinters into an infinite web of delicate cracks that shelter velvety wolf spiders as big as your hand. Vertisol soil – we came to know one other well in the weeks to come.

On the land my learning began. Before I left I gathered bird guides, grass identification charts, treatises on ethno-botany of the northern prairies. I soaked up the written word, but heart work truly blooms through the lived experience of the body. In those weeks of quarantine I walked gravel roads to distant horizons and encountered the diverse residents of the grass nation. I lived the beauty of each moment – every week new seed heads, blooms, insects, and birds to greet. As Robin Wall Kimmerer says – we are the young siblings with much to learn from the older beings around us. The prairie was my teacher, and I am forever grateful for the lessons gifted to me outside the control matrix.

Cottonwood tree

 

The wooden stakes set amidst the grass behind the chicken coops offered only a vague hint of what would emerge there. We decided to experiment with different approaches using local materials and see what worked best and what could be brought to scale. The final garden included three tilled beds with cover crops, eight hand-dug beds with new topsoil brought in, a trenched bed for potatoes, ten sod berms, and three compost piles. There was also a tilled bed amended with cattle manure where we planted corn, beans, and squash – the three sisters.

Early on my friend visited me in the garden. He tried to convince me that the soil, even though to MY eyes seemed impossible, would be fine. His ancestors had farmed the river bottom. He held that knowledge, and I am ashamed that in my uncertainty and concern over “succeeding” at this garden project, I did not fully embrace those teachings. And so in the trials we did, the bed that was tilled with just a little manure – the three sisters bed – grew as my friend assured me it would. The leaves of corn unfurled, then the beans, then the squash. By the time I departed all of the seeds had made their presence known. We decided to call it Three Sisters Sanctuary. After a stormy night that poured an inch of rain onto the cracked earth, I packed up my muddy tent and headed east knowing the sanctuary would be well cared for by my friend. After all, it was his land. He knew its life force in his heart.

During my stay, this friend generously shared aspects of life close to nature on the prairie. The June moon in Lakota is called tinpsinla itkahaca wi or moon when the seedpods of the wild turnip go to seed. He filled a five-gallon bucket and showed me how to prepare them for storage. My first attempts to peel the tubers with my rarely used pocketknife were rather dismal. I was too tentative, but eventually got the hang of how to slide the blade in near the stem end and slough off the rough husk to expose the smooth, moist flesh of the turnip inside. Supremely satisfying. In that liminal space between time zones, in many ways outside of time entirely, a midday break sitting in the shade to peel timpsila felt perfectly right. There was a rhythm to reweaving torn connections between one human and the earth. Bit by bit, tuber-by-tuber, slow, slow, slow, the bucket emptied – a small act of non-cooperation against a mechanized world defined by speed, industrialization, and global supply chains.

Peeled Timpsila

 

I was granted the opportunity to see timpsila in their proper place among other plant beings, clear ponds, and rock rings under a sky painted with clouds that filtered a dramatic pre-storm light. These are not the domesticated plants of a garden plot, not tomatoes or peppers, but wild offerings made by the creator to the being part of human. I greeted them on those hills the night of the Solstice on land that had been in one family for over a century. That crisp bite of a fresh dug turnip on that sacred land was powerful medicine. I will carry it in my heart, and I am profoundly grateful for it.

Prairie Solstice

 

The night my friend gifted me the braid he came out to my tent. It had been raining, and as he turned his head, his headlamp shown briefly on the fence. There, a spider was deftly weaving a web. It glistened with raindrops and took my breath away. We stopped for a moment to watch in the cool night air the spider going about her work. Just like the spider, those of us who are awake are empowered to be world builders. Even though we may feel overwhelmed by the dark and the rain, we have the option of creating a new story – the potential of the silken thread that lies at the core of our being. We do not have to remain trapped within the current paradigm. The old, tattered web can be consumed and made anew. Together we have the creative power to weave a future where tech-no-logic is banished from our lives.

This timpsila braid is a token of friendship, a connection across time and space. It is a powerful affirmation of Indigenous resistance to the vicious forces of capitalist growth that seek to annihilate and erase world views grounded in the care and wellbeing of the earth and all its creatures. This includes all the children of the earth who have stewarded Turtle Island, Africa, India, Australia, and Asia through these dark colonial times.

Prairie Storm

 

Imagine if non-Indigenous people had it within them to become “thinkers” as Trudell describes them. No longer indoctrinated by the control matrix feeding off their pain and strife, but instead intent on cultivating a culture of gratitude, ceremony, community, and reciprocity – all of it grounded in a connection to the earth and the cosmos. THAT could very well be the antidote to the mechanistic spirit eating of tech-no-logic “green” capitalism. It would kill the human capital bond market before 5G and wearable-tech shackles ever got off the drawing board, unleashing a power beyond anything we can imagine. We can make it so.

With clarity and brave hearts we can bring forth a new world. We commit to that and heal or submit to the tech-no-logic matrix and lose our souls. Let us embrace one another as “thinking” human beings, web weavers who dare write a different story. As Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches, we do not have to carry it all. Each of us has gifts for the bundle.

Know your gifts and how to share them. Stay grounded in the soil. Open your heart to receive true teachings. Find the others; they will cross your path. Slow down and look to the horizon, so you have eyes to see them. We are not alone. We are not isolated. Together we can nurture one another not as digital brands and avatars but as precious fellow travellers on a journey from darkness to light.

This piece is itself a web of many silken threads graciously offered up by beloved collaborators. Thank you friends.

If you’re in a position to support Lakota food independence efforts, gifts of any size will help pay for next spring’s seeds. Chas Jewett on Venmo @chas-jewett-1. Wopila.

This is a tour of Three Sisters Sanctuary. Know the past and build a better future.

WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

Black is Back Coalition

April 19, 2020

 

“The reason this discussion is happening is not because of the numbers of people who are dying – but because who is dying. Because it is something that can also possibly affect white people…”

 

 

“Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the Black is Back Coalitions, sets the tone and sums up the political events such as COVID-19 and upcoming U.S. elections that forces the Coalition to organize the “COVID-19 Pandemic: Black People Fight Back” webinar.” [Running time: 11m:49s]

 

 

[Born in St.Petersburg, Florida, USA Omali Yeshitela is Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party USA and the African Socialist International. Full bio]

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

April 23, 2020

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

Vogue, Special Edition: Freedom on Hold. The issue has sold out. 

A migrant worker’s child sleeps on a highway in locked-down New Delhi, India, March 29, 2020. On March 30 2020, 8 year-old Rakesh Musahar died of hunger as his family struggled to make ends meet during the lockdown. Rakesh hailed from the Mahadalit Musahar community. He was a ragpicker & sold junk in the market. His father Durga Prasad Musahar was a porter. Rakesh died on Mar 26. His family waited for several hours for local admin. officials to come & make arrangements. However, nobody arrived. Dejected, Durga Prasad & a few other locals finally carried the boy’s body on a cart and cremated him.” [Source] REUTERS – Adnan Abidi

One might think that artists wouldn’t mind being isolated and having more time in studios on account of the current Coronavirus situation.  After all, we spend an enormous amount of time alone, and isolation allows us to have uninterrupted amounts of time to let our imaginations fly.But there are other elements in play when we examine creativity.  For example, it is crucial that we feel safe to expose all our senses to our environment so that we ground our minds properly to our surroundings, harmoniously with all our channels open.

When the “lockdown” started I was at an art residency in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  I lived in a communal setting with twenty other artists and writers.  As soon as public spaces became inaccessible and “social distancing” became the norm at the residency, many of the fellow artists experienced lack of productivity.  I felt an immediate blockage to my making process.

Perhaps, since our society does not make artists’ activities a priority, this might be the last thing one would consider as a serious “problem”.  And to a lesser extent such a concern might be secondary to many artists themselves who will be subjected to enormous economic difficulties.

It is “understood” that this is a “crisis” and we must “fight together“ against our “common enemy” which is the virus.  
But who could blame those of us who are very much suspicious of such a momentum, as we hear “decrees” being issued to dictate our social activities while all instruments of state violence and repression are in place to regulate our behaviors.  
After all we live in the same society which has baselessly demonized Muslims while bombing, colonizing and destroying their countries in the name of “war on terror”.  Young black people have been openly demonized to justify gentrification, mass incarceration, exploitation through substandard labor conditions and so on and so forth in the name of “war on drug” and “tough on crime”.

We know that a “crisis” presents opportunities and tools for the ruling class to shape and perpetuate the social structure.  The system in which they thrive is always “too big to fail” while oppressed people keep failing so that they are safely cornered into hopelessness, cynicism and complacency to the feudal order of money and violence.

Caption: “I’ve joined @voguearabia in the fight against Covid-19 to support their #stayhome campaign, and emphasize the importance of safe habits during the pandemic. #strongertogether

Townships are in lockdown — but many Africans fear hunger more than Covid-19. In South Africa, three people have been killed as police have attacked crowds with whips and rubber bullets for defying a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Five more were killed in Kenya, including a 13-year-old boy hit by a stray bullet fired by police enforcing a stay-at-home order in Nairobi. In Uganda, soldiers shot and injured two people for riding on a motorbike during a curfew, Population of Kenya: 51.39 million (2018). Deaths with/from COVID19 in Kenya: 14 (April 21, 2020), Getty images, Source

It is not a speculation that there are people who prosper and even benefit during an economic crisis—as smaller business owners struggle, large corporations and banks benefit from huge government subsidies, giving them more power to buy failing small businesses, for example.  And it is a fact that many of those people have enormous economic power to shape the policies that can benefit themselves. It is not a speculation that they would appreciate having strict measures of control against the people by limiting their freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to travel, or by installing means of surveillance, check points and official certifications for activities that might give freedom to the people beyond the capitalist framework.  It is not a speculation that they would benefit from moving our social interactions to the digital realm, which can commodify our activities as marketable data for the advertising industry, insurance industry and any other moneyed social institutions Including education, political institution, legal institution, and financial institution.  Such matters should be seen within the context of the western history being shaped by unelected capitalists with their enormous networks of social institutions.  In fact, private foundations and NGOs are working with governmental organizations and global institutions to implement potentially dangerous policies of draconian measures as well as financialization of our activities for sometime.  According to researchers—Cory MorningstarAlison McDowell and others, the potential impact of the transformation which is about to take place through the Internet, block chain technology, artificial intelligence, and etc. under the banner of the fourth industrial revolution can be devastatingly inhumane to our species’ path.  Examining those matters must not be subjected to being labeled as “conspiracy” and dismissed.

Needless to say, a draconian momentum against the capitalist hierarchy accelerates hardships of “invisible people” who struggle against economic deprivation and social repression.  How do homeless people “stay home”?  How do people in jail practice “social distancing”?   How are people vulnerable to domestic violence protected?   How do small business owners continue to stay in business?  How do poor people survive while public services and spaces are eliminated, while affluent people are stock piling in their generously equipped gated communities.  How do people with addiction stay sober?  How do people with suicidal tendency secure their dwindling connection to humanity?

Food distributed to homeless migrant workers in New Delhi. The painted circles on the ground are to maintain social distancing. Vikram Patel, Harvard Medical School, April 17, 2020:  “Since the first case was reported in late January, there have been (as of 15 April) about 400 confirmed deaths. During this same period of roughly 75 days, if we extrapolate data from recent years on mortality, over 1.5 million Indians will have died due to other causes.” [Population of India: 1.3 billion (2018). Deaths with/from Covid: 603 (April 21, 2020)]

But those discussions are rare among us.  A hint of doubt can trigger those people who are “fighting together”.  Because once our creative minds learn to live safely in an authoritarian framework of draconian rules and decrees, the narrow framework restricts our thoughts and ideas.  Our minds get weaponized to uphold the authoritarianism as a path to “democracy”, “freedom”, “justice” and “humanity”, which have been mere euphemisms to describe blank checks given to the ruling class.  Once people turn into soldiers of the authoritarianism, the path to the ”solutions” is paved by their  relentless adherence to corporate political parties, official decrees and carefully concocted narratives within the capitalist framework.  Our discussions cease to be mutually respectful exchange, instead, they become battle grounds in which dissenting voices are vetted, attacked and eliminated.

A society that can’t sustain artists is a society that kills minds to care, understand, empathize and share.  A society that enforces its imperatives with fear instead of trust in humanity deprives a healthy mechanism to guide itself.

As I see how public sentiment is developing over the virus situation, I must mention one more thing.  There has been a proven method of silencing anti-capitalist voices within our society, used by media, political figures, corporate dissidents and others.  It requires a few steps.

First, amplify the voices of people who willingly sacrifice those who they consider to hold lower positions than they do in demanding their righteous positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The voices might come from racist nationalists, patriarchal misogynists, flag waving anti-immigrant activists or heartless Trump supporters demanding old people to die during the coronavirus pandemic.  Those people recognize that an aspect or a policy of the establishment will compromise their lives—after all they are also oppressed by the capitalist order.  However, they do embrace the capitalist order in essence.  They do not tolerate sharing their positions with people who they despise.

Second, claim that you are with victims of racism, misogyny or xenophobia, or old people who are vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Third, falsely equate an anti-capitalist perspective with that of those political villains.

Forth, dismiss those who are calling out the ruling class agenda as “racist”, “misogynists”, “fascist worshiper” and so on.

This method has been very effective.  I am sure that anyone who has expressed a concern over capitalist domination can recall being labeled as what they actually oppose.

The method achieves a few things at the same time.  First, it obscures the mechanism of capitalist hierarchy. Second, it divides people who should be fighting against the system together—obscuring the meaning of class struggle.  Third, it augments the capitalist hierarchy.  Forth, it vitalizes the political legitimacy of corporate political parties which utilize the division.  Needless to say, the narrative of division is actively generated by corporate political parties as well.

It is imperative that we recognize the predicaments of the people who are most oppressed within our society, while we firmly recognize the dynamics within the capitalist hierarchy, and stay away from being a part of the mechanism which safely turns our predicaments into driving forces of capitalism.

I hope above writing can generate much needed discussions on the topic among us.

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

VIDEO PRIMER: The Ecology of Trust Mechanization – For the Fourth Industrial Revolution

April 17, 2020

 

“As populations become more volatile with the roll out of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital quarantine will be a powerful method of regulating economic systems and human bodies.” — Alison Hawver McDowell, independent researcher, Wrench in the Gears

This primer, authored by Larry Lohmann, is a basic and essential primer on Blockchain, Bitcoin, and information capitalism.

Why this primer is of critical importance: The future, is now firmly on our doorstep.

The infrastructure and architecture of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is designed by the ruling class; in conjunction with transnational corporations, global finance capital and global institutions. The human population will be controlled “via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT (Internet of Things), and AR (Augmented Reality) environment. The billionaire class has built and is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The technology that underlies this Fourth Industrial Revolution automation will hasten the death of the planet. The World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control and domination of humanity and the Earth… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.” — Alison Hawver McDowel

 

Knowledge is a weapon: Arm yourself.

 

 

Follow Wrench in the Gears: https://wrenchinthegears.com

Larry Lohmann has contributed to numerous scholarly books as well as to journals on land and forest conflicts, globalization, movements, racism, commons, ecology and the discourses of development and economics.

Blockchain Machines, Earth Beings and the Labour of Trust – by Larry Lohmann:

“The last 10 years have seen unprecedented efforts to automate whole new ranges of human and nonhuman activity: trust, recognition, identification, care, respect, translation and interpretation itself. It may be helpful to look at these developments — which include Bitcoin and blockchain — in the light of 19th-century mechanization. Although the new tide of automation recruits technologies that have become available only in the 21st century, it is no less dependent on the living work of human and more-then-human beings. Nor is it any less prone to exhaust or “max out” that work, wreaking ecological destruction and necessitating the organization of new frontiers of extraction. The new mechanization is also entwined with some of the same fantasies and rituals that have animated industrial capitalism since its beginnings.”

Download the parer: BLOCKCHAIN MACHINES, EARTH BEINGS AND THE LABOUR OF TRUST LOHMANN

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

Winter Oak

April 17, 2020

By Paul Cudenec

The First Industrial Repression saw us thrown off the land, forced into crowded towns and cities, used as human fodder for the dark satanic mills of the new steam-powered capitalist world.

The Second Industrial Repression electrified the rule of The Machine. New generations were born who had never tasted freedom. Their lives and their thinking were increasingly dominated by the rhythms of industrial mass production.

The Third Industrial Repression heralded the arrival of computers and robots. Human beings were now expected to meekly conform to these automated norms and functions.

And now we face the onset of the Fourth Industrial Repression (4IR), the most deathly repression of them all…

4IR Fourth industrial revolution on blockchain polygon world map

The 4IR wants to own, control and profit from everything that exists in this world.

Its Internet of Things aims to create a matrix of total connectivity, of which it is the owner.

You, your home, your family, your friends, your relationships and your activities will all belong to the 4IR.

Its technocrats regard you as nothing more than another piece of disposable fleshware, one unit among millions, just another figure on its global balance sheet of exploitation.

The 4IR will track you and always know where you are, whom you are with, what you are doing.

It demands your total obedience. You can have no values, ideals or dreams of your own, only the ones authorised by the system.

Disobedient units are unproductive units.

4IR

The 4IR will know how to spot you, if you even so much as consider stepping out of line. Its predictive policing will quickly identify you as an anti-social element, a pre-criminal, a thought criminal.

It will send out its robots and its drones to neutralise you and protect the safe functioning of the matrix.

Digital identity systems. Militarised 5G. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing.

Cybersecurity Macht Frei!

The 4IR will not tolerate any irresponsible words or behaviour that present a threat to health and safety, to law and order, to resilience and prosperity.

Submission. Sycophancy. Slavery. We’re all in it together, citizen!

Greta1The 4IR wants to scare us into its devouring jaws by pointing to impending disaster and claiming that nobody can save us but itself.

It shows us the misery and disease inflicted by the First, Second and Third Industrial Repressions and insists that the “solution” is a fourth dose of the same deadly industrial poison.

The intelligence of the 4IR is entirely artificial and its dead robot brain cannot smell what we smell, feel what we feel, love what we love.

It coldly ignores the timeless and vital value of people, animals, trees, plants and the whole organic reality of which these form part.

Instead it sees just raw material for its own profit.

It thirsts above all for data, endless floods of data to be collected, processed, sold and transformed into the wealth which buys its total control.

The Fourth Industrial Repression wants to replace everything true and authentic with its replicas, with a reality not so much virtual as entirely fake.

4IReAnd yet its forked robotic tongue tells us that this phoney reality is in fact an “enhanced” or “augmented” one.

The 4IR wants to abolish the lives we have known. It wants to microchip us, lock us up in little cages, and force-feed us chemical food substitutes, laced with feel-good soma.

It cannot tolerate the idea that we might enjoy anything for free, such as sunshine, fresh air and the wild outdoors.

It craves a total monopoly of our experience. Cut off from the real world, from authenticity and liberty, we will have no choice but to buy and consume the poisonous ersatz reality it has carefully manufactured.

The 4IR, like all the other repressions before it, is built on our separation from one another, the destruction of our communities and the undermining of our solidarities.

social_distancing

“Social distancing” is the prerequisite for its seizure of complete power.

The 4IR wants us all to be on our own, online and in line.

The 4IR empties everything of meaning, particularly words. It says “sustainable” when it means ecocidal. It says “development” when it means destruction. It says “basic universal income” when it means slavery.

When the 4IR talks about “social impact investing” it really means it wants to turn human beings into lucrative investment opportunities.

Human capital. Human cattle.

new deal for nature and people logoWhen the 4IR talks about “a new deal for nature” it really means it wants to privatise the whole living world so as to make the billionaire class even richer than it already is.

When the 4IR demands “biosecurity”, it means the security of its own systems of control against the threat from biological reality. From nature, from life, from us!

The 4IR thinks it is so smart. Its glossy propaganda promises us smart mobility in a smart economy, smart living and smart governance for the smart people of tomorrow.

The smart money is on the 4IR project. The smart money of the smart-arse smart set. Smart is the new smug.

The 4IR employs huge armies of professional liars and gullible fools to spread its  propaganda and scream abuse at all who dare challenge its fearmongering falsehoods.

The 4IR is a death cult which dreams of wiping out everything that is natural, everything that is wild, everything that is free.

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

Fight the 4IR!

 

[Paul Cudenec is the author of The Anarchist Revelation; Antibodies, Anarchangels & Other Essays; The Stifled Soul of Humankind; Forms of Freedom; The Fakir of Florence; Nature, Essence & Anarchy and The Green One. All of these have been published by Winter Oak Press – www.winteroak.org.uk. He is also a member of Shoal Collective, a cooperative of independent writers and researchers, writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism. He has contributed to publications such as Red Pepper, Green Anarchist and The Morning Star. His work has been described as “mind-expanding and well-written” by Permaculture magazine.]

 

 

COVID-19 as a Weapon. The Crushing of the Disposable Working Class – by Design

April 13, 2020

 

By Cory Morningstar

 

[Due to the urgent need for the dissemination of this information, the following research is being presented in a simple concise format, similar to a timeline.]

 

“The largest economic transformation in the history of mankind”

 

The arrogance and brutality of the ruling class – is nothing less than breathtaking.

Let’s begin.

April 9 2020, Business Insider: “Many Americans will not have jobs to return to after the coronavirus pandemic ends, according to former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang”:

“Many Americans will not have jobs to return to after the coronavirus pandemic ends…”

 

“We’re going to see something like 10 years of change in 10 weeks…”

 

“The fact is right now this virus is the perfect environment for companies to get rid of people, bring in robots and machines, and figure out how they can operate more efficiently.”

 

“Universal basic income is going to become the topic, not just here in the United States, but Spain’s adopting a version of a minimum income. Legislatures around Europe are all very, very much focused on this.”

 

“We’re going to see the progressive Amazonification of our economy as Amazon’s one of the only businesses out there that’s hiring more and more. You’re seeing more robots are in grocery store aisles cleaning after we all supposedly go home…”

 

“One thing I’ve been saying is that we’re going to see something like 10 years of change in 10 weeks, because businesses are being put in a position where it makes sense to speed up a lot of the automation that they were considering investing in.”

 

“The fact is right now this virus is the perfect environment for companies to get rid of people, bring in robots and machines, and figure out how they can operate more efficiently.”

 

“My kids are at home just like everyone else’s kids and they’re getting taught online…they’re going to be many, many families that actually make a different determination where they actually say, “Hey, this online thing is working well.”

 

“If you can find a way to, frankly, make yourself useful from afar, that’s going to be something that unfortunately we all have to think about more and more.”

 

“I think at this point it’s actually going to need to be a bit higher than that, because the $1,000 a month is enough for baseline needs for at least most of us, but the economy is going to become even more inhuman and punishing, both during this crisis and afterwards.”

 

“… I’d be looking at something higher than $1,000 a month that would be more robust & helping people not just be able to meet their needs, but also have a real path forward.”

 

“we’re going to be dealing with the consequences of this crisis for years to come, and we need a Marshal Plan style initiative to rebuild the country… helping create that vision for what America in 2022, 2023, is going to look like after we have a vaccine in place.”

March 31 2020, Business Insider: “RESTAURANT APOCALYPSE: More than 110,000 restaurants expect to close up forever in the coming weeks, with millions out of work and the industry’s future uncertain.”

And while the Amazonification of our economy ploughs full steam ahead, independent shops and services are pounded into dust, while public services are shut down, opening the door for further privatization. While prepping the citizenry for coming and required “certifications”, the deliberate and violent contraction of the economy continues. The decimation of small enterprise with monetary wealth directed, again, upward. McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart (“essential services”) remain open while small business is forced to remain closed. On April 13 2020, Amazon announced they would hire Amazon will hire an additional 75,000 workers to keep up with its soaring volume of online sales.

 

Andrew Yang, Twitter, April 9, 2020: "Investors pay for returns not jobs."

Andrew Yang, Twitter, April 9, 2020: “Investors pay for returns not jobs.”

 

"Wow. Pope Francis today: 'This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.' Game-changing."

“Wow. Pope Francis today: ‘This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.’ Game-changing.”

 

A brilliant idea: We all live on $1,000 a month – when Klaus Schwab, Andrew Yang, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Bezos, et al. – live on $1,000 a month. The rich are dangerous, calculating, insane hypocrites.

April 12 2020, Business Insider: “Pope Francis says it might be ‘time to consider a universal basic wage’ in Easter letter”:

“In an Easter letter to leaders of prominent social movements, Pope Francis suggested that it might be time for countries to consider a universal basic wage.

 

“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out,” The Pope wrote in his letter.

 

Over a dozen countries are implementing or experimenting with some form of temporary or permanent universal basic income in response to the current economic devastation and massive unemployment.”

Feb 28 2020, Business Insider:

“The pope has joined forces with Microsoft and IBM to create a doctrine for ethical AI and facial recognition. Here’s how the Vatican wants to shape AI.”

The Pope’s collaboration with corporate giant Microsoft and the Vatican Bank is deep into social impact investing. Citizens on UBI [Universal Basic Income] will still require privatized public services – a massive impact market. [Source]

Impact investing is predicated on turning people into investments as human capital. [Further reading]

Middle class? They’re coming after you too.

Oct 18 2019, Slate MoneyBox, Andrew Yang Keeps Talking About the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What the Heck Is That?:

“Yang likes branding. He calls his marquee policy idea—a UBI of $1,000 a month—a “freedom dividend.” …And lately, he can’t stop talking about “the fourth industrial revolution.”

 

“The fourth industrial revolution is the shorthand Yang now uses to describe the wave of massive technological change that he believes has decimated manufacturing employment and will soon automate away millions of American jobs.”

 

“The fourth industrial revolution is now migrating from manufacturing workers to retail, call centers, transportation, as well as to white-collar workers like attorneys, pharmacists, and radiologists…”

 

“In a World Economic Forum video from 2016, experts offered up predictions such as ‘Our bodies will be so high-tech we won’t really be able to distinguish between what’s natural and what’s artificial…'”

 

“It’s self-serious, Star Trek–style sci-fi for people who wear expensive suits and maybe have an endowed lab at Harvard. These are the intellectual waters Yang swims in, and that’s disconcerting. Aside from the fact that these conferences tend to be pretty intellectually bankrupt”—even JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has joked that “Davos is where billionaires tell millionaires about what the middle class feels”—they by definition reflect the interests and values of the global capitalist class.”

June 20 2019, World Economic Forum: “Can UBI survive financialization?”:

“Following this pattern, by providing a stable income stream and thus a reliable form of collateral, paid by the state, UBI would strengthen and even create financial markets, particularly for consumer credit, mortgages, and pensions. Far from serving as a revolutionary route to freedom from the whip of the market, UBI may end up yoking all citizens to rentier capital through indebtedness.”

Jan 31 2019, Wrench in the Gears, “Good Guy in Davos? Not So Fast”:

” This panel and the viral video clips flying around the internet are a brand-building exercise for Bergman’s neoliberal snake oil. If UBI is implemented in the current climate of austerity, economic precarity, and social entrepreneurship, you can be sure payments will be linked to digital identity to track “impact.” That $1,000 a month distribution will be just enough to scrape by. But hey, you’ll be able to sell personal data if you want more than gruel for dinner. Check out the Netherlands’ foray into personal data curation via the DecodeProject.eu here. It’s being run in partnership with NESTA, the global impact innovation unit out of the UK.”

March 26 2020, The London Freepress: “Keep it quiet, but universal basic income is coming”:

“You think that after six months or a year of this we will just go back tamely to the old economic rules? I rather doubt it.”

 

The rise of fascism & the 2nd World War required the creation of the full welfare state… The current emergency may be fostering the rise of ideas previously seen as too radical to contemplate…”

July 31, 2017, World Economic Forum, “We should let the robots take our jobs – and then pay us all a basic income”:

“As developments in artificial intelligence and robotics advance, there is going to be a severe and swift disruption of many working classes.”

 

“UBI, an economic proposition in which a sum of money is regularly paid to a population, could be a vital bulwark against the unintended consequences of automation in the workforce.”

 

“Companies will profit significantly from workforce automation, so the private sector will be able to afford shouldering this burden, while at the same time still making greater profits.”

 

“After all, a full-time human has needs: 30 minutes for lunch each day, vacation and sick time, toilet breaks, and health benefits, to name a few. Meanwhile, an automated worker would only require an initial installation and the occasional repair or upgrade.”

 

“The BCG report stated that a human welder today is paid around $25 an hour (including benefits) versus the equivalent operating cost of around $8 for a robot.”

 

“In 15 years, that gap will widen even more dramatically,” the report states. “The operating cost per hour for a robot doing similar welding tasks could plunge to as little as $2 when performance improvements are factored in.”

 

“This trend will only continue to accelerate. McDonald’s, an early pioneer of automation, is already replacing human workers with automated kiosks. They expect a 5% to 9% return on investment in just the first year; in 2019 they expect this return to balloon to double digits.”

 

“And this is only one sector: PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that 38% of US jobs will be in danger of being replaced by automation by 2030.”

 

“Companies that automate their workforces should be taxed on these new massive profits, and some of the resulting capital given back to workers by the government in the form of UBI.”

 

“While the idea of a UBI is popular—Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have all championed it—how exactly would a universal basic income be engineered?

 

“Large swaths of laborers are going to lose their jobs, leading to unprecedented levels of unemployment.”

That moment has arrived.

March 18 2020: Over 500 academics and public figures called on governments to implement universal basic income via an open letter: “It is time for governments to enact emergency universal basic income, ensuring that everyone in their jurisdiction has enough money to buy the food and other essentials they need to survive.”

 Close to 50% of all U.S. jobs may be automated this decade. Globally? Over 50% by 2055. A disposable working class.

Close to 50% of all U.S. jobs may be automated this decade. Globally? Over 50% by 2055. A disposable working class.

 

McKinsey places the number of jobs to be replaced by automation at close to 50% by 2030. The COVID-19 virus provides an opportune moment to push the envelope of automation forward.

April 9 2020: “Global statistics reported by UNESCO reveal that since the last week of March roughly 1.7 billion students from pre-primary to tertiary education levels are out of school, affecting 91.3 percent of all enrolled learners and including every student in 188 countries that have mandated nationwide closures. With most schools set to remain closed through the rest of the current academic year, the scale of these closures is unprecedented in the history of world capitalism.”

We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first & foremost. Further, it is imperative to recognize that the UN & UN agencies, inclusive of the WHO (WEF/Gates), exist in name only. The WEF is at the helm of a consolidation of global power.

We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first & foremost. Further, it is imperative to recognize that the UN & UN agencies, inclusive of the WHO (WEF/Gates), exist in name only. The WEF is at the helm of a consolidation of global power.

 

January 2020, World Economic Forum: “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

March 2020, McKinsey & Co: “Beyond coronavirus: The path to the next normal”:

“The crisis will reveal not just vulnerabilities but opportunities to improve the performance of businesses. Leaders will need to reconsider which costs are truly fixed versus variable, as the shutting down of huge swaths of production sheds light on what is ultimately required versus nice to have. Decisions about how far to flex operations without loss of efficiency will likewise be informed by the experience of closing down much of global production. Opportunities to push the envelope of technology adoption will be accelerated by rapid learning about what it takes to drive productivity when labor is unavailable. The result: a stronger sense of what makes business more resilient to shocks, more productive, and better able to deliver to customers.”

April 4, 2020: “This pandemic has optimized the “testing” of robots and drones in broad daylight …Zoom’s video conferencing platform has detonated in popularity as stay-at-home commands have cleared the globe and some of the credit for having the option to keep up with demand goes to automation…’We have automation set up so we can rapidly scale our foundation, the network as well as the compute infrastructure with next to no human intercession’… the organization is getting enthusiasm for purchasing robots to clean office spaces, production floors, retail locations, grocery stores, airports, lodgings and cafés.” [Source]

March 23 2020, CNBC, “Inside the hospital in China where coronavirus patients were treated by robots”

“The idea of humanoid robots taking jobs previously done by humans may feel dystopian, but in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, robots can free up human hospital medical staff and limit the possibility virus spread…

 

For a time in March, “a previously human-run field hospital located inside Hong Shan Sports Center located in Wuhan was converted … into a robot-led field hospital staffed entirely by robots and other smart [Internet of Things] devices,” CloudMinds CEO and founder Bill Huang tells CNBC Make It, in a statement…

 

Called HARIX (Human Augmented Robot Intelligence with eXtreme Reality), “this AI platform, synced with smart bracelets and rings worn by patients, was able to monitor patient vital signs (including temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen levels), allowing doctors and nurses outside the facility to monitor all patient vital information remotely on one interface…”

April 7, 2020: Morningstar: “Spain to become first European country to introduce Universal Basic Income”.

Jan 26 2018, World Economic Forum, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World Global Agenda”:

“… with some economists suggesting that automation could potentially replace over half of all jobs by 2055… the disruption to workers’ lives will be significant.”

Sep 24 2019, António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations:

“And we must look at the 2030 Agenda not through the prism of the economy of the last decade, but the economy of the next decade, seizing the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and safeguarding against its dangers.”

Here it is important to note that also on March 11, 2020, the World Economic Forum announced a partnership with the WHO (a UN agency) to form the COVID-19 Action Platform – a task-force comprised of over 200 corporations at launch, which as has “soared to 726“, as of March 28, 2020. This is in addition to the World Economic Forum partnership with the United Nations on June 13, 2019. This is the consolidation of global power, happening in real time.

April 7 2020, CNN: “Grocery stores turn to robots during the coronavirus”:

“Walmart, the country’s largest retailer & private employer, will have Brain Corp’s self-driving robots in 1,860 of its more than 4,700 US stores by the end of the year.”

 

“Workers manually picking, bagging and delivering is costly for grocers, and employees picking orders can clog up aisles.”

 

“Takeoff Technologies… has seen a double-digit increase in orders since the crisis began. “Robots handle a majority of the leg-work when fulfilling orders, meaning there is limited contact with grocery items… The process is “well suited” for social distancing.”

 

“In the retail industry, “margin pressure has made automation a requirement, not a choice,” according to McKinsey. ‘Automation will disproportionately disrupt retail.'”

March 25 2020, CNN: “Robots could help us combat future pandemics. Here’s how experts wish they could help us now”:

“Experts agree that robots could take over the “dull, dirty and dangerous” jobs humans are currently fulfilling.

 

Countries such as China have already deployed robots to assist with certain tasks during the pandemic, like taking people’s temperatures…

 

Robots currently used for other applications could be repurposed to handle dangerous tasks that involve a risk of infection. And the coronavirus pandemic serves as a teachable moment…

 

“Robots have the potential to be deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls,” …

 

They can be used to take temperatures of people in public areas or at ports of entry, collect nasal and throat samples for testing, act as telemedicine assistants, handle contaminated waste and even monitor compliance with voluntary quarantines.

 

The editorial also addresses remote operations that allow work and socioeconomic functions to continue. The authors call for robotics that could assist with manufacturing or operating power and waste treatment plants, doing the hands-on work and allowing people to remotely operate them.

 

Remote presence robots could also stand in the place of someone in a meeting, basically providing their presence through a video screen.

 

“COVID-19 may become the tipping point of how future organizations operate,” the researchers wrote. “Rather than cancelling large international exhibitions and conferences, new forms of gathering — virtual rather than in-person attendance — may increase. Virtual attendees may become accustomed to remote engagement via a variety of local robotic avatars and controls.”

 

The pandemic is also highlighting a need for assistance and social robots to help those at home, especially the elderly.

 

Social robots can not only monitor patients and make sure they adhere to treatments, but provide much-needed social interactions as well.”

In addition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution 2020 reset, we have the coming “New Deal For Nature” to be implemented at years  end, or perhaps sooner under the pretext of emergency measures. The feigned concern for climate and biodiversity by those that serve them, is, to be blunt, complete bullshit. There is nothing to be found within the Fourth Industrial Revolution dystopia in regard to nature – other than her financialization and objectification. She too will be placed on the blockchain. Here, man’s arrogance is on full display – with plans to cover the Earth’s surface with artificial forests and drone bees, while cordoning off what they have not yet plundered – for their own personal leisure.

Source: UNLOCKING THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH STORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ACCELERATING CLIMATE ACTION IN URGENT TIMES, August, 2018 New Climate Economy c/o World Resources Institute

Source: UNLOCKING THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH STORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ACCELERATING CLIMATE ACTION IN URGENT TIMES, August, 2018, New Climate Economy (World Resources Institute)

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the monetization of nature, is being rolled out in lockstep with the deployment of central bank digital currency (CBDC). This is a global transformation of the economic system. Consider nature “valued” at 125 trillion vs. GDP at 85.9 trillion (2018). “Natural Capital” accounting will replace GDP.

 

 

“Coronavirus hysteria provides cover for introducing UBI, a grand theft from the working class…. Notorious fraudster Johann Hari is now touting the UBI scam as an “anti-depressant.”[@cordeliers on Twitter]

April 10, 2020, Newsday: “Pandemic strengthens the case for universal basic income”:

“Subsidizing low-wage work depresses wages by essentially allowing employers to pay less than a livable wage, so EITC-type benefits are at least in part a transfer to employers, rather than workers.”

April 3, 2020, The Wall Street Journal: “Henry Kissinger – The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”:

“Democracies need to sustain their Enlightenment values. Without balancing power with legitimacy, social contract will disintegrate. Yet the issue of legitimacy can’t be settled at same time as this “plague”….Priorities must be established.”

Nov 15 2016, Socialist Project: “Ontario’s Austerity Government Sets Basic Income Trap”:

“While a progressive Basic Income is not on the cards, its free market evil twin is a real and very dangerous possibility. Under this neoliberal model, an inadequate and dwindling BI payment is provided that absolves low wage employers from the obligation of paying living wages and becomes the only element of social provision left in place. You become a customer shopping in a market place of privatized services. Who could really deny that this right wing version is much closer to presently unfolding reality than the hopes and dreams of left BI enthusiasts?”

Jan 2 2017, Socialist Project: “Basic Income -Progressive Dreams Meet Neoliberal Realities”

“Basic Income, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale.”

 

“It’s really about the commodification of social provision. Your payment may actually be less conditional and somewhat larger but, as you shop through the privatized remains of the social infrastructure, with inadequate means and very few rights, you are dramatically worse off…

 

… it is sometimes asserted that an adequate system of provision must be put in place simply because we are moving toward a “workless future.” In such a society, it is suggested, masses of people who have been displaced will have to be provided for and the capitalists will have to think like Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors and support BI because it is the only sensible and rational solution. To imagine such responsible provision for the future is to place undue faith in a system based on the making of profit. If they won’t stop building pipelines in the face of environmental catastrophe, there’s little reason to expect them to worry too much about sensible solutions to technological displacement. There simply is no post-capitalist capitalism and no social policy innovation that is going to bring it about…

 

I am suggesting that our movements need to challenge, rather than come to terms with, the neoliberal order and the capitalist system that has produced it. For all its claims to be a sweeping measure, the notion of progressive BI is a futile attempt to make peace with that system. In reality, even that compromise is not available. The model of BI that governments are working on in their social policy laboratories will not ‘end the tyranny of the labour market’ but render it more dreadful. The agenda of austerity and privatization requires a system of income support that renders people as powerless and desperate as possible in the face of exploitation and that won’t change if it is relabelled as “Basic Income”.”

When we all start to literally starve (some already have, and many more have been for decades), perhaps then – we will eat the rich.

The question is this? Do you still believe that these people actually give a flying fuck about your health?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot come into fruition without the 5G infrastructure that will run the Internet of Things. “Smart” cities must be understood within the context of global policing and the military industrial complex. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the twenty-first century.

This is class war.

In closing:

The future, is now on our doorstep: All “human capital” is to be controlled “via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G / IoT [Internet of Things]/ AR [augmented reality] environment. The billionaire class has built & is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The tech that underlies this 4IR automation will hasten the death of the planet. World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control & domination of humanity & the planet… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.” – Independent researcher Alison Hawver McDowell, Wrench in the Gears

 

Further reading:

Q: What does Imperial College, the World Economic Forum (WEF), Salesforce, Sinovation Ventures (Chinese technology venture capital), ABB (automation technology), global artificial intelligence (AI), all have in common?

A: Vaccines, emerging markets, gene editing – via the Fourth Industrial Revolution:

https://www.facebook.com/cory.morningstar.5/posts/10163663016445554

Global capital intends to turn our children (& all life) into data commodities. The intent is portfolios of human capital – children as human capital data. All life will be commodified on blockchain, linking behaviour to benefits:

https://www.facebook.com/cory.morningstar.5/posts/10163687281020554

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

The Atlantic

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE

 

By Wil S. Hylton

 

Mining robots, such as these, will help unlock a subsea gold rush. Source: World Economic Forum

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

Today, many of the largest mineral corporations in the world have launched underwater mining programs. On the west coast of Africa, the De Beers Group is using a fleet of specialized ships to drag machinery across the seabed in search of diamonds. In 2018, those ships extracted 1.4 million carats from the coastal waters of Namibia; in 2019, De Beers commissioned a new ship that will scrape the bottom twice as quickly as any other vessel. Another company, Nautilus Minerals, is working in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea to shatter a field of underwater hot springs lined with precious metals, while Japan and South Korea have embarked on national projects to exploit their own offshore deposits. But the biggest prize for mining companies will be access to international waters, which cover more than half of the global seafloor and contain more valuable minerals than all the continents combined.

Regulations for ocean mining have never been formally established. The United Nations has given that task to an obscure organization known as the International Seabed Authority, which is housed in a pair of drab gray office buildings at the edge of Kingston Harbour, in Jamaica. Unlike most UN bodies, the ISA receives little oversight. It is classified as “autonomous” and falls under the direction of its own secretary general, who convenes his own general assembly once a year, at the ISA headquarters. For about a week, delegates from 168 member states pour into Kingston from around the world, gathering at a broad semicircle of desks in the auditorium of the Jamaica Conference Centre. Their assignment is not to prevent mining on the seafloor but to mitigate its damage—selecting locations where extraction will be permitted, issuing licenses to mining companies, and drafting the technical and environmental standards of an underwater Mining Code.

Writing the code has been difficult. ISA members have struggled to agree on a regulatory framework. While they debate the minutiae of waste disposal and ecological preservation, the ISA has granted “exploratory” permits around the world. Some 30 mineral contractors already hold licenses to work in sweeping regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. One site, about 2,300 miles east of Florida, contains the largest system of underwater hot springs ever discovered, a ghostly landscape of towering white spires that scientists call the “Lost City.” Another extends across 4,500 miles of the Pacific, or roughly a fifth of the circumference of the planet. The companies with permits to explore these regions have raised breathtaking sums of venture capital. They have designed and built experimental vehicles, lowered them to the bottom, and begun testing methods of dredging and extraction while they wait for the ISA to complete the Mining Code and open the floodgates to commercial extraction.

At full capacity, these companies expect to dredge thousands of square miles a year. Their collection vehicles will creep across the bottom in systematic rows, scraping through the top five inches of the ocean floor. Ships above will draw thousands of pounds of sediment through a hose to the surface, remove the metallic objects, known as polymetallic nodules, and then flush the rest back into the water. Some of that slurry will contain toxins such as mercury and lead, which could poison the surrounding ocean for hundreds of miles. The rest will drift in the current until it settles in nearby ecosystems. An early study by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences predicted that each mining ship will release about 2 million cubic feet of discharge every day, enough to fill a freight train that is 16 miles long. The authors called this “a conservative estimate,” since other projections had been three times as high. By any measure, they concluded, “a very large area will be blanketed by sediment to such an extent that many animals will not be able to cope with the impact and whole communities will be severely affected by the loss of individuals and species.”

At the ISA meeting in 2019, delegates gathered to review a draft of the code. Officials hoped the document would be ratified for implementation in 2020. I flew down to observe the proceedings on a balmy morning and found the conference center teeming with delegates. A staff member ushered me through a maze of corridors to meet the secretary general, Michael Lodge, a lean British man in his 50s with cropped hair and a genial smile. He waved me toward a pair of armchairs beside a bank of windows overlooking the harbor, and we sat down to discuss the Mining Code, what it will permit and prohibit, and why the United Nations is preparing to mobilize the largest mining operation in the history of the world.

Until recently, marine biologists paid little attention to the deep sea. They believed its craggy knolls and bluffs were essentially barren. The traditional model of life on Earth relies on photosynthesis: plants on land and in shallow water harness sunlight to grow biomass, which is devoured by creatures small and large, up the food chain to Sunday dinner. By this account, every animal on the planet would depend on plants to capture solar energy. Since plants disappear a few hundred feet below sea level, and everything goes dark a little farther down, there was no reason to expect a thriving ecosystem in the deep. Maybe a light snow of organic debris would trickle from the surface, but it would be enough to sustain only a few wayward aquatic drifters.

That theory capsized in 1977, when a pair of oceanographers began poking around the Pacific in a submersible vehicle. While exploring a range of underwater mountains near the Galápagos Islands, they spotted a hydrothermal vent about 8,000 feet deep. No one had ever seen an underwater hot spring before, though geologists suspected they might exist. As the oceanographers drew close to the vent, they made an even more startling discovery: A large congregation of animals was camped around the vent opening. These were not the feeble scavengers that one expected so far down. They were giant clams, purple octopuses, white crabs, and 10-foot tube worms, whose food chain began not with plants but with organic chemicals floating in the warm vent water.

For biologists, this was more than curious. It shook the foundation of their field. If a complex ecosystem could emerge in a landscape devoid of plants, evolution must be more than a heliological affair. Life could appear in perfect darkness, in blistering heat and a broth of noxious compounds—an environment that would extinguish every known creature on Earth. “That was the discovery event,” an evolutionary biologist named Timothy Shank told me. “It changed our view about the boundaries of life. Now we know that the methane lakes on one of Jupiter’s moons are probably laden with species, and there is no doubt life on other planetary bodies.”

Shank was 12 years old that winter, a bookish kid in North Carolina. The early romance of the space age was already beginning to fade, but the discovery of life near hydrothermal vents would inspire a blossoming of oceanography that captured his imagination. As he completed a degree in marine biology, then a doctorate in ecology and evolution, he consumed reports from scientists around the world who found new vents brimming with unknown species. They appeared far below the surface—the deepest known vent is about three miles down—while another geologic feature, known as a “cold seep,” gives rise to life in chemical pools even deeper on the seafloor. No one knew how far down the vents and seeps might be found, but Shank decided to focus his research on the deepest waters of the Earth.

Scientists divide the ocean into five layers of depth. Closest to the surface is the “sunlight zone,” where plants thrive; then comes the “twilight zone,” where darkness falls; next is the “midnight zone,” where some creatures generate their own light; and then there’s a frozen flatland known simply as “the abyss.” Oceanographers have visited these layers in submersible vehicles for half a century, but the final layer is difficult to reach. It is known as the “hadal zone,” in reference to Hades, the ancient Greek god of the underworld, and it includes any water that is at least 6,000 meters below the surface—or, in a more Vernian formulation, that is 20,000 feet under the sea. Because the hadal zone is so deep, it is usually associated with ocean trenches, but several deepwater plains have sections that cross into hadal depth.

Deepwater plains are also home to the polymetallic nodules that explorers first discovered a century and a half ago. Mineral companies believe that nodules will be easier to mine than other seabed deposits. To remove the metal from a hydrothermal vent or an underwater mountain, they will have to shatter rock in a manner similar to land-based extraction. Nodules are isolated chunks of rocks on the seabed that typically range from the size of a golf ball to that of a grapefruit, so they can be lifted from the sediment with relative ease. Nodules also contain a distinct combination of minerals. While vents and ridges are flecked with precious metal, such as silver and gold, the primary metals in nodules are copper, manganese, nickel, and cobalt—crucial materials in modern batteries. As iPhones and laptops and electric vehicles spike demand for those metals, many people believe that nodules are the best way to migrate from fossil fuels to battery power.

The ISA has issued more mining licenses for nodules than for any other seabed deposit. Most of these licenses authorize contractors to exploit a single deepwater plain. Known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, or CCZ, it extends across 1.7 million square miles between Hawaii and Mexico—wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen companies will accelerate their explorations in the CCZ to industrial-scale extraction. Their ships and robots will use vacuum hoses to suck nodules and sediment from the seafloor, extracting the metal and dumping the rest into the water. How many ecosystems will be covered by that sediment is impossible to predict. Ocean currents fluctuate regularly in speed and direction, so identical plumes of slurry will travel different distances, in different directions, on different days. The impact of a sediment plume also depends on how it is released. Slurry that is dumped near the surface will drift farther than slurry pumped back to the bottom. The circulating draft of the Mining Code does not specify a depth of discharge. The ISA has adopted an estimate that sediment dumped near the surface will travel no more than 62 miles from the point of release, but many experts believe the slurry could travel farther. A recent survey of academic research compiled by Greenpeace concluded that mining waste “could travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometers.”

Like many deepwater plains, the CCZ has sections that lie at hadal depth. Its eastern boundary is marked by a hadal trench. No one knows whether mining sediment will drift into the hadal zone. As the director of a hadal-research program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, Timothy Shank has been studying the deep sea for almost 30 years. In 2014, he led an international mission to complete the first systematic study of the hadal ecosystem—but even Shank has no idea how mining could affect the hadal zone, because he still has no idea what it contains. If you want a sense of how little we know about the deep ocean, how difficult it is to study, and what’s at stake when industry leaps before science, Shank’s research is a good place to start.

Ifirst met shank about seven years ago, when he was organizing the international mission to survey the hadal zone. He had put together a three-year plan to visit every ocean trench: sending a robotic vehicle to explore their features, record every contour of topography, and collect specimens from each. The idea was either dazzling or delusional; I wasn’t sure which. Scientists have enough trouble measuring the seabed in shallower waters. They have used ropes and chains and acoustic instruments to record depth for more than a century, yet 85 percent of the global seabed remains unmapped—and the hadal is far more difficult to map than other regions, since it’s nearly impossible to see.

If it strikes you as peculiar that modern vehicles cannot penetrate the deepest ocean, take a moment to imagine what it means to navigate six or seven miles below the surface. Every 33 feet of depth exerts as much pressure as the atmosphere of the Earth, so when you are just 66 feet down, you are under three times as much pressure as a person on land, and when you are 300 feet down, you’re subjected to 10 atmospheres of pressure. Tube worms living beside hydrothermal vents near the Galápagos are compressed by about 250 atmospheres, and mining vehicles in the CCZ have to endure twice as much—but they are still just half as far down as the deepest trenches.

Building a vehicle to function at 36,000 feet, under 2 million pounds of pressure per square foot, is a task of interstellar-type engineering. It’s a good deal more rigorous than, say, bolting together a rover to skitter across Mars. Picture the schematic of an iPhone case that can be smashed with a sledgehammer more or less constantly, from every angle at once, without a trace of damage, and you’re in the ballpark—or just consider the fact that more people have walked on the moon than have reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth.

The first two people descended in 1960, using a contraption owned by the U.S. Navy. It seized and shuddered on the descent. Its window cracked as the pressure mounted, and it landed with so much force that it kicked up a cloud of silt that obscured the view for the entire 20 minutes the pair remained on the bottom. Half a century passed before the film director James Cameron repeated their journey, in 2012. Unlike the swaggering billionaire Richard Branson, who was planning to dive the Mariana in a cartoonish vehicle shaped like a fighter jet, Cameron is well versed in ocean science and engineering. He was closely involved in the design of his submarine, and sacrificed stylistic flourishes for genuine innovations, including a new type of foam that maintains buoyancy at full ocean depth. Even so, his vessel lurched and bucked on the way down. He finally managed to land, and spent a couple of hours collecting sediment samples before he noticed that hydraulic fluid was leaking onto the window. The vehicle’s mechanical arm began to fail, and all of the thrusters on its right side went out—so he returned to the surface early, canceled his plan for additional dives, and donated the broken sub to Woods Hole.

A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench
A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth. Most of what we know about its topography has been gathered by sonar. Only three crewed expeditions have reached the bottom. (Data Design Co)
The most recent descent of the Mariana Trench was completed last spring by a private-equity investor named Victor Vescovo, who spent $48 million on a submarine that was even more sophisticated than Cameron’s. Vescovo was on a personal quest to reach the bottom of the five deepest trenches in the world, a project he called “Five Deeps.” He was able to complete the project, making multiple dives of the Mariana—but if his achievement represents a leap forward in hadal exploration, it also serves as a reminder of how impenetrable the trenches remain: a region that can be visited only by the most committed multimillionaire, Hollywood celebrity, or special military program, and only in isolated dives to specific locations that reveal little about the rest of the hadal environment. That environment is composed of 33 trenches and 13 shallower formations called troughs. Its total geographic area is about two-thirds the size of Australia. It is the least examined ecosystem of its size on Earth.Without a vehicle to explore the hadal zone, scientists have been forced to use primitive methods. The most common technique has scarcely changed in more than a century: Expedition ships chug across hundreds of miles to reach a precise location, then lower a trap, wait a few hours, and reel it up to see what’s inside. The limitations of this approach are self-evident, if not comic. It’s like dangling a birdcage out the door of an airplane crossing Africa at 36,000 feet, and then trying to divine, from the mangled bodies of insects, what sort of animals roam the savanna.All of which is to say that Shank’s plan to explore every trench in the world was somewhere between audacious and absurd, but he had assembled a team of the world’s leading experts, secured ship time for extensive missions, and spent 10 years supervising the design of the most advanced robotic vehicle ever developed for deepwater navigation. Called Nereus, after a mythological sea god, it could dive alone—charting a course amid rocky cliffs, measuring their contours with a doppler scanner, recording video with high-definition cameras, and collecting samples—or it could be linked to the deck of a ship with fiber-optic cable, allowing Shank to monitor its movement on a computer in the ship’s control room, boosting the thrusters to steer this way and that, piercing the darkness with its headlamps, and maneuvering a mechanical claw to gather samples in the deep.

I reached out to Shank in 2013, a few months before the expedition began. I wanted to write about the project, and he agreed to let me join him on a later leg. When his ship departed, in the spring of 2014, I followed online as it pursued a course to the Kermadec Trench, in the Pacific, and Shank began sending Nereus on a series of dives. On the first, it descended to 6,000 meters, a modest target on the boundary of the hadal zone. On the second, Shank pushed it to 7,000 meters; on the third to 8,000; and on the fourth to 9,000. He knew that diving to 10,000 meters would be a crucial threshold. It is the last full kilometer of depth on Earth: No trench is believed to be deeper than 11,000 meters. To commemorate this final increment and the successful beginning of his project, he attached a pair of silver bracelets to the frame of Nereus, planning to give them to his daughters when he returned home. Then he dropped the robot in the water and retreated to the control room to monitor its movements.

On-screen, blue water gave way to darkness as Nereus descended, its headlamps illuminating specks of debris suspended in the water. It was 10 meters shy of the 10,000-meter mark when suddenly the screen went dark. There was an audible gasp in the control room, but no one panicked. Losing the video feed on a dive was relatively common. Maybe the fiber-optic tether had snapped, or the software had hit a glitch. Whatever it was, Nereus had been programmed to respond with emergency measures. It could back out of a jam, shed expendable weight, guide itself to the surface, and send a homing beacon to help Shank’s team retrieve it.

As the minutes ticked by, Shank waited for those measures to activate, but none did. “There’s no sound, no implosion, no chime,” he told me afterward. “Just … black.” He paced the deck through the night, staring across the Stygian void for signs of Nereus. The following day he finally saw debris surface, and as he watched it rise, he felt his project sinking. Ten years of planning, a $14 million robot, and an international team of experts—it had all collapsed under the crushing pressure of hadal depths.

“I’m not over it yet,” he told me two years later. We were standing on the deck of another ship, 100 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, where Shank was preparing to launch a new robot. The vehicle was no replacement for Nereus. It was a rectilinear hunk of metal and plastic, about five feet high, three feet wide, and nine feet long. Red on top, with a silvery bottom and three fans mounted at the rear, it could have been mistaken for a child’s backyard spaceship. Shank had no illusion that it was capable of hadal exploration. Since the loss of Nereus, there was no vehicle on Earth that could navigate the deepest trenches—Cameron’s was no longer in service, Branson’s didn’t work, and Vescovo’s hadn’t yet been built.

Shank’s new robot did have a few impressive features. Its navigational system was even more advanced than the one in Nereus, and he hoped it would be able to maneuver in a trenchlike environment with even greater precision—but its body was not designed to withstand hadal pressure. In fact, it had never descended more than a few dozen feet below the surface, and Shank knew that it would take years to build something that could survive at the bottom of a trench. What had seemed, just two years earlier, like the beginning of a new era in hadal science was developing a quixotic aspect, and, at 50, Shank could not help wondering if it was madness to spend another decade of his life on a dream that seemed to be drifting further from his reach. But he was driven by a lifelong intuition that he still couldn’t shake. Shank believes that access to the trenches will reveal one of the greatest discoveries in history: a secret ecosystem bursting with creatures that have been cloistered for eternity in the deep.

“I would be shocked if there aren’t vents and seeps in the trenches,” he told me as we bobbed on the water that day in 2016. “They’ll be there, and they will be teeming with life. I think we’ll be looking at hundreds or thousands of species we haven’t seen before, and some of them are going to be huge.” He pictured the hadal as an alien world that followed its own evolutionary course, the unimaginable pressure creating a menagerie of inconceivable beasts. “My time is running out to find them,” he said. “Maybe my legacy will be to push things forward so that somebody else can. We have a third of our ocean that we still can’t explore. It’s embarrassing. It’s pathetic.”

While scientists struggle to reach the deep ocean, human impact has already gotten there. Most of us are familiar with the menu of damages to coastal water: overfishing, oil spills, and pollution, to name a few. What can be lost in the discussion of these issues is how they reverberate far beneath.

Take fishing. The relentless pursuit of cod in the early 20th century decimated its population from Newfoundland to New England, sending hungry shoppers in search of other options. As shallow-water fish such as haddock, grouper, and sturgeon joined the cod’s decline, commercial fleets around the world pushed into deeper water. Until the 1970s, the slimehead fish lived in relative obscurity, patrolling the slopes of underwater mountains in water up to 6,000 feet deep. Then a consortium of fishermen pushed the Food and Drug Administration to change its name, and the craze for “orange roughy” began—only to fade again in the early 2000s, when the fish was on a path toward extinction itself.

Environmental damage from oil production is also migrating into deeper water. Disturbing photographs of oil-drenched beaches have captured public attention since at least 1989, when the Exxon Valdez tanker crashed into a reef and leaked 11 million gallons into an Alaskan sound. It would remain the largest spill in U.S. water until 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon explosion spewed 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. But a recent study revealed that the release of chemicals to disperse the spill was twice as toxic as the oil to animals living 3,000 feet below the surface.

Maybe the greatest alarm in recent years has followed the discovery of plastic floating in the ocean. Scientists estimate that 17 billion pounds of polymer are flushed into the ocean each year, and substantially more of it collects on the bottom than on the surface. Just as a bottle that falls from a picnic table will roll downhill to a gulch, trash on the seafloor gradually makes its way toward deepwater plains and hadal trenches. After his expedition to the trenches, Victor Vescovo returned with the news that garbage had beaten him there. He found a plastic bag at the bottom of one trench, a beverage can in another, and when he reached the deepest point in the Mariana, he watched an object with a large S on the side float past his window. Trash of all sorts is collecting in the hadal—Spam tins, Budweiser cans, rubber gloves, even a mannequin head.

Scientists are just beginning to understand the impact of trash on aquatic life. Fish and seabirds that mistake grocery bags for prey will glut their stomachs with debris that their digestive system can’t expel. When a young whale drifted ashore and died in the Philippines in 2019, an autopsy revealed that its belly was packed with 88 pounds of plastic bags, nylon rope, and netting. Two weeks later, another whale beached in Sardinia, its stomach crammed with 48 pounds of plastic dishes and tubing. Certain types of coral like to eat plastic more than food. They will gorge themselves like a kid on Twinkies instead of eating what they need to survive. Microbes that flourish on plastic have ballooned in number, replacing other species as their population explodes in a polymer ocean.

If it seems trivial to worry about the population statistics of bacteria in the ocean, you may be interested to know that ocean microbes are essential to human and planetary health. About a third of the carbon dioxide generated on land is absorbed by underwater organisms, including one species that was just discovered in the CCZ in 2018. The researchers who found that bacterium have no idea how it removes carbon from the environment, but their findings show that it may account for up to 10 percent of the volume that is sequestered by oceans every year.

Many of the things we do know about ocean microbes, we know thanks to Craig Venter, the genetic scientist most famous for starting a small company in the 1990s to compete with the Human Genome Project. The two-year race between his company and the international collaboration generated endless headlines and culminated in a joint announcement at the White House to declare a tie. But Venter’s interest wasn’t limited to human DNA. He wanted to learn the language of genetics in order to create synthetic microbes with practical features. After his work on the human genome, he spent two years sailing around the world, lowering bottles into the ocean to collect bacteria and viruses from the water. By the time he returned, he had discovered hundreds of thousands of new species, and his lab in Maryland proceeded to sequence their DNA—identifying more than 60 million unique genes, which is about 2,500 times the number in humans. Then he and his team began to scour those genes for properties they could use to make custom bugs.

Venter now lives in a hypermodern house on a bluff in Southern California. Chatting one evening on the sofa beside the door to his walk-in humidor and wine cellar, he described how saltwater microbes could help solve the most urgent problems of modern life. One of the bacteria he pulled from the ocean consumes carbon and excretes methane. Venter would like to integrate its genes into organisms designed to live in smokestacks and recycle emissions. “They could scrub the plant’s CO2 and convert it to methane that can be burned as fuel in the same plant,” he said.

Venter was also studying bacteria that could be useful in medicine. Microbes produce a variety of antibiotic compounds, which they deploy as weapons against their rivals. Many of those compounds can also be used to kill the pathogens that infect humans. Nearly all of the antibiotic drugs on the market were initially derived from microorganisms, but they are losing efficacy as pathogens evolve to resist them. “We have new drugs in development,” Matt McCarthy, an infectious-disease specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College, told me, “but most of them are slight variations on the ones we already had. The problem with that is, they’re easy for bacteria to resist, because they’re similar to something bacteria have developed resistance to in the past. What we need is an arsenal of new compounds.”

Venter pointed out that ocean microbes produce radically different compounds from those on land. “There are more than a million microbes per milliliter of seawater,” he said, “so the chance of finding new antibiotics in the marine environment is high.” McCarthy agreed. “The next great drug may be hidden somewhere deep in the water,” he said. “We need to get to the deep-sea organisms, because they’re making compounds that we’ve never seen before. We may find drugs that could be used to treat gout, or rheumatoid arthritis, or all kinds of other conditions.”

Marine biologists have never conducted a comprehensive survey of microbes in the hadal trenches. The conventional tools of water sampling cannot function at extreme depth, and engineers are just beginning to develop tools that can. Microbial studies of the deepwater plains are slightly further along—and scientists have recently discovered that the CCZ is unusually flush with life. “It’s one of the most biodiverse areas that we’ve ever sampled on the abyssal plains,” a University of Hawaii oceanographer named Jeff Drazen told me. Most of those microbes, he said, live on the very same nodules that miners are planning to extract. “When you lift them off the seafloor, you’re removing a habitat that took 10 million years to grow.” Whether or not those microbes can be found in other parts of the ocean is unknown. “A lot of the less mobile organisms,” Drazen said, “may not be anywhere else.”

Drazen is an academic ecologist; Venter is not. Venter has been accused of trying to privatize the human genome, and many of his critics believe his effort to create new organisms is akin to playing God. He clearly doesn’t have an aversion to profit-driven science, and he’s not afraid to mess with nature—yet when I asked him about the prospect of mining in deep water, he flared with alarm. “We should be very careful about mining in the ocean,” he said. “These companies should be doing rigorous microbial surveys before they do anything else. We only know a fraction of the microbes down there, and it’s a terrible idea to screw with them before we know what they are and what they do.”

The Clarion-Clipperton Zone is a deepwater plain wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen contractors could begin commercial extraction there. (La Tigre)

Mining executives insist that their work in the ocean is misunderstood. Some adopt a swaggering bravado and portray the industry as a romantic frontier adventure. As the manager of exploration at Nautilus Minerals, John Parianos, told me recently, “This is about every man and his dog filled with the excitement of the moon landing. It’s like Scott going to the South Pole, or the British expeditions who got entombed by ice.”

Nautilus occupies a curious place in the mining industry. It is one of the oldest companies at work on the seafloor, but also the most precarious. Although it has a permit from the government of Papua New Guinea to extract metal from offshore vents, many people on the nearby island of New Ireland oppose the project, which will destroy part of their marine habitat. Local and international activists have whipped up negative publicity, driving investors away and sending the company into financial ruin. Nautilus stock once traded for $4.45. It is now less than a penny per share.Parianos acknowledged that Nautilus was in crisis, but he dismissed the criticism as naive. Seabed minerals are no different from any other natural resource, he said, and the use of natural resources is fundamental to human progress. “Look around you: Everything that’s not grown is mined,” he told me. “That’s why they called it the Stone Age—because it’s when they started mining! And mining is what made our lives better than what they had before the Stone Age.” Parianos emphasized that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which created the International Seabed Authority, promised “to ensure effective protection for the marine environment” from the effects of mining. “It’s not like the Law of the Sea says: Go out and ravage the marine environment,” he said. “But it also doesn’t say that you can only explore the ocean for science, and not to make money.”The CEO of a company called DeepGreen spoke in loftier terms. DeepGreen is both a product of Nautilus Minerals and a reaction to it. The company was founded in 2011 by David Heydon, who had founded Nautilus a decade earlier, and its leadership is full of former Nautilus executives and investors. As a group, they have sought to position DeepGreen as a company whose primary interest in mining the ocean is saving the planet. They have produced a series of lavish brochures to explain the need for a new source of battery metals, and Gerard Barron, the CEO, speaks with animated fervor about the virtues of nodule extraction.

His case for seabed mining is straightforward. Barron believes that the world will not survive if we continue burning fossil fuels, and the transition to other forms of power will require a massive increase in battery production. He points to electric cars: the batteries for a single vehicle require 187 pounds of copper, 123 pounds of nickel, and 15 pounds each of manganese and cobalt. On a planet with 1 billion cars, the conversion to electric vehicles would require several times more metal than all existing land-based supplies—and harvesting that metal from existing sources already takes a human toll. Most of the world’s cobalt, for example, is mined in the southeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of young children work in labor camps, inhaling clouds of toxic dust during shifts up to 24 hours long. Terrestrial mines for nickel and copper have their own litany of environmental harms. Because the ISA is required to allocate some of the profits from seabed mining to developing countries, the industry will provide nations that rely on conventional mining with revenue that doesn’t inflict damage on their landscapes and people.

Whether DeepGreen represents a shift in the values of mining companies or merely a shift in marketing rhetoric is a valid question—but the company has done things that are difficult to dismiss. It has developed technology that returns sediment discharge to the seafloor with minimal disruption, and Barron is a regular presence at ISA meetings, where he advocates for regulations to mandate low-impact discharge. DeepGreen has also limited its operations to nodule mining, and Barron openly criticizes the effort by his friends at Nautilus to demolish a vent that is still partially active. “The guys at Nautilus, they’re doing their thing, but I don’t think it’s the right thing for the planet,” he told me. “We need to be doing things that have a low impact environmentally.”

By the time i sat down with Michael Lodge, the secretary general of the ISA, I had spent a lot of time thinking about the argument that executives like Barron are making. It seemed to me that seabed mining presents an epistemological problem. The harms of burning fossil fuels and the impact of land-based mining are beyond dispute, but the cost of plundering the ocean is impossible to know. What creatures are yet to be found on the seafloor? How many indispensable cures? Is there any way to calculate the value of a landscape we know virtually nothing about? The world is full of uncertain choices, of course, but the contrast between options is rarely so stark: the crisis of climate change and immiserated labor on the one hand, immeasurable risk and potential on the other.

I thought of the hadal zone. It may never be harmed by mining. Sediment from dredging on the abyssal plains could settle long before it reaches the edge of a trench—but the total obscurity of the hadal should remind us of how little we know. It extends from 20,000 feet below sea level to roughly 36,000 feet, leaving nearly half of the ocean’s depths beyond our reach. When I visited Timothy Shank at Woods Hole a few months ago, he showed me a prototype of his latest robot. He and his lead engineer, Casey Machado, had built it with foam donated by James Cameron and with support from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose engineers are hoping to send a vehicle to explore the aqueous moon of Jupiter. It was a tiny machine, known as Orpheus, that could steer through trenches, recording topography and taking samples, but little else. He would have no way to direct its movements or monitor its progress via a video feed. It occurred to me that if Shank had given up the dream of true exploration in the trenches, decades could pass before we know what the hadal zone contains.

Mining companies may promise to extract seabed metal with minimal damage to the surrounding environment, but to believe this requires faith. It collides with the force of human history, the law of unintended consequences, and the inevitability of mistakes. I wanted to understand from Michael Lodge how a UN agency had made the choice to accept that risk.

“Why is it necessary to mine the ocean?” I asked him.

He paused for a moment, furrowing his brow. “I don’t know why you use the word necessary,” he said. “Why is it ‘necessary’ to mine anywhere? You mine where you find metal.”

I reminded him that centuries of mining on land have exacted a devastating price: tropical islands denuded, mountaintops sheared off, groundwater contaminated, and species eradicated. Given the devastation of land-based mining, I asked, shouldn’t we hesitate to mine the sea?

“I don’t believe people should worry that much,” he said with a shrug. “There’s certainly an impact in the area that’s mined, because you are creating an environmental disturbance, but we can find ways to manage that.” I pointed out that the impact from sediment could travel far beyond the mining zone, and he responded, “Sure, that’s the other major environmental concern. There is a sediment plume, and we need to manage it. We need to understand how the plume operates, and there are experiments being done right now that will help us.” As he spoke, I realized that for Lodge, none of these questions warranted reflection—or anyway, he didn’t see reflection as part of his job. He was there to facilitate mining, not to question the wisdom of doing so.

We chatted for another 20 minutes, then I thanked him for his time and wandered back to the assembly room, where delegates were delivering canned speeches about marine conservation and the promise of battery technology. There was still some debate about certain details of the Mining Code—technical requirements, oversight procedures, the profit-sharing model—so the vote to ratify it would have to wait another year. I noticed a group of scientists watching from the back. They were members of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, which formed in 2013 to confront threats to the deepwater environment. One was Jeff Drazen. He’d flown in from Hawaii and looked tired. I sent him a text, and we stepped outside.

A few tables and chairs were scattered in the courtyard, and we sat down to talk. I asked how he felt about the delay of the Mining Code—delegates are planning to review it again this summer, and large-scale mining could begin after that.

Drazen rolled his eyes and sighed. “There’s a Belgian team in the CCZ doing a component test right now,” he said. “They’re going to drive a vehicle around on the seafloor and spew a bunch of mud up. So these things are already happening. We’re about to make one of the biggest transformations that humans have ever made to the surface of the planet. We’re going to strip-mine a massive habitat, and once it’s gone, it isn’t coming back.”

 

[Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. He has published cover stories for many outlets including The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s, Details, New York, and Outside.]

The Gift that Keeps on Giving To the Ruling Elite: Cognitive Dissonance

Solarian

October 12, 2019

By Guy Crittenden

 

 

It’s been interesting defending my article on Solarian.ca “Not This Kind of Green” on social media.

After I shared the article on Facebook a number of people attacked the post, invariably confounding my invitation that people read Cory Morningstar’s superb multi-part series “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg” with the idea that Morningstar or myself are somehow criticizing the young woman at the center of the recent media phenomenon.

This is ironic, as one of Morningstar’s arguments is that the young pig-tailed girl’s role in fronting the campaign — and her promotion to superstar status by the media and various NGOs, foundations, and political actors (when so many other activists have been sidelined or even jailed) — is to cause  and prevent meaningful debate.

This is a challenging subject to discuss; people come to the table with pre-existing world views, values and assumptions. In order to really grasp Morningstar’s intention, a progressive person (for example) might need to set aside the elements of their own confirmation bias in order to understand that the writer is not making common cause with right-wing reactionary criticisms of Thunberg and unpleasant attacks on the young woman from a personalized “hater” perspective but instead offers a savvy critique of monopoly capitalism and the contemporary network of non-profit agencies, lenders, military equipment suppliers, and deep state agencies that has cooperated on such projects as selling wars around the planet and making perpetual war a reality, expanding the surveillance state to Orwellian proportions, installing an explicitly Neo Nazi government in Ukraine, and a fascist government in Honduras (note that eight out of ten asylum seekers who show up a the US-Mexico border are from that country), and the attempted coups d’etat against socialist governments in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria and other countries.

It’s easy to throw sand in skeptical eyes, also, by deflecting to dead-end win/lose arguments about whether global warming is or is not happening, and the extent to which human activity is causing it. Slogans like “climate change denier” are useful agitprop in that regard; ergo, we have environmental specialists with Ph.D.’s who find they can’t converse about this without being shouted down, if their questions waver even slightly from the orthodoxy. I myself have a boundless interest in learning the truth (whatever it is); orthodoxies? Not so much. (To put it another way, I dislike orthodoxies even if they happen to be right about something.)

 

Protest signs at the Climate Strike action at Queen’s Park, Ontario. Photo by Guy Crittenden

Morningstar’s article series points out that an elite socio-political structure is poised to usurp the broad environmental movement at a critical juncture. No same person would argue we’re not in some kind of crisis. Ecological collapse is certainly underway, hence the disappearance of bees and the so-called “insect apocalypse.” This year the Pacific salmon fishery collapsed in a way that was eerily reminiscent of the Atlantic cod fishery. I could list many other situations, from overfishing and finning of sharks or the bleaching of coral reefs to the imminent extinction of orang-utans as their rainforests are converted into plantations for palm oil and other mono-culture crops. Manmade climate change is a significant narrative thread that’s interwoven with all these issues. An adult conversation is needed about exactly what’s happening and a broad and (very) democratic discussion is needed about optimal solutions — the kind of discussion that’s practically impossible in the current climate, especially with state and corporate media acting as stenographers for agencies like the CIA and the Pentagon.

Awareness is growing that we need to determine what will replace monopoly capitalism, for which the tragedy of the commons is practically baked in. This will involve close scrutiny of the decades of neoconservative and neoliberal policy that’s eroded civil society, enriched elites, inflicted financialization and austerity on domestic and foreign populations, converted much of the former industrial heartland of the United States and the UK into dystopias, and has refashioned the NATO countries (and others) into perpetual war economies. This is precisely the conversation that the aforementioned elites don’t want us to have. This is precisely the conversation against which a clever propaganda narrative is being constructed, utilizing the image of an idealistic young woman. And this is precisely the conversation Morningstar is attempting to instigate.

[John Pilger’s documentary film The New Rulers of the World (2001) meticulously examines how multinational corporations moved in on Indonesia and — in a pattern that’s repeated itself in countless countries from Greece to Jamaica, from Chile to Libya — looted the economy via extractive projects that benefit those companies and international lenders, while greasing the palms of the local ruling class, and do nothing for ordinary citizens who are stuck with staggering public and private debt, and in many cases live in shantytowns. The role of the non-profit sector and NGOs in austerity and neocolonial schemes is poorly understood by the public.]

And so, for that reason, I’m sharing this excellent article from artist and writer Hiroyuki Hamada. “In Defence of Cory Morningstar’s Manufacturing for Consent Series” supports Morningstar’s contention that oligarchic forces are seizing on the climate change narrative (and situation) to eventually implement policies, programs and technocratic solutions that constitute a Hail Mary Pass in perpetuating the very system that gave rise to the climate crisis in the first place.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Similarly, to people mentally conditioned to accept the limited lines of reasoning and possibilities offered within hierarchical capitalism and neo-colonialism, with all their state-sanctioned violence, every environmental problem is a nail for which the obvious solution is an IMF/World Bank-funded megaproject, with bottom-up subsidies flowing to transnational corporations and authoritarian governments loyal to Washington. Australian journalist John Pilger made an excellent documentary — The New Rulers of the World — about how this all works, in the context of the economic colonization of Indonesia. If you like the mega projects described there, that benefited foreign companies and political elites while doing nothing for ordinary people (many of whom live in shantytowns and are now the subject of  austerity programs), you’re going to love what those same elites construct in the name of fighting climate change, all with your consent obtained via propaganda.

If you find this suggestion offensive, if you can’t get past your love of Greta Thunberg to seriously entertain these ideas, consider that perhaps the propaganda is working as intended.

 

 

[Guy Crittenden is an environment and business journalist and award-winning book author (The Year of Drinking Magic: Twelve Ceremonies with the Vine of Souls, Apocryphile Press) based in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada and Principal of Crittenden Communication. Contact Guy at guy@crittendencommunication.com]

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