(Profits + Pathogens) – People

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2018 by Rob Wallace

I tend to steer clear of biopolitics, what until recently have been Foucauldian investigations of the means by which human life processes are managed across regimes of knowledge and power. But the crux of sociologist Marc Aziz Michael’s more Marxian post is very much worth elaboration.

In contrast to evolutionary psychologists Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley, and the fascistic and lobster-spined self-help guru Jordan Peterson, Michael describes the extent to which capital accumulation is almost entirely a cultivated sensibility, one in conflict with humanity’s long understanding our fates are tied to the state of the ecosystem.

Capitalism is no basic instinct housed in an already dubious projection of our biologies. A system teetering on its metaphysics and modes of social reproduction alike must promote the Pinkers and Petersons, the far stupider Webers and Nietzsches of our day, to claim otherwise. Continue reading


Book Bites Back

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2018 by Rob Wallace

The final proofs have been edited. The website is approaching the landing page. The guerrilleros are amassing along the capital’s limits. Our new book, at 68 pages, as one co-author put it, packs a punch of a 300-page heavyweight. It is dense with critical insight.

If by the scope of our analysis alone, we offer some of the more cutting-edge modeling for vector-borne diseases such as Zika and malaria. We connect a series of pathogen-vector systems of Itô stochastic differential equations to the political economies of deforestation and neoliberal austerity.

As infectious diseases in an age of nation states and global health programs cannot, as much of the present modeling literature presumes, be described by interacting populations of host, vector, and pathogen alone, we also offer a series of control theory models. These models, useful to researchers and health officials alike, explicitly address interactions between government ministries and the pathogens they aim to control.

The new modeling also bites back. We criticize cost effectiveness analyses and the agricultural concept of endemic stability, key moments in modeling disease interventions, as part and parcel of an ethics of economism organized around minimizing state health expenditures. We ask whether along the way these scientific models help undercut global disease control in such a way as to protect corporate bottom lines.

The book is due out April 2018. You can pre-order a copy here.

For those who don’t have the cheddar to cover the cost of a book from an academic publisher, we recommend you ask your library to order it. Or you might order a MyCopy print-on-demand for $25 through your local research institution or library.

Prometheus Rebound

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2017 by Rob Wallace

Eagle eating snakeIn embracing Prometheus, techno-optimists expunge Zeus’s succeeding curse, an omission that aligns right alongside their myopia around one of two of humanity’s sources of wealth.

Earth’s regenerative natural resources are clearly as necessary an input as human labor. Otherwise, ignoring we’d never have evolved in the first place, any cargo system organized around mutual aid, even resignified in opposition to the colonial enterprise, would be no better than breaking rocks.

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Dilemma Tale

Posted in Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , on October 30, 2017 by Rob Wallace

Puerto Rico 1Perses, lay up these things in your heart, and do not let that Strife who delights in mischief hold your heart back from work, while you peep and peer and listen to the wrangles of the court-house. –Hesiod (700 BC)

Perhaps we suffer a neoliberal hangover believing victory to be found in choosing which ecological catastrophe will annihilate civilization.

Will it be the metabolic rifts disconnecting human health and food from the quasi-equilibria of a variety of ecosystemic cycles spooling apart? Will it be the metabolic shifts in the new pathogens and pollutions capitalism selects for but we payless cannot survive for long? Or is the bourgeois episteme unraveling across multiple domains, producing monsters of omission and commission alike?

Do we play the Tannhäuser, our fates at momenta beyond men and gods alike, finding solace in a death drive proving our rival priests wrong? Will there be relief in an epitaph that reads, “I…was…right!” Or, the golden age in us, will we find the path out the grand trap in the faces of our children?

Impermissible Exchange

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2017 by Rob Wallace

Rich Skeleton 1The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.” –Philip K. Dick (1969)

For some, Jean Baudrillard writes in postmodern twaddle. I recommend reading him first as heady science fiction that suddenly rewards that suspension of disbelief. After all, even a scientist in the age of agribusiness R&D, freighted with the humiliation of the end of curiosity-driven science, must retain a morsel of self-respect.

While Karl Marx illuminates the capitalist machinery in–as Francis Wheen pointed out–the surrealist digressions of Tristam Shandy, a favorite novel, and István Mészáros in commodization’s epistemological costs, I find Baudrillard’s enigmatic aphorisms debone some of the metaphysical gobbledygook even modernity’s opposition accepts.

Don’t get me wrong, some Baudrillard is outright bullshit. His quantum physics envy is the hiding place of every pseudoscientific quack with an exit through the gift shop. I once walked out of a rapt Bay Area screening, wallet intact, for that cheap scam.

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Ten Theses on Farming and Disease

Posted in Evolution, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2017 by Rob Wallace

costarica043Every once in a while, we have to take a stab at putting all the pieces together. In some ways these ten theses on farming and disease only touch on what I, and others, have been saying all along. But there’s a growing understanding of the functional relationships health, food justice, and the environment share. They’re not just ticks on a checklist of good things capitalism shits on. Falsifying Hume’s guillotine, embodying a niche construction at the core of our human identity, justice and the ecosystem appear to define each other at a deep level of cause and effect.

1. Contract farmers around the world are suffering cost-price squeezes. Producers are at one and the same time suffering increasing input costs and low or falling prices for their goods at the farm gate. The farmers are forced to chase an economic Red Queen. Individual farmers must increase production if only in an effort to cover for low prices that increases in production across farms helped depress to begin with.

2. The squeeze is a scam agribusiness is running on farmers. In enforcing high farm output, companies are seeking gluts that cheapen ingredients for their processed product lines. High output, producing food beyond global consumer demand, is also about making money off farmers contractually obligated to buy synthetic inputs they don’t need to grow us enough food.

3. The gap between cost and price, also a form of labor discipline, forces many farmers out, leading to plot consolidation as those smallholders and mid-level operations still left buy up abandoned land, banking on economies of scale, debt-financed mechanization, and appreciation in land equity to pull them through the artificial price squeeze.

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Why Galen Erso Left Science

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2017 by Rob Wallace

GalenHere’s my talk at Mayday Books–“not making a profit since 1975”–on science, public health, and socialism. The talk was recorded by Don Olson of KFAI’s Northern Sun News, 90.3 FM on your Minneapolis dial.

I frame the talk within Star Wars and Rogue One, along the way touching on Lenin and Chayanov on agriculture, Clint Eastwood as hog farmer, the March for Science, explorer Alexander von Humboldt, the origins science and capitalism share, philosopher István Mészáros, actress Gabourey Sidibe on phone sex, the academic plantation, the industry of bleeding horseshoe crabs, abolitionist science, and the various relationships the left has shared with science, including during the Paris Commune.

In her follow-up, Karen Schraufnagel, Socialist Action’s vice-presidential candidate, unpacks her time as an economics academic.