We took the risk of two shows the same week with different scripts. Human Rights and Earth Rights. The people and the planet. Two things to save, facing two devils: Bullets from militarized racist police and invisible toxins from Monsanto. Eventually we will understand that not-killing each other with racist bullets is the same not-killing the whole biosphere demands... but we don't have the language for that yet.
Last night at Standing With Ferguson with Joan Baez, when my duties as host came, I stumbled at one point with a remark on Earth Rights where the topic should have been Human Rights, and I know I've done the mistake the other way around, too. Life on Earth is writing the script for us, and sometimes we don't get it. My own hapless method is to keep on shouting. Earthalujah!
New week, Reverend Billy, The Stop Shopping Choir and other activists will make a road trip to give thanks in Missouri. We will give thanks for the organic Thanksgiving dinner that will contain no GMOs or other harmful substances that Monsanto produces. We will have that dinner somewhere near Monsanto in order to send a message that we won’t be cowed or fooled into believing Monsanto’s lies. Monsanto must be stopped!
We give thanks to the people of Ferguson, Missouri who are standing up and saying NO MORE POLICE BRUTALITY! Join us in person or vicariously through this blog.
In 2014, the people who have the old-fashioned kind of hope, as in the phrase, “I sure hope that…” – those are the ones who flip hope into hate. Sentimental love of class becomes oppression; hope for one’s race is soon racism; hope for one’s sex is sexism.
Hope is the main product of Consumerism’s super mall. 900 kinds of hope are for sale; hope for youth, for good looks, for wealth, for convenience… When hope is a manufactured thing, yearning for something better is trivialized, and we become passive. We are no longer agile. We are not powerful. We are shopping.
In 2014, they dare the passive consumers to re-dream their hope. Police wait to arrest the appearance of real hope. There is reborn hope in Ferguson, Missouri and the fearful cops are buying armored tanks and submachine guns. They don’t have a chance, not when real hope takes the streets.
We were supposed to show the world that there are many of us... OK alright there are many of us. Many, many citizens who want to save the Earth from the fossil fuel industry and their partners in banking and government. There were not nearly as many of us in the Climate March as, say, New York's Halloween Parade, but who's counting? There are a lot of us who want to survive. On the other hand, the whole thing had a dated quality. We cannot hesitate any longer in this recreational protesting. Will someone give me an Amen?
Now six weeks on, we see that the Society of Spectacle swallows up all counter-spectacles. It was a permitted parade and the New York police routed us so that we would be entertainment for the Clinton Global Initiative. The neo-liberal czars watched us from the penthouses of the Sheraton Hotel on 7th Avenue. We were a street performance with a huge cast of characters, a sort of pornography for them. One of them was Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto, one of the most violent men in the world. Among the sponsors of the conference: the top polluters HSBC, Exxon-Mobil, Deutsch Bank, etc. The NY police routed us in a perfect square-shaped route around their hotel, over on 59th, down 6th Ave, and then west on 42nd.
We should have broken from the march and rushed into the lobby of that "Davos West" hotel, then run up the steps to the VIP lounge to round up the CEO's and their politician toadies at their cocktails. Meanwhile, the Church of Stop Shopping wishes to honor the 25 arrestees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which rubber stamps climate-killing projects of all kinds. We especially applaud the art work they put at FERC’s front door, forcing the employees there to destroy towns and families to go to work. The heart of a social movement is expressive confrontation. Are the wind and waves and fires telling us to be polite? We must punish the sinners! Earthalujah!
"Let me fulminate! Pound the pulpit! Shout at the shaking sinners! The End is Near! The Apocalypse isn't a Movie! Batten down the hatches! Our consumption is consuming us!" ---None of this works.
We are at the end of the impact of persuasion, memes, great graphics and punchy slogans. We now read the last word from the scientists in this new report from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The science can be seen straining at the outer limits of their rhetorical map, with phrases like, "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."
And if you read The Guardian piece, it is noted that the UN officials wanted to go farther, with phrases that actually said outright that we will die.
Conservative forces edited that level of preaching. But coming as it does after the Big Vanilla Smoothie of the People's Climate March, this report seems a rebuke to moderates who still think we can have a movement without direct action. Earthalujah!
I woke up this morning only to find that I had turned into an old wall, overlooking a civic lawn or a field perhaps. My partner Savitri was nowhere to be seen but towering over the bed, and towering of me as a wall, was our daughter Lena, who had apparently designed this landscape while I was asleep. Now any movement by me to get off the bed was met with an astonished scream. "You're the wall! Walls don't move!"
Lena was, this morning in her Hawking-Minelli mode; that is, she has the authority that comes from a working knowledge of the origin of the universe, as does Stephen Hawking, and on the other hand she is never far from a blow-out song and dance routine, in the manner of Liza Minelli. I could only ask Lena questions about the town she created, in which every little bunched up bit of blanket a bodega, every pillow the slope of a park.
In fact I had to pee, but it was pointed out by Hawking-Minelli that WALLS DON'T PEE! Walls hold water back, Lena said. They don't pee they hold rivers back. Oh so I had a field on one side and a river on the other... Blinking out from my predicament while she was constructing her city, I wondered suddenly whether walls do witness the world around them. The world of last night's dreams had just enough proximity to Hawking-Minelli for me to ask the question, "Are the walls watching us?"
The old environmental movement evolves into something new. We are ready for the miracles of wild bravery.
In a social movement that changes society. there needs to be a scary time, a Halloween, a time of beatniks, hippies, punks and gangstas. That is the way it has been in the United States. From the abolitionists to the Dreamers in the immigrants' jails, when someone started to become effective, they were urged to slow down and be polite. People told Dr. King "This isn't the right time!" and then they told Malcolm X "You're offending people..." We need that now, the polite self-effacing era of Bill McKibben needs to give way to the young black radicals of Ferguson, Missouri and the Pennsylvania grandmothers chaining themselves to fracking equipment.
The old issues are necessary talking points, but we're talking too much. "Environmentalism" can no longer exists as a stand alone movement. When we met at the New School this summer in the planning stages of the Peoples Climate March we had a rousing rally in the big hall, and then broke into our "issues" in different university classrooms with labels on the doors like "food safety," and "transportation," and "energy." There were about thirty such issue rooms. I went to food safety, hoping to meet some beekeepers. My class was twenty-two white people and an African American woman from Oxfam. And my classmates were very polite.
The activist wildness must come from a vision of all the issues being one demand. That is why Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have more to do with climate activism than the Wildlife Conservancy. The only issue is that life itself is in peril. That changes everything. Our climate march sessions didn't have a room for "Peace." Or "Children." Or "Consumerism" None of the issues embraced the whole thing the way the Earth embraces us with its super storms. So the climate march got off to a polite start, the emergency muted into a permitted de-politicized parade. The absolute opposite of the climate parade would be the children at the Texas border - and those children are where the Earth Revolution waits to be born.
We are determined to leave our children with a healthy life on this Earth. The intertwined three "C's" - Consumerism, Capitalism and Church, must be wrestled apart, interrupted, and confronted with common sense hardass eco-love. The three C's must not return from the upheaval of compost until they utterly morph. A miracle!
We do not have dominion over the wilderness or even the robin in the window. We cannot hate the "Big Other. " We do not love a "Big God" or "Big Money" or "Big Oil" because they subdue the beings that we fear. And another big thing: Monsanto is the Devil.
As far as I can tell, Lena's love for Savi must rule American foreign policy, the Halloween 2 Day Sale at Macy's, and all the cops hooked on adrenaline and John Wayne movies. Wars must be reduced to bad moods and then thrown on the forest floor to meet the ecstasy of a million one-celled dancers with big mouths. Amen!
The choreography of Consumerism can so easily take us into the dance of standing in line, sitting in class, waiting for jets, movies, clubs. And then the Earth calls us, flooding down from the space between dead skyscrapers, alive with lightning and thunder, birds and gusts of wind in the trees... How do we rise to harmonize with the wilderness that desperately comes to us out of the suffering of extinction, the climate apocalypse?
Tonight two Occupy Wall Street young radicals came to our home. The only idealism that can we can possibly do, all we can try to do... it was there in our eyes as we drank wine, as our children climbed on us and the thunder competed with the sound of jets in our windows.
Occupy Wall Street was 2600 tent cities in the centers of towns and then it was methodically taken down by paranoid police working for propertied rich. But can such a thing just vanish? As the Hong Kong young rise up, and before that Gezi Park and before that a thousand grandmothers standing up to fracking and before that mountaintop removal and tar sands and pipelines all the struggles - we know that in the souls of these people the super storms are stirring.
Occupy Wall Street is right and existing power is wrong. Ordinary people will live together in their commons, and that is all OWS was, and all it ever needs to be. This is the only imaginable future. Living together by sharing people is the death of the neo-liberal elites, and the return of the life of the Earth. Floods and fire, drought and disease are violent, and revolutions are too, but justice is Peace.