The oral traditions and origin stories of many Indigenous peoples, worldwide, include some stories of the endings of previous worlds. In such stories, the end of one world usually coincides with the beginning of a new world. Typically, the end of one world is the end of a grave error, the end of a world gone wrong. The life-endangering wrong way had to end for life to continue anew. To have a fresh start, venturing into many unknowns, might be somewhat scary, but it is really a wonderful gift.
In the early winter months of 2014, in Missoula, Montana, I was part of a coalition of climate activists and Indigenous Earth and water protectors who were trying to stop, or at least discourage, the transport of enormous pieces of mining equipment to the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, where it would be used in the largest and dirtiest oil extraction project on our planet. The equipment was so large that the companies that owned those things could only move them through cities in the middle of the night, at the time of least traffic use (around 2:00 a.m.). They could not transport these monstrosities on the freeways because they were too tall—even lying down on trucks—to go under the overpasses. We called them the “megaloads.” On four cold winter nights, in January through March, we walked out onto the largest street in Missoula as soon as we saw a megaload and its entourage of pilot cars and police vehicles approaching. We sang and round-danced in the middle of the street, carrying signs, and sometimes our crowd was big enough to make a circle that fit from curb to curb across the whole street. The police allowed us to continue for a short while (the longest time was 22 minutes), then they cleared us off the road. A handful of our people intentionally got arrested, but most did not.
Sometime after the fourth megaload blockade, the oil and equipment transport companies decided to refabricate the equipment for transport on the freeways. We had caused them a minor inconvenience and a little negative publicity regarding the tar sands industry and its impacts on the Canadian boreal forests, rivers, the health of humans and other species, and global warming. So they began transporting their destructive devices in smaller pieces, to be reassembled upon arrival in Alberta. That change in operations cost three companies (Exxon Mobil, Imperial Oil, and transport company, Mammoet) about two billion dollars altogether, or about one quarter’s profits (at that time, just before oil prices dropped and tar sands extracting became a little less profitable). When taking government subsidies and tax breaks given to oil corporations into account, they probably hardly even felt a pinch from our annoying actions and were actually able to expand their tar sands operations and increase their profits for a few years after the blockades. Our blockade coalition held together for a few months longer, waiting for the next megaload to come through Missoula, which never came.
During those weeks and months after the last megaload blockade, I spent a good amount of time analyzing and reassessing the value and effectiveness of street blockades and similar actions on the big picture. The big question on my mind, and in the minds of some of my friends, was, “What did we accomplish and what good did we do for protecting the Earth through our actions in the street?” We also wondered who even noticed what we did (most citizens of Missoula are asleep at 2:00 a.m. and we didn’t get much media coverage) and, for those that noticed, did anybody who wasn’t already in agreement with our views on protecting the natural world change their minds and decide to take action on behalf of natural life? How about the megaload transport workers, security guards and police, whom we forced to stop their work and sit there watching us for 15 or 20 minutes, reading our signs, and listening to our round dance songs and our vocal pleas for the end of fossil fuel use? Did any of them change their thinking or quit their jobs? Well, we never heard back from any of them on that, as far as I know, seven years later.
One thing that seemed pretty certain to me then, and I’m even more sure about now, is that humans who live in monetary-based economies (capitalist or socialist) will very rarely choose to cease engaging in activities that assure them that they will be rewarded with that most essential material tool: money. That includes fossil fuel workers, the corporate bosses who own their labor, and just about everybody else who lives within the constraints of modern industrial societies. Most people would not knowingly engage in toxic, life-destroying activities if they were not getting paid for it or benefitting from it in some other way, or if they did not feel that they had no choice other than to make money doing such things. As long as people are rewarded for destroying life on Earth, they will continue to destroy life on Earth. Just about a week before the first megaload blockade, in January, I had written an essay about how money and beliefs about money are at the root of all of the activities, systems, and structural devices that are destroying natural life on Earth, titled, “The Problem with Money.” In the months after the last blockade, I revised that essay into a new one, titled, The End of Money: The Need for Alternative, Sustainable, Non-monetary Local Economies, and began to bring the ideas therein into many public forums, mostly attended by other self-professed “environmental activists.” That essay is a combination of critique of the status quo and suggestions for alternative, EarthLife-centered, local economies and societal structures. At that point in time, I had come to the conclusion that it was futile to continue attempting to change the prevailing large-scale societies (nation states and corporate-controlled empires), working through the usual channels, and settling for the small increments and ineffective gestures toward change allowed by the systemic authorities. As I was learning more about the science regarding Earth’s bio-system tipping points and feedback cycles, I could see that we most likely do not have the time to move at such a snail’s pace, “barking up the wrong trees,” and make the types of major changes in human activities and social systems necessary for stopping the destruction of our interconnected Life on Earth and preventing more mass extinctions and ecosystem collapses. It had become clear to me then, and it is even clearer now, that the actual function of our political and economic systems is to perpetuate and protect the productive and consumptive mechanisms and so-called “way of life” that is destroying life on Earth, regardless of any official statements of purpose or intent to the contrary. The response that I received from most people to all of that was disappointing, but also enlightening. For a variety of understandable reasons, many people feel an immediate need to dismiss and block out not only the essay, but my entire perspective on necessary responses to our current crisis as “utopian dreaming,” or some similarly dismissive label.
When people read that essay or hear me say things like the economic and political structure of modern industrial societies is fundamentally wrong and that these societies must end most of their ways of being before they destroy most life on Earth, there are two responses that I hear most frequently, from the very few people who bother to talk with me about these ideas at all. Here are those responses:
“You are throwing out the baby with the bath water!”
“You are making the perfect the enemy of the good.”
My succinct reply to that first dismissive accusation can be found in the very short essay on this blog titled, “Who is the Baby?” That reply basically goes along the lines of asking people which baby they want to save, industrial civilization and their modern conveniences, or natural biological life on Earth, because we cannot save both. That is all I will say about that one now, as the point has also been made in my book review of Bright Green Lies, even better in the Bright Green Lies book itself, and by many others, including more and more climate-related scientists. (I will elaborate on this further, below). In this present essay, I would like to focus on that second dismissive accusation, which was actually the primary impetus for me to write this essay in the first place, along with my love for natural life.
There are many important questions to probe about the assumedly “perfect” and the allegedly “good.” Why do most people believe that utopian thinking is a quest for “perfection?” How did that claim originate? Whose interest does the claim that all utopian thinkers are unrealistic, irrational perfectionists serve? What is the difference between an imaginary, unattainable, “perfect” society and an ideal society? Are the societies that we (residents of all modern industrial nation states) live in now something that we can justifiably call “good?” When we call societies like these “good,” do we really mean that they are “lesser evils?” Very often, when people are told that their society is not good, or is unjust and harmful to life, they respond by comparing it to some other countries that they consider to be much worse. Is “good” and “lesser evil” truly the same thing? What should be the essential, required elements for a truly good or ideal society, especially in light of the current and near-future global crises? I would like to productively address all of the above questions in this essay and, by doing so, hopefully open up some possibilities for future interaction and deeper engagement with these core issues. Ultimately, I would like to persuade people that utopian thinking and actual creativity really is a useful, vital and even absolutely necessary exercise for us to engage in now, in order to be able to proactively and successfully deal with the challenges presented to us by the current and future, multi-pronged crises facing both Earth’s biosphere and the prevailing human societal frameworks.
Obviously, answering these questions will require some clarification of the definitions of several terms, especially “utopian.” So, in the interest of getting right to the point, let’s begin with that word. The word, “utopia,” was invented by Thomas More (Sir or Saint Thomas More, if you think that we should use one of those two titles that were bestowed upon him by the recognized authorities, when speaking of him), for his 1516 novel, “A little, true book, not less beneficial than enjoyable, about how things should be in a state and about the new island Utopia.” That was the original, long title (but in English, instead of the original Latin). There are six slightly different shorter titles used in some of the various English translations of the book, as follows:
On the Best State of a Republic and on the New Island of Utopia
Concerning the Highest State of the Republic and the New Island Utopia
On the Best State of a Commonwealth and on the New Island of Utopia
Concerning the Best Condition of the Commonwealth and the New Island of Utopia
On the Best Kind of a Republic and About the New Island of Utopia
About the Best State of a Commonwealth and the New Island of Utopia
Why was it important for me to show you More’s actual original title of the book and the six commonly-used titles? Because none of the titles describe the fictional island nation called Utopia as “perfect” and the book is not a discussion of perfect societies at all, but rather of best or most optimal societies. More uses the word “perfect” six times in the book, but never as a descriptive term for Utopia.  Rather than calling Utopia perfect or flawless, More preferred words like “best” or “good.” In his original title, More suggests that Utopia is an example of “how things should be in a state,” or, in other words, an ideal—but not perfect—state. The word “best,” in the 16th century as well as now, is a relative term, defined as “better than all other examples of a certain type or class of thing.” Under that general definition, the thing referred to as best is also understood to be the best so far, or best that we know of, until something better of its type is either found, accomplished, or created. In no way is the best considered to be permanently best, flawless, without room for improvement, or perfect.
The meaning of the word “best” in the various English titles of the book, as outlined above, becomes even clearer when we consider the structure and style of this frame narrative novel. The book is divided into two parts, the first part being a discussion between More and a couple of fictional characters about both the flaws and the best aspects of European societies, including England, and the second part is a descriptive narrative by one of More’s fictional friends about a fictional island somewhere off the coast of South America called “Utopia.”  Much of the social structure, politics, economics (i.e., no private property in Utopia), beliefs and customs of Utopia are compared to those in Europe and found by More’s friend to be ideal, or at least better than those in Europe. But, not only does no character in the story assert that Utopia is perfect, More himself, as a character in his own novel, states in conclusion at the end of the book that, when listening to his friend describe Utopia, “many things occurred to me, both concerning the manners and laws of that people [the Utopians], that seemed very absurd,” and, after listing some of those disagreeable aspects of Utopian society, he says in his final sentence, “however, there are many things in the Commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see followed in our governments.” The literary device that More uses here, in which he places himself in conversation with the fictional characters that he created (his “imaginary friends?”), allows him to express ideas that might have been dangerous for him to propose directly, in his own voice, while representing himself as somewhat oppositional to the radical social ideas advocated for by the character who describes Utopia, Raphael Hythlodaye. This technique also allowed More to be somewhat mysterious, or publicly ambivalent, regarding his actual views about ideal societies (“plausible deniability”?), as he was considering finding employment in the court of King Henry VIII at the time when he was writing “Utopia.”
For the record, and to be absolutely clear, as I see it, and I think most of my readers would agree, Thomas More’s Utopia is no utopia or ideal society.
For the record, and to be absolutely clear, as I see it, and I think most of my readers would agree, Thomas More’s Utopia is no utopia or ideal society. Even though the Utopians have an economic system that is somewhat ideal and closely resembles the non-monetary, use value (rather than market or commodity value), need-based distribution, gift economy type of economic system that I and others have long advocated for, much of the rest of Utopia’s social order is abominable. For example, it is a patriarchal society with all of the political leaders being males, and the Utopians allow for and excuse colonialism and slavery (not race-based, but for convicts and prisoners of war). While they seem to keep their population within the carrying capacity of their island most of the time, when their population gets a little too large for that, they form temporary colonies on the neighboring mainland, with or without the permission of the people already living there, on lands that they call “waste land,” because the land is uncultivated or “undeveloped” by humans (a familiar excuse used frequently by European colonialists of the western hemisphere, in More’s time and long after). That perspective and practice also illustrates the crucial missing element of the Utopian economic system, which (if it actually existed) would doom it to unsustainability and failure: it is anthropocentric, or centered on human needs and desires only, and not on the needs and sustainable, regenerative order of their local ecosystems, including all species of Life. That has been the most significant flaw of most utopian communal experiments in western, Euro-based societies for centuries (a point that I will elaborate upon further, below).
One reason for the common claim that the Utopia in More’s book, or any proposed utopian society, is intended to be perfect and therefore can never actually exist, can be found in the debate over More’s intended meaning of the name. Thomas More invented the name, Utopia, based on one of two possible Greek prefixes. (The suffix is “topos,” which means “place,” and there is no debate regarding that.) The debatable possible prefixes are “ou” (pronounced “oo,” as in “boo” or “goo”), which means “no,” or “none,” and “eu” (pronounced like “you”), which means “good.” Depending upon which Greek prefix one thinks More incorporated for the name of his fictional society, Utopia can either mean “No place,” if the prefix came from ou, or “good place,” if it came from eu. The U in the word Utopia has long been pronounced like the Greek eu, which suggests that More possibly used that prefix to form the name, but, since we have no audio recordings of how utopia was pronounced by More and other early 16th century English speakers, we don’t know with any certainty that they pronounced it in the same way that we do now. The text of Utopia itself, was originally written in Latin by More (who left it to later, posthumous publishers to produce English translations), not Greek, so there is no assurance there as to which Greek prefix he meant. “Utopia” is the Latin spelling of the name. For some reason, possibly related to his personal career ambitions and even his personal safety (in a society in which people often unexpectedly or capriciously “lost their heads”), More left the question about the meaning of “Utopia”—no place or a good place—open to debate. There is a contextual clue on page 171 of the second English translation, but it does not definitively resolve the question. 
So, now we can leave that question of the origin and meaning of the word behind us and get to the more important question of why most people believe that utopian thinking is a futile, foolish quest for “perfection.” The short, most direct, and most likely answer is because that is what they have always been told. But, if that is not how the inventor of the word defined it, who decided to give us this other story, and why? Follow the interest and the benefit (not just the money). The powerful and wealthy, the rulers of the vast majority of human societies, find it in their interest to discourage their subject people from imagining or creating alternative societies that are no longer subject to their domain and no longer contribute toward generating enormous, disproportionate amounts of material wealth for themselves. Ever since human beings began to depart from living in local, indigenous, eco-centered, life-regenerating communities and started creating unsustainable mega-societies like nation states and empires, about 7,000 years ago, the rulers have worked hard (or hired and forced others to work hard) at producing and perpetuating many lies for the purpose of deluding or frightening their subjects into remaining submissive to their systemic power, wealth and control. Over this long span of time, the rulers became very adept at persuading people what to think and what not to think, and with the electronic technologies invented over the last hundred or so years, the subjected general public has been constantly bombarded with such messages. Commercial advertising, mandatory public schooling, peer pressure, parental love, fear of poverty, and the quest for equality, along with many other things, have all been used successfully by the ruling class as mechanisms for keeping people submissive and keeping wealth and power in the hands of a select social minority.
One of the saddest things that I have ever seen is children being taught to censor themselves from asking legitimate, important, and even vital questions, especially the big questions about the often illogical, counterintuitive and clearly unjust societal structure and traditions.
Not only are we told what to think, but also which topics to never think about seriously and which questions are too dangerous to ever ask. One of the saddest things that I have ever seen is children being taught to censor themselves from asking legitimate, important, and even vital questions, especially the big questions about the often illogical, counterintuitive and clearly unjust societal structure and traditions. The topics that the rulers would like to see eliminated from our thoughts and plans the most are those that threaten to end their power, wealth and social control. Thoughts, plans, and especially actions, for creating ideal, utopian societies must therefore be suppressed and eliminated, and the most effective mechanism used for that purpose, so far, has been to convince people that utopian societies can never exist because utopia means “perfect” and we all know that humans are not, have never been, and will never be, perfect. But, it is much harder for the rulers to convince us that we can’t become something much better than we are now, not just individually, but collectively, as a society, and therefore they cannot allow “utopian” to be defined as “better” or “best possible,” as the title and discourse in Thomas More’s book seems to suggest.
The more that subject people are rewarded, praised, honored, and awarded for their submission and service to the rulers and the system, the more difficult it becomes for them to question and resist the status quo. When the status quo systems are completely accepted as at least inevitable (“the only game in town”), if not unquestionable, and people are convinced that any apparent flaws in the system will eventually be corrected by the system, utopian creativity becomes unnecessary, dismissed, and considered a foolish waste of time and energy. Thoughts about reform—improving the system through the allegedly self-correcting mechanisms available within the system—are about as far as people are encouraged to reach in pursuit of social change. But the system, which is really a conjoined political, cultural and economic system, is primarily designed to self-preserve, not self-correct. What the system preserves most is the power of the wealthiest persons in the society, who control or strongly influence the politicians by use of lobbyists, bribery and threats to the politicians’ continued luxurious lifestyles or their actual safety. This happens at all levels of government, but is most structurally effective and most firmly established at the federal level. In the United States (and in other nations, as well to somewhat lesser degrees), the “revolving door” phenomenon, in which congresspersons who leave Congress are then hired by corporations to serve as lobbyists to their former colleagues in government, and sometimes later return to politics in higher public offices (such as presidential cabinet positions), is a prime example of this type of political corruption. A 2005 report by the non-profit consumer rights advocacy organization, Public Citizen, found that between 1998 and 2004, 43% of the congresspersons who left their government positions registered to work as lobbyists. Other reports show that another approximately 25% work as lobbyists without officially registering by becoming corporate “consultants” or lawyers. Besides the lobbying aspect of the system—If you need more evidence of the depth of the systems’ corruption and why it will most likely continue to self-preserve for the perpetuation of the mechanisms causing Earth’s biosphere collapse instead of self-correcting to the substantial degree now necessary to prevent such collapse—do some research and analysis on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” decision and on the “pay to play” system which all U.S. congressperson’s (of both political parties) must go through in order to get significant positions on law-writing committees or gain financial support from their party for their next re-election campaign. I could go on and on about the system’s corruption and its likely trajectory, but this is an essay about ideal paths forward and new possible systems, not so much about dystopia. I will only describe enough here about the current dystopian society and its contribution to the global crises to illuminate the need to abandon it and turn towards “utopian” creativity.
While much has been researched and written about the political and economic elements of the conjoined system, not as much has been dealt with regarding the cultural element, which is as much at the heart of the problem as the other two. One study that deals well with that cultural and ethical element, “The Ethics of Lobbying: Organized Interests, Political Power, and the Common Good”, by the Woodstock Theological Center (Georgetown University Press 2002), provides us with a very telling short quote from a corporate lobbyist they interviewed, who chose to speak anonymously: “I know what my client wants; no one knows what the common good is.” For utopian and alternative society thinkers and creators, it is this issue of the common good (which I expand further, below, to include the common well-being of all Life in Earth, not just humans), which the modern industrial political systems seem to have lost sight of, that matters most. A culture in which personal, individual self-interest, most often manifest in personal material accumulation and consumption, is the greatest concern for the vast majority of people, will consequently produce the types of political systems that we are subject to today. If one is familiar with and understands that type of culture, combined with the fact that getting elected to a political office now requires amounts of money that are inaccessible to the vast majority of aspirants to political office, then it should come as no surprise that the vast majority of politicians are more concerned with securing the financial assistance needed to keep their political power than they are with whatever may be the common good.
While it is true that utopian thinking has taken on all sorts of forms over the centuries—from moderately restructured or reformed societies that closely resemble the societies that their creators criticize or reject, to societies that are only different due to the invention and application of phenomenal new technologies or wonders of human innovation, to those societies which are completely, radically different from the status quo systems and culture that their creators have come to reject and refuse to perpetuate—when I think of the type of utopian societies that are needed today, I think of that latter type, not reformism or techno-fixes. I know that pursuing such a path could meet with much opposition and can be dangerous if our opponents ever think that we could actually succeed at creating enough independent, ideal societies to cause the prevailing system to become abandoned and defunct. Suggestions for abolishing and replacing the system with a new way of living that ends the usual limits on the distribution of power and wealth are discouraged, punished (through various social mechanisms, legal and illegal), and sometimes labeled as “treasonous,” a capital offense, which can provide legal justification for a government to end a person’s life. This has long been the case with empires and nation states, whether capitalist or socialist, so why is it so relevant and urgent to risk going in such a direction now? This is a time like no other before it, in which there has never been a greater need for widespread utopian creative thinking and action. If we carefully examine the likelihood of extreme danger for all life on Earth that would result from continuing with the same social, cultural, technological, political and economic systems, according to all of the best available science to date, it becomes clear that we must create and learn to live within some very different types or ways of social life, in order for life on Earth to continue and to minimize the number of extinctions of species that are already set to soon occur, under the present system and its current trajectory. It is a matter of likely consequences and unacceptable risks, like leaving a bunch of matches and highly flammable materials in a room of unmonitored, naturally adventurous little children—but on a much larger, global scale.
Before most people can seriously consider what follows in the rest of this essay, they probably need some more persuasive reasons why such drastic changes to their customary and comfortable “way of life” are necessary. Such reasons can be found within the scientific case for the futility and/or impossibility of successfully resolving the current and near future biosphere crises through current social, political and economic structures or with the use of any actual or imagined technological “fixes.” That case has already been made, increasingly, by numerous experts, in a growing number of scientific reports and publications, so, rather than repeat all of that here, I will just insert some links to some of the best sources for that information for your reference, examination and further evaluation. It is difficult to summarize the essential root of our predicament in just one or two sentences, but as a sort of hint as to what a thorough investigation would find, I will offer you this “nutshell” illustration: capitalist industrial manufacturers seek the most powerful fuel and engines to run their large-scale, earth-moving, industrial equipment as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to successfully compete, attain or maintain a competitive edge, and maximize their profits. So far, no electric battery powered machinery comes anywhere close to providing the power that they get from fossil fuels. That includes the heavy equipment used to mine and manufacture so-called “green” technologies. The links and a little more information are in the following endnote: 
Although having a solid grasp on the latest scientific findings on our predicament is essential to determining our most effective response, many social scientists and psychologists say that the real barrier preventing most people from considering the scientific facts regarding the dire circumstances facing biological life on Earth, and the need for radical societal change, is what people are willing to accept and resign themselves to, instead of making such changes. What are people willing to settle for as “good enough?” That question brings us back to the discussion of how people define “good.” If the type of creative thinking that is now required of us does not mean that we have to come up with something “perfect,” will those who now protest that we utopian creativity advocates are “making the perfect the enemy of the good” switch their accusation to “making the best (or the better) the enemy of the good?” If so, I would still have to ask them, “How do you define ‘good’? How would you define a good society?” Can any society that was built on a foundation of colonialism, slavery, the predatory exploitation of all of the material natural world (including other humans), patriarchy, anthropocentrism, racism, sexism, justified greed, and many other life-destructive perspectives and practices actually become a good society through attempts at reform, especially when the people in power oppose and block nearly all necessary substantial reforms? In the history of the United States, the foundational flaws listed above were not just unfortunate, unintended by-products of a basically just and well-intended government, but, in actuality, the necessary elements for achieving its intended purpose: dominion over all of the human and non-human inhabitants of their illicitly-acquired lands and over any other lands that they might eventually take in the future. Has that fundamental intended purpose of the U.S. (and other human empires) disappeared or ever been relinquished?
One reason why transformational reform towards real justice, equality, and regenerative environmental sustainability is continuously prevented from occurring is that the social mechanisms deemed necessary to perpetuate an empire or large nation-state, including formal education, indoctrination (both religious and secular), economic bondage, and social peer pressure (leveraging the human need to belong), are used by the ruling class in such societies to promote patriotism and widespread belief in the righteousness of the nation’s foundation. It is completely understandable that people want to feel good about their ancestors, their society, and their culture, have a sense of innocence about it all, and not be burdened with a sense of guilt over what the vast majority feel is normal and unquestionable. Such widespread beliefs and comfort zones make it even harder for people to admit that their societies are fundamentally flawed. Even when social beliefs about right and wrong change, over the long span of time, and large numbers of people begin to recognize and assess the errors of their nation’s founders, there remains a need for the ruling class and their loyal subjects to either justify or deny those foundational errors. One of many examples of this practice in the U.S. is the attempt to justify the slaveholding practiced by founders such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington by referring to them as “simply men of their time,” while denying (or completely unaware of the fact) that 98% of the “men of their time” in the new nation did not hold any of their fellow humans in slavery and the majority of states in the new nation outlawed slavery in their original state constitutions. Another example, used to justify colonialism and the aggressive, often genocidal, separation of Indigenous peoples from their homelands, is the lie that the North American continent was mostly an uninhabited, unused by humans, “virgin wilderness wasteland, ripe for the taking,” at all of the various times and places in which European or Euro-descended people first arrived. For over a century, American academic anthropologists, in service to the ruling class, grossly underestimated the population numbers of Indigenous societies originally in the land now called the U.S., in order to perpetuate that lie. Such institutional social mechanisms stifle and obstruct any imagined or actual significant correctional mechanisms that people believe are built into the system. People who have been effectively taught that their societal system is designed to repair its own flaws (no matter how foundational or essential those “flaws” and outright atrocities are to its existence) through its authorized “proper channels,” that such processes for correction must take lengthy amounts of time (perhaps even generations, for major flaws), and that creating new societies built on better foundations is unnecessary, impossible, and maybe even “treasonous,” tend to accept the common assumption that their society is either “good,” “better than other countries,” or, at least something we can call a “lesser evil.” We have also been effectively conditioned to accept lesser evils in nearly every political election campaign, especially at the national level, and every time that we must transport ourselves somewhere that is too far away to walk or bike to, even when we would prefer not to use fossil fuels or toxically-mined and produced lithium at all. Is a “lesser evil” the same thing as “good?”
Is a society that is so destructive to life that the best rating that it could give itself on environmental sustainability is “lesser evil” actually a dystopia?
Unfortunately, it seems that most subject peoples of modern industrial nations have come to define “good” and “lesser evil” as basically the same thing. Maybe the two-word phrase that most people would use to define the state of our current societies and our assumed-as-necessary daily compromises with evil is “good enough.” To that statement of submissive resignation I just have to ask, “good enough for what?” Good enough to keep a sufficient roof over your head and food on your table, at least for this month? Good enough to put enough gas in your tank so that you can continue to drive to that job of yours that just barely pays you a “living wage?” For those who have been a little more fortunate, a little more submissive, compromising, and “well-adjusted”—and, therefore, better-rewarded—does “good enough” mean “at least I get to have all of these great toys and continue to consume way beyond what I really need?” Good enough to keep you binging and streaming your life away? To those who do not define a “good enough” society based solely on its material benefits to themselves, and think more about the well-being of all members of the society (or, what used to be called the “common weal,” or, “common good”), does a society where 5% of its members own 67% of the wealth have a “good enough” economic system? Is a society that is continuously engaged in illegal wars fought only for the purpose of generating financial profits for the owners of various industries “good enough?” Is a society of human beings whose minds are so twisted by the colonialist concept called “race” that they actually have no idea what a human being really is “good enough?” For those who care about preserving Earth’s natural systems that keep us alive, is a society in which the majority of its citizens are so out of touch with and alienated from the natural world that they do not realize that they need those interconnected natural systems (much more than they “need” money) in order to remain alive “good enough?” When confronted with the painful and repulsive fact that their society’s way of life is actually destroying life on Earth and bringing many species, including their own, rapidly towards extinction, some people reply, in attempted self-defense, that there are other nations which are doing more harm to the natural world than their own country is. Is a society that is so destructive to life that the best rating that it could give itself on environmental sustainability is “lesser evil” actually a dystopia? I think that any society that destroys their natural source of biological life simply by carrying out their normal processes of living, within the laws, customs, and ordered structures or systems of that society, and cannot bring themselves to stop doing so, is a dystopian society. Is living in a dystopian society “good enough?” But, again, let’s not get bogged down with endless examples of social dystopia. The only reason I am writing about dystopia here is to point out the need to move towards new (and some old) utopian, or actually ideal, ways of living. So, let’s proceed now in that direction.
What really is the “normal” way of human life in Earth, over the broad span of human history? The reason that I inserted the image above is to give everybody a sense of what is possible for the human species on this planet, and to de-normalize the ways we have been living for the last 5 to 7 thousand years, or 2.5% of our existence. Before we began to go the wrong way, disrespecting and exceeding the carrying capacity of our ancient ancestral homelands (and/or other people’s homelands, taken through conquest or colonialism), all of our various Indigenous ancestors practiced ways of life that were guided by local ecosystems and all of our interconnected and related fellow living beings. Those were harmonious, regenerative, sustainable, and (though not “perfect”) probably mostly joyful, peaceful, thankful and abundant ways of life. We are still that same species and this is still the same planet, even when we take into account all that has changed, and all the vital knowledge that most of our people lost long ago. We will not know what is possible, regarding a return to at least some aspects of the old normal, until we make our best attempts to do so.
Banner image: The Kogi village and tribal community of Tairona, in northern Colombia.
Part II follows tomorrow.
George Price (descendant of the Assonet band of the Wampanoag tribal nation of Massachusetts) has been living with his family on their five-acre organic, polyculture farm on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana since the summer of 1985. He retired from a 33-year teaching career in 2018, which included teaching Native American Studies, American History, and African American Studies at the University of Montana for 20 years. Since he is no longer working “through the system,” he is devoting the remainder of his life to Earth/Water protecting, organic farming, food sovereignty, constructive communicating, and replacing industrial technophile capitalism with local, eco-harmonious, EarthLife-centric, cooperative, alternative communities.
 Beck, Peggy V., and Anna Lee Walters, The Sacred: Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life, Navajo Community College Press, Tsaile, Arizona, 1992. Clark, Ella E., Indian Legends From the Northern Rockies, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1966, 1977.
 The recent COP 26 debacle, which intentionally excluded participation by many Indigenous and other heavily-impacted peoples from the global south, and the infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Congress that same week provided us with fresh examples of that futility, which many of us have long realized is the case.
 To be clear and fair, the word, “perfect,” in 16th century English, usually meant “complete” or “absolute,” although in certain contexts could be interpreted as “flawless” or something more like the way we define “perfect” today.
 Raphael Hythlodaye, Thomas More’s fictional friend who tells the story of his time in Utopia, is said to have gone there with Amerigo (a.k.a., “Alberico”) Vespucci. More’s Utopia: The English Translation thereof by Raphe Robynson, printed from the second edition, 1556, page viii.
 As you may already know, More did eventually serve Henry VIII as a counselor, until Henry had him beheaded for refusing to publicly agree with him on the topic of divorce and remarriage.
 See, Anitra Nelson and Frans Timmerman, eds., Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies, London, Pluto Press, 2011.
More’s Utopia: The English Translation thereof by Raphe Robynson, printed from the second edition, 1556, page 171. One of the minor characters in the book writes a poem speaking on behalf of the nation of Utopia personified, saying, “Wherfore not Utopie, but rather rightely my name is Eutopie, a place of felicitie.”
 Perhaps the only way that the politicians of today would prioritize the needs of the people whom they allegedly represent, over the will of the corporations who lobby them, would be if the people could form their own “Lobby for the Common Good” and that lobby was funded well enough to surpass the enormous dollar amounts in bribery of all of the corporate lobbyists combined. But, increased corruption of the electoral process (gerrymandering, artificially-constructed “gridlock” through the invincible two-party system, “divide and conquer,” etc.) is also making the people’s voice and will less relevant to the concerns of politicians.
 The first scholar to clearly demonstrate the inadequacies of so-called “100% green energy” technologies for replacing fossil fuel energy at present scale (and much less adequate at future expanded scales) was Ozzie Zehner, an engineering professor at UC Berkeley, in his excellent 2012 book, Green Illusions: the dirty secrets of clean energy and the future of environmentalism, (University of Nebraska Press). In their 2021 book, Bright Green Lies:How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It, Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert echoed much of what Zehner had previously shown while updating the case and adding many more examples and reasons why the so-called green technologies are not nearly green enough to resolve our dire predicament, taking into account all of the fossil fuel energy, mining pollution, and CO2 emissions required to manufacture, transport, install and maintain those “green” technologies at the scale needed to continue with the industrial capitalist high-tech consumer societies. In their 2011 book, TechNo-fix : why technology won’t save us or the environment, Michael Huesemann and Joyce Huesemann describe in great detail the shortcomings and pitfalls of human technological “ingenuity,” including environmental pollution, the many harmful by-products and unintended consequences of many technologies, and the need to fix harm done by many techno fixes. The authors make a very strong argument against the notion that technology and “human innovation” can fix any problem or predicament. A very informative and well-researched study published by three science journalists earlier this year (2021) on exactly what it would take to run the current and growing industrial technological U.S. economy by switching from fossil fuel energy to solar and wind power apparently led to conclusions that were not nearly as rosy or optimistic as the authors had hoped for. The Race to Zero: can America reach net-zero emissions by 2050?, by Oliver Milman, Alvin Chang and Rashida Kamal, The Guardian, March 15, 2021, delivers some startling facts about how much environmentally degrading infrastructure that feat would require, including the need to cover 10% of the surface area of the continental U.S. with solar and wind farms, just to supply the electricity, not to mention all of the other energy productions now done using fossil fuels. We would also need “enough new transmission lines to wrap around Earth 19 times.” That article can be read at this link: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/15/race-to-zero-america-emissions-climate-crisis?utm_term=75ea2afeff5d052feec5683cc23a9e8f&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTUS_email&fbclid=IwAR2Y1IXwzzEzviZY_u8hJ6gcW0ffBiIucDHfbRkjNzDAr5v0mH2vRNGl2oE
Another good, recent scientific article about the inadequacy of “green energy” technologies for resolving our biosphere crises is found here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-delusion-of-infinite-economic-growth/ Earth system scientists are experts at the big picture of our planet’s condition and trajectory of changes over the broad span of time. One of the best (at least most clearly explained, although there was a little wifi connection fuzziness) presentations on the reality of Earth system collapse was made in an interview with Earth system scientist, Joe Brewer, back in December of 2020. Here is the link for that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2L_JD2nxbE OK, that’s enough for one footnote—more, later. Of course, all of these cited items contain references to further sources of good information.
 Global CO2 emissions went down briefly, from March to May of 2020, during the big international shutdown of commercial and industrial activity at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but have gone back up again continuously since then. Stats on emissions for 2021 should be published in February or March of 2022.
 See, Nash, Gary B., The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America, New York, Penguin Press, 2005, and Lynd, Staughton, Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution: Ten Essays, Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill,1967.
 See, Thornton, Russell, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1987. Also, Mann, Charles C., 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
 The time frame for the starting point of homo sapiens sapiens, or modern humans in their present form, ranges from 150,000 to 400,000 years ago, depending upon whom you ask. The longer ago that starting point was, the smaller the percentage of our existence that has been spent in unsustainable, life-destructive societies.
 All humans have ancestors who were, at some point in the past, indigenous to a particular place.
 In contrast to the negative, racist portrayals of all Indigenous peoples made by the ruling class colonialists.
Non-neutrality of technology & limits to conspiracy theory
By Nicolas Casaux
“For, prior to all such, we have the things themselves for our masters. Now they are many; and it is through these that the men who control the things inevitably become our masters too.” Epictetus, Discourses, Book IV, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Ed.
In an essay published in the fall of 1872, entitled “On Authority,” Friedrich Engels, Marx’s alter ego, railed against the “anti-authoritarians” (the anarchists) who imagined they could organize the production of “modern industry” without recourse to any authority:
“Let us take by way of example a cotton spinning mill. The cotton must pass through at least six successive operations before it is reduced to the state of thread, and these operations take place for the most part in different rooms. Furthermore, keeping the machines going requires an engineer to look after the steam engine, mechanics to make the current repairs, and many other labourers whose business it is to transfer the products from one room to another, and so forth. All these workers, men, women and children, are obliged to begin and finish their work at the hours fixed by the authority of the steam, which cares nothing for individual autonomy. The workers must, therefore, first come to an understanding on the hours of work; and these hours, once they are fixed, must be observed by all, without any exception. Thereafter particular questions arise in each room and at every moment concerning the mode of production, distribution of material, etc., which must be settled by decision of a delegate placed at the head of each branch of labour or, if possible, by a majority vote, the will of the single individual will always have to subordinate itself, which means that questions are settled in an authoritarian way.”
He mentioned another example,
“the railway. Here too the co-operation of an infinite number of individuals is absolutely necessary, and this co-operation must be practised during precisely fixed hours so that no accidents may happen. Here, too, the first condition of the job is a dominant will that settles all subordinate questions, whether this will is represented by a single delegate or a committee charged with the execution of the resolutions of the majority of persona interested. In either case there is a very pronounced authority. Moreover, what would happen to the first train dispatched if the authority of the railway employees over the Hon. passengers were abolished?”
What needs to be understood is that:
“The automatic machinery of the big factory is much more despotic than the small capitalists who employ workers ever have been. At least with regard to the hours of work one may write upon the portals of these factories: Lasciate ogni autonomia, voi che entrate! [Leave, ye that enter in, all autonomy behind!]
If man, by dint of his knowledge and inventive genius, has subdued the forces of nature, the latter avenge themselves upon him by subjecting him, in so far as he employs them, to a veritable despotism independent of all social organization. Wanting to abolish authority in large-scale industry is tantamount to wanting to abolish industry itself, to destroy the power loom in order to return to the spinning wheel.”
To put it another way, Engels points out that technical complexity is tied to organizational imperatives. Separate to any individual’s intention, each technology, each technical device, has its own ecological and social implications.
In a similar vein to Engels, George Orwell noted that:
“…one is driven to the conclusion that Anarchism implies a low standard of living. It need not imply a hungry or uncomfortable world, but it rules out the kind of air-conditioned, chromium-plated, gadget-ridden existence which is now considered desirable and enlightened. The processes involved in making, say, an aeroplane are so complex as to be only possible in a planned, centralized society, with all the repressive apparatus that that implies. Unless there is some unpredictable change in human nature, liberty and efficiency must pull in opposite directionsi.”
Consider another example. The fabrication of a wicker basket, like that of a nuclear power plant (or a solar photovoltaic power plant, or a smartphone, or a television set), has material (and therefore ecological) as well as social implications. In case of the former, these material implications are related to the collection of wicker. While in case of the second, they relate, among other things, to the procuring (mining, etc.) of the innumerable raw materials needed to build a nuclear power plant, and before that, to the construction of the tools needed to extract those raw materials, and so on – modern technologies are always embedded in a gigantic technological system made up of many different technologies with immense social and material implications.
In his essay entitled “The Archaeology of the Development Idea,” Wolfgang Sachs takes the example of:
“an electric mixer. Whirring and slightly vibrating, it mixes ingredients in next to no time. A wonderful tool! So it seems. But a quick look at cord and wall-socket reveals that what we have before us is rather the domestic terminal of a national, indeed worldwide, system: the electricity arrives via a network of cables and overhead utility lines fed by power stations that depend on water pressures, pipelines or tanker consignments, which in turn require dams, offshore platforms or derricks in distant deserts. The whole chain guarantees an adequate and prompt delivery only if every one of its parts is overseen by armies of engineers, planners and financial experts, who themselves can fall back on administrations, universities, indeed entire industries (and sometimes even the military).”
Back to the wicker basket and the nuclear power plant. The social implications of the wicker basket are minimal. It relies on the transmission of a very simple skill that can be understood and applied by any person. The social implications of the nuclear power plant are immeasurable and far reaching. The construction of a nuclear power plant is based on a social organization capable of generating a massive division and specialization of work, highly qualified engineers, workers, managers of all kinds (i.e. on an organization with a system of schooling, a way of producing an obedient workforce, scientific elites, etc.), of transporting materials between distant points of the globe, etc. (and this was the case in the USSR as well as it is in the USA today).
Therefore, those who claim — often without having seriously thought about the matter — that technologies are “neutral” because one can use a knife to cut butter or slit one’s neighbor’s throat are seriously mistaken. Yes, you can use a knife to cut butter or slit your neighbor’s throat. But no, this certainly does not mean that this technology is “neutral”, it only testifies the existence of a certain versatility in the use of technological tools. They are seriously mistaken because they ignore the conditions under which the knife is obtained, made and produced. They overlook or ignore the way in which the technology they take as an example is manufactured. They assume that the technology already exists — as if technologies fell from the sky or grew naturally in trees, or as if they were simply tools floating in space-time, implying nothing, coming from nothing, just waiting to be used well or badly.
This is, obviously, not the case. No technology is “neutral”. Every technology has social and material requirements. The case of objects like the knife is special in that there exists very simple versions of them, corresponding to low technologies, soft technologies, whose social and material implications are minimal, as well as complex versions of them, which belong to the high-tech realm, whose social and material implications are innumerable. A knife does not have the same social and material implications depending on whether it is a (prehistoric) knife made of flint or obsidian or a knife bought at Ikea made of stainless steel (including chromium, molybdenum and vanadium) with a handle made of polypropylene. The manufacturing processes, the materials needed, the specialized knowledge involved are completely different.
In an essay called “Authoritarian and Democratic Technics”, dated 1964, American sociologist Lewis Mumford distinguished two main categories of technologies (techniques, in his vocabulary). Democratic technologies and authoritarian technologies. Democratic technologies are those that rely on a “small-scale method of production”, that promote “communal self-government, free communication as between equals, unimpeded access to the common store of knowledge, protection against arbitrary external controls, and a sense of individual moral responsibility for behavior that affects the whole community”. They favor “personal autonomy” and give “authority to the whole rather than the part”. Democratic technology has “modest demands” and “great powers of adaptation and recuperation”.
Authoritarian technologies, on the other hand, confer “authority only to those at the apex of the social hierarchy,” rely on the “new configuration of technical invention, scientific observation, and centralized political control that gave rise to the peculiar mode of life we may now identify, without eulogy, as civilization”, on “ruthless physical coercion, forced labor and slavery”, on “complex human machines composed of specialized, standardized, replaceable and interdependent parts — the work army, the military army, the bureaucracy”.
What does this have to do with conspiracy theory? One of the characteristics of a conspiracy theory is the blaming of nefarious individuals for most of the ills that plague the human condition in contemporary industrial civilization. As if all our problems were the result of malevolent intentions of wicked people. Most conspiracists — and this trait is not exclusive to them, it also characterizes most people on the left — imagine that without these bad people and their bad intentions, we could live in a just and good, egalitarian and sustainable technological civilization. It would simply be a matter of electing good rulers or reforming society in multifarious ways (as if systems and objects of themselves had no requirements, no implications).
However, as we have made clear, we should recognize that all things — including technologies — have requirements and implications independent of the will of any specific human being.
As Langdon Winner noticed in his book The Whale and The Reactor, each and every technology requires its environment
“to be structured in a particular way in much the same sense that an automobile requires wheels in order to move. The thing could not exist as an effective operating entity unless certain social as well as material conditions were met.”
This is why some technologies (certain types of technologies) are, by necessity, linked to authoritarianism. This is most notably the case, to state the obvious, of all “high technologies”, of all modern technologies in general. We should note that, historically, the more civilization became global (the more the economic system became global), the more powerful its technologies became, the more rigid and authoritarian. This process is still ongoing. And the more powerful and dangerous technologies become, like nuclear power or artificial intelligence, the more authoritarianism — a thorough control of people and processes and everyday life — becomes necessary in order to prevent any catastrophe, in other words, the more technocratic society becomes.
Let us take another thing as an example: the size of human societies. In his “Project of Constitution for Corsica”, written in 1765, Jean-Jacques Rousseau noted:
“A purely democratic government is more suitable for a small town than for a nation. One cannot assemble the whole people of a country like that of a city, and when the supreme authority is entrusted to deputies the government changes and becomes aristocratic.”
In his book The Myth of The Machine (1967), Lewis Mumford similarly noted:
“Democracy, in the sense I here use the term, is necessarily most active in small communities and groups, whose members meet face to face, interact freely as equals, and are known to each other as persons: it is in every respect the precise opposite of the anonymous, de-personalized, mainly invisible forms of mass association, mass communication, mass organization. But as soon as large numbers are involved, democracy must either succumb to external control and centralized direction, or embark on the difficult task of delegating authority to a cooperative organization.”
The size of a human society has, quite logically, implications, meaning that it determines — at least in part — how its members are able to organize themselves politically, independent of human preferences. One can wish with all one’s heart to establish a real democracy (i.e. a direct democracy) with 300 million people, but in practice it is (very) complicated.
All things have their requirements.
We could take another example, related to the previous one: Human density. Since its advent, civilization has been synonymous with the emergence of infectious diseases, epidemics and pandemics (the Athens plague, the Antonine plague, etc.), because one of its intrinsic characteristics is a high concentration of domesticated animals, where pathogens can mutate and reproduce, near a high concentration of — also domesticated — human beings (assembled in cities), who can thus be contaminated by the pathogens of their domesticated animals, and then infect each other all the more quickly and extensively as the available means of transportation are rapid and global. In addition to all this, because of its needs, every civilization has a systemic imperative to degrade existing ecosystems, to disturb nature’s dynamic equilibriums, which increases the risk of new epidemics or pandemics.
In order to alleviate these problems, industrial civilization has developed various remedies, including vaccination.
Just as industrially raised pigs would probably not survive in their environment without medication (antibiotics and others), urban existence and civilized life (the life of industrially raised human beings) would be difficult without vaccines [or some other form of palliative], with even more numerous and devastating epidemics and pandemics.
Here we see again that things have their requirements. The list of possible examples goes on and on. This means, among other things, that life in cities, with running water, electricity and high technology in general has many social and material implications, among which, in all probability, a hierarchical, authoritarian and unequal social system. (It is certainly the case that the requirements of things are not always extremely precise, offering relative latitude: the sanitary pass in France was probably not an absolute necessity, since many countries didn’t implement it, at least not yet; on the other hand, all of the nation-states worldwide are constituted in a similar way since one finds police forces, a president etc. everywhere).
Yes, some individuals already own and seek to monopolize more and more power and wealth. But if we live in authoritarian societies today, it is certainly not — not onlyii — because of greedy individuals, lusting for control, power and wealth. The authoritarian and unequal character of industrial civilization is not — not only — the result of the intentions and deeds of a few ultra-rich people like Klaus Schwab or Bill Gates. It is, in great part, the result of the requirements of the things that constitute it — technical systems, specific technologies, economic systems, etc.
If we want to get rid of authoritarianism, inequality, and found true democracies, we have to give up all those things whose requirements prevent us from doing so — in particular, we have to give up modern technologies.
ii This is in its review of A Coat of Many Colours: Occasional Essays by Herbert Read, in the Collected essays, journalism and letters of George Orwell, Volume IV, In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950.
ii“Not only” because initially, if we came to live in authoritarian societies, in industrial civilization, it is largely because of the intentions of a few groups of individuals, who gradually (and by means of force, violence) imposed this new socio-technical organization on the populations. And because the rich and powerful, the elite, sometimes conspire (history is full of examples of conspiracies that are now officially acknowledged) to make people accept new technical systems, which come with certain requirements. Once these systems have been accepted and adopted by people, they have no other choice, if they wish to keep them, than to comply with their requirements.
The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell which began last week in Manhattan will not hold to account the powerful and wealthy men who are also complicit in the sexual assaults of girls as young as twelve Maxwell allegedly procured for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, hedge-fund billionaire Glenn Dubin, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Secretary of the Treasury and former president of Harvard Larry Summers, Stephen Pinker, Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, billionaire Victoria’s Secret CEO Les Wexner, the, J.P Morgan banker Jes Staley, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barack, real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman, former Maine senator George Mitchell, Harvey Weinstein and many others who were at least present and most likely participated in Epstein’s perpetual Bacchanalia, are not in court. The law firms and high-priced attorneys, federal and state prosecutors, private investigators, personal assistants, publicists, servants, drivers and numerous other procurers, sometimes women, who made Epstein’s crimes possible are not being investigated. Those in the media, the political arena and the entertainment industry who aggressively and often viciously shut down and discredited the few voices, including those of a handful of intrepid reporters, who sought to shine a light on the crimes committed by Epstein and his circle of accomplices are not on trial. The videos that Epstein apparently collected of his guests engaged in their sexual escapades with teenage and underage girls from the cameras he had installed in his opulent residences and on his private island have mysteriously disappeared, most probably into the black hole of the FBI, along with other crucial evidence. Epstein’s death in a New York jail cell, while officially ruled a suicide, is in the eyes of many credible investigators a murder. With Epstein dead, and Maxwell sacrificed, the ruling oligarchs will once again escape justice.
The Epstein case is important because, however much is being covered up, it is a window into the scourge of male violence that explodes in decayed cultures, fueled by widening income disparities, the collapse of the social contract and the grotesque entitlement that comes with celebrity, political power, and wealth. When a ruling elite perverts all institutions, including the courts, into instruments that serve the exclusive interests of the entitled, when it willfully neglects and abandons larger and larger segments of the population, girls and women always suffer disproportionally. The struggle for equal pay, equal distribution of wealth and resources, access to welfare, legal aid that offers adequate protection under the law, social services, job training, healthcare, and education services, have been so degraded they barely exist for the poor, especially poor girls and women.
Women, traditionally burdened with the care of children, the elderly and the sick, stripped of control over their own bodies in states that seek to deny reproductive rights, are cornered, unable to make a living and secure legal protection. This is always the goal of patriarchy. And in this degraded world girls and women are easy prey for pimps, pedophiles, and rapists such as Epstein and his accomplices. These men look at their victims not as children or young women in distress but as human trash, no more worthy of consideration than a slave, which in fact many of these girls and women become.
A licentious, money-drenched, morally bankrupt and intellectually vacuous ruling class, accountable to no one and free to plunder and prey on the weak like human vultures, rise to power in societies in terminal decline. This class of parasites was savagely parodied in the first-century satirical novel “Satyricon” by Gaius Petronius, written during the reign of Nero. Epstein and his cohorts for years engaged in sexual perversions of Petronian proportions, as Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie Brown, whose dogged reporting was largely responsible for reopening the federal investigation in Epstein and Maxwell, documents in her book “Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story.”
As Brown writes, in 2016 an anonymous woman, using the pseudonym “Kate Johnson,” filed a civil complaint in federal court in California alleging she was raped by Trump and Epstein when she was thirteen over a four-month period from June to September 1994. “I loudly pleaded with Trump to stop,” she said in the lawsuit about being raped by Trump. “Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he could do whatever he wanted.” Brown writes:
Johnson said that Epstein invited her to a series of “underage sex parties” at his New York mansion where she met Trump. Enticed by promises of money and modeling opportunities, Johnson said she was forced to have sex with Trump several times, including once with another girl, twelve years old, whom she labeled “Marie Doe.”
Trump demanded oral sex, the lawsuit said, and afterward he “pushed both minors away while angrily berating them for the ‘poor’ quality of the sexual performance,” according to the lawsuit, filed April 26 in U.S. District Court in Central California.
Afterward, when Epstein learned that Trump had taken Johnson’s virginity, Epstein allegedly “attempted to strike her about the head with his closed fists,” angry he had not been the one to take her virginity. Johnson claimed that both men threatened to harm her, and her family if she ever revealed what had happened.
The lawsuit states that Trump did not take part in Epstein’s orgies but liked to watch, often while the thirteen-year-old “Kate Johnson” gave him a hand job. It appears Trump was able to quash the lawsuit by buying her silence. She has since disappeared.
These mediocrities, drunk with their own self-importance, equate celebrity, power and wealth with wisdom. Petronius’ Trimalchio, the archetypal self-made millionaire whose vulgarity and stupidity make him one of great comic buffoons of literature, was more than matched by Epstein who organized pretentious dinners for those in his secret billionaires club, which included Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Salar Kamangar and Jeff Bezos. Epstein and his guests, as in Petronius’s chapter “Dinner with Trimalchio,” dreamed up bizarre schemes of social engineering, including Epstein’s plan to seed the human species with his own DNA by creating a baby compound at his sprawling estate in New Mexico. “Epstein was also obsessed with cryonics, the transhumanist philosophy whose followers believe that people can be replicated or brought back to life after they are frozen,” Brown writes. “Epstein apparently told some of the members of his scientific circle that he wanted to inseminate women with his sperm for them to give birth to his babies, and that he wanted his head and his penis frozen.”
Epstein, who regularly entertained and funded the work of Harvard faculty, was made a visiting fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology, although he had no academic qualifications that made him eligible for the position. He was given a key card and pass code, as well as an office, in the building that housed Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. He referred to himself in his press releases as “Science Philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein,” “Education activist Jeffrey Epstein,” “Evolutionary Jeffrey Epstein,” “Science patron Jeffrey Epstein” and “Maverick hedge funder Jeffrey Epstein.”
The judicial system, for years, worked to protect Epstein. The legal anomalies, including the disappearance of massive amounts of evidence incriminating Epstein, saw Epstein avoid federal sex-trafficking charges in 2007 when his attorneys negotiated a secret deal with Alex Acosta in the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami to plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution.
The prominent men accused of also engaging in Epstein’s carnival of pedophilia, including the attorney and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, brazenly lie and threaten anyone daring to call them out. Dershowitz, for example, claims that an investigation, which he has refused to make public, by the former FBI director Louis Freeh proves he had never had sex with one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre. He has sent repeated threats to Brown and her editors at the Miami Herald. Brown continues:
[Dershowitz] kept referring to information that was contained in sealed documents. He accused the newspaper of not reporting “facts” that he said were in those sealed documents. The truth is, I tried to explain, newspapers just can’t write about things because Alan Dershowitz says they exist. We need to see them. We need to verify them. Then, because I said “show me the material,” he publicly accused me of committing a criminal act by asking him to produce documents that were under court seal.
This is the way Dershowitz operates.
What disturbs me the most about Dershowitz is the way that the media, with few exceptions, fails to critically challenge him. Journalists fact-checked Donald Trump and others in his administration almost every day, yet, for the most part, the media seems to give Dershowitz a pass on the Epstein story.
In 2015, when Giuffre’s allegations first became public, Dershowitz went on every television program imaginable swearing, among other things, that Epstein’s plane logs would exonerate him. “How do you know that?” he was asked.
He replied that he was never on Epstein’s plane during the time that Virginia was involved with Epstein.
But if the media had checked, they could have learned that he was indeed a passenger on the plane during that time period, according to the logs.
Then he testified, in a sworn deposition, that he never went on any plane trips without his wife. But he was listed on those passage manifests as traveling multiple times without his wife. During at least one trip, he was on the plane with a model named Tatiana.
The ability of the powerful to ignore the law raises important and different questions for girls and women about the role of government, police and the law. Defunding the police is not a solution. Demilitarizing the police is. Women need legal protection and need police that function as police, as a sanction with severe consequences against male violence. They need social support. They need robust institutions, including the courts, which prevent them from being blackmailed, bullied, and abused. To challenge sexual violence, to challenge objectification, to challenge the cultural hypersexualization of women, is to be subject to vicious character assassination, threatened, including the threat of rape, and at times killed. To stand up to protect water, to assist a truth-teller, if you are a woman, is to face potential economic destitution. To stand up and name your abuser, as many of the courageous women who have come forward in the Epstein case have done, is to have high-priced teams of attorneys and private investigators pursue every avenue to demonize, discredit and destroy you financially and psychologically. The resources available to the powerful, and the dearth of resources available to the powerless, skews this fight in favor of the predators. This is by design.
The struggle for liberation and justice by women is central to the struggle for liberation and justice for everyone. We will not resist the radical evil before us without women, if we are denied access to the ideas and leadership of women, and in particular women of color. So, while we must decry violence and exploitation against all of the oppressed, we must also recognize that male violence against women – including prostitution and its promoter, pornography – is an especially insidious form of violence. It is a tool of corporate domination and capitalism. It is engrained in the racism and exploitation of imperialism and colonialism. But it also exists outside the structures of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. More women have been killed by their domestic partners since 2001 than all the Americans killed on September 11, and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Predatory male power infects the left as well as the right, the anti-capitalists as well as the capitalists, the anti-imperialists as well as the imperialists and the anti-racists as well as the racists. It is its own evil. And if it is not defeated there will be no justice for women or for anyone else.
The predators know that desperation forces girls and women, with no alternatives left, to trade sex for the most basic staples of life, including food and shelter. In every conflict I covered as a war correspondent there was an explosion of prostituted girls and women. And as we are burdened with greater and greater numbers of environmental migrants — over a billion by 2050, by one prediction — fleeing droughts, rising sea levels, flooding, wildfires and declining crop yields these exchanges of sex for the most basic elements need to survive will become more common. The scourge of male violence is growing, not decreasing.
George Bernard Shaw got it right. Poverty is:
“[T]he worst of crimes. All the other crimes are virtues beside it; all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by comparison. Poverty blights whole cities, spreads horrible pestilences, strikes dead the very souls of all who come within sight, sound, or smell of it. What you call crime is nothing: a murder here and a theft there, a blow now and a curse then. What do they matter? They are only the accidents and illnesses of life; there are not fifty genuine professional criminals in London. But there are millions of poor people, abject people, dirty people, ill-fed, ill-clothed people. They poison us morally and physically; they kill the happiness of society; they force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down into their abyss. Only fools fear crime; we all fear poverty.”
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said of society that “some are guilty, but all are responsible.” The crime of poverty is a communal crime. Our failure, as the richest nation on earth, to provide safe and healthy communities, ones where all children have enough to eat and a future, is a communal crime. Our failure to provide everyone, and especially the poor, with a good education and housing is a communal crime. Our failure to make health care a human right, forcing parents, burdened with astronomical medical bills, to bankrupt themselves to save their sick sons or daughters, is a communal crime. Our failure to provide meaningful work — in short, the possibility of hope — is a communal crime. Our decision to militarize police forces and build prisons, rather than invest in people, is a communal crime. Our failure to protect girls and women is a communal crime. The misguided belief in charity and philanthropy rather than justice is a communal crime. “You Christians have a vested interest in unjust structures which produce victims to whom you then can pour out your hearts in charity,” Karl Marx said, chastising a group of church leaders.
If we do not work to eliminate the causes of poverty, the greatest of all crimes, the institutional structures that keep the poor poor, then we are responsible. There are issues of personal morality, and they are important, but they mean nothing without a commitment to social morality. Only those who have been there truly understand. Only those with integrity and courage speak the truth. And at the forefront of this fight are women.
Sexual sadism is fed by the entitlement of the powerful and a pornography industry that eroticizes images of girls and women being physically abused. It is not accidental that many of the Abu Ghraib images resemble stills from porn films. There is a shot of a naked man kneeling in front of another man as if performing oral sex. There is a photo of a naked man on a leash held by a female American soldier. There are photos of naked men in chains. There are photos of naked men stacked one on top of the other in a pile on the floor. And there are hundreds more classified photos that purportedly show forced masturbation by Iraqi prisoners and the rape of prisoners, including young boys, by U.S. soldiers, many of whom were schooled in these torture techniques in our vast system of mass incarceration.
The list of suspected abusers around Epstein was not segregated by the left or the right. It included Republicans, like Trump, and Democrats such as Clinton. It included philanthropists such as Gates, the former prime minister of Israel, and Harvard academics. It included celebrities, such as David Copperfield, and the titans of finance and business. The common denominator was not politics or ideology, but that they were powerful and wealthy men.
The feminist Andrea Dworkin understood. She excoriated the left, who railed against the excesses of capitalism, while ignoring the capitalist exploitation of girls and women. She wrote:
Capitalism is not wicked or cruel when the commodity is the whore; profit is not wicked or cruel when the alienated worker is a female piece of meat; corporate bloodsucking is not wicked or cruel when the corporations in question, organized crime syndicates, sell cunt; racism is not wicked or cruel when the black cunt or yellow cunt or red cunt or Hispanic cunt or Jewish cunt has her legs splayed for any man’s pleasure; poverty is not wicked or cruel when it is the poverty of dispossessed women who have only themselves to sell; violence by the powerful against the powerless is not wicked or cruel when it is called sex; slavery is not wicked or cruel when it is sexual slavery; torture is not wicked or cruel when the tormented are women, whores, cunts. The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.
The Earth, and all forms of life on this planet, must be revered, and protected if we are to endure as a species. This means inculcating a different vision of human society. It means building a world where domination and ceaseless exploitation, in all its forms, are condemned, where empathy, especially for the weak and for the vulnerable is held up as the highest virtue. It means recovering the capacity for awe and reverence for the sacred sources that sustain life. It means that girls and women must be empowered to control their own fates. Once we stand up for this ethic of life, once we include all people, including girls and women, as an integral part of this ethic, we can build a successful resistance movement that can challenge the radical evil before us. But we can’t do it unless half of the human population, girls and women, are at our side. Their fight is our fight. Their justice is our justice. Once they are free, we can all be free.
As the Glasgow climate conference begins, and the time we have to avert a climate crisis narrows, it is time to revisit successful First Nations campaigns against the fossil fuel industry.
Like the current fight to avert a climate catastrophe, these battles are good, old-fashioned, come-from-behind, David-versus-Goliath examples we can all learn from. The Jabiluka campaign is a good example.
In the late 1990s, a mining company, Energy Resources of Australia, was planning to expand its Kakadu uranium mine into Jabiluka, land belonging to Mirarr Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory. The adjacent Ranger Uranium mine had been operating for 20 years without Traditional Owners’ consent and against their wishes, causing long-term cultural and environmental destruction.
But the expansion of the mine ultimately failed, thanks to an extraordinary campaign by the Traditional Owners, led by Yvonne Margarula and a relative, the lead author of this article, Jacqui Katona (a Djok woman).
In recognition of our work, we shared the 1999 Goldman Environmental Prize, one of the most prestigious international grassroots environmental awards.
The campaign included a huge on-site protest camp, shareholder action and significant overseas support (including from the European Parliament, US Congress and an expert committee to UNESCO). It also included a blockade of the mine site – one of the biggest blockades Australia had ever seen.
These are valuable lessons for those wanting to take decisive action against the fossil fuel industry. Here are six ways to learn from our experience:
1. Put pressure on the financial sector
Continuous pressure on companies in the financial sector (such as banks), which are complicit in the success of fossil fuel companies, can have an impact. This can be done by exposing their involvement with fossil fuels and pressuring them to be held accountable for these partnerships.
One of the most successful actions of the Jabiluka campaign was the coordination of protests at Westpac, which financed the mine’s owner, Energy Resources of Australia. Not only did protesters raise awareness about Westpac’s investment at local branches, they created bureaucratic chaos by opening and closing bank accounts.
This resulted in a corporate shift in Westpac towards better accountability on issues affecting First Nations people. Coordinated protests like this are an effective way to empower people to participate in positive action for change.
First Nations campaigns against mining and other fossil fuel companies show the single most important factor in successful protests is leadership by politically powerful organisations or alliances.
In the Jabiluka campaign, Katona and Margarula were successful in large part because of their insistence on a Mirrar-led campaign forming strong alliances with powerful unions, environmental groups and other national and international organisations.
Shareholders were then able to have some influence over corporate responsibility and accountability, including the appointment of a sustainable development manager. While the government ultimately amended the Corporations Act to make such actions more difficult, this nevertheless shows that creative direct action can be successful in holding corporations accountable.
4. Win over the right people
When Rio Tinto detonated 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge on the traditional land of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples last year, it was not only public outcry that led to the resignation of three senior executives, including the chief executive.
Katona led the Jabiluka campaign while a mother to two small children, juggling local work with international activism. She was jailed for trespassing on Aboriginal land. She was hospitalised with complications from lupus, which required a long recovery.
Be strategic about your participation in high-energy campaigns and find ways to support the efforts of key activists. But also know the fight against the fossil fuel industry takes more effort than just changing your social media profile picture.
There is no perfect time, or single solution, to campaigning for a better future. The power of people is a resource which often delivers inspiration to disrupt and needs to be nurtured.
6. Believe you can win
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have faced hundreds of years of colonisation, industrial desecration of their sacred lands, and destruction of their Country. However in many cases, they have won battles against the odds.
The Mirrar faced a discriminatory system which sidelined their interests in Kakadu for more than 20 years. But they continued their fight to protect Country, and ultimately succeeded in preventing Jabiluka’s expansion.
So take heart and don’t give up. This is a fight that can be won.
This post briefly describes 25 anarchist thinkers, following on from the political ideology post. I took the list of anarchist thinkers from ‘Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism’ by Peter Marshall.
William Godwin (1756-1836) is said to be the founder of philosophical anarchism. In his book An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), he argued that “government is a corrupting force in society, perpetuating dependence and ignorance, but that it will be rendered increasingly unnecessary and powerless by the gradual spread of knowledge and the expansion of the human understanding. Politics will be displaced by an enlarged personal morality as truth conquers error and mind subordinates matter. In this development the rigorous exercise of private judgment, and its candid expression in public discussion, plays a central role, motivating his rejection of a wide range of co-operative and rule-governed practices which he regards as tending to mental enslavement, such as law, private property, marriage and concerts.”
Inspired by the optimism of the French Revolution, Godwin believed a time would come when the mind would dominate matter so ‘mental perfectibility’ would take physical form so it would be possible to control illness, ageing resulting in humans becoming immortal. Godwin’s moral theory is described as utilitarian. 
Max Stirner (1806–1856) is the author of Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum (1844). In English, it is known as The Ego and Its Own or The Unique Individual and their Property. It is argued that “the form and content of Stirner’s major work are disconcerting. He challenges expectations about how political and philosophical arguments should be conducted and shakes the reader’s confidence in the moral and political superiority of contemporary civilisation. Stirner provides a sweeping attack on the modern world as increasingly dominated by “religious” modes of thought and oppressive social institutions, together with a much briefer sketch of a radical “egoistic” alternative in which individual autonomy might flourish. The historical impact of The Ego and Its Own is sometimes difficult to assess, but Stirner’s work can confidently be said: to have had an immediate and destructive impact on the left-Hegelian movement; to have played an important contemporary role in the intellectual development of Karl Marx (1818–1883); and subsequently to have influenced significantly the political tradition of individualist anarchism.” 
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 – 1865) was a French socialist, politician, philosopher, economist and the founder of mutualist philosophy. He was the first person to describe himself as an anarchist and is a very influential anarchist thinker, with some describing him as the ‘father of anarchism’.
“Proudhon became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1848, whereafter he referred to himself as a federalist. Proudhon described the liberty he pursued as “the synthesis of communism and property”. Some consider his mutualism to be part of individualist anarchism while others regard it to be part of social anarchism.
His first major work was What Is Property? (1840), where is asserted that ‘property is theft’. His work interested Karl Marx and they become friends. This ended with their disagreement over Proudhon’s The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty (1846).
Proudhon advocated workers’ councils, associations and cooperatives, plus individual worker/peasant possession over private ownership or the nationalisation of land and workplaces. He believed social revolution was achievable peacefully. “Proudhon unsuccessfully tried to create a national bank, to be funded by what became an abortive attempt at an income tax on capitalists and shareholders. Similar in some respects to a credit union, it would have given interest-free loans.” 
Mikhail Bakunin (1814 – 1976) was a Russian revolutionary anarchist, socialist and founder of collectivist anarchism. He is also a very influential anarchist and believed to be the founder of the revolutionary socialist and social anarchist traditions.
His revolutionary politics caused him to move between several countries, be deported from Germany and be imprisoned in Russia. He joined the International Worker Men’s Association and led the anarchist faction. There was a conflict between Bakunin and Marx, with the latter arguing for the use of the state to introduce socialism. “Bakunin and the anarchist faction argued for the replacement of the state by federations of self-governing workplaces and communes.” The anarchists lost the conflict and Bakunin was expelled from the International. Bakunin founded the Anti-Authoritarian International in 1872. From 1870 Bakunin wrote several texts on the State, anarchism and God. He was also involved in several European movements including insurrections in France and Italy.
Bakunin is believed to have “had a significant influence on thinkers such as Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Herbert Marcuse, E. P. Thompson, Neil Postman and A. S. Neill as well as syndicalist organizations such as the Wobblies, the anarchists in the Spanish Civil War and contemporary anarchists involved in the modern-day anti-globalization movement.” 
Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (184 – 1921) was a “Russian anarchist, socialist, revolutionary, economist, sociologist, historian, zoologist, political scientist, human geographer and philosopher who advocated anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, essayist, researcher and writer.”
“Born into an aristocratic land-owning family, Kropotkin attended a military school and later served as an officer in Siberia, where he participated in several geological expeditions. He was imprisoned for his activism in 1874 and managed to escape two years later. He spent the next 41 years in exile in Switzerland, France (where he was imprisoned for almost four years) and England. While in exile, he gave lectures and published widely on anarchism and geography. Kropotkin returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917, but he was disappointed by the Bolshevik state.”
“Kropotkin was a proponent of a decentralised communist society free from central government and based on voluntary associations of self-governing communities and worker-run enterprises. He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops, but also Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, his principal scientific offering. He contributed the article on anarchism to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition and left unfinished a work on anarchist ethical philosophy.” 
Jacques Élisée Reclus (1830 – 1905) “was a renowned French geographer, writer and anarchist. He produced his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes (‘Universal Geography’), over a period of nearly 20 years (1875–1894). In 1892 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work, despite having been banished from France because of his political activism. Reclus advocated nature conservation and opposed meat-eating and cruelty to animals. He was a vegetarian. As a result, his ideas are seen by some historians and writers as anticipating the modern social ecology and animal rights movements.” 
Errico Malatesta (14 December 1853 – 22 July 1932) “was an Italian anarchist and revolutionary socialist. He spent much of his life exiled from Italy and in total spent more than ten years in prison. Malatesta wrote and edited a number of radical newspapers and was also a friend of Mikhail Bakunin.”
It has been described that Malatesta had a two-part strategy by the start of the nineteenth century. First, the unification of the anarchist and anti-parliamentary socialists into a new anarchist socialist party as anarchism was a minority movement on the Italian left. The other part was to advocate a syndicalist strategy to encourage socialists into insurrections and to maintain their revolutionary conscience. Malatesta’s form of anarchist communism can be described as ‘anarchism without adjectives’.
Others describe Malatesta’s form of anarchism to be ‘anarchist socialism’, which promoted the socialist character of anarchism and the need for anarchists to regain contact with workers, especially through the labour movement. 
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828 – 1910) was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. Born into an aristocratic Russian family and best known for the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878).
“In the 1870s, Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894), had a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He also became a dedicated advocate of Georgism, the economic philosophy of Henry George, which he incorporated into his writing, particularly Resurrection (1899).” 
Josiah Warren (1798 – 1874) “was an American utopian socialist, individualist philosopher, polymath, social reformer, inventor, musician, printer and author. He is regarded by some as the first American anarchist (although Warren never used the term anarchism himself) and the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, The Peaceful Revolutionist, the first anarchist periodical published, was an enterprise for which he built his own printing press, cast his own type, and made his own printing plates.” 
Lysander Spooner (1808 – 1887) “was an American individualist anarchist. He was also an abolitionist, entrepreneur, essayist, legal theorist, pamphletist, political philosopher, Unitarian, writer and a member of the First International. Spooner was a strong advocate of the labor movement and anti-authoritarian and individualist anarchist in his political views. His economic and political ideology has usually been identified as libertarian socialism and mutualism. His writings contributed to the development of both left-libertarian and right-libertarian political theory within libertarianism in the United States. Spooner’s writings include the abolitionist book The Unconstitutionality of Slavery and No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, which opposed treason charges against secessionists. Spooner is also known for competing with the Post Office with his American Letter Mail Company. However, it was closed after legal problems with the federal government.” 
Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854 – 1939) “was an American anarchist and libertarian socialist. A 19th-century proponent of individualist anarchism which he called “unterrified Jeffersonianism”, Tucker was the editor and publisher of the American individualist anarchist periodical Liberty (1881–1908) as well as a member of the socialist First International. Tucker harshly opposed state socialism and was a supporter of libertarian socialism which he termed anarchist or anarchistic socialism as well as a follower of mutualism. He connected the classical economics of Adam Smith and the Ricardian socialists as well as that of Josiah Warren, Karl Marx and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to socialism. Later in his life, Tucker converted to Max Stirner’s egoism.” 
Adin Ballou (1803 – 1890) “was an American proponent of Christian nonresistance, Christian anarchism and socialism, abolitionism, and the founder of the Hopedale Community. Through his long career as a Universalist and Unitarian minister, he tirelessly advocated for the immediate abolition of slavery, the principles of Christian anarcho-socialism, and promoted the nonviolent theory of praxis (or moral suasion) in his prolific writings. Such writings drew the admiration of Leo Tolstoy, who frequently cited Ballou as a major influence on his theological and political ideology in his non-fiction texts like The Kingdom of God is Within You, along with sponsoring Russian translations of some of Ballou’s works. As well as heavily inspiring Tolstoy, Ballou’s Christian anarchist and nonresistance ideals in texts like Practical Christianity were passed down from Tolstoy to Mahatma Gandhi, contributing not only to the nonviolent resistance movement in the Russian Revolution led by the Tolstoyans, but also Gandhi’s early thinkings on the nonviolent theory of praxis and the development of his first ashram, the Tolstoy Farm. In a recent publication, American philosopher and anarchist Crispin Sartwell wrote that the works by Ballou and his other Christian anarchist contemporaries like William Lloyd Garrison directly influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., as well.” 
John Humphrey Noyes
John Humphrey Noyes (1811 – 1886) “was an American preacher, radical religious philosopher, and utopian socialist. He founded the Putney, Oneida and Wallingford Communities, and is credited with coining the term ‘complex marriage’.” 
Voltairine de Cleyre
Voltairine de Cleyre (1866 – 1912) “was an American anarchist known for being a prolific writer and speaker who opposed capitalism, marriage and the state as well as the domination of religion over sexuality and women’s lives which she saw as all interconnected. She is often characterized as a major early feminist because of her views. Born and raised in small towns in Michigan and schooled in a Sarnia, Ontario, Catholic convent, de Cleyre began her activist career in the freethought movement. Although she was initially drawn to individualist anarchism, de Cleyre evolved through mutualism to what she called anarchism without adjectives, prioritizing a stateless society without the use of aggression or coercion above all else. De Cleyre was a contemporary of Emma Goldman, with whom she maintained a relationship of respectful disagreement on many issues. Many of de Cleyre’s essays were collected in the Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre, published posthumously by Goldman’s magazine Mother Earth in 1914.” 
Emma Goldman (1869 – 1940) “was an anarchist political activist and writer. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Goldman was born in Russia and emigrated to the US in 1995. She was attracted to anarchism after the Chicago Haymarket affair and became a write and lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women’s rights and social issues. Goldman and Alexander Berkman attempted to assassinate financier Henry Clay Frick, as an act of propaganda of the deed. It was unsuccessful and Berkman served 14 years in prison. Goldman was imprisoned several times for ‘inciting riots’ and illegally distributing information on birth control. Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth in 1906. In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were given two-year prison sentences for encouraging people to avoid the First World War draft. Once released they were arrested again and along with 248 others were deported to Russia.
Goldman was initially supportive of the Russian Revolution but following the Kronstadt rebellion, she denounced the Soviet Union for its violent repression of opposing voices. She left the Soviet Union in 1923 and wrote about her experiences. In the 1930’s Goldman moved between England, Canada, France and Spain and wrote her autobiography.
“During her life, Goldman was lionized as a freethinking rebel woman’ by admirers, and denounced by detractors as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution. Her writing and lectures spanned a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women’s suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. After decades of obscurity, Goldman gained iconic status in the 1970s by a revival of interest in her life, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest.” 
Alexander Berkman (1870 – 1936) “was a Russian-American anarchist and author. He was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century, famous for both his political activism and his writing. Berkman was born in Vilna in the Russian Empire (present-day Vilnius, Lithuania) and immigrated to the United States in 1888. He lived in New York City, where he became involved in the anarchist movement. He was the one-time lover and lifelong friend of anarchist Emma Goldman. In 1892, undertaking an act of propaganda of the deed, Berkman made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate businessman Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead strike, for which he served 14 years in prison. His experience in prison was the basis of his first book, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. After his release from prison, Berkman served as editor of Goldman’s anarchist journal, Mother Earth, and later established his own journal, The Blast. In 1917, Berkman and Goldman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiracy against the newly instated draft. After their release from prison, they were arrested—along with hundreds of others—and deported to Russia. Initially supportive of that country’s Bolshevik revolution, Berkman and Goldman soon became disillusioned, voicing their opposition to the Soviets’ use of terror after seizing power and their repression of fellow revolutionaries. They left the Soviet Union in late 1921, and in 1925 Berkman published a book about his experiences, The Bolshevik Myth.
While living in France, Berkman continued his work in support of the anarchist movement, producing the classic exposition of anarchist principles, Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism. Suffering from ill health, Berkman committed suicide in 1936.” 
Gustav Landauer (1870 – 1919) “was one of the leading theorists on anarchism in Germany at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. He was an advocate of social anarchism and an avowed pacifist. In 1919, he was briefly Commissioner of Enlightenment and Public Instruction of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic during the German Revolution of 1918–1919. He was killed when this republic was overthrown. Landauer is also known for his study of metaphysics and religion, and his translations of William Shakespeare’s works into German.” 
Johann Joseph “Hans” Most (1846 – 1906) was a German-American Social Democratic and then anarchist politician, newspaper editor, and orator. He is credited with popularizing the concept of ‘propaganda of the deed‘.”
In Germany, he edited several revolutionary socialist newspapers. He argued against patriotism, conventional religion and advocated violent action to bring about revolutionary change. He was forced to leave Germany and moved to France, then London. He founded a new anarchist newspaper there. He was imprisoned by the British state for 18 months for writing about his delight of the assassination of Alexander II of Russia. Following his release, he moved to the US. He continued publishing his newspaper in New York and was imprisoned there too for supporting the assassination of US President McKinley. 
Johann Rudolf Rocker (1873 – 1958) was a German anarchist writer and activist. Some describe him as an anarcho-syndicalist, he described himself as an anarchist without adjectives. He believed that anarchist schools of thought represented “different methods of economy” with the main aim for anarchists was “to secure the personal and social freedom of men”.
As a young man, he joined the SPD and was part of the German labour movement. He was a follower of Bakunin, a revolutionary, radical leftist and anti-Marxist. Rocker moved around Europe in the early twentieth century. He became a regular writer for a syndicalist publication and was part of the 1920 international syndicalist conference that led to the founding of the International Workers Association (IWA) in 1922. Rocker returned to Germany in 1926 and was concerned by the rise of nationalism and fascism. He was later exiled from Nazi Germany.
Rocker published a well-known text, ‘In Pioneers of American Freedom’, “a series of essays, he details the history of liberal and anarchist thought in the United States, seeking to debunk the idea that radical thought was foreign to American history and culture and had merely been imported by immigrants.” 
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) “was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule and in turn to inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Born and raised in a Hindu family in coastal Gujarat, Gandhi trained in the law at the Inner Temple, London, and was called to the bar at age 22 in June 1891. After two uncertain years in India, where he was unable to start a successful law practice, he moved to South Africa in 1893 to represent an Indian merchant in a lawsuit. He went on to live in South Africa for 21 years. It was here that Gandhi raised a family and first employed nonviolent resistance in a campaign for civil rights. In 1915, aged 45, he returned to India. He set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, and above all for achieving swaraj or self-rule.
Also in 1921, Gandhi adopted the use of a short dhoti woven with hand-spun yarn as a mark of identification with India’s rural poor. He began to live in a self-sufficient residential community and to eat simple food; he undertook long fasts as a means of both introspection and political protest. Bringing anti-colonial nationalism to the common Indians, Gandhi led them in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930 and in calling for the British to quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned many times and for many years in both South Africa and India.
Gandhi’s vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism was challenged in the early 1940s by a Muslim nationalism which demanded a separate homeland for Muslims within British India. In August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, the Hindu-majority India and the Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Abstaining from the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to alleviate distress. In the months following, he undertook several hunger strikes to stop the religious violence. The last of these, begun on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan. Some Indians thought Gandhi was too accommodating to Pakistan. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest.” 
Sir Herbert Edward Read, DSO, MC (1893 – 1968) “was an English art historian, poet, literary critic and philosopher, best known for numerous books on art, which included influential volumes on the role of art in education. Read was co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. As well as being a prominent English anarchist, he was one of the earliest English writers to take notice of existentialism.
Politically, Read considered himself an anarchist, albeit in the English quietist tradition of Edward Carpenter and William Morris. Nevertheless, in 1953 he accepted a knighthood for “services to literature”; this caused Read to be ostracized by most of the anarchist movement. Read was actively opposed to the Franco regime in Spain, and often campaigned on behalf of political prisoners in Spain.
Dividing Read’s writings on politics from those on art and culture is difficult, because he saw art, culture and politics as a single congruent expression of human consciousness. His total work amounts to over 1,000 published titles.
Read’s book ‘To Hell With Culture’ deals specifically with his disdain for the term culture and expands on his anarchist view of the artist as artisan, as well as presenting a major analysis of the work of Eric Gill. It was republished by Routledge in 2002.” 
Alexander Comfort (1920 – 2000) “was a British scientist and physician known best for his nonfiction sex manual, The Joy of Sex (1972). He was an author of both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a gerontologist, anarchist, pacifist, and conscientious objector.
A pacifist, Comfort considered himself “an aggressive anti-militarist”, and he believed that pacifism rested “solely upon the historical theory of anarchism”.
Comfort was an active member of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and a conscientious objector in World War II. In 1951 Comfort was a signatory of the Authors’ World Peace Appeal, but later resigned from its committee, claiming the AWPA had become dominated by Soviet sympathisers. Later in the decade he actively endorsed both the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, 1957, and the Committee of 100, 1960. Comfort was imprisoned for a month, with Bertrand Russell and other leading members of the Committee of 100, for refusing to be bound not to continue organising the Parliament Square/Trafalgar Square protest of 17 September 1961.
Among the publications by Comfort concerning anarchism is ‘Peace and Disobedience’ (1946), one of many pamphlets he wrote for Peace News and PPU, and ‘Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State’ (1950). He exchanged public correspondence with George Orwell defending pacifism in the open letter/poem, “Letter to an American Visitor”, under the pseudonym “Obadiah Hornbrooke”. Comfort’s book ‘The Joy of Sex’ (1972) earned him worldwide fame and $3 million. But he was unhappy to become known as “Dr. Sex” and to have his other works given so little attention.” 
Paul Goodman (1911–1972) “was an American author and public intellectual best known for his 1960s works of social criticism. Goodman was prolific across numerous literary genres and non-fiction topics, including the arts, civil rights, decentralization, democracy, education, media, politics, psychology, technology, urban planning, and war. As a humanist and self-styled man of letters, his works often addressed a common theme of the individual citizen’s duties in the larger society, and the responsibility to exercise autonomy, act creatively, and realize one’s own human nature.
Born to a Jewish family in New York City, Goodman was raised by his aunts and sister and attended City College of New York. As an aspiring writer, he wrote and published poems and fiction before receiving his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He returned to writing in New York City and took sporadic magazine writing and teaching jobs, several of which he lost for his outward bisexuality and World War II draft resistance. Goodman discovered anarchism and wrote for libertarian journals. His radicalism was rooted in psychological theory. He co-wrote the theory behind Gestalt therapy based on Wilhelm Reich’s radical Freudianism and held psychoanalytic sessions through the 1950s while continuing to write prolifically.
His 1960 book of social criticism, Growing Up Absurd, established his importance as a mainstream cultural theorist. Goodman became known as “the philosopher of the New Left” and his anarchistic disposition was influential in 1960s counterculture and the free school movement. Despite being the foremost American intellectual of non-Marxist radicalism in his time, his celebrity did not endure far beyond his life. Goodman is remembered for his utopian proposals and principled belief in human potential.” 
Murray Bookchin (1921 – 2006) “was an American communalist, political philosopher, trade-union organizer, and educator. A pioneer in the environmental movement, Bookchin formulated and developed the theory of social ecology and urban planning, within anarchist, libertarian socialist, and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books covering topics in politics, philosophy, history, urban affairs, and social ecology. Among the most important were ‘Our Synthetic Environment’ (1962), ‘Post-Scarcity Anarchism’ (1971), ‘The Ecology of Freedom’ (1982) and ‘Urbanization Without Cities’ (1987). In the late 1990s, he became disenchanted with what he saw as an increasingly apolitical ‘lifestylism’ of the contemporary anarchist movement, stopped referring to himself as an anarchist, and founded his own libertarian socialist ideology called communalism, which seeks to reconcile Marxist and anarchist thought.
Bookchin was a prominent anti-capitalist and advocate of social decentralization along ecological and democratic lines. His ideas have influenced social movements since the 1960s, including the New Left, the anti-nuclear movement, the anti-globalization movement, Occupy Wall Street, and more recently, the democratic confederalism of Rojava. He was a central figure in the American green movement and the Burlington Greens.” 
Avram Noam Chomsky (born 1928) “is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes called ‘the father of modern linguistics’, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is the author of more than 150 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.
Born to Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from alternative bookstores in New York City. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania. During his postgraduate work in the Harvard Society of Fellows, Chomsky developed the theory of transformational grammar for which he earned his doctorate in 1955. That year he began teaching at MIT, and in 1957 emerged as a significant figure in linguistics with his landmark work Syntactic Structures, which played a major role in remodelling the study of language. From 1958 to 1959 Chomsky was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. He created or co-created the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program. Chomsky also played a pivotal role in the decline of linguistic behaviorism, and was particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.
An outspoken opponent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which he saw as an act of American imperialism, in 1967 Chomsky rose to national attention for his anti-war essay “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”. Becoming associated with the New Left, he was arrested multiple times for his activism and placed on President Richard Nixon’s Enemies List. While expanding his work in linguistics over subsequent decades, he also became involved in the linguistics wars. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman, Chomsky later articulated the propaganda model of media criticism in Manufacturing Consent and worked to expose the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. His defense of unconditional freedom of speech, including that of Holocaust denial, generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the 1980s. Since retiring from active teaching at MIT, he has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq and supporting the Occupy movement. Chomsky began teaching at the University of Arizona in 2017.
One of the most cited scholars alive, Chomsky has influenced a broad array of academic fields. He is widely recognized as having helped to spark the cognitive revolution in the human sciences, contributing to the development of a new cognitivistic framework for the study of language and the mind. In addition to his continued scholarship, he remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. Chomsky and his ideas are highly influential in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements.” 
– Section 11318: Exempts oil and gas pipelines on most federal lands from environmental analysis.
– Sections 40301-40333 (“Fuels and Technology Infrastructure Investments”): These sections propose nearly $15 billion in taxpayer subsidies for dirty energy, including oil, coal, gas, and woody biomass via investments in largely theoretical and unproven carbon capture and storage technologies, including an additional $3 billion to begin construction of a massive network of new CO2 pipelines (Sec. 41004), while also dishonestly defining “clean hydrogen” to include hydrogen derived from climate-polluting carbon-fuel sources such as biomass and fossil fuels (Sec. 40311). The approach outlined here is riddled with uncertainty and harmful impacts while perpetuating our reliance on fossil fuels, which is why it has been denounced as a false climate solution by the scientific community. An additional $6 billion in subsidies is proposed for nuclear energy ( Sec. 41002).
– Section 40801: Authorizes USFS to upgrade and “store” National Forest System roads for future commercial timber production, rather than decommission them.
– Section 40803 (“Wildfire Risk Reduction”): Mandates the logging of 10 million acres of federal forestlands over the next 6 years, and an additional 20 million acres of federal forestlands following the initial 10 million acres of logging. The way these provisions are worded could and likely would be interpreted by courts as intending a complete elimination of all federal environmental laws (including NEPA, ESA, NFMA, and others) to facilitate this logging mandate. Section 40803 also dedicates over $1.6 billion in new taxpayer subsidies for logging, including post-fire clearcutting, on federal lands.
– Section 40804 (“Ecosystem Restoration”) : Authorizes $400 million in subsidies for wood processing facilities, such as sawmills, biomass power plants and wood pellet manufacturing; $400 million for increased logging on public and private forests; $50 million for a program to rent equipment to the timber industry to allow them to log otherwise inaccessible areas, and grants to build sawmill infrastructure and other wood-processing facilities.
– Section 40806: Eliminates environmental analysis under NEPA for an unlimited number of logging projects on federal lands, up to 1,000 feet wide and 3,000 acres in size each, under the guise of “fuelbreaks”.
– Section 40807: Weakens current environmental laws to create a broad exemption which eliminates the public’s right to file administrative objections against planned logging projects on federal lands.
– Sections 70301-70303: Promotes post-fire clearcutting and carbon removal, under the scientifically discredited notion that forests do not regenerate after fires, and promotes conversion of native forests to industrial tree plantations.
– Section 80402: Proposes a system of sweeping tax credits (financial implications unspecified, but potentially in the billions of dollars) for dirty energy, including coal, oil, gas, garbage incineration, and woody biomass under the false-solution catch-all of carbon capture and storage.