Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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Global Autonomy: Coporate Central Versus Local Resilience: Chapter Four of Sinister Dynamic: Global Governance and the Reconstruction of Nature
by Dennis Weiser

Democracy "in essence...means that our lives should be governed by reason and not by force."
"It is notorious that our politicians almost never appeal to reason. They appeal to the ignorance, the prejudice, the self-interest of the electorate. Sometimes they appeal to the basest passions. Sometimes they use unworthy tricks and even deceit and lies and false promises to persuade the people. ...They point to the abuses of democracy, not to the ideal of democracy in which alone, of course, democratic values would perfectly flower. And it is about democratic values that we are talking, not about human failures to reach them."
"Democracy is an ideal, not a fact. But it is an ideal we can strive for."
          —W. T. Stace, "Democratic Values," Man Against Darkness
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
          —Margaret Mead

No doubt Margaret Mead is correct in her assessment of the cause of sociological change, which is also the story Perry Miller's account of American history tells; however, it makes a difference whether your "small group" consists of opportunistic egotists and sophists like Karl Rove and Frank Luntz or principled advocates and truth-tellers like Ray McGovern and Noam Chomsky. The difference lies not in the degree or intensity but rather in the quality and content of their experience, thinking and commitments.

In returning to Europe to fight Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in World War II, America underwent a kind of regression. The full story has never been told. In crossing the Atlantic from North America to Europe, we reversed the Puritan journey of the Great Migration, symbolically reawakening all the trauma of that original crossing. Centuries before, our core identity and primary institutions had profoundly internalized the doubts, insecurities, isolation and ostracism inherent in our collective experience in the wilderness; these had played out over four centuries.

To cut to the chase: the United States became impressed with and mesmerized by German corporate industrial organization, especially Germany's banking methods and techniques. That story is in large part the story of Martin Bormann's flight capital program, by which Hitler's chosen successor and administrative genius succeeded in spiriting virtually all of the Third Reich's assets, currency, gold, stock, patents, scientists, engineers and art out of Germany and into neutral countries of Europe and South America before the surrender.

Paul Manning chronicled the Bormann story in his unjustly neglected and fascinating life work, Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile (1981). A distinguished investigative reporter, Manning was one of Edward R. Murrow's CBS crew stationed in London during the late 1930s. The only journalist who covered the unconditional surrenders of both Germany and Japan in 1945, Manning was uniquely positioned and qualified—with contacts all over Europe—to conduct this investigation.

In August 1944, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann convened a meeting with the leadership of the major German industries and outlined his "flight capital" program for restoring assets to the Fatherland after the war. Manning describes how "the businessmen of four continents...profited from the 750 corporations [Bormann] established throughout the world as depositories of money, patents, bearer bonds, and shares in blue chip industries of the United States and Europe."

Reichsleiter Martin Bormann himself had ordered the conference, and although he would not physically be present he had confided to Dr. Scheid, who was to preside, "The steps to be taken as a result of this meeting will determine the postwar future of Germany." The Reichsleiter had added, "German industry must realize that the war cannot now be won, and must take steps to prepare for a postwar commercial campaign which will in time insure the economic resurgence of Germany."

I. G. Farben owned 380 companies in Germany operating in 93 countries. "The Farben cartel agreements involving trade and the related use of its chemical patents also numbered over 2,000; these included such major industrial concerns as Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), the Aluminum Company of America, E.I. du Font de Nemours, Ethyl Export Corporation, Imperial Chemical Industries (Great Britain), Dow Chemical Company, Rohm & Haas, Etablissments Kuhlman (France), and the Mitsui interests of Japan. I. G. Farben was a formidable ally for Martin Bormann in his plans for the postwar economic rebirth of Germany."

Bormann dispersed several billion dollars globally across more than 1600 corporate entities. He employed various legal instruments to effect control over capital, including "use of nominees, option agreements, pool agreements, endorsements in blank, escrow deposits, pledges, collateral loans, rights of first refusal, management contracts, service contracts, patent agreements, cartels, and withholding procedures."

Especially important was Bormann's mastery of "personnel union," the use of stock bribes among a manageable minority of key participants to ensure maximum control through a lean executive decision procedure based on loyalty. Manning quotes Orvis A. Schmidt, director of Foreign Funds Control of the US Treasury Department, describing Bormann's flight capital program: "Legal authority to operate this organizational machinery has been vested in the concerns that have majority capacity in the key industries, such as those producing iron and steel, coal, and basic chemicals. These concerns have been deliberately welded together by exchanges of stock to the point where a handful of men can make policy and other decisions that affect us all."

Martin Bormann's methods for consolidating financial control became the international standard and certainly the model Wall Street would increasingly come to rely on. Whether Allen Dulles learned the 'tricks of the trade' from Bormann's example or mastered them on his own, this spymaster and traitor was unquestionably aware of Bormann's administrative prowess and ruthless bureaucratic style.

U.S. admiration for German corporate industrial organization might well explain why Washington shifted its focus from tracking Bormann's flight capital to getting Jewish war refugees out of Europe after 1944. The U.S. certainly was aware that assets were leaving Germany. But the problem of Jewish war refugees does not strike me as a sufficient explanation for Washington's sudden loss of interest in tracking Bormann's flight capital assets. As Manning writes of Bormann in his Preface:

"...were he to emerge, it would embarrass the governments that assisted in his escape, the industrial and financial leaders who benefited from his acumen and transferred their capital to neutral nations in the closing days of World War II, and the businessmen of four continents who profited from the 750 corporations he established throughout the world as depositories of money, patents, bearer bonds, and shares in blue chip industries of the United States and Europe."

A number of prominent Wall Street lawyers and bankers were deeply involved in business deals with Nazi Germany. Allen Dulles, OSS bureau chief in Bern, Switzerland and Berlin, and the first civilian director of the CIA, his brother John Foster Dulles, Averell Harriman, George Herbert Walker, Prescott Bush, and the Rockefeller family had invested heavily in German companies between the two World Wars and throughout the 1930s; the Rockefellers and Standard Oil with chemical giant I. G. Farben. As Dave Emory reported in For the Record, program #332: "70% of the investment capital that financed the Third Reich in the 1930s came from the United States and Allen Dulles was a central figure in arranging this relationship."

An experienced diplomat and Wall Street banking attorney, Allen Dulles had extensive contacts and business ties throughout Europe and especially in Germany; his clients included Brown Brothers Harriman, Union Banking Corporation (Prescott Bush and Herbert Walker's holding company for the Hollandische-Amerikanische Investment Corporation), and the Dutch Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart in Rotterdam. Conveniently placed as US intelligence chief in postwar Berlin, Dulles was at the center of a complex and fraudulent scheme of concealing Nazi assets in American banks.

Fritz Thyssen, German steel magnate who had bankrolled the Nazi war machine, owned a string of banks, including August Thyssen Bank in Berlin, Union Bank in New York, and the bank in Rotterdam. John Loftus, writing about the Bush fortune, noted: "[T]he Bush family invested the disguised Nazi profits in American steel and manufacturing corporations that became part of the secret Thyssen empire." By moving the corporate paperwork among these entities, Thyssen had successfully hidden his profits from Hitler.

As soon as Berlin fell to the allies, it was time to ship the documents back to Rotterdam so that the "neutral" bank could claim ownership under the friendly supervision of Allen Dulles, who, as the OSS intelligence chief in 1945 Berlin, was well placed to handle any troublesome investigations.

After the war, Allied investigators failed to unravel Thyssen's complicated deception.

The Alien Property Custodian, Leo Crowley, was on the payroll of the New York J. Henry Schroeder Bank where Foster and Allen Dulles both sat as board members. Foster arranged an appointment for himself as special legal counsel for the Alien Property Custodian while simultaneously representing [German] interests against the custodian.

The investigators "did not know that Thyssen was Dulles' client as well. Nor did they ever realize that it was Allen Dulles' other client, Baron Kurt Von Schroeder who was the Nazi trustee for the Thyssen companies which now claimed to be owned by the Dutch. The Rotterdam Bank was at the heart of Dulles' cloaking scheme, and he guarded its secrets jealously."

Allen Dulles may well have played an instrumental role in deflecting US attention away from Martin Bormann's flight capital program. The transnational consolidation of capital assets would come to dominate the global economy, setting criminal standards for hiding assets and money laundering and smoothing the way for the flourishing of fascism in the second half of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st.

"By 1981 almost every major American corporation was to have a Swiss operation; 4,000 US business organizations would follow the lead of Hermann Schmitz of the twenties, thirties, and forties, and become solid customers of Swiss banks in the sixties, seventies, and eighties," Paul Manning wrote in Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile. The American corporations found Swiss banks attractive because they offered convenience and reliability, as well the opportunity to make more money by currency speculation. "It was nineteenth century capitalism in the twentieth century," Manning observed.

Two large trends are evident, both in the United States and around the world, which are likely to have a profound impact on the future shape of our globe. One is a powerful grassroots movement toward localized democratic authority, exemplified by Arab Spring, Occupy and similar spontaneously rising movements, which are loosely associated with New Age spirituality, endeavors to retain food and energy production security as well as all economic and cultural value within local communities. Organizations such as the Bioneers, Friends of the Earth, Earth First!, Food & Water Watch, Jacque Fresco's Venus Project, and Amory and Hunter Lovins' Rocky Mountain Institute represent this movement. There are literally hundreds of such organizations in the US alone, with counterparts in virtually every country in the world.

The second trend is the expansion and consolidation of corporate power and the culture of corporatism, exemplified by big banks, multinational corporations and the various stock markets. In a speech before The Sanctuary for Independent Media in 2010, when asked whether he was washing his hands of all politics as useless, Chris Hedges responded by saying that we have to be realistic and expressing his belief that "it is late in the game." On another occasion, he said: "I think that taking action on the premise that somehow it's practical is not a wise idea." This former Middle East correspondent for The New York Times went on to itemize the decay that has overtaken America:

The electoral process has been hijacked by corporations. The judiciary has been corrupted and bought. The press shuts out the most important voices in the country and feeds us the banal and the absurd. Universities prostitute themselves for corporate dollars. Labor unions are marginal and ineffectual forces. The economy is in the hands of corporate swindlers and speculators. And the public, enchanted by electronic hallucinations, remains passive and supine. We have no tools left within the power structure in our fight to halt unchecked corporate pillage.

This is the second trend, the consolidation of all political and economic power by the corporate sector, specifically multinationals like ExxonMobil and General Electric. Nevertheless, Hedges has urged a kind of decentralized local activism, going so far as to insist that the people must resist taking political power: "There is no hope left for achieving significant reform or restoring our democracy through established mechanisms of power."

It is time to think of resistance in a new way, something that is no longer carried out to reform a system but as an end in itself. African-Americans understood this during the long night of slavery. German opposition leaders understood it under the Nazis. Dissidents in the former Soviet Union knew this during the nightmare of communism. Resistance in these closed systems was local and often solitary.

When I was in high school in the late Sixties, the father of a friend of mine advised me in this way: "Groups will be dominant into the foreseeable future. Don't worry so much about career, about choosing the right career. There is no right career. Whatever you do professionally or for work, you will make money at it. Whatever you choose to do in life, identify yourself with your group or institution." It was good advice. I did not take it. Then as now, the very idea of subordinating myself to the group held little appeal. I had not yet encountered the Borg of Star Trek: The Next Generation; but I had read Emerson and Thoreau. I had read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Like the late John Thaw's character, Inspector Morse, "I don't join things." A college philosophy professor later formulated precisely what for me was the crux of the issue: People behave differently in groups than they do as private individuals; and this difference is no improvement, either morally or aesthetically. Probably this recognition lies at the heart of much modern political apathy in America. As we shall see, this insight, while sociologically true of general group behavior, does not touch genuine political action. Conformity is not the same as concerted action and solidarity.

I am sure that many of the participants in the Occupy movement share my reservations about the tendency of groups to impose conformity. Yet even they find themselves spontaneously mobilized by external economic, moral and political pressures to form a leaderless group whose purpose seems limited to exercising the People's Megaphone by mimicking moronic mantras, a weirdly Orwellian call and response. Occupy is marked by a deeply ingrained distrust of political action—cultivated by corporate spin mavens and demonstrated daily by the enforced gridlock of elected officials—and an understandable preoccupation with joblessness. For just these reasons, Occupy is unlikely ever to avoid the pitfalls of choosing leaders according to social criteria that have been tainted or blunted by economic, scientific, religious or ideological considerations. Occupy is equally unlikely to rise to the challenge of choosing leaders from among their own ranks according to genuinely political passions like "courage, the pursuit of public happiness, the taste of public freedom, an ambition that strives for excellence regardless not only of social status and administrative office but even of achievement and congratulation," as Hannah Arendt described in On Revolution.

Nevertheless, the men and women of Occupy might yet surprise us.

We have discussed the local food movement in the context of Wenonah Hauter's FOODOPOLY. In LIFE Inc. media critic Douglas Rushkoff has written about this kind of local community activism around the issue of food integrity: "Community-supported-agriculture groups, or CSAs, let typical food consumers become members of their local agricultural community." Where only fifty CSAs existed in 1990, there were more than a thousand by 2008. Local consumers prefer to "eat a range of foods planned by a farmer and nutritionist rather than a highly lobbied government subsidy." A more intimate appreciation of how food is grown leads to an understanding of "why grass-fed beef is better for all concerned, how rotating crops saves topsoil, or whether limits should be placed on genetically altered seed." Such activities "cut out the middleman," suggesting a way to dismantle Big Agra.

Rushkoff also describes successful experiments with local currencies like Comfort Dollars, BerkShares, Life Dollars, and Time Dollars used in "several hundred communities across the United States and Europe, giving people the chance to buy and sell goods and services from one another no matter what the greater economy might be doing." With Time Dollars or LETS (local economic transfer systems), participants barter or exchange goods and services to earn credits, which they can use to "buy" further goods and services. Such local currencies are a complementary alternative to money and centralized banking, which extract value from local communities, as austerity measures in the US and EU clearly show. The point is not to eliminate centralized currency but "to break the monopoly." The "psychological hurdle" to get over "is the inability to accept that ten thousand dollars' worth of one's time spent making a local school better will create more value than thirty thousand dollars of one's money spent on a private school." Under continuing austerity and unstable credit, experiments with alternative currencies are "growing exponentially."

Rushkoff has a warning, though, which should not be dismissed: "Once we start reinvesting in our local reality and reaping the returns, the corporatized institutions accustomed to extracting this value at our expense—be they private or public—will do their best to stall our progress."

In an extraordinary passage, which contradicts commonly held beliefs about progress and the superiority of the modern capitalist economy, Rushkoff reveals that "between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, the quality of life of Europeans was better than at any other period in history, including today."

The working class enjoyed four meals a day, usually of three or four courses. They worked six hours a day, and just four or five days a week—unless they were celebrating one of about one hundred fifty annual holidays.

A confirmation predating Rushkoff's revelation appears in Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition, where she cites "the quite exceptionally inhuman conditions of exploitation prevailing during the early stages of capitalism." In footnote 85, she elaborates:

During the Middle Ages, it is estimated that one hardly worked more than half of the days of the year. Official holidays numbered 141 days... The monstrous extension of the working day is characteristic of the beginning of the industrial revolution, when the laborers had to compete with newly introduced machines.

Economist Richard Wolff underscores the point, citing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finding: "Americans do more hours of paid labor per year than the working classes in any other country on this Earth. We work ourselves to death." Even sadder than the misshapen view of productivity this implies, we work ourselves to death exclusively for money.

Paul Cienfuegos has been "a community organizer for more than three decades." Signing online petitions, marching for single causes, and "networking with like-minded people" as transformative strategies "simply isn't going to cut it." If existing activism is not working, Cienfuegos asks, "How can we the people get a lot more effective, and quickly, in order to tackle the enormous problems we're facing? What should we be doing differently, and when are we going to start?"

Cienfuegos takes heart in—no, is genuinely excited by—a recent development among more than 120 communities, "many of them rural, conservative, Republican,"

which have passed historically groundbreaking local ordinances that give the people of those places the right to govern themselves, the right to decide and then to create the kind of community they want to leave to their children and grandchildren and seven generations beyond them and so on.

We are under assault, Cienfuegos says, by corporations that don't care what communities want, and by governments that are in cahoots with these corporations. According to historian Howard Zinn, the only checks and balances in our system is when the people rise up and organize to change practices, as they did in the time of the Revolutionary War, in the 19th Century abolition movement, and in the depths of the Great Depression. The results of these "democratic uprisings" that Cienfuegos cites are impressive.

When the people of Welles Township, Pennsylvania realized they did not want corporate factory hog farming in their town, they "abandoned the dead-end regulatory process and passed a local anti-corporate farming ordinance in September of 1999 that banned corporate engagement in farm factories."

The residents of Mount Shasta, California created an ordinance giving "residents the right to self-determine stewardship of their environment; ban corporate personhood as well as the first ever legislation to give Rights to Nature to exist." During the last decade, two-thousand local municipalities have challenged "the rights of corporations to dominate, exploit and pollute." The Mt. Shasta ordinance defined "chemical trespass" "as your toxic chemical ended up in my body."

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania became the first city to ban hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." "...corporations that violate the ordinance or that seek to drill in the city will not be afforded personhood rights under the US or Pennsylvania Constitution, nor will they be afforded protections under the commerce clause or contracts clause under the federal or state constitution. In addition, the ordinance recognizes the legally enforceable rights of nature to exist and flourish." This "nationally ground-breaking ordinance" was unreported in the media, according to Cienfuegos.

The Bill of Rights only protects citizens from "infringement by the government"; but, as Cienfuegos points out, corporations are often more powerful than government. Corporations violate our free speech rights every day and there are no worker rights in the corporate workplace. A number of legal barriers have been erected to "stifle the rights of we the people." The commerce clause of the Constitution, the contracts clause, Dillon's rule and preemption all inhibit, derail or circumvent the rights of citizens to determine the kind of communities they want. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010 is only the latest in two centuries of expanding corporate rights, an expansion that accelerated during the second half of the 20th century, especially from 1980 to the present. The fact that "76% of Republicans," "81% of independents," and "85% of Democrats" actually opposed the Court's decision in Citizens United shows that the two major parties can agree on issues that matter. "That's 80% of all of us," Cienfuegos notes.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund plays an important role in developing legally binding "Rights of Nature" ordinances and educating communities. "Sustainability is illegal," executive director of CELDF Tom Linzey says. Like Paul Cienfuegos, Linzey urges organized "collectivist civil disobedience." "When you talk about democracy and self-governance, you free people. You release energies that weren't there before." The Daniel Pennock Democracy School, which Linzey co-founded, helps local communities "elevate their rights over those claimed by corporations." The Democracy School "is taught in 24 states," according to a speech Linzey gave in Spokane, Washington aired on the Bioneers radio show.

Linzey described the kind of contractual agreements that the corporate sector stands for. When a farmer signs a corporate "output contract," he agrees to sell livestock to only one company; the farmer no longer owns the animal unless it dies, in which case ownership automatically reverts to the farmer. Corporations can also terminate the contract unilaterally, without warning. There is no free market in farming today, Linzey points out. Like Paul Cienfuegos, Thomas Linzey knows that corporations deploy a variety of measures to capture regulatory agencies at municipal, state and federal levels, to override public health and safety in the interest of maximizing profits. Industrial hog and chicken factory farms are a perfect example.

South Dakota farmers forced local autonomy into their state Constitution, thereby avoiding the regulatory "end of the pipe" measurement of pollutants defined in terms of ppm (parts per million) that corporations prefer. Following South Dakota's Constitutional model, ten Pennsylvania municipal governments passed laws banning corporations from farming. What these and other communities are challenging is the legal authority that presumes to give corporations the right to set community standards about the environment. Over the past 20 years, Linzey points out, "300,000 family farms have been eliminated." Four corporations now control 80 percent of US hog and beef production. Most striking: the number one cause of death among farmers in the US is suicide.

The fundamental question, Linzey says, is about power relationships. Who's in charge? Whose vision for developing towns, cities and regions is it going to be? The people who live there or out-of-state corporations who want to use these communities for profit? Linzey urges collectivist civil disobedience, calling for a "new civil rights movement that redefines community." Legally binding ordinances are the basis for a new Constitutional rights convention. This is a clarion call for rights-based activism and rights-bearing entities.

Industrialism is "a culture of the one night stand," says Andrew Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety director and editor of Fatal Harvest. "Imposing the simplified, machine factory model on the complex biology of nature just doesn't work." Real evil, Kimbrell says, is not the "hot evil" of individuals, psychotic, greedy, racist, sexist, whatever, but "a cold evil" perpetrated and perpetuated by the technological system in which we all live.

The Institute for Policy Study found that, when Third World countries cannot repay the World Bank's and International Monetary Fund's huge loans for large scale industrial projects, "usually through corruption or just for the fact that these projects don't work," the creditors force "structural adjustment," a euphemism for austerity. That is, the IMF and World Bank cut environmental, education, health and welfare, and unemployment insurance policies. Because of the cold evil of "structural adjustment" some "sixteen thousand children die each day" in these countries.

Because of the "technological distancing" of Big Agra's factory farming, "76 million people now get food poisoning" in the United States each year. This distancing is the cover for "huge eco crimes." Kimbrell cites a University of Kentucky study that showed that in the "Kentucky and North-South Carolina area," over 1,100 farmers committed suicide in 2008. Between fifty and eighty farmers in Nebraska commit suicide each year. Therefore, "when they tell you industrial food is cheap," don't believe it. "We lost 75% of our crop diversity, 97% of our vegetable diversity." "...more than 700 million birds become ill each year because of our pesticide use, over 60 million dying. 70% of the creatures on the endangered species list are there because of farming or ranching. So when we call it Fatal Harvest, it's not rhetorical," Kimbrell told the Bioneers.

Do our communities and bodies, our cells and genetic materials have rights? Katherine Davies, Director of the Center for Constructive Change at Antioch University, asks, "What does it mean to say that a corporation owns the genes in your body?" She points out that we don't really have rights to our own cells. Citing thousands of studies documenting the presence of toxic chemicals to which we've been exposed in our tissue, Davies comments that we don't own our cells, our genes, or our tissues. Davies applauds the term "toxic trespass" to describe this process.

In 2013, the US Supreme Court upheld a ruling prohibiting corporations from patenting human genes, which would seem to mitigate Davies' concerns here; however, the Court allowed patenting of synthetic genes. The ruling would appear to legitimize Monsanto's tweaking of agricultural seed genes to render them invulnerable to pesticides like Roundup. Whether and how corporations will try to use this permission to get around the original prohibition is anybody's guess.

The Constitutions of Hungary, South Africa, Afghanistan, and Berkina Faso, among others, enshrine the right to a healthy environment. The United States does not.

Arguing that the US is a rights-based society, Davies sees some hope for change in attitudes and policy. There is a huge emphasis on individual rights and, in particular, property rights; however, environmental rights are collective rights. In order to defend our bodies and our environment, we must give them enforceable legal rights.

Like Doug Rushkoff citing community currencies, credit unions and food co-ops as important elements of social transformation, Richard Heinberg sees regeneration in local autonomy, in creating "alternative economic institutions." "We get to reinvent human life on Earth, reinvent food systems, transport systems, economic systems, and all the rest."

Organization theorist David Korten envisions "a planetary system of interlined, self-reliant, bioregional economies, each rooted in a community of place and organized to function as a locally self-reliant subsystem of its local ecosystem, to optimize the lives of all who live within its borders." To achieve this goal, Korten argues in "Wall Street or The Common Good," we must abandon our long ingrained habit of "colonial exploitation." Korten cites seven useful indicators of a successful "shift in power from Wall Street to Main Street," which include rebuilding the middle class through "fiscal workplace and social policies" that fairly distribute income and ownership, "breaking up concentrations of power," and establishing "global rules and institutions that support local self-rule, bioregional self-reliance, and balanced exchange between regions." Agreeing with Heinberg, David Korten "challenges us to engage in an epic, even audacious, undertaking to reinvent our human civilization."

Recent events in America and the Middle East, in Europe and Asia—overshadowed by the decade-long vomitus of a 'war on terror' and a global depression—have caught the world's attention. It may be well to reflect, carefully and systematically, upon the meaning of these events and to ask ourselves what we are doing at this early stage of a new millennium. Just as, here at home, conservatives and liberals alike seem out of step with the will of the majority of citizens, so the USA finds itself uncomfortably at odds with the rest of the world.

David Korten finds irony in the fact that America looks to "uprisings in the Middle East as our inspiration to claim our power from unaccountable and authoritarian institutions as we strive to build true democracy here in America." Events constituting the so-called "Arab Spring," which have convulsed Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria, catching men and nations alike by surprise—not least of all the intelligence agencies responsible for "national security"—and whose outcomes remain far from certain, have released hope, fear and expectations of freedom along with a surfeit of bloodshed and slaughter.

Saudis, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Palestinians and Israelis all eye each other warily, wondering whether and how much the contingent future will resemble the redoubtable past; and Americans eye all of them—allies and foes alike—with marked suspicion and trepidation.

Chris Hedges, senior fellow at The Nation Institute and former New York Times Middle East bureau chief, wrote in November 2010 of a "new, terrifying configuration of power."

The mounting human misery in the United States...will be met with severe repression from the security and surveillance state, which always accompanies the rise of the corporate state.

We must consider recent developments in surveillance, expanded executive war powers, the persecution of whistleblowers (like Julian Assange and Corporal Bradley Manning) and the extinguishing of civil liberties on a variety of fronts. We shall find that all these developments, and a good many more, are connected with the 'War on Terror.'

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