Wednesday, July 4, 2012


A recent Rasmussen poll found that 70% of Americans “Still Agree with Declaration of Independence.” If that is the case, it may be that they haven’t recently read beneath the fold to the fine print.

There, among others, we find as reasons for revolution a government’s

— refusing Assent to Laws,
— refusing to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people,
— invading the rights of the people,
— obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither,
— obstructing the Administration of Justice,
— keeping among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
— affecting to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power,
— subjecting us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws,
— quartering large bodies of armed troops among us,
— protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit,
— imposing Taxes on us without our Consent,
— cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world,
— depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury,
— transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences,
— taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments,
— transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny.

Because “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury,” the writers and signers of the Declaration conclude that the government is "unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

In their case, they did something about it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



In his penultimate novella, “Worstward Ho” (1983), Samuel Beckett writes

“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

It’s Beckett-ambiguous whether “Fail better” suggests an improvement or a worsening of conditions. What is absolutely clear, though is that the performance of the United States at the recent Rio +20 conference was intended as an energetic worsening thrust.

There has been general agreement that the final ratified agreement was a weak-kneed, weak tea failure, dashing the shrinking hopes of the last twenty years of conferences, and doing little to avert the multiple ecocatastrophes upon us.

The process started with a draft declaration, self-censored, of course, so as to be “realistic”.  Then the US delegation took out its red pencil.

The word “equitable” was deleted from the initial text, as was any mention of the “right” to food, water, health, the rule of law, gender equality or women’s empowerment. Any clear, enforcable target of preventing two degrees of global warming had to go, any commitment to change “unsustainable consumption and production patterns” along with it, any notion of “decoupling” economic growth from the use of natural resources.

Beyond that, many of the foundations of the original 1992 Rio document had to be erased, including all mentiion of the core principle of that Earth summit — common, but differentiated responsibilities for repair. The original implication was that those who had done the most damage, should take on the greatest burden. Out. No rich country payment without poor country payments too. Liberty for us, our version of equality, and certainly no fraternity.

Could we fail worse than that? Sure. By articulating a positive “green” rationale for corporate greed. We now hear that commodification,  putting a “fair value”, a price on nature — clean air, clean water — is not only a way of making money, but also a way of saving it. In capitalism, if something has no price, it has no value. Grabbing, owning and selling natural resources will help preserve biodiversity, slow climate change, and reduce the pressure for extraction. Capitalism can “save nature”.

A most excellent plan for Fail worse.