Subject: LET HISTORY JUDGE: THE MORAL BACKRUPTCY OF THE SYSTEM THAT GOVERNS US AND ITS MAJOR PLAYERS.
12 July 2016
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
A radical search for the sources of innumerable contemporary problems which we suffer today requires that we gain a historical perspective that predates capitalism. Of course the private profit motive is a destructive driving force today, generating war, famine, unemployment, homelessness, disease and genocide, but life without the profit motive can be as bad or worse. The despotism of past pre-capitalist regimes speak to the abuses of class domination and hopeless, voluntary servitude in a violent world history of social controls. What appears new and different today is the presence of information technology and popular access to these instruments of political power. How much longer can the old social order stand in the face of this new technological potential? Certainly mass delusions will be of no long-term assistance. History allows us to take account of relationships in the past, some of which have changed; many of which have not. With this perspective on our present (and despite the cognitive interference of capitalist culture), we are enabled to ask radical questions, like : Is this the kind of life we wish to live in the future?
The treatment of other species (as well as our attitude towards all vulnerable beings over which we might easily gain abusive power), is a tell-tale sign of our values, and our capacity for self-delusion. If we are not who we say we are, then who really are we? Do we know? Do we even care? How can we find the truth about ourselves and reorgainze our society accordingly? Yuval Noah Harari is among the few authors who have tried to find answers to these radical questions:
The Industrial Revolution yielded an unprecedented combination of cheap and abundant energy and cheap and abundant raw materials. The result was an explosion in human productivity. The explosion was felt first and foremost in agriculture. . . .
Even plants and animals were mechanized. Around the time that Homo sapiens was elevated to divine status by humanist religions, farm animals stopped being viewed as living creatures that could feel pain and distress, and instead came to be treated as machines. Today these animals are often mass-produced in factory-like facilities, their bodies shaped in accordance with industrial needs. They pass their entire lives as cogs in a giant production line, and the length and quality of their existence is determined by the profits and losses of business corporations. Even when the industry takes care to keep them alive, reasonably healthy and well fed, it has no intrinsic interest in the animal’s social and psychological needs (except when these have a direct impact on production).
Egg-laying hens, for example, have a complex world of behavioral needs and drives. They feel strong urges to scout their environment, forage and peck around, determine social hierarchies, build nests and groom themselves. But the egg industry often locks the hen inside tiny coops, and it is not uncommon for it to squeeze four hens to a cage, each given a floor space of about twenty-five by twenty-two centimeters. The hens receive sufficient food, but they are unable to claim a territory, build a nest or engage in other natural activities. Indeed, the cage is so small that hens are often unable even to flap their wings or stand fully erect.
Pigs are among the most intelligent and inquisitive of mammals, second perhaps only to the great apes. Yet industrialized pig farms routinely confine nursing sows inside such small crates that they are literally unable to turn around (not to mention walk and forage). The sows are kept in these crates day and night for four weeks after giving birth. Their offspring are then taken away to be fattened up and the sows are impregnated with the next litter of piglets.
Many dairy cows live almost all their allotted years inside a small enclosure; standing, sitting and sleeping in their own urine and excrement. They receive their measure of food, hormones and medications from one set of machines, and get milked every few hours by another set of machines. The cow in the middle is treated as little more than a mouth that takes in raw materials and an udder that produces a commodity. Treating living creatures possessing complex emotional worlds as if they were machines is likely to cause them not only physical discomfort, but also much social stress and psychological frustration.
Just as the Atlantic slave trade did not stem from hatred towards Africans, so the modern animal industry is not motivated by animosity. Again, it is fuelled by indifference. Most people who produce and consume eggs, milk and meat rarely stop to think about the fate of the chickens, cows or pigs whose flesh and emissions they are eating. Those who do think often argue that such animals are really little different from machines, devoid of sensations and emotions, incapable of suffering. Ironically, the same scientific disciplines which shape our milk machines and egg machines have lately demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that mammals and birds have a complex sensory and emotional make-up. They not only feel physical pain, but can also suffer from emotional distress.
Evolutionary psychology maintains that the emotional and social needs of farm animals evolved in the wild, when they were essential for survival and reproduction. (Sapiens, pp.382-384)
This grim history of violence against domestic animals is, of course, only part of a larger paradigm, in which the ends are used to justify the means; the destiny of which is self-annihilation. What we do to pigs, and to cows, and to chickens we will do to each other.
"La deuxième droite" avec J-P Garnier
The 19 items below reflect the debacle that international capitalism is undergoing. The desperate search for profitable investment has had a decisively bad affect on human health and the environment, while the political elite are operating on automatic pilot, indifferent to the “collateral damages” which they inflict daily.
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
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by Cavan Sieczkowski
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She recently sat down with Al Jazeera’s AJ+ to discuss what she’s learned from working undercover in counterterrorism for nearly a decade.
Her takeaway? Listen to your enemy.
Links to Recent Articles of Interest
By Max Blumenthal, AlterNet.org, posted June 5
By Ellen Schrecker, Chronicle of Higher Education, posted June 30
The author is a professor of history emerita at Yeshiva University.
By David Bromwich, The National Interest, posted June 29
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By Steve Coll, New York Review of Books, June 23 issue
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By Ron Briley, History News Network, posted June 14
Review essay on three books by William J. Rust on US policy in Laos and Cambodia in the 1950s and early '60s
By Greg Grandin, The Nation, posted June 9
The author teaches history at New York University.
By Rich Gibson, CounterPunch.com, posted June 6
The author teaches history at Southwest College in San Diego.
By Oliver Stone and Peter Kushnick, Los Angeles Times, posted May 26
Peter Kushnick teaches history at American University.
Thanks to Margaret Power and an anonymous reader for suggesting articles that are included in the above list. Suggestions can be sent to email@example.com.
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