Archive for the Revolution Category

Impermissible Exchange

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

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 rgwallace

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 rgwallace

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.

Red Earth

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2017 by rgwallace

Red Earth 4They lived like monkeys still, while their new god powers lay around them in the weeds. ― Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

For a column to be published on Earth Day, the day of the March for Science, a reporter asked me three questions: Why are capitalism and environmentalism inherently incompatible? Why is industrial farming harmful to the environment? And why are corporate sustainability and carbon footprint reduction programs so often a farce?

Drawing from previous essays, the newly emergent ecological Marx, both sides of the John Bellamy Foster and Jason Moore debate, and the clash over environmental destruction under pre-capitalist formations, I answered all three together in what follows, parts of which the columnist may excerpt.

Capitalism is fundamentally different from any other social organization in human history. There is the matter of scale, of course. The environmental destruction arising from the system’s mode of production is now global and geological.
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Rogue Resistance

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2017 by rgwallace

Alt_CDCOne can’t help but cheer the online resistance Fed scientists are waging against the anti-science Trump administration. Among them, Rogue NASA, NOAA Uncensored, and everybody’s favorite Alt US Forest Service: only you can prevent fascism.

But some of us were @Alt_CDC long before it was hip or took a Twitter handle.

Didn’t swine flu H1N1, Ebola Makona, H5N2 (and other H5Nx), Zika, cholera in Haiti, the vaccine gap for yellow fever, H7N9, Ebola Reston, MERS in industrialized camel, the opioid epidemic, and a surge in antibiotic resistance emerge under President Obama’s watch?

Wasn’t it the Obama NSF and NIH that failed to fund scientific efforts to explore the roles agribusiness, deforestation, structural adjustment, and global circuits of capital played in these outbreaks? Continue reading

Book Launch | East Coast

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Farming Human Pathogens book, Revolution with tags , , , , , , on June 6, 2016 by rgwallace

Book Tour Poster 1The East Coast/Twin Cities tour for my new book, Big Farms Make Big Flu, has now been finalized!

A day after the book launch with the Marxist Education Project at Brooklyn Commons, I’ll be talking capitalism and the production (and destruction) of animals with Ashley Dawson, author of Extinction: A Radical History, and food systems analyst Siena Chrisman at the CUNY Grad Center.

We’ll be Levitating the USDA in Washington DC! With 25% book discounts for USDA employees.

And we’ve added an appearance at MIT with Science for the People.

Facebook pages for all events are listed here. All are welcome! Feel free to share the tour poster!

The book can be pre-ordered here.

The Hillary Clinton Boil

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2016 by rgwallace

The Hillary Clinton Strain2An outbreak of flesh-eating cutaneous leishmaniasis is disfiguring hundreds of thousands across Syria, Eastern Libya, Yemen, and Iraq.

As all are countries in which the leading Democratic Party candidate for the U.S. presidency green-lit war, for parsimony’s sake the so-called “Aleppo boil” or “Baghdad boil” should be appropriately renamed.

“Bombed out buildings,” Sarah Hiddleston reports,

disrupted insecticide control, and poor water and sanitation services create a ripe breeding ground for sandflies [that transmit the Leishmania trypanosomes]. Poor health systems mean treatment is difficult to reach or insufficient, and refugees fleeing conflict take the disease into non-immune areas or arrive in endemic areas without immunity themselves.

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