Category Archives: riptides

Beauty and Sustainability

Now comes Sandra Lubarsky, Chair of the Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University, with an essay first published in Tikkun magazine in 2011, and excerpted below. The images are from the studio of Gail Boyajian, whose work unabashedly sustains and celebrates the life-affirming exuberance of beauty.

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Professor Lubarsky expands on these ideas in a conference lecture that includes a critique of human supremacist aesthetic relativism that results in mindless celebrations of ugliness, as exemplified by the obscene Sugartop condo development excreted by shameless developers upon a once-beautiful Appalachian ridgeline.

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Returning once more to the words of Sandra Lubarsky:


Surveillance Capitalism

Now comes Shoshana Zuboff with an important essay in the Frankfurter Allgemeine; apparently she concluded that a German readership is more attentive to the profound issues of personal sovereignty and privacy raised by her analysis, excerpted below. The images are from the artist SpY.

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Deeper into the essay:

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And finally, in her closing paragraphs:

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What can we summon as a properly indigant response to those who wish to impose their coup des gens, a vicious assault on self-determination and on freely-expressed subjectivity?

Resist and disrupt the behavioral algorithm.

Refuse “smart” technology.

Strike the data mine. 

We look forward to Zuboff’s book, Master or Slave? The Fight for the Soul of Our Information Civilization, forthcoming in 2017.


Violence of the Incompetent

Our title descends from Isaac Asimov, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” So it goes with the varied forces of “order” deployed at Standing Rock, and their unhinged use of excessive weapons, better suited to the battlefield. Using such weapons against unarmed, peaceful Water Protectors is both cowardly and criminal.

Consider the violence committed against Sophia Wilansky, a recent college graduate who joined the Water Protectors in expression of her own deeply held conviction that the ongoing exploitation of fossil fuels amounts to wanton ecocide. While exercising her constitutional right to assemble and protect the water supply, Ms. Wilansky was viciously attacked by police with rubber bullets and an explosive concussion grenade, severely injuring her arm.

SOPHIA WILANSKY PRIOR TO HER INJURY AS THE RESULT OF CRIMINAL INCOMPETENCE

SOPHIA WILANSKY PRIOR TO HER INJURY AS THE RESULT OF CRIMINAL INCOMPETENCE

Here is the testimony of volunteer medic Brandi King, who served as an Army medic for eight years, upon witnessing the wounds inflicted upon the young woman:

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The Morton Sheriff Department, compounding the cowardice of using such a weapon against Ms. Wilansky by fabricating a ludicrous explanation from some delusional alternative univese, released the following statement:

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Democracy Now asked Ms. Wilansky’s father, Wayne Wilansky, to respond to such explanations:

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As for the use of water as a weapon deployed in sub-freezing weather conditions, we turn to Angela Bibens, a coordinator with the Water Protector Legal Collective, as quoted in The Los Angeles Times:

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Next comes Jesse Lopez, a surgeon and volunteer medic at Standing Rock, as quoted in The Intercept:

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Such actions constitute a criminal abuse of power; the perpetrators must be held accountable, and brought to justice. Returning to Mr. Wilansky:

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Rage Against the Elites

Among the hundreds of commentaries churning Tuesday’s bitter butter, two stand out for DP consideration, the first from Naomi Klein, with its core argument excerpted below:

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HISTORICAL ROOTS FOR A BLEEDING EDGE PLATFORM COMPANY

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Next we have The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, in an analysis that echoes his previous dissection of the Brexit “surprise”:

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Of Genocide and the Pipeline

Today, since we are far away from our vast editorial office complex, we serve as relay for an important message from Kelly Hayes, a founding member of the Chicago Light Brigade and an organizer with We Charge Genocide.

Emphasis on final two sentences added by DP.

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Yes, everyone should be talking about climate change, but you should also be talking about the fact that Native communities deserve to survive, because our lives are worth defending in their own right — not simply because “this affects us all.”

So when you talk about Standing Rock, please begin by acknowledging that this pipeline was redirected from an area where it was most likely to impact white people. And please remind people that our people are struggling to survive the violence of colonization on many fronts, and that people shouldn’t simply engage with or retweet such stories when they see a concrete connection to their own issues — or a jumping off point to discuss their own issues. Our friends, allies and accomplices should be fighting alongside us because they value our humanity and right to live, in addition to whatever else they believe in.

Every Native at Standing Rock — every Native on this continent — has survived the genocide of a hundred million of our people. That means that every Indigenous child born is a victory against colonialism, but we are all born into a fight for our very existence. We need that to be named and centered, which is a courtesy we are rarely afforded.

This message is not a condemnation. It’s an ask.

We are asking that you help ensure that dialogue around this issue begins with and centers a discussion of anti-Native violence and policies, no matter what other connections you might ultimately make, because those discussions simply don’t happen in this country. There obviously aren’t enough people talking about climate change, but there are even fewer people — and let’s be real, far fewer people — discussing the various forms of violence we are up against, and acting in solidarity with us. And while such discussions have always been deserved, we are living in a moment when Native Water Protectors and Water Warriors have more than earned both acknowledgement and solidarity.

So if you have been with us in this fight, we appreciate you, but we are reaching out, right now, in these brave days for our people, and asking that you keep the aforementioned truths front and center as you discuss this effort. This moment is, first and foremost, about Native liberation, self determination and Native survival. That needs to be centered and celebrated.

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Deeply Wasted

Recent scientific research confirms the ingestion of synthetic microfibers by deep sea organisms. At a rate and degree of saturation that may soon be irreversible, we are turning global oceans into a toxic plastic soup. The entire study makes for sobering reading; the abstract follows below, together with comments from the lead scientists as reported by phys.org.

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A few words from Dr Michelle Taylor of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, lead author of the study:

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Confirming the robust controls places on the assessment of the data, Dr Claire Gwinnett, Associate Professor in Forensic and Crime Science at Staffordshire University, added:

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And finally, a summary assessment from Laura Robinson, Professor of Geochemistry in Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences:

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No wonder the cowardly “elite” wishes to escape to the furthest ends of the universe; nothing left to contaminate here.


No Whisky, No Bacon

In the Annals of Hubris and Delusion, surely the blatherings of Jeff Bezos will receive a special repository. We have an ear for satire here at DP, yet reality defeats our imagination day after day. Below, a few quotes from a recent Bezos interview, with images taken from the Blue Origin “gallery”.

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CEO OF THE SIXTH EXTINCTION AND HIS EXIT STRATEGY

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STROKE THIS MUSCLE GENTLY AND IT WILL SPRAY YOU WITH A THOUSAND EINSTEINS

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THE UNIVERSE AND HUMAN STUPIDITY: THE TWO INFINITIES

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BEAM ME UP SCOTTIE; WE’RE DONE HERE.

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We read these words once, and laugh; read them again, and weep. Not content to commodify everything that moves on planet earth, Jeff Bezos puts his name forward for the title of Ultimate Inverted Utopian.

Memo to all such “builders”: gravity is not the only force in the universe that does not care about you.


Humility and Virtue

We have recently finished a novel that in time will be considered a rare American masterpiece: Barkskins. In graceful prose that expresses what must be expressed and nothing more, Annie Proulx — whose work we have long admired here at DP — chronicles the violent eradication of the  boreal/acadian forest in North America, together with the eradication of the people who lived in harmony within those ancient woods. Through the richly detailed lives of dozens of characters, Proulx conveys the heavy personal and cultural price exacted by that most vicious counterpoint, between ecocide and genocide.

The novel begins with two epigraphs, the second of which is taken from an essay by the historian Lynn White, dated 1967: The Historical Roots of the Ecological Crisis. We were curious about the context for her selected passage (which is highlighted below in bold italics). The fact that the essay reads like it might have been written yesterday prompts us to post two long excerpts, though it is certainly worth close consideration in its entirety. The image (added by DP) is relayed from the studio of Peter Randall-Page.

 

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BLOOD TREE

BLOOD TREE

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For the curious, the first epigraph for Barkskins descends from George Santayana:

Why shouldn’t things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together. 


Resistance and Recuperation

On May 27th, an American president will finally set foot in Hiroshima, though Nagasaki is apparently not on the itinerary.

Mr. Obama, whose relative rhetorical fluency – relative to grunted Bush-blubber and the greeting card drivel of Bill Clinton – masks moral and philosophical emptiness, will not issue an apology for the incineration and radiation of large, concentrated civilian populations. In the words of his Orwellian-designated National Security Advisor for Strategic Communi-cations & Speechwriting, Ben Rhodes: “He will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future.” 

Such refusal to acknowledge past atrocity resonates with Obama’s earlier decision to decline the prosecution of war criminals within the Bush administration, even after the emergence of overwhelming documentary evidence. On April 16, 2009, he stated:

“This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.”

Severing the past from the future resides at the very heart of American exceptionalism; since the future of the Shining City is eternally full of promise, who cares what happened in the past? With this in mind, we turn to political philosopher Fred Dallmayr, writing in his lucid forward for a wide-ranging collection of essays titled Philosophy After Hiroshima.

The images are borrowed from The Sensory War 1914-2014, an exhibition presented last year at the Manchester Art Gallery.

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Whatever happens in Hiroshima on May 27th, we are sure that Mr. Obama will not enlist memory in the service of resistance and recuperation, just as we are sure that the Shining City of our ongoing delusion has nothing to do with “the divine abode”.

In the end, his mission will be one of vanity, self-aggrandizement and deceit, as the commander of the “kill chain” burnishes his preferred image as A Man of Peace during the fading days of a failed presidency.


Let Us Wake Up

CONSCIENCE-SHAKER AND RIVER GUARDIAN, BERTA CÁCERES

CONSCIENCE-SHAKER AND RIVER GUARDIAN,              BERTA CÁCERES

We write today with sadness and outrage at the brutal murder of Honduran indigenous and environmental activist, in her own home.

A leading organizer for indigenous land rights in Honduras, Cáceres co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH. For many years, the group has faced violent reprisals for the brave and unflinching defense of their land and rivers against corporate and governmental incursion and exploitation.

Last year, Cáceres won a Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s leading environmental award. Below her acceptance speech; in a few carefully chosen and deeply felt words, she articulates the single most urgent issue of our time, and how we must respond.

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