Radical Discourse: A Critical Review of “The Shock Doctrine”

Radical Discourse: A Critical Review of “The Shock Doctrine”

This episode of The Green Flame revolves around a group discussion ofNaomi Klein‘s 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. We discuss the points of the book that are on point, other areas where the book fails, and how in some ways Klein’s own analysis describes how her mainstream climate movement operates.

In this book, Klein describes the spread of neoconservatism (aka neoliberalism, in some cases), and how it has been facilitated by a deliberate strategy of “shock treatments.” The shock treatments, Klein argues, has always required dictatorship for enforcement. Also read an analysis of the book.

Our music for this episode is “Drag the Forests Down” by Foxpockets.

Silence and Darkness

Silence and Darkness

I lay in my bed
Waiting for the soft lull of sleep to embrace me
To take me to the land where dreams come by
I know it won’t come soon
I know she faces the blockades
Obstacles block her way

I wake up to the low drum of the machine
I sleep to the blaring of the neighbor’s TV
Every moment in between is as loud as the other
The horns of vehicles speeding by
The excavators in their pursuit of development
Violence on my brothers and sisters
The rape of the natural world
Does it pierce my ears alone
Or is it my heart that suffers more?

If sleep finds her way through these
Could she also pass the bright night?
The flood light glowing outside my window
Keeps everyone safe, they say.
What dangerous world do we live in?
To keep one safe, ones must die:
The bugs, the plants, the birds, the frogs.
Don’t they know lights kill these all?

Moonlight and fireflies don’t bother me much
Neither does the beetles’ mating calls
I bet I could learn to sleep through
The mosquitoes buzzing around me
I long for the day when these are the only voices
That pierce the silence and darkness of night.

Salonika is an organizer at DGR South Asia and is based in Nepal. She believes that the needs of the natural world should trump the needs of the industrial civilization.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley: The Green Flame Podcast

The Wind That Shakes The Barley: The Green Flame Podcast

This episode of The Green Flame is a group discussion of the 2006 Ken Loach film “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.”

We recommend watching the film before listening to this episode to better understand the discussion. You can view the film for free on Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/TheWindThatShakesTheBarleyFULLMOVIE

The title of the film “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” comes from an Irish ballad written by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1836–1883), a Limerick-born poet and professor of English literature. The song is written from the perspective of a doomed young Wexford rebel who is about to sacrifice his relationship with his loved one and plunge into the cauldron of violence associated with the 1798 rebellion in Ireland. The references to barley in the song derive from the fact that the rebels often carried barley or oats in their pockets as provisions for when on the march. This gave rise to the post-rebellion phenomenon of barley growing and marking the “croppy-holes,” mass unmarked graves into which slain rebels were thrown, symbolizing the regenerative nature of Irish resistance to British rule. As the barley will grow every year in the spring this is said to symbolize Irish resistance to British oppression and that Ireland will never yield and will always oppose British rule on the island.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

I sat within a valley green, I sat there with my true love, My sad heart strove the two between, The old love and the new love, – The old for her, the new that made Me think of Ireland dearly, While soft the wind blew down the glade And shook the golden barley

‘Twas hard the woeful words to frame To break the ties that bound us ‘Twas harder still to bear the shame Of foreign chains around us And so I said, “The mountain glen I’ll seek next morning early And join the brave United Men!” While soft winds shook the barley

While sad I kissed away her tears, My fond arms ’round her flinging, The foeman’s shot burst on our ears, From out the wildwood ringing, – A bullet pierced my true love’s side, In life’s young spring so early, And on my breast in blood she died While soft winds shook the barley!

I bore her to the wildwood screen, And many a summer blossom I placed with branches thick and green Above her gore-stain’d bosom:- I wept and kissed her pale, pale cheek, Then rushed o’er vale and far lea, My vengeance on the foe to wreak, While soft winds shook the barley!

But blood for blood without remorse, I’ve ta’en at Oulart Hollow And placed my true love’s clay-cold corpse Where I full soon will follow; And ’round her grave I wander drear, Noon, night, and morning early, With breaking heart whene’er I hear The wind that shakes the barley!

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About The Green Flame

The Green Flame is a Deep Green Resistance podcast offering revolutionary analysis, skill sharing, and inspiration for the movement to save the planet by any means necessary. Our hosts are Max Wilbert and Jennifer Murnan.

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A Dyson Sphere Will Not Stop Collapse

A Dyson Sphere Will Not Stop Collapse

This is the second in a series of articles reflecting on a recent study which predicts collapse of industrial society within a few decades. In the first essay, Max Wilbert discusses how in the long-run, collapse will benefit both humans and nature alike. This second essay in the series explores a “solution” proposed by the original authors of the study—a “Dyson sphere”—and why it will not save us from a collapse.

By Salonika / DGR Asia-Pacific

A Dyson sphere is a theoretical energy harvesting, a metal sphere that completely encompasses a star, and harnesses 100% of the solar energy. The solar panels that form its membranes would capture and transmit energy to Earth’s surface through microwave or laser. A concept that originated from a science fiction, it has been considered to be the ultimate “solution” to an industrial civilization’s ever increasing demand for energy.

There are a lot of problems with this theoretical solution. The authors of the study themselves are skeptical about the possibility of building a Dyson sphere by the time of their predicted collapse. We are going to deal with this issue in later parts of this series. In this piece, I will explore the improbable scenario that a Dyson sphere is built to fulfill the fantastical visions of the technocrats and whether that could prevent the ensuing collapse.

Is energy crisis the only crisis we are facing?

The obsession of the current environmental movement with renewable energy could easily confuse anyone regarding the scale of the ecological crisis that we are facing. We now witness a mass delusion that the energy crisis is, in fact, the only crisis that civilization is facing. In reality, the energy crisis represents just a facet of the ecological crisis.

Let’s consider global deforestation, which was used in the model for the study. The authors assert that once the Dyson sphere is used to “solve” our energy problems, the global deforestation would halt, ensuring the longevity of human civilization on Earth. This assertion is based on an unstated assumption that forests are being cleared primarily for fuel. As a matter of fact, fuel is only one driver of deforestation. Forests are also cleared for agriculture, cattle ranching, human settlements, buildings, mining, and roads. Unlimited energy does not “solve” or remove these pressures.

The same is true for all other forms of ecocide. Ninety percent of large fish in the oceans are gone, not to exploit their bodies for fuel, but due to overconsumption of fish as food. Bees colonies are collapsing, not for fuel, but, scientists estimate, due to pesticides, malnutrition, electromagnetic radiation, and genetically modified crops. Two hundred species are disappearing every day. That’s one every six minutes. That’s a result of habitat destruction, climate change, overexploitation, and toxification, not the need for energy.

A Dyson sphere (if it is ever created) could solve only the  so-called energy crisis. All the other crises – habitat destruction, toxic environmental pollution, land clearing for agriculture, mining, overexploitation of species, and so on – would still continue. Indeed, the very existence of a Dyson sphere could increase the exploitation of the environment.

How is a Dyson sphere created?

First, a Dyson sphere would bemore massive than Earth itself. It would demands an astronomical (pun intended!) amount of raw materials, particularly metals. Procurement of these raw materials would require resource extraction on an unprecedented scale. Resource extraction (like mining) is one of the primary causes of environmental degradation, including global deforestation. Proponents advocate mitigating this harm by mining asteroids rather than planet Earth, but developing and building the fleet of spacecraft necessary for such an endeavor would necessarily begin on Earth, and would be incredibly harmful. In a single launch, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket emits 1352 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (That’s nearly 300 times what an average car emits every year.)

Once created, a Dyson sphere would also need to be maintained. On average, a solar panel lasts about 25-30 years, after which the amount of energy produced will decline by a significant amount. It means that in every thirty years, the entire Dyson sphere would have to be rebuilt again. Let’s assume that the solar panels of the Dyson sphere would be more durable than the ones we use now. Even so, they will be subjected to different risks, like damage from asteroids or comets. A Dyson sphere would create a perpetual demand for (and, inevitably, overconsumption of) nonrenewable materials.

Additionally, the Dyson sphere could not function on its own. A new set of infrastructures would need to be built in order to utilize the energy harnessed. These include laser beam or microwave transmitters for wireless energy transmission from space to earth, additional photovoltaic cells in Earth to receive the transmitted solar energy, transmission wires (and poles) to supply the energy to industrial areas, and batteries to store the energy for when clouds block microwave transmission.

These building blocks come with additional costs. Wireless transmission of such vast quantities of energy can potentially cause eye and skin damage and other harm to human health, change the weather, and are potential culprits behind bees colony collapse. And what about birds? Traditional transmission lines are a prime cause of deforestation. Photo-voltaic cells usually end up in landfills or are sent to a developing country with lax environmental laws. Creating, maintaining, and disposing of solar panels pollutes the environment at every step.

An Authoritarian Technic

Lewis Mumford distinguishes between authoritarian technics and democratic technics based on whether a piece of technology requires a large-scale hierarchical structure, and whether it reinforces this structure. The Dyson sphere can be considered an authoritarian technic based on both of these criteria. The Dyson sphere requires a massive hierarchical infrastructure to exist in the first place: only specific group of individuals – those who have access and control over these infrastructures – can control its creation. Once created, it will be used to perpetuate the very hierarchical structure that created the conditions for its existence.

A Dyson sphere could exist only in an explicitly human supremacist, and implicitly colonial and patriarchal, culture. It will require resource extraction (primarily mining), on a scale much larger than what we have seen before. Extraction is inherently an ecocidal practice based on forced labor. It has been responsible for the destruction of numerous biospheres, and displacement of both humans and nonhuman communities.

The beneficiaries of this so-called technological “innovation” would be those who are already on the upper rungs of the hierarchical structure. Those on the bottom, on the other hand, would face the consequences. The same is true for other forms of technological innovations that we use every day. Consider a cell phone, for example. For the “haves” of the industrialized society, cell phones are little short of a basic necessity of life, the cost of which are covered by the “have-nots” through perpetual conflicts over resources, forced labor in modern day sweatshops, or even their lives.

The Root of the Problem: Overconsumption

Most importantly, the Dyson sphere does not address the core cause of the civilization’s impending collapse: overconsumption. Despite the claims that technology contributes to efficiency of resource consumption, technology seems to have very little (or even adverse) effect on the global energy consumption. With the exception of 2009 (the year of the global economic recession), consumption has only increased each year since 1990. When the demand for a product is constantly rising, no matter how efficient the production process gets, it will lead to greater consumption of resources.

On the contrary, the authors present a Dyson sphere as a solution to their predicted population collapse. They assume that, the perpetual energy source would lead to a lowered consumption of natural resources, allowing a sustained human population of 10 billion. Even if the culture’s energy demands are met by the perpetual source, in face of a growing (industrialized) human population, we can only presume, the need for more food, more land, more “progress,” and – inevitably – more deforestation.

Furthermore, an implicit (yet obvious) motive for creation of a Dyson sphere is to facilitate our increasing levels of consumption. It will promote an energy intensive way of life. The more energy intensive a way of life is, the more it is based on (over)consumption. In fact, the very existence of a Dyson sphere would demand an exploitation of resources.

A Dyson sphere would not halt deforestation; neither would it stop the acidification of oceans. We’re facing an emergency: an imminent collapse. Many nonhumans have already faced its brutal reality (think about the last member of the species that died while you were reading this article). Now is not the time to indulge in fantasies of a non-existent technology that will salvage the civilization: it is the time to stop whatever is causing the collapse (hint: it’s overconsumption).

Salonika is a member of Deep Green Resistance Asia-Pacific. She believes that the needs of the natural world should trump the wants of the extractive culture.

Featured image: rendering of Dyson swarm by Kevin M. Gill, cc-by-2.0.

Philippine’s Autocrat Passes Draconian “Anti-Terrorism” Law

Philippine’s Autocrat Passes Draconian “Anti-Terrorism” Law

In this article, Salonika and Max expose how the Covid-19 pandemic has enforced suppression of political dissent in the Philippines due to a bill known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which places resistance movements in a pinch. You can also read this piece on the increased surveillance during the CoVid crisis.

Deep Green Resistance condemns draconian laws that stifle the political rights of citizens. We stand in solidarity with the resistance against this law.

By Salonika and Max Wilbert

Philippine’s Autocrat Passes Draconian “Anti-Terrorism” Law.

In an event unprecedented in the history of industrial civilization, most humans have been confined, for the past few months, to their homes battling their fear and desperation. Meanwhile, states have used this unexpected opportunity to move closer to their dream of authoritarianism. Victor Orban has usurped power to  suspend and decree laws under the pretext of the pandemic. Narendra Modi has used a time when courts are suspended to persecute peaceful protesters under terrorism charges. We have, in an earlier article, highlighted the increase in surveillance during the last few months.

Repression under Duterte.

The government of the Philippines has been hellbent on repressing any and all opposition for many years. President Rodrigo Duterte announced a “War on Drugs” months after his election. This ‘war’ gave authorization to the police to kill any person involved in the drug trade without due process. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the span of four years, with near total impunity for the killers.

Irrespective of one’s loathing of the drug trade, an inherent flaw in this plan must be visible to anyone. Any law along these lines can and will  be used to stifle any form of political dissent. This is precisely what has happened in Philippines.

Philippines Government Response to the Pandemic.

The government’s response to the pandemic has continuously reinforced the economic and political hierarchy in the country. A controversy arose in the first months of the pandemic: Duterte and his cronies were tested for the corona-virus in violation of the criteria set by Department of Health, while actual patients were not receiving access to the testing kits. Local Government Units have taken actions to ease the suffering of general people, some of which have been stunted by the central government.

The situation in the Philippines has been accompanied by a rising suppression of journalism. On June 15th, 2020, a Manila court convicted Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. of cyber libel in a case widely decried as a political witch hunt. The persecution of journalists has always been a tool used by authoritarian regimes for repressing the democratic voices of dissent. Since this case is considered “the most high-profile case” against individual journalists, it is bound to set a precedence for similar persecutions in the future.

Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020

Now, Duterte is set to take another leap towards authoritarianism using the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 also known as Republic Act No. 11479. The bill cleared the Senate in February, passed the House of Representatives in June, and was signed by the president in early July.

The most contentious provisions include the warrant-less arrest and 14-day detentions of suspected “terrorists”, and the creation of an anti-terror council that would determine what is terrorism and order arrests without a warrant – a function usually reserved for the courts. –Al Jazeera report

The Act has broadened the definition of terrorism. Among other things, it includes any act intended to “destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic and social structures of the country.” The power lies with the anti-terrorism council to label any person inside or outside the Philippines a terrorist and arrest citizens at random.

The Act allows the Duterte regime to subject suspects to surveillance, warrant-less arrest and detention for up to 24 days. The Human Security Act of 2007 used to have a safeguard against wrongful detention in order to maintain accountability among the state actors. It monetarily compensated anyone who was imprisoned but later proven to be innocent. This protection has now been completely removed.

In short, the new law allows the state to target, pursue, anyone who poses a threat to the autocratic regime and to unfettered capitalist exploitation. The implications are clear; as one human rights activist commented, “even the mildest government critics can be labelled terrorists.” It is expected that government officials will use this law to chill free speech by suppressing speeches, proclamations, banners, and writings.

A member of House of Representatives has remarked that the act would not include activists and that safeguards prevent abuse of the act. Nonetheless, judging by the history of draconian laws (including the War on Drugs), it would be reasonable to estimate that the law will be used to suppress any form of political dissent, not only ‘terrorism’. Even the vice-president has remarked that the act gives the state the power to call anyone a terrorist.

Nationwide, protesters had moved to the streets to raise their voice against the bill. Duterte’s government has used the restrictive laws of the pandemic as an excuse to deploy armed police in the areas of protests. Opposition activists are disappearing. They are being thrown in jail. The violent crackdowns on resistance have already begun to escalate. Laws like this leave resistance movements with little choice but to become more clandestine.

Salonika is an organizer at DGR South Asia based in Nepal. She believes that the needs of the natural world should trump the needs of the industrial civilization.

Max Wilbert is an organizer, writer, and wilderness guide who grew up in Seattle’s post-WTO anti-globalization and undoing racism movement. He is a longtime member of Deep Green Resistance. Max is the author of two books: the forthcoming Bright Green Lies, and We Choose to Speak, a collection of essays released in 2018.

Featured image: via Unsplash