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M E D I A R C H Y

Accountable Publishing Inc.

Volume One             Spring, 2024

                                                  Home of THE WRY MAKER

RAPE OF THE PRESS

EDITORS

By manipulating the press, and allowing private parties to actively buy controlling positions in the media, the state department and Securities and Exchange Commission of the US have undermined the public reputation of and the perception of the facticity of the press. Media concentration enabled the rape of the press. Concentration of media ownership by media conglomerates took place when the first Bill Clinton administration exempted the US media from Anti-Trust laws, preparing the way for gross political manipulation as exemplified by the reverse reality TV of “embedded” reporting of the Endless Wars. Permanent damage has been suffered by civil society. The American public can no longer evaluate viable sources of information. Having lost its authority to establish facts, the media has reverted to gross Party propaganda machine, scrambling the American electorate’s organic democratic process, already heretofore imperfect, into a profound and novel incoherence. A state of panic, a sense of impotence, and primitive fear, are restrained only by the intensification of gaslighting and denial. Public psychosis commences as a monstrosity of lies is normalized into novel doctrines. Values abound in manias of spectacle and bunting of lawn signs taking sides in each Endless War. The condition of our discourse today, is itself in a crisis vastly intensified by corporate and state media capture. Corporate media is a radical barrier to democracy. American civil society has no basis upon which to do anything through its elections, when public discourse is so profoundly compromised, as it is today. Reform is impossible here. Effectively the elections have been captured. A “Party-Media Complex,” whose product is public hysteria, controls public debate for empire and profit. Fanaticism and organized paranoia follow the reduction of all discourses to their propagandistic form. Evaluative processes are torched. Lacking facticity, political ideology is reduced to godless religions, schemata of stridently declared values disemboweled of history or even irony. What to do about generational failure? Concentration, party control, conformity block the exits. A bypass mechanism, a way to get out of their system, is needed: an escape from Big Media in 2024? Barring a Wait for Godot of state and federal Anti Trust reforms, we seek a new model to rescue the Press from the Media: starting with the printed word, without the promise of fair rules, to put us beyond their power. The question is, what is the basis for such an escape? How would one know that one had escaped? What is it that distinguishes truth from propaganda? We must commence in a befuddled state. So what has been lost exactly, in the 80-year period of this American empire, that could somehow be asserted in new form to perhaps resuscitate our native intelligence and intrepidity? Crisis is opportunity, or death. Responding appropriately to the collapse of all economic systems within the stereo din of American politics, we must not merely criticize power, but MAKE new forms of power. Awareness of the need for Americans to find our feet and awaken from this long, long slumber, is perhaps emerging, whatever the theory behind it, to most Americans. We have created THE WRY MAKER, a Western Massachusetts print newspaper, with MEDIARCHY.ORG, in order to engage the awakened in whatever ways possible.

IMPERIAL POPULISM

CHRISTOPHER BRITT ARREDONDO

In democracies, political life revolves around procedures that are oriented towards deliberation, the confrontation of interests, and the gradual management of conflicts. In democratic political life, it is therefore always necessary to give some more time to time. Populists, by contrast, are notoriously impatient. They claim to be able to solve problems immediately, without needing to wait for democratic processes of collaboration to give rise to consensual solutions. In this regard, populism is anti-political; it rejects, either out of ignorance or dishonesty, the very foundations of the art of politics, which is dialogue. When impatience for utopia outweighs the need to resolve the conflicts of public life by political means, representative democracy falls into a deep state of crisis. There are those who would like to see in participatory democracy the solution to the crisis of legitimacy that excites populist impatience. By participating in political dialogue, citizens are supposed to broaden their understanding of political life, widen their circles of solidarity, and learn to reassess their interests in terms of communal norms and public goods that are the result of democratic collaboration. This idea fails to convince, however, not just because its pedagogical idealism is unjustifiably optimistic. Theoretical infatuation with participatory democracy is suspect also because it would encourage us to neglect the imperial context in which democracy in America developed historically. The Founding Fathers understood America’s revolutionary war of independence in terms of a translatio imperii et studii that effectively transferred imperial power and civilizing savior faire from England to the United States. The underlying assumption was that, as a former British colony, the United States was destined to not merely continue the civilizing mission of the British empire but to surpass it. It was in this sense that Jefferson spoke of the newly formed nation as an empire of liberty, that Hamilton referred to the US as a republican empire, and that Franklin spoke of the US as the only empire in history that would expand by honest and virtuous means. To this self-satisfying and providential vision of America’s civilizing mission, the Founding Fathers added another British imperial ideal, which Sir Francis Bacon had first formulated in his utopian Nova Atlantis as the techno-scientific domination of nature for the betterment of all mankind. Thus conceived, American democracy was thought to radiate the light of an enlightenment that was both providential and techno-scientific. The nation had a manifest destiny to expand its dominion universally. But it was rather contradictory and at odds with itself: to propagate democracy by means of the anti-democratic practices of empire and to do so in order to secure, not the enlightened goal of perpetual peace, but the idiotic ideal of perpetual prosperity. The swift success with which this empire of liberty expanded across North America had less to do with the imagined republican virtues of British settlers in North America and the self-acclaimed manifest destiny of these “good pilgrims’ progress” than it did with the evident decline and eventual collapse of the Spanish empire. First, under Jefferson, came the Louisiana Purchase. Then, under Jackson, the US annexed Florida. With Polk in the White House, the US invaded and conquered all of northern Mexico. And finally, in 1898, the US conquered the island nations of the Philippines, Guam, and the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, and Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. Here then, in the imbrication of the US’s imperial progress with Spain’s imperial decadence, is the modern translatio imperii that best explains both the rise of the US’s empire of liberty and the determination with which US imperialists defended their empire’s expansion as a “blessing of civilization.” America would liberate these island nations from the double tyranny of Spain’s inquisitorial church and absolutist monarchy in order, putatively, to enlighten them. But as Mark Twain argued in his capacity as a representative of the Anti-imperialist League, to enlighten, in this sense, actually meant to subject these island nations--under the guise of colonial democracy--to American imperial tyranny. Imperial tyranny includes by excluding. Convinced that Native Americans could never develop the requisite republican virtues, US imperialists eliminated them through a genocidal campaign that began in the colonial era and did not end until well into the 1920s. Enslaved Africans and their descendants fared no better, especially in the South, where--after the Civil War--they were subjected to the state-sponsored terrorist regime of the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Crow laws that lent this regime a veneer of democratic legitimacy. And for their part, when immigrant workers organized into unions in an effort to improve their working conditions, the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age did not hesitate to massacre them. As W.E.B. Du Bois argued, these massive displacements and forced exclusions obeyed the expansionist logic of capital. So long as the “abolition democracy” that emerged in the South during Reconstruction did not hinder profits, the industrialists and financiers of the North were happy to back democratic collaboration between northern carpetbaggers and southern scallywags. But as soon as abolition democracy in the South threatened to undermine the imperatives of capital, the North retreated and focused instead on “Winning the West.” As a result, the carpet baggers of the North were rebranded as tyrants and the scallywags of the South, as traitors. The rise of abolition democracy in the South provided American imperialists with a justification for establishing a colonial democracy in their own back yard. In this regard, the Jim Crow South became a laboratory for American empire and the colonial democracies the US would eventually impose on its overseas territories in the Caribbean and Pacific as well as the “Banana Republics” of Central and South America. Populism in the 1890s grew as a countermovement to the socially destructive forces unleashed by this expansionist logic. But neither the utopian spirit of this populist movement nor the rancor, resentment, and prejudice that sustained populist efforts at reform proved forceful enough to galvanize this movement into a durable political party. The so-called “People’s Party” would be summarily usurped by the Democratic Party’s political machine and its 1901 presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan. Bryan lost the election, delivering the final blow to the populist movement. When President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, his Vice President, the “rough-riding” Theodore Roosevelt, ended up occupying the White House. Not only had populism succumbed to imperialism, but imperialism would now also become the new populist credo. Unlike the populism of the 1890s in Kansas, Texas and other Southern States, which sought to defend vulnerable sharecropping farmers from the depredation of railroad magnates and Wall Street financiers, populism today no longer belongs exclusively to the poor and downtrodden. Instead, it is the expression of semi-affluent people who, rather than oppose the rich and powerful, prefer to persecute the destitute. These populists identify with empire’s disdain for democracy and regard democratic dialogue as an impediment. They consider any compromise with their opponents as being tantamount to a betrayal of the will of the people. Hence their conspiratorial identification with tyranny and their preference for governance by dictate. Having grown accustomed to undermining democracy in other countries, US imperialists now impose similar limits on democracy at home. At issue in this imperialist disdain for democracy is an imperium that is based on the autocratic premise that whosoever controls communication shall rule society. In our imperial democracy --where elected representatives pretend to rule without actually ruling and plutocratic imperialists pretend to defend popular sovereignty in order to mobilize it against democracy--dialogue timidly gives way to propaganda. The imperialists propagate the fears and delusions that excite and torment the populists. Nowhere is this intimate relationship between imperialists and populists more evident than in the so-called “debates” concerning immigration. While millions of refugees and stateless people seek desperately to find a place where they may make their lives and homes anew, the comparatively affluent and privileged masses who make up populist movements in the imperial homeland, instead of expressing solidarity with the flight and plight of the forcibly displaced, identify them as the enemy. In the eyes of these populists, whose minds have become dominated by propaganda that feeds fears of replacement, the displaced are the displacers, the victims, victimizers. By substituting an ideological for an historical view of the past and present, imperial populism justifies misanthropic cruelty as revolutionary fervor. When they persecute the displaced, imperial populists feel as though they are participating in a “revolutionary happening.” They tell themselves: “Cruelty stems entirely from our spontaneity, and through it alone do we become fully independent and self-sufficient beings.” Yet this substitution of reason by cruelty qualifies as “revolutionary” only in the sense that it subverts enlightenment and undermines the sovereignty of the people.

THE EMPIRIC PROJECT

JULIA PETERS

ECONOMY

GEORGE FENN

In order to seek the truth of a matter the Empiric Project looks to empiricism, data, research and analysis, rather than at the empty face of morality, belief, corporate media headlines, and straw man fallacies. The Empiric Project does not claim to know the truth but it earnestly seeks it. The Empiric Project exposes often simple metrics that generate widespread repetition and amplification, informing a zeitgeist used to rationalize belief systems and political action. Opinion based on an extremely limited understanding of a thing is to disregard civic discourse in favor of something closer to religious discourse, i.e. devil v. god, evil v. good, my religion v. your religion, my morality v. your morality, black v. white, democrat v. republican, what makes me feel bad v. what makes me feel good. Oftentimes your moral opinion - ill informed as it is - is not the same as a rigorous assessment of reality, and is therefore best kept to yourself. The Fairness Doctrine was introduced by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949 requiring that broadcasters (1) devote a portion of airtime to discussing matters of “public interest” that included “controversial” issues, and (2) air both sides “equally” regarding those matters. Papers of record had been held to a similar standard. When the FCC abolished the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, our heretofore considered “neutral” reporting skewed to biased, resulting in polarized one-sided reporting where “opposing” viewpoints are not presented as analysis, rather more commonly as straw man fallacies. Doing little to shed light on almost any subject, straw man fallacies alongside ad hominem attacks are designed to stifle, not expand, truth in discourse: Query and research the efficacy and safety of certain vaccines, you are: An anti-vaxxer and are complicit in the deaths of people who die of Covid. Question how and whether critical race theory is applied to elementary school students, you are: A white supremacist and in denial of the history of the treatment of black people in America. Wonder whether a child suffering from anxiety and believing they may be the opposite gender should receive a psychological evaluation before being allowed to enter into treatment by puberty blockers or hormone therapy, you are: A transphobic who is causing transgender people to become suicidal. Do you have the capacity to judge the veracity of information you seek? There are many studies that speak to the safety of tobacco, nuclear energy, pesticides, forever chemicals, hormone injections, vaccines, and processed food. Can you judge the difference between a study funded by the pharmaceutical industry or the nuclear energy industry, or a U.S. government health institute partnered with one of those industries, rather than studies that are - in fact - verifiably independent? Do you trust your own observations, rather than those filtered by voices telling you what is moral belief and what is immoral belief? It seems that the inability to judge and receive real information about what is really going on is like groping in the dark, and the only light we are allowed to see ignites our morality, or virtue signaling, or divisions and polarization, but not the truth. In the parable of the Blind Men and an Elephant we are told a group of blind men were apprised of an animal strange to them that had arrived in their village. They gathered round to touch the animal in order to understand what it was. The first person held the thick trunk and reported, “This being is like a thick snake.” The next held its ear, reporting “like a fan, this being is.” The third, encircling its leg with his hands announced that is was “a pillar,” and the fourth, placing his hands along the side, said, “a wall.” When only one part of the elephant is amplified, and is then the basis of a moral response, and then often a legislative or executive government response, we are as lost as the groping blind men. The Empric Project seeks to uncover the information that can help us to begin to understand the magnitude of emergent, and too often catastrophic, problems we face. Frequently those problems are not what is reported, and certainly not amplified, in a media that is corporate, capitalist, and partisan. They are also problems of magnitude that are not even remotely met with concomitant solutions matching scale and urgency, and they are often connected by common and discernible themes. An example that may be explored in a future column, is as follows. The CDC has indicated that humans have 212 toxic chemicals in our bodies. The Environmental Working Group puts that number at 493. In a sample test of the umbilical cords of ten newborn infants, EWG reported finding 232 chemicals including developmental toxins and neurotoxins like lead, mercury, and PCBs (formerly understood to have been banned by the U.S. government in 1976), cancer-causing toxins including dioxins (Agent Orange, among other uses), and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), what we now call part of a class of “forever” chemicals that do not break down in our bodies, soil, water, and the environment. In the age of the Anthropocene, has humanity reached the pinnacle of reproducing infant humans as toxic waste? After falling weeping to the ground, the Empiric Project may then ask: How did we get here? Why did we get here? And, where can we go from here? Stay tuned…

Economy means to tend - nemo - the household - oikos. The significance, however, is less an observation, than the description of a method. Tended in such-and-such a way, the household shall be in a good state, whereas if not: the opposite. Who tends? The head: master, husband, parent. Ostensibly the good will benefit everyone - slaves, wife, children - but all is dependent on his will. Thus we are speaking of a kind of management which is non-democratic and limited. We today are confused in how we use it. When we do, we are including millions of people: either in a nation, several or the globe. These are, of course, strangers to each other; with no prospect of this ever changing. So that insofar as they are joined at all, it is not by blood or marriage or any kind of familiarity, but as buyer and seller anonymous; a group so vast as to make a household microscopic. Acting upon this group, we imagine a sort of omniscient and omnipotent entity, a selfless master, whose judgment on particular commodities and activities is always prefixed “the market for…”. And in this way we are directed to that which is viable; i.e., will save or make us more money than another. Those we consider to be listening we call savy, and those not we brand madmen. On the same basis we dismiss activities in themselves. For instance, it is not uncommon to hear people say that agriculture is not worth doing. Whence comes this usage? I think one can find something like an explanation in the phrase “representative-democracy.” It too is a perversion. Democracy means rule by the people. It does not mean deputation to a few; it definitely does not mean unmandated license. It can best be understood in the context of its origin: the city. There, thousands of citizens were supposed to join together and decide on things submitted to them. By adding “representative” there is a contradiction. This has, I suspect, created a certain tension. We ask ourselves: aren’t we the rulers? Why do the politicians not do what I say? Or more likely, this is only barely expressed. And then the answer is that they are corrupt; the idea that democracy was never intended never occurs. But that is the best explanation. The term was popularized in the 19th century by Ben Butler, a Democrat politician. It was never suggested by the Federalists. But in our ignorance, we are frustrated. We think: the people have a right to decide things. That’s what our Constitution is about. We don’t need these hacks. Then in despair or seduction we turn to the idea of the “economy.” We say: we can rule ourselves. The household will run itself. We want purity. We want to leave. So we give that word the significance of: that which does not have politicians; that which we rule directly. Our voice is not ignored or perverted by parties; it has an effect. Things happen as a result. People who sell us things change what they sell. And this dialectic is progress; what results is the right path. The trouble is that you are buying a mop. You can buy one that is larger or lighter or cheaper; but it remains such. And if you get one to your liking, it is no revolution. You are still a slave, wife, child. This fact makes itself clear in the fatalism of particularly staunch supporters of this ideology. They use it far more frequently to say why nothing can be done. Thus when a change is suggested, they respond: oh, there’s no market for that. The competition. The price. Just can’t be done. Will never happen. And even when it’s something they like, they will often say: ah yes. Back when I was a child. But you know, have to make way for progress. “My dollar my vote” is - I think - a just equivalence. Precisely because of the latter’s modern passivity: they act within an always already existing context. The mind must become increasingly specialized; content to make puerile choices; to mortify the desires. I would suggest we distance ourselves from all of this. The thing is to choose something not available. What is good should not be impeded by abstractions. The cult of the possible is simultaneously ignorant. But that would require more: an idea of that of which a good household or community consists.

THE DULL WEST

TALES FROM A FAILED STATE: UK

CHARLES SCHULTZ

SCOTT LICHTENSTEIN

On the California Coast? The ennui of the rich. It smells and tastes a lot better than the ecstasy of poverty. The locals, if they are completely lacking in self-awareness, sometimes, as in Wilde’s critique of the poverty campaigners of London’s East End, attempt to engage with the hispanic ranch workers. These farmhands, wives and children, the victims of racism, must be invited to local meetings; agendas will be printed in Spanish; their opinions will be formally surveyed. Of course, if they speak publicly of the conditions of their employment or housing on a ranch -- they will lose both. A double bind -- they must speak, but know they will be punished if they do. Thus, when they remain silent or equivocate, their liberal champions despair of ever helping them. That ecstasy of poverty, that every sinew stretching, on fire. When the sudden mania for “Anti-Racism” lifted its inane eyebrows, I thought of Flint, Michigan. People there live day to day, some, hour to hour. Of that indicator of the decline of the middle-class: “Did you know how many people live paycheck to paycheck?” (it hovers between 60-80% in the US), living paycheck to paycheck is “making it” in Flint. It means, not only is there one paycheck, but two week later, there is another! It is a level of wealth and security very rare in that town. At the Walmart that serves Flint (in Flint Township, which is considered a safer place to locate a business), a black woman in her fifties and a young black man in his early twenties explained to me, as they were ringing me up, that the traditional checkout line was preferable to the self-checkout area, where people used the immediate absence of humans (just you the shopper scanning the barcodes of products) to steal. They called it the “bullpen”. The employees in the bullpen had to spot thieves moving through the techno-corral and confront them. The twenty year old (if that) had just been taken off the “pick-up” section -- where people came in for pre-orders. If a customer has the money to think that far ahead, he or she is generally more civilized. He had made a mistake, he explained to the cashier, a failed performance evaluation. He was headed back to the bullpen. Could you take members of the majority black population of Flint off the street, whisk them into an office, and there in some white walled antiseptic chamber, have a conversation about “racism”? Probably. They would understand. But to what end? Contextualizing instruments of hierarchical control mean very little at the heavy stone end of those pyramids. Back to work, if you are lucky. On a Friday in July, in a place like that, a hot humid endless afternoon, I would sense, as a teenager, the delight of mischief and fear. Something bad was going to happen, and it might very well be fun. You experience poverty, in youth, as possibilities in chaos. If the cretins of Silicon Valley want a gestalt of “multiple universes”, it is to be young in the hour of sunset, there in the spalled and crumbling concrete slabs and abandoned brick factories of a violent, drunk and high, extremely poor city. As for California, there was a Black Lives Matter march in the tiny enclave I live in. A group of white people walked along the sides of a quarter mile of road, as they had been asked by the local sheriff’s deputies not to walk in the road. I didn’t bother to attend this sad pageant, but one neighbor mentioned what another, a non-native English speaker, who no doubt thought they were expressing something profoundly humane, “We have the wealth, and we have each other!” There is one black man in town, thankfully with a sense of humor. I said, ‘We’ll do a “Black Life Matters” sign for you. We only have one! We can’t be too careful.’ Here, in the ever even temperature of coastal California, I occasionally see the person who wanted the hispanic ranch workers to “speak for themselves!”, sitting on the end of the dock of their multi-million dollar home, sometimes with a book, sometimes with a spaniel, pondering, “Why am I not interesting?” Well, being interesting is something you have to cultivate. Expensive schooling is just your parents paying other people to pretend that you are interesting. I frequently encounter this baffled rich person. They are forever searching for their interesting quality, that they know they must possess, and never finding it, because it isn’t there. I mention this, because the source of that person’s wealth -- the one with legs dangling over the Pacific staring out wondering why their anti-racist campaign has stalled -- the inherited money that produced their unaccountable smugness, is General Motors: founded, Flint, Michigan, 1908.

Electricity is making Dickensian Britain real again. Sometimes you read a headline that you have to read twice just to comprehend: “Courts waved through applications by energy firms to forcibly install prepayment meters in people’s homes”. Prepaid electricity meters? Forcibly installed? Wait, let’s back up. Newsflash: Britain has prepaid meters for electricity. I used to have one in my rented apartment. I had to take the electric key and top it up at the local supermarket. And if I forgot, I was plunged into darkness. Once it happened when I was on the phone to a friend at night and everything died in the middle of the conversation. I had to stumble in the dark to find the key to the electrical box outside and then press a button which gave me an extra £2.00/$2.50 worth of electricity until I could top it up again at the supermarket, and the walk of shame having to buy electricity over the counter. Asking to top up electricity at the supermarket was like being 16 again asking to buy a condom: I mumbled it just loud enough for the cashier to hear but low enough so the others standing in line couldn’t hear… Energy firms have been force-fitting electricity meters - debt agents sent by the energy companies were smashing down doors of vulnerable people’s homes, some disabled it turned out and force fitted electricity meters. Sometimes in unsociable hours at night. These are people who are so poor they are forced to eat or heat, missed a bill, and the utility companies sent the heavies around to install a pre-paid meter. It must be a hangover from the sadistic medieval times…like Henry VIII feasting on roast beef, busy siring an heir to the throne whilst chopping his wives’ heads off and burning Catholics. The modern day equivalent is UK electricity companies gorging themselves on profits from the energy crisis and government subsidies whilst screwing the working poor for nothing more than spite. There’s something uniquely other-worldly about ram-raiding the poor to fit pay-as-you-go energy meters to fund the hoarding of the fat cats…like a 70’s dystopian B movie… And the British working class are not just poor, they are fucking poor: the UK has a GDP per capita equivalent to the poorest state in the US – Mississippi. There are more food banks in the UK than McDonalds’ outlets; let that sink in. Deprivation - people living in households with income below 60% of the median – primarily live in the north of England that has gotten so bad after 13 years of Tory rule that deprivation in the north of England has now fallen to the level it was in former GDR. Again, let that sink in. Imagine if downtown Oakland was in Labrador …although at least the North of England has sports teams… The International Monetary Fund has said that British households have been the worst hit in western Europe in the energy crisis because of its high dependence on gas. The UK uses gas for generating about 40% of its electricity and for heating 85% of its homes. And British houses are amongst the least energy-efficient in Europe. My theory for why British housing stock is so shitty is because British construction workers have this ritual of getting shitfaced in the pub after work. Every evening. Not just construction workers, but especially construction workers. Hard to sink a 10” nail on a hangover or get the levels right on those windows when you’re seeing blurry. But god bless ‘em, they’ve been keeping the economy going during the cost of living crisis. In fact, getting shitfaced in the pub is like the old Victory Gardens during WII: it’s the only thing getting the economy through the current cost of living crisis. Over 10 years ago the Conservative government was advised to invest in storage capacity for strategic oil reserves, like the US has, you know, to smooth out the peaks and troughs of energy prices. ‘We can’t be bothered’ was the Tories’ response, so they didn’t. So when the Ukraine war hit, the Brits had to buy oil on the spot market paying top dollar. They were competing against countries that have sovereign wealth funds that could afford it…. During the free-market fundamentalism of the Thatcher-Reagan years, the government sold the publicly owned family silver and privatized the gas and electricity companies. Where did the proceeds of that and money from North Sea oil go? Oil producing countries like Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia have sovereign wealth funds funded from their oil production to help fill the state coffers for pensions and stuff. The UK? Nope. Seems all those petro-dollars seeped into private hands. And now the country is broke...if you’re not in the inner capitalist circle; if you are, there’s plenty of money, just not for you & me. The UK is so broke the Royal Navy can’t afford to participate in upcoming NATO exercises, due to a recruitment crisis and lack of equipment. One of the main reasons potential recruits are put off joining is the decrepit state of accommodation for soldiers. Britannia that used to ‘rule the waves’ is so broke it can’t even field a team for NATO exercises. The British military is like a water boy at the end of the bench of Team US-centric Military Empire. When are they going to replace UK’s seat on the UN with a highchair? Or maybe just have its UN representative sit on Uncle Sam’s lap…? And here’s the irony. The free-market fundamentalist Tories refuse to bring into public ownership the main national energy company because that’s ‘socialism’. But they allow a ‘socialist’ energy company 100% owned by the French government – EDF – to be one of the largest energy providers in the UK, not to mention build its flag ship next generation nuclear reactor. Go figure. That EDF built nuclear reactor - financed by the Chinese by the way (the UK government is broke remember?) has as much chance of ever being built due to cost overruns and a broken financial model as the 3rd runway at Heathrow airport - never happened. Or the high speed railway from London to the North of England - never happened. Why the UK is so shit at public projects may be a topic for next time. (Spoiler alert: Fail to plan, plan to fail.) The major exception to this is deaths and corporations of the royal family; when it comes to the lucky sperm club they excel. Électricité de France (EDF) is my energy provider, it took over my energy provider during the energy crisis. Technically, 31 energy companies went bust during the energy crisis, but I’d call it 32: Bulb Energy, with 1.7 million customers, was placed in ‘Special Administration’; that’s management-speak for going bust in my book. The few energy companies left standing like the ‘socialist’ EDF were paid by the UK taxpayer to take over the undercapitalized energy providers. Yes, millions of energy customers became dependent on the market regulator, OFGEM, to pay new suppliers to take them. “Enshittification” was once coined to describe the way that social media platforms like Facebook decay; it’s an apt description of the UK energy market too… Privatised British Gas, now called Centrica, announced this week, despite increasing debtors due to households not able to pay their energy bill for 2024: Analysts are forecasting profits of around £747mn at the household supply business, a sharp recovery from £72mn in 2022. Over a 100%+ increase in profit all going to shareholders, whilst the working poor freeze-the modern day version of Cool Britannia. OFGEM is the energy regulator in the UK. It has one job – to regulate the energy market. During the era of ‘light touch’ and the revolving door of OFGEM employees and energy company directorates OFGEM allowed under-capitalized energy companies into the market. They collapsed when they didn’t have the cash to pay for the rising cost of gas. And guess who’s paying for that bailout of those companies on top of enormous energy bills? The outsider capitalist UK taxpayers. The insider capitalists don’t pay either any tax or severely reduced rates of tax due to offshore tax ‘vehicles’. Have you noticed how many UK ‘dependents’ countries in the Caribbean are tax havens? Not a co-incidence. Just yesterday it was announced the billionaire Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and prize fighter for the financial and corporate elite paid a tax rate of 23% on £2.2m income last year; I pay 45%. Folk like me who don’t have tickets to ride these tax-avoiding vehicles have to shoulder the institutionalised racketeering of a sock-puppet regulator and political class. One thing Anglo-America has in common, in the immortal words of perhaps the only moral billionaire alive: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” q--- Warren Buffett God save the Buffett! ---

CLIMATE SACRIFICE

PAUL FENN

The State of Massachusetts is supposed to be the US leader in renewable energy and climate action, yet is actually a flop; but no one is admitting it because the Commonwealth is supposed to be a national leader. That’s already after it’s having flipped and flopped for nearly thirty years. All that’s left of this simulacrum are a few Draconian, profoundly harmful policies to force utility-scale power facilities onto rural communities throughout the region, such as in our rural communities here in the Northampton-Amherst sphere of influence. Urban areas - the cause of energy demand - remain off limits. This pattern has been underway with large solar projects on farm fields and forests for some years now, and people are fed up. Now transmission lines and energy projects beyond the scale of the communities forced to host them, threaten to make it worse. A very large grid battery array has been proposed in Wendell. Just across the border to the North, a massive new transmission line corridor is being forced on the voters of Maine, who voted against it, apparently thinking they were in charge of their state. Most disastrously, vastly expanded large hydro power is going to be imported into this country. The Governor and Legislature now cling to hydro, transmission and batteries as their climate solutions, happily obliging Massachusetts ratepayers to pay for this on our utility bills for the rest of our lives. We are made to pay to poison waterways and fish just over the border in Canada, where Quebec Indians - Cree and Inuit - have resisted their entire lives, facing yet more generations poisoned by the mercury, lead and arsenic that hydropower dams cause in rivers, lakes and bays (and all fish, their main food source), all around them. Do Red Lives matter? These Indians are the third layer of new sacrifice areas coming from above. Local impacts of conversion of wild lands and farms to grid scale “renewable” energy resources is second. Do Maine lives matter? All are being sacrificed in a compact to save the reputations of politicians and cover up the failure to decarbonize metro Boston and major urban areas - but also the failure of rural communities to get our acts together on climate. New York has joined Massachusetts’ neocolonial move. On December 31, 2020, Quebec Minister of the Environment Benoît Charette used his discretionary power to change regulations that eliminated the obligation of the Quebec government to conduct an environmental assessment in cases of an increase in power generation at hydroelectric facilities. The hydroprojects can now increase the flow of water through their turbines to generate power for Boston and New York without considering the impact of such modifications on traditional First Nations territories, or even consulting them. “This action by Benoît Charette constitutes a major infringement of the constitutional rights of First Nations,” say the First Nation tribes, “but this does not seem to worry the Minister too much. The concerns lie rather with the Anishnabeg of Kitigan Zibi, Lac Simon and Pikogan (Abitibiwini). Since they no longer have a say in an issue that directly affects the exploitation and preservation of their ancestral territory (Nitakinan), where....they asked to be heard in the context of a consultation on the interconnection line project, since the electricity destined to supply the State and the City of New York is produced in part on their territory,” they stated plainly. So rural Massachusetts is not alone in being oppressed by state preemption. Rural communities everywhere face being sacrificed to carbon-belching urban districts. The effort to preempt local community authority over permitting, and the promotion of high voltage power lines, are put forward as emergency measures following decades of federal, state and local inaction on climate. The Biden administration has pushed preemptive measures over Local Control; Massachusetts’ Democrats, presumed leaders in climate policy pretend to demonstrate Biden’s failed, very stupid, originally Republican, idea: that forcing transmission lines and centralized generation on communities is a climate pathway. It is not. Democrats used to protect Indians; Republicans used to protect Local Control. That is over. The State’s policies about how to change the energy system have failed and have now gone postal, but few people realize this disturbing fact. Republicans don’t want to address climate change at all, and Dems won’t admit their efforts have failed. Both parties botched the electricity industry restructuring a quarter century ago, but no one ever bothered to address this “bipartisan” disaster. Slouching forward from 1997 until now, after thirty years, the Massachusetts electricity industry remains in the hands of allegedly deregulated ex-monopolies that continue to control everything, and less-than-scrupulous energy traders and brokers offering fake “consumer choice” under minimal state rules. Stiff-armed by regulators and discouraged from implementing real change through local control, even municipalities with Green Municipal Aggregation programs throughout the state are mostly asleep at the climate change wheel, dreaming of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Meanwhile, the solar industry, dependent on utilities for subsidies and payments, remains functionally captive to, and imprisoned within a “capped” ghetto by deregulated utility monpoly megalyths. The problem with living in a backward country, is that the most forward thinking people in such places also tend to be backward. A global climate nonperformer, U.S. makes Massachusetts look good. It has never been good. But given the megaproject “solutions” now being forced on rural areas, it’s crecendo of preemptive attack policies is actually harmful: worse than nothing. There’s no one in a void of looking busy who is actually seeking to decarbonize the buildings that are the source and cause of energy demand. Real change is a no man’s land in America. You cannot solve climate change without reducing grid and pipeline demand. To not go to this heart of climate crisis is this Original Sin that pervades all climate collapse: a lie made daily by captured state regulators and corrupted politicians. When states collapses, the people are sacrificed. Denying their ongoing failure to reform utilities, state leaders now see no alternative but to develop power plants out in the farm lands instead of encouraging farmers to farm, and in the forests - the remaining carbon sink, the surviving ecology after sprawl, and the happiness of people here. The First nations of Quebec have it worse. Situated in a huge area where Cree and Inuit live 620 mi north of Montreal, the La Grande River watershed, the Phase II multiterminal is 1,200–1,400 MW will deliver power from Québec’s Baie-James region to Sandy Pond substation just outside Boston. Massachusetts’ Governor and Legislature authorized two long-term power contracts to leverage bank financing to build the transmission lines in Maine. Similarly, Western Massachusetts towns targeted by lithium battery farm developers are ecologically sensitive sites with very small communities using very little electricity. They have no need for this scale of power. It is not for local towns, not for Quebec or Canada, but for metro Boston. And it is for show: by ostensibly “progressive” political elites seeking to prove climate leadership by the darkest, dirtiest, meanest path. Governor Maura Healey will set bad examples for other states to follow. First Nation tribes in Quebec has sued the provincial government to stop construction of the massive powerlines that will bring electricity from dams through Maine into Boston, because it will leverage the further poisoning of their lands and waterways by the Canadian and Quebec government. Similarly, Western Massachusetts towns like Wendell and Shutesbury are adopting local bylaws to block unwelcome large energy facility developers. Both towns are actively opposed by the Governor, Legislature and State Attorney General. Both the people of Wendell and the Tribes continue to fight. Maine seems at a loss what to do anymore after voting against it. We share a common oppressor. The sacrifice policy of Massachusetts is cannibalistic, It all goes back to electric industry restructuring 25 years ago and the imperative to transition the business model of energy for rapid decarbonization to work. Regulation failed, then deregulation failed, too, except for Community Choice Aggregation (“CCA”), which could introduce an authentic decarbonization pathway, and a few have tried under state regulators obstructing their way as these handmaidens to utility control have long done. In the policy stupor on Commonwealth energy hooch, municipalities have been slow to take responsibility, act locally, and really lead. CCA is the green elephant in the room that could make dams, transmission lines and megabatteries obsolete. CCAs are taking big leaps in some places, like in California, smashing national renewable power records of the utilities. But not Massachusetts. A new game is possible in which technologies to decarbonize power, heat, vehicles and waste generate energy at the point of use, not with mega-facilities or new transmission lines. Distributed Energy Resources can be built anywhere, and energy users can own them: not just the utilities and Wall Street. This is what a real energy transition looks like. The falseness of electric restructuring results in a falseness of renewable energy for citizens of the Commonwealth, many of the communities already being CCAs, among them several megabattery-threatened communities. Buying RECs, and well-intentioned, they are fooled by the State’s fictitious certificate trading system. These communities believe they are receiving actual renewable energy supply, when they are, in simple fact, not. They have merely paid for certificates that the State allows them commercially to call renewable energy, legally. It is simply not true, a state-sanctioned lie, another ineffective “market incentive.” The two prevailing methods of buying renewable enegy, solar net metering and RECs, conceal a true deception. Captured by the utility monpolies, the State continues to ignore the basic challenge of climate action, which is getting into the high density areas where people and businesses are, and decarbonizing those places with onsite renewable technologies that shrink grid and pipeline dependency. The State’s solar net metering system pretends that everyone may bank and sell their solar power back to neighbors using the grid, but eligiblity is radically limited to a small minority by both caps and an inherently limited funding source: ratepayers. Not everyone can be on welfare, because then there is no money to hand out. Blindly, a subsidy poses as a physical measure, as if that were a pathway to energy transition. It has brough severely diluted climate benefits. A mental sclerosis of electric restructuring, net metering and RECs define renewable policy today, and both produce a fictional environment with no pathway to energy transition. Change is becoming impossible. Carbon reductions must be physical, not theoretical. They have to be real. They have to actually occur! RECs and incentives, like carbon credits, all amount to carbon fraud, now well into the feared climate crisis. Those municipalities that have sought to administer ratepayer energy efficiency funds controlled by the utilities, have been body blocked by State regulators protecting utility control of the funds in spite of restructuring law provisions for CCAs to control them - not to mention protecting utility control over solar tariffs and other climate-related programs. The resulting failure to reduce energy demand now “requires” self-defeating, destructive megaprojects. In its self-inflicted paralysis, Massachusetts leaders have learned nothing, but instead seek “emergency” powers to force transmission and megabatteries on rural areas: the logic of sacrifice.We are not learning from what was taught by other states with CCA, Massachusetts having the oldest municipal aggregation law, it was called, so have the oldest dumbest version of the idea. If you just look at the landscape of energy policy and climate policy here, typical of US-wide failure, the failure of restructuring has led to a poisoned environment in which actual climate action becomes intellectually difficult. Instead rural towns across the state face these Draconian measures. People need to recognize the destructiveness and threat level of failed states to democracy and meeting addressable carbon by the UN 2030 deadline. That is different. Just not the Same Old Thing turned up to ten: what Governor Healey, Democratic legislators are doing, often with bipartisan support. Not white lies. Real Change.

UNITY VERSUS COMMUNITY

IVAN FENN

As a work of political philosophy, the central principle of Plato’s Republic is unity. In the words of Aristotle, “Socrates takes as his premise, that the greatest possible unity of the whole city [or polis] is the supreme good”. This is evident throughout the dialogue. Socrates insists that the guardians, who are the aristocratic civic body of the Republic - and its true constituents, for the other civilians are, if anything, ancillary and incidental, and dealt with not as a matter of interest but as a matter of course - must have everything in common. Their inborn natures (“metals”), upbringing, education, property, and even their families must not only be similar, but identical; that is to say, one and the same. The property of each must be the property of all and the property of all the property of each, with the same going for fathers, mothers, wives, and children, each and all the men of one generation being the fathers of each and all the men of the subsequent generation, and so on and so forth with all the familial relationships. This form of unity is perhaps best described as “oneness” - for it is absolute, permitting no form of division whatsoever, be it of interests, allegiances, knowledge, or even natural characteristics, save the physical distinction between “bodies”. Socrates rejects democracy. This is not surprising, as it is pluralistic in nature, giving equal say to individuals of different classes and interests on the basis of a generic and nonspecific standard of equality, while Socrates believes unity in all things to be the chief good of the polis. In short, democracy is antipodal to his political ideal. He says “I know how to secure one man’s vote, but with the many I will not even enter into discussion,” and that in a court of law the “method of proof” whereby the claims of “many reputable witnesses” are given more weight than those of the party with “one [witness] or none” is in fact “worthless” - both these statements demonstrating a clear disdain and utter rejection of democratic principle and process. To Socrates, “there is one form of excellence,” while “the forms of evil are infinite”. Thus, variety, which he posits as one of the main characteristics of a democratic polis, can consist in nothing more than evil - for if there is only one form of good, then any variance from that form must be bad. In short, “oneness,” Socrates’ political ideal, does not permit multiplicity, in the sense of both variety and number, and multiplicity is the foundation of democracy. This is clear, for democracy is government by the majority, and the majority only exists by virtue of its numbers and because a minority exists that varies from it - it exists because of number and variety, which is the definition of multiplicity. It is possible that the kind of unity Socrates describes, which is absolute unity, is indeed the highest political good. If realized, it would manifest as perfect civic virtue; every citizen would relate to every other citizen with the same love and loyalty they felt for themselves, and unison in all things would be the de facto reality. A peaceful picture, to be sure. Going forward, the term I will use for this kind of unity is “identical interest” - as distinct from common interest. Common interest, specifically in the Aristotelian sense, designates a form of thing which multiple individuals or parties seek to attain within different situations and by different means through cooperation. To Aristotle, the common interest for the purpose of which the political association (polis) is formed is the attainment of a good life, which consists of “self-sufficiency” among other things: “The true end of a city is a good life, and it is the common interest to achieve this”. According to him, individuals cannot attain this end on their own, and they associate with other individuals of different capacities and functions so that, through mutual supplement, each can make up for the deficiencies of the other and all can collectively provide what is necessary for a “good life.” A “good life” is not a particular thing, but rather a form of thing; in particular, the form of life which is good - it is a kind of object, not a particular object. This is where common interest diverges from identical interest. Identical interest is mutual interest in a particular object. The absolute unity Socrates describes in the Republic consists in identical interest for the reason that its citizens have a mutual care not merely for the same forms of object, such as family or property, but for the same exact objects - the same family and the same property (for there is but one family and one property amongst the guardians). There is a second distinction to be made between common interest and identical interest. Common interest, as previously detailed, involves distinct cooperative activities directed towards the collective attainment of a form of thing. Identical interest differs from this not only in concerning an identical object, rather than the same form of object, but also in the mode of its pursuit, in the case that it is an object of attainment and not simply one of care. In particular, identical interests and identical objects are pursued through identical activities, or at least directly parallel ones, rather than distinct ones; the object is the same, and the activity of its pursuit, which is shared by a number of people, is also the same. Those who mutually pursue an identical object, are, in a sense, one of mind; they are pursuing the same object through the same activities, and are thus undergoing the same psychological process. This oneness of mind is amplified when the pursuit is not only mutual but cooperative (as in a military setting). Herein lies the connection between identical interest and absolute unity, which is in itself “oneness.” Now that this esoteric discussion is finished, and the equation of Socrates’ concept of “oneness” and identical interest has been demonstrated, I will provide the context to which it is significant. As I have noted, Socrates’ ideal polis is the diametric opposite of democracy; he posits unity to be the chief political good, and democracy is by nature pluralistic - constituted by a plurality of individuals and interests. Socrates himself does not explicitly state his criticism of democratic government in such terms, but considering how precise and complete the opposition between it and what he presents as the political ideal is, one can gather that he must have been aware of the antipodal relationship between them. His specific criticism of democracy is that it is too susceptible to demagogues; figures like Cimon and Miltiades “treat the people like children,” manipulating their desires and emotions and “attempting only to please them,” for the purpose of controlling them. The lifetime of Socrates directly coincided with the height of demagoguery and demagogic power in Athens, and no doubt it was because he experienced this in his life that he formed such a negative image of and became so opposed to democracy. However, let us consider what the demagogues did. I will take two famous examples: Themistocles and Pericles. Themistocles was a militarist and a warmonger, and spent his career building popular support for the expansion of Athenian naval power. It was largely because of this, and Themistocles’ leadership, that the Greeks victoried over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis; but all along it was the ambition of Themistocles to establish Athens as the leading power of Greece, and to be the founder of an Athenian empire. Themistocles’ aim was to give the Athenians a taste for war. Pericles continued this policy of naval expansionism and supremacism in the Peloponnesian War, once telling the Athenians after a defeat, by way of exhortation, that “in the whole of [the sea], you are completely supreme, not merely as far as you use at present, but also to what further extent you may think fit”. He also established the institution of pay for public service - paying the populace to attend and participate in the assemblies, a practice which “made the Athenians idle and cowardly and talkative and covetous”. What is the common feature between the policies of these two demagogues? In both cases, their actions served to consolidate and centralize public interest, to manufacture a general will, as well as to unify the activity of the public. Pericles and Themistocles united the interests and desires of the people by giving them a taste for the same objects of pursuit, making them predictable in their behavior and easy to influence and control. Two such objects of pursuit, as identified in the previous examples, were war and pay for public service. Both of these can be classified as identical interests. First of all, the object, in each case, is identical for all. When men clamor to go to war, it is not war as a concept or form of thing that they all have in mind, but rather a specific enemy to be conquered, a particular place to be pillaged, and the wealth of that particular place to be attained; the collective aim is unified and concerns a particular object, not a form of object. The same is true in the case of pay for public service. The basis of political participation is not a concept or form, such as vested interest or civic duty or the rights of freemen, nor is it the distinct concerns of individuals and demographics, such as property reform or advocation for private interests; an equal stipend for all drawn from the same public fund - the object is particular, and identical for each and all. Secondly, the activity of pursuit, in addition to the object of pursuit, is the same for everyone. This is clear in the case of war; at no time and in no setting are the activities of men more unified, synchronized, and in parallel with one another than they are during wartime and in battle - the best army is that which is one at arms, one in heart, and one of mind. The same is true when it comes to pay for public service, though in a more subtle sense, and one which requires further explanation. Because the object is identical for all, namely being paid for having attended and participated in the assembly, the psychological process of its pursuit is also roughly identical for all; go to the assembly, express an opinion loudly, collect one’s pay, and leave. There may be superficial differences in the behaviors or opinions of the different citizens in attendance, an illusion of plurality, but these differences are arbitrary and unimportant. The object is not the expression of the opinion, or even its proposition being brought to fruition, but rather being paid for having expressed it - the opinion itself is merely the vehicle of pay. And even superficial differences of opinion are unlikely, for if the motivation is pay, then it is likely that all will support the demagogue who instituted the practice of paying, namely Pericles. In sum, both objects, war and pay for public service, have the effect of putting those pursuing them in the same state of mind, unifying them psychologically, and by extension give a unified and generic rather than individual and distinct quality to their activities. Is it not ironic, then, that Socrates’ proposed alternative to the demagogic democracy of Athens is a political system of absolute unity, which is a polis whose citizens have identical interests, when it appears that the main problem of the Athenian democracy was that the interests of its people were too identical, and that the demos was, in fact, too unified? Is it not odd to recommend that, in order to solve the problems of a system, one ought to amplify the very aspect of that system which caused its problems in the first place? Now, one might argue that Socrates is not proposing that the unity of the polis simply be increased, he is not suggesting a partial unity, but rather an absolute unity, that is to say, unity in all respects. This is true; if the kind of unity Socrates describes could in fact be achieved, if each citizen could have precisely the same property, family, and nature, and in a word be identical, then the issues which accompany a mere overabundance of unity would disappear. However, the problem is that unity of this kind, namely absolute unity, is extremely unlikely to occur and even more unlikely to last, whereas partial unity, and in particular an excessive unity, is in fact quite possible, quite likely, and indeed quite common. Look no further than the national movements of modern history; their basis in each case is some inflated assertion of unity, centered around a strong sense of shared identity, which is in itself a kind of identical object, an essentialism. In the case of German nationalism, for instance, the German race is the identical object; it is particular to itself and not relative, not based on some generic criterion such as geography or political boundaries but rather a sort of Ding an Sich, and yet it is shared equally by all Germans. It is in this sense, of being particular and not a form of thing (such as the good form of life or the right form of character) but rather a thing in itself, while at the same time being common to all, that the German race is an identical object. It is singular, particular, and yet shared by a great number; a sort of contradiction, but one which creates a tremendous sense of unity on a tremendous scale. There are two problems with excessive and overabundant unity. Firstly, it is based on principles which are at best faulty, and at worst fabricated. With respect to German nationalism, it is evident that the idea of a German race is quite baseless, in the sense that it has no place in history; before the movements of unification, there had never been any German nation, no natural boundaries separating it from other races, but only a number of abutting tribes of differing characters and dialects occupying different territories, of which the closer ones were more similar. Modern conventions which appear to be evidence of national character, such as language, are only ex post facto symptoms of national unification; it is not that the Germans share a single language and for this reason established a single nation, but rather that their language was codified and standardized after their nation was established. The second problem with excessive unity is that, being a centralization of interest and identity, it tends to support a centralization of power. This is clear in the case of the Athenian demagogues; the effect of consolidating the public interest around such objects as war and pay for public service was to place more and more power in their hands, as they were the ones who represented these objects in the public eye, and who were largely responsible for manufacturing this consolidation in the first place. Rule by a single individual or a small group of individuals is the logical consequence of any political ideology based on unity - because unity (literally, “oneness”), being singular, has most to do with identity, that which makes something itself and not something else, and is therefore best represented not collectively but individually, because nothing can embody identity more than the individual. This is a somewhat abstract and immaterial explanation, but history itself is the evidence of my point, for all political movements based on unity, those of nationalism, fascism, and national communism, have been followed by a centralization of political power, most often in the extreme. Socrates posits that the measure of the goodness of a city is its unity, and that the greatest possible unity is the “supreme good.” The question which must be raised is this: can something be called the highest political good, if it is only the highest good (or indeed good at all) when it exists in the absolute, and around the most perfect principles? For it appears that when unity is not absolute but rather partial, and does not center around the principles Socrates describes in the Republic but instead centers around imperfect and dangerous principles, it is not the highest political good, but rather the greatest political evil. Unless it exists in its most perfect form, it is not the salvation of the polis, but rather its destruction, it does not create the most virtuous and well-rounded of citizens, but rather the most base and single-minded; in short, it proves to be in all respects the precise opposite of what Socrates asserts it to be. Aristotle presents an alternative to unity; instead of identical interest, he posits “common interest” to be the proper and actual basis of politics. What he suggests is not unity of interest, but rather a “community of interest”. Community is a unity based upon commonality and communication, not identity and oneness. Commonality consists in the interdependence, rather than the unity, of individual interests, and communication naturally follows and reinforces interdependence. Under a system of absolute unity, there would be no need for communication, and consequently there would be no community. In sum, the basis of association is interdependence, and interdependence only exists when there is a division of interests. Therefore, the idea of an absolutely unified polis is oxymoronic.

GOOD RULE

SURVIVING A MANMADE WORLD

GEORGE FENN

PAUL FENN

War is the primary constitutional responsibility of the US Federal Government. As such we would do well to pay it some heed. There has been some debate regarding the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Leftist critics have demanded that the US government stop sending aid; those of the Republican party that it spend more. Both are, however, in more general agreement. Those who condemn now, did not with regards to Ukraine. I speak of the leftists, because I am perhaps closest to that mentality. You are pliant. You think we can be good world police or bad. This was the moral of Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzeziński, writing about the second Iraq War. He believed that after the fall of the Berlin Wall we had a chance to rule the world for good. But because of certain mistakes we are failing. That is to say, the problem is not one of principle, but details. That our world is globalized, so that what anyone does anywhere can affect us materially, and “foreign” and “domestic” are irrelevent to policy discussion: this is his mentality, and I suspect it is yours. What I would like to inform the reader, is that this is imperialism. The Latin verb imperō means to command or govern. In English usage, Empire refers to rulership over one or multiple lands which are extensive. Therefore “imperialism” should rightly refer to the ideology of centralization. That is to say, the more of the world under a single ruler, the better. The difference is not between good rule or bad rule, but rule or no rule. One might ask: does the behavior of the US government manifest this ideology? Could it really be said to wish to rule? It does not demand a tribute, as the Persian emperors did. It does not explicitly deny the sovereignty of other countries. It does not, in short, treat the rest of the world as it does the states. I would respond historically. The ruler’s characteristic is violence for order. If a private person kills another, that is murder: versus execution. Never the twain shall meet. And regardless of the chaos which the federal government creates in the world; it never calls it anything but what it must to be legitimate in this same sense. What I consider more notable, is my own sentiment: if the US government withdraws its presence, the world will end. More to the point, I am afraid to test that. I imagine that I am not alone. I imagine that the only way that we can become true critics is if we accept that what we consider good and bad about US foreign policy are inextricably tied: that both are imperialism. Only then can we begin to weigh the record of this world police.

Per Fluoryl Alkyl Substances (PFAS) are known as “forever chemicals” because they are designed not to break down, and accumulate in the blood of all people, water, soil, and living creatures, causing cancer, adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes, altered immune and thyroid function, liver disease, lipid and insulin dysregulation, and kidney disease. The magnitude of exposure through accumulation of PFAS over the entire world make PFAS a public health crisis on the magnitude of climate change as an ecological crisis. They are present in the blood of every American, detectable in all water, huge swathes of US farmland has been contaminated with them, and a substantial percentage of drinking water is considered unsafe due to the levels of them. Whereas we can blame climate change on our “need” for energy, it is impossible to find a “need” for PFAS. They were never needed. They were developed solely for alleged convenience, such as the convenience of a Teflon pan, one of the major sources of PFAS in human blood. There were perfectly good nontoxic alternatives for everything that PFAS replaced by being more convenient. That is all. PFAS contamination of virtually all farm soil, all forests, all rivers, all lakes, all oceans, and all creatures proves the utter uselessness of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), just as climate change proves the uselessness of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Both are hobbled by a corrupt and aggressive U.S. House of Representatives, which have used the purse to rein these agencies in, contorting them into monsters whose real function is to legalize toxic products and normalize them in American people’s minds. Ironically, people who distrust government still consume products uncritically, assuming it must be safe if it is allowed to be sold. After all, the same system that allows corporations like 3M to poison everyone also severely regulates small farmers for backward things like cheese and nut allergy safety. While wholesale fraud and assault is allowed in retail markets, severe oversight regulates the little guy. And it’s not like there is any real exit strategy: state governments like Massachusetts not only allow PFAS to be sold but allow garbage haulers everywhere to run landfill leachates full of every imaginable PFAS and other toxics to be run through municipal sewage treatment plants, which not only doesn’t remove or destroy PFAS, but chemically intensifies their breakdown and transforms them into into new, unknown chemical chains. This very day, your own town is dumping this into a nearby river. Your state continues to dump PFAS-laced sewaged as “biosolids” on farms, today! Yet you can fish? Oh yes, the state encourages that, with a few vague safety warnings. After all, the rivers are already contaminated with mercury and other “traditional” toxics from the 20th century. And you can eat it in your food. If you stop consuming PFAS now, you will be less likely to die or get deathly sick from it. So, you will have to discard many of your possessions, or replace and dispose of them, when you can, with traditional nontoxic alternatives that PFAS were manufactured to replace. Don’t believe the hype and buy “new” plastic products. Get rid of: 1. Teflon or any nonstick pans. Use olive oil and coconut oil. 2. Fleece like Patagonia. Cotton inside wool. 3. All plastic and water proof clothes. Get the old oilcloth coats and pants like Filson’s 4. Non-organic food. All else is legally grown with PFAS-contaminated sewage. Everywhere. Try to buy organics from farmers directly, such as a farmers market or subscription. Local is better. Imported food is stupid, even organic. Learn to cook seasonally. 5. All packaged foods. All food containers are highly toxic, shockingly many with PFAS. Buy food fresh. Learn how to cook. 6. Makeup - just stop. It’s almost all contaminated, often making other people sick not just you. 7. Restaurants, nearly all of which continue to use nonstick pans and Teflon tools, and buy cheap ingredients that are more likely to contain toxics. Learn how to cook. It’s actually easier to cook if the food itself is good. 7. All plastic bags. Use paper, wax paper, cloth, etc.. The old stuff. 8. Shoes. Get leather shoes and boots, and put mink oil on them once a month. Check ingredients carefully, some have PFAS. You can ask manufacturers whether they have PFAS. 9. Cooling and heating appliances that leak: since the Ozone crisis and post chlorofluorocarbons, most new refrigerants in AC, heat pumps are so called X Gen chemicals, which are PFAS. Many of these appliances routinely leak. That means PFAS vapor in your home. 10. Plumber’s tape or Teflon tape. PFAS. Learn the old way, with hemp and grease. 11. Papers and inks. Even toilet paper! You have to shop carefully as PFAS are used to control ink drying and smudge resistance. 12. Tell your farmer to spread the word about biosolids and test the soil. If you don’t like it, get cancer. Or get mad. Or both. Tell your state to ban sale and use of PFAS, and to sue companies like 3M for making them and paying for getting rid of 40 years of 70,000 landfills drenched with them and killing us softly.....

THE FIRST STEP

GEOFFREY CHAUCER

ENERGY COLONIES

PAUL FENN

She driveth forth into oure occian Thurghout the wilde see, til at the last Under an hoold that nempnen I ne kan, Fer in Northumberland, the wawe hir caste. And in the sond hir ship striked so faste That thennes wolde it noght of al a tide; The wil of Crist was that she sholde abide. The constable of the castel doun is fare To seen this wrak, and al the ship he soghte And foond this wery womman ful of care; He foond also the tresor that she broghte. In hir langage mercy she bisoghte, The lif of hir body for to twinne, Hir to delivere of wo that she was inne. A maner Latin corrupt was hir speche, But algates therby was she understonde. This constable, whan him liste no lenger seche, This woful womman broghte he to the londe. She kneleth doun, and thanketh Goddes sonde; But what she was, she wolde no man seye, For foul ne fair, thogh that she sholde deye. She seide, she was so mazed in the see That she forgat hir minde, by hir trothe. The constable hath of hir so greet pitee, And eek his wif, that they wepe for routhe. She was so diligent, withouten slouth, To serve and plesen everich in that place That alle hir loven that looken on hir face. This constable, and dame Hermengild his wif, Were payens, and that contree everywhere. But Hermengild loved hire right as hir lif, And Custaunce hath so longe sojourned there, In orisons, with many a bitter teere, Til Jesu hath converted thurgh his grace Dame Hermengild, constablesse of that place. --The Canterbury Tales, “The Man of Law’s Tale”, 505-539

Wendell and several other Massachusetts communities are battling pressure from developers, Governor Maura Healey and Attorney General Andrea Campbell to host utility-scale battery projects whether they like it or not. “No Assault & Batteries” was formed by Wendell residents late last year in opposition to a proposed 105-megawatt battery storage facility, which is given “renewable” status by the state, as are, oddly, huge hydropower projects. Canadian hedge fund-owned New Leaf, which submitted a petition to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board in January, 2023 seeking exemption from the operation of the Town of Wendell’s Zoning Bylaws, dropped it after the Massachusetts Attorney General disapproved of the 2022 amendment’s addition of a provision to its Bylaw that provided that “stand-alone battery storage facilities” such as New Leaf’s Project are not a subject to local permitting. Now the question is being fought out before a new state entity set up by the Governor to force large energy facilities on communities in the Commonwealth. A 250 MW battery in Medway and 150MW battery in Carver are already in progress. Wendell’s fight will set important precedents for all rural Massachusetts communities in the coming years. A decision will soon be made between systemic change and human sacrifice: to industrialize a newly colonized countryside with megaprojects? or decarbonize the Commonwealth’s eastern urban areas, particularly Boston, that demand the vast majority of energy and cause the vast majority of carbon emissions! To stop them, local communities need to both fight the fight and act positively to demonstrate renewable alternatives to megaprojects. The Governor’s newly formed Commission on Energy Siting, Infrastructure and Permitting (CESIP), held two public meetings, on March 4 and 5, before issuing a series of draft recommendations a week later that push hard for the state to preempt local control over this kind of permitting. Nearly all public participants in these meetings, representing Wendell, Greenfield, Amherst, Leverett, Shutesbury, Montague and Shelburne Falls, as well as communities throughout the state, expressed stong concern about preserving traditional Local Control (home rule) and opposed the state taking this power away, not making all decisions in Boston by long-dysfunctional regulators and moribund Legislature, especially given that responsiblity for oversight of such facilities will inevitably be local. No one at the meetings was for preemption except the megabattery developer and the State’s “leaders.” A resident of Charlton pointed out that large grid battery projects should be sited more in cities and towns in and around Boston, where the energy is most used. Or perhaps nongrid batteries, I would add, such as 50,000 electric vehicles with bidirectional chargers? Greefield Board of Health chair Glen Ayers focused on public health and environmental justice communities, and doesn’t see that the state will protect Wendell residents at the local level: “We might need another Shay’s Rebellion.” Attorney Meg Sheehan of Plymouth spoke of the environmental degradation caused by a similar large battery project in Carver to cranberry bogs, sand removal and industrialization of rural locations. ReGenerationMA stressed that farmland is needed to keep producing crops. Others raised the spectre of new bills in the legislature to get rid of the “Dover amendment,” which is used by megabattery developers to seize the same permitting privileges as home solar photovoltaic owners above municipalities’ industrial zoning decision-making. Another large “dual use” energy project on Northfield farm land by Blue Wave Energy was mentioned by opponents of preemption. Resident Gloria Kegeles wondered why her town would approve an explosive, toxic, industrial-sized lithium ion battery facility in the middle of a 90% forested place like Wendell nearby the Quabbin Reservoir - Boston’s drinking water supply - threatening a forest fire in Wendell State Forest and the State’s largest Audubon Sanctuary. Public comment was overwhelmingly negative. Robotically, despite strong opposition and no supporters except developers, the CESIP Commission’s report to the Governor is nevertheless now calling for “consolidated local review” of battery projects 100 MW in size or bigger at the state level, aka pre-emption of local government permitting authority. One wonders what is the point of public input in this zombie process. Local home rule is proposed to be entirely removed under either scenario, and communities will be at the mercy of utility handmaidens, the Mass Department of Public Utilities. On cue, the Attorney General now threatens to invalidate local municipal bylaws that oppose battery facilities based upon zoning. Do poor lives matter? The Town of Athol appears to have thrown in the proverbial towel, recently adopting a Bylaw that leaves its residents vulnerable to development of a large scale battery. “No Assault and Battery” in Wendell, however, is ramping up efforts to oppose Governor Healey’s misguided climate crusade against Local Control, and will likely find allies in Quabbin, Franklin and Hampshire county communities, and statewide. Meanwhile, Representative Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin) has sponsored Massachusetts legislation to give such permit authority directly to utilities! We are trapped. In the meantime, Western Mass. towns, better connect the dots, get engaged and make it happen before it happens to you!

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