It should be easy (and very important) to mock the G-7 politicians who put off the conversion from fossil fuels to 2100, which would seem to be after the apocalypse. NGO’s like Oxfam would counter the national leader’s promise with the usual hopeful-but-scolding public statement. But it is the artists who needed to respond, especially comedians. Russell Brand must have said something, god bless him, but I missed it. What I noticed was a deafening silence. Extractive corporations everywhere let out a big sigh.
The crucial mockery went missing because the cultural world is the most established and tragic climate denier. Why? Why would the arts be conservative on the climate? Think of all the performances that challenged entrenched power. Remember all those revolutions? …the Dadaists and rock and roll, Charley Chaplin in the Great Dictator, the Ghost Dance at the end of the Indian Wars, Sam Cook’s gift of “A Change Is Gonna Come” to Dr. King, the folk-singers and poets of the Peace Movement.
At this moment in time, we have such an overwhelming climate-silence in the United States that you have to look around and wonder – where are the censors? We hear nothing about the earth for months on end. No TV, no music, nothing viral. The public response only comes when a natural disaster hits us so hard that we are forced to look away from the animated disasters in our video games…
Ten months have passed since the Peoples Climate March and the enduring activist event in the USA is Black Lives Matter. The PCM was officially permitted and had little power. The movement against racism and militarism in American police is boiling into a revolution. Black Lives Matter is in the streets, flash-mobbing into symphony halls, super malls and Grand Central Station. The climate movement is officially indoors, law-abiding, not-getting-your-hands-dirty.
The recent climate drama by an American artist is Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”. The space thriller accepts the climate apocalypse of the Earth and it is lavishly deathy. But multiplexes are like museums at this point. The consumer experience is so dominating that the climate emergency dramatized inside the building doesn’t seem to stick with us as we leave. Rather, we get purged by all the special effects and stagger from the theater having had all the climate change we can handle. The outside world of the streets – where social movements have always taken place – is reduced to commuting, headphone-wearing, and the visuals of corporate products.
We know how silent we have been when the cry of a real Planet Crier breaks through. Suddenly there is Gezi Park with its all-night piano in the 606 trees. Yeb Sano cries in front of the power suits at the Warsaw climate conference. The Chilean gauchos-and-environmentalists ride horses for days to save the Patagonian Rivers. Women with trapeze skills hang in bat outfits from refinery towers in New South Wales. The Maldives parliament holds a meeting underwater in scuba gear. The Nigerian mothers back down Chevron with their nakedness. Pussy Riot dances on the altar.
Meanwhile, back in the land of consumerism, we artists aren’t getting that far. We have crowds of books and docs about the earth and they educate us. In 2015, activism must follow education, or why learn? The best artists have work in museums, iPhones, and colleges, but again, it’s 2015 - activism must be the point. We’ve got a lot of facts, aesthetics, perspective – what we lack is the actual change. Chelsea Manning has more to do with a climate movement than another teach-in at the Sierra Club.
There was a day when the comedians, songwriters, and writers were the heralds of change in the West. Now the bullhorn of earth activism has been seized by unlikely citizens who do scary things. I’m thinking of the band of stalwarts who occupied UK’s Tate Modern, writing the words of Margaret Atwood and Naomi Klein on the floor of the Turbine Room. Liberate Tate! Yes! Overwhelm the big museum with climate scrawlings!
As the basic laws of the planet shift, we will outgrow the laws of our art forms, our careers and our uninvolved consumerism. Strange-feeling decisions will be made. “Breaking the frame” is necessary at this time. Put it plain: we must risk arrest. The totalizing culture is so complete that to say something unsanctioned, defending the earth, must be illegal.
The 200 miles an hour wind isn’t legal, and it has the drama we need to get the message. The mudslides and avalanches and floods do not have permits. The droughts and fires uproot us, make us move, like good political art. We have a great teacher.
I was praying at the front gate of the Quaker cemetery, which is canopied with beautiful trees now, when two wealthy-looking kids ran up shouting, "Oh, is the cemetery closed? Why is it closed? Well, that's disappointing. Why don't they open it?" So I said Earthalujah under my breath and walked toward my bike and walked it the end of the path, where the paved street starts, and there was a box of Monsanto 'ROUNDUP' staring at me from the back of a green pickup truck, and two Parks workers measuring the poison, pouring it into a white tank.
I talked with them about all the kids around this part of the park. One of them had an apologetic tone, like sad moaning sort of voice, "We've been experimenting with lemons. There's a way to kill weeds with concentrated lemons..." And later, "The ROUNDUP we use is only 3% Glyphosate and the stuff they sell in Home Depot is 10%." And then, "We're spraying these fire hydrants so the fire-men have easy access if there's a fire." He had arrived at the Rock of Gabraltor of New York moral certitude. Help the fire-men and you're OK. But why not just pull the weeds around the hydrant by hand?
I was so surprised I didn't take a picture. Then I biked after them and took a picture of the truck in the Parks lot. I pushed my bike through the trees and snuck up behind. It was nice to feel illegal, without getting arrested. The Parks guys walked by but they didn't see me in the trees. I saw boxes of ROUNDUP in a shed, but all I had was the cellphone for my picture. I needed a zoom lens for to get that damning logo.
I woke up this morning and turned on the news. TERRORISM
I am so sickened and hurt. I have family in the Charleston area but it doesn't matter whether they were of my blood or not. Lives were lost because of HATE!
I want to be a part of Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy but I'm feeling Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Malcolm X and John Brown have more of the right idea. Deep down inside, I can't fight hate with hate but what do I do? How can I help?
The worst thing about this is that I feel this is just the beginning of some fucked up shit. I hope I'm wrong.
Barbara R. Lee, a singer/activist in the Stop Shopping Choir
In our church we believe that Human rights and Earth rights are the same thing. But black-on-white crime and white-on-black crime are not the same thing, not in this country. Boston was under martial law a year ago. What we get in Charleston is the white male children of confederate soldiers trying to be contrite. The racist south has raised thousands of kids like this one, and armed them. Sorry is not enough. A killer in a black church? You do the math. This is a purpose-filled nightmare. The Earth will remind us to love, but to love with the force of justice. We hear it in the screams in her insistent wind.
"Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. Compulsive consumerism is one example of how the techno-economic paradigm affects individuals. Romano Guardini had already foreseen this: “The gadgets and technics forced upon him by the patterns of machine production and of abstract planning mass man accepts quite simply; they are the forms of life itself. To either a greater or lesser degree mass man is convinced that his conformity is both reasonable and just”. This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume. But those really free are the minority who wield economic and financial power. Amid this confusion, postmodern humanity has not yet achieved a new self-awareness capable of offering guidance and direction, and this lack of identity is a source of anxiety. We have too many means and only a few insubstantial ends. The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness”. When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction." - Pope Francis
Nothing is more important than your love of trespassing on corporate property. Please, please - be unafraid of their fake laws. Bamboozle them with the application of your surreal arts, your sexy boy and your streaming mind. The skyscrapers must become fecund ecosystems. The endless paved mono-culture must break apart and complexify into new life.
It starts with disobeying the corporations false mirage of laws. Don't believe them. They pay actors and lawyers to look at us and chuckle, caress, glide in our hands. That is marketing. Celebities are assholes. Celebrities work for Big Brother. Ordinary citizens like you and I must be the stars of this new blockbuster. It is the movie that no-one pays $15 for but everyone goes to. The revolution is made of flesh, not pixels. It is made of faith with our feet on the ground. It is real.
Steve Jobs and Donald Trump and Barak Obama are barkers at side shows in Coney Island. They have fluorescent fluffy bears for us if we hit the target. Don't buy it. Be an organic part of the latest super storm. Fly ancient trees like spears at the killers. Be a volcano erupting beneath the Monsanto headquaters. Forgive the Halliburton and Coca Cola and Chase middle management and then bring them to the big dance. The Earth is taking over now. It is revolution that is like remembering what we actually always were. I'm going native - are you? Yes? Earthalujah!
For decades we have considered these businessmen regular citizens who simply have a different economic idea. No, in 2015, it is folly to think of people who believe in the magic power of profit-taking as reported quarterly to their invisible investors - as ordinary ambitious citizens. They are zombies. They kill living things and live on our blood.
CEOs of these companies must be surrounded and captured by their workers, who see the light. Police are among these workers. They defend property, power and as we know from recent developments - they defend their white race. The Earth is the main revolutionary here, the source of our power to return these zombies to their hell.
This is an evolutionary OK Corral. The important thing is to remember that this is real life. This is not media zombie-ism. Not the assassins of the Sopranos or Scarface to the Game of Thrones. These are the zombies who walk among us. They wear suits.
They persuade us that they know how to create prosperity. They are killing the Earth and we are the Earth. They are killing us. We will rise up with a counter faith that is so strong that we defend the Earth. A zombie in a business suit has entered my home! I feel his fetid breath, his eyes the color of the bright blue Chase logo! I am defending my loved ones! Earthalujah! EARTHALUJAH!
This week's statement by the G7 in Germany, that we would get around to de-carbonizing the world's economy by the "end of the century." Well that plan was vetted with Davos, Dotcomland and all the corporate Devils, that's for sure. Because this is like saying there's no emergency at all. Giving themselves 85 years to adjust, the leaders of the rich countries have removed any immediacy from the crisis.
Strange that in a few days we also have the "Climate Mobilization," a many-cities gathering of activists who are calling for a World War 2-style mobilization against climate chaos, a right-now radical change in our public policies. As 2400 people die in India's heat-wave and it seems every continent has its apocalypse, this would seem to be a more sensible response. A founder of the Climate Mobilization, Margaret Klein Salamon, will be with us in person in the studio to talk with the Rev, guest co-host Dragonfly, and the Director of the Church of Stopping Savitri D. Nehemiah Luckett, the musical director of the Stop Shopping Choir will be at the piano. Our producer is Jeannie Hopper, assisted by the legendary Reggie Johnson.
The CEO of the industrial ag giant that brought us Agent Orange, PCB's, bovine growth hormones, honey-bee killing neonicotinoids, suicide seeds and all the rest... spoke of his frustration with the bad reputation of Monsanto in the New Yorker last year, in the piece which attempted to assassinate the character of Vandana Shiva. This reminds us of Blackwater USA's attempted escape from its homicidal reputation by taking the completely mysterious name of "Xe".
Monsanto you cannot escape and you won't. GMO farming will be defeated by the Earth's natural powers, as expressed through the humans who join the Earth in the defense of wildness, health, and food free of corporate manipulations and fossil fuels. YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE!
The strange eery quiet of American self-censoring is broken by the veteran rocker Neil Young. When I was a kid singer-songwriters and comedians were the heralds of change. And Neil Y was one of them! Now, here in 2015, he connects Starbucks to Monsanto GMO & toxic pesticides in a straightforward way. The is a rudimentary lesson in moral action. His rock lyrics are rhyming common sense. Neil Young is a special artist and his politics, working with Daryl Hannah - is right on time, just in the nick of time. Neil-a-alujah! We're gonna buy your "The Monsanto Years" album and we'll stay out of Starbucks.