Forcing Difference

The toxins produced and sold by the billion-dollar chemical industry are ingested into the human body through food, water, land, and air, ultimately “suppressing the immune system by reducing the body’s ability to produce antibodies and otherwise kill disease-carrying cells.” (The Common Courage Reader, pg. 192) In such a toxic atmosphere where natural resistances to an increasingly dangerous environment are hindered, a type of economic and informational war is being waged against an unassuming public, with monolithic corporations corrupting those regulating agencies meant to protect consumers in order to ensure the continuity of their profits. Factory production then engage in unnatural practices so as to maximize earnings statements rather than ensure healthy living practices, attacking critics who attempt to educate the public while manipulating public opinion rather than choosing to recalibrate their own operations.

Yet when all studies are pointing to the fact that these companies are knowingly destroying the health and vitality of the societies they operate within, this not only demands a method to prove facts beyond all measure of doubt, but a means by which to quickly and efficiently coordinate a scientific consensus to halt any destructive tendency. But then what? Once science and emotion confront each other and emotion prevails, the perpetuation of negative social and ecological impacts may be continued simply because they “feel right,” regardless of any apparent scientific truth. This contradiction manifests in the opposition of corporate dominance to environmental well-being, where the objective of maximizing short-term gains for shareholders is fundamentally incompatible to the health of a local region’s biodiversity, as habitats and territories are liquidated for capital accumulation. Take for example human-produced carcinogens, or the disruption of old-growth forest ecosystems as two examples of how our economies are destroying life on this planet.

If ingrained in our genetic makeup that has been working for thousands (millions?) of years, is a self-defense mechanism designed to ensure our survivability, then perhaps in the face of such violent opposition one might resort to extreme measures themselves. Let us suppose three different scenarios, where one is being attacked by a serial killer, one’s community is being exterminated by a government, and finally one’s land-base and environment are being destroyed for profit by neo-liberal policies that essentially eradicate local species and various bioregions. In each of these cases, the victim has exhausted all methods of reasoning with the systemic logic that profits from their demise and the threat of death is a reasonable certainty. When this global destruction is enforced by such militancy as the School of The Americas, which trains its students to subjugate a domestic population to ensure the propagation of capitalist business interests, are the oppressed then justified in assassinating those who seek to assassinate them first as a last resort?

When two ideologies are diametrically opposed to one another, and one’s cultural resistance is subverted by expensive public relations efforts engineered by wealthy business interests, it seems to me that there is an inherent failure on the part of the oppressed to make a clear and concise argument that appeals to the oppressors. This is of course to blame the victim for their ineffectiveness to stop the violence done to them but, assuming that violent resistance will never be acceptable to a passive, disinvested spectator, the potential to kill the enemy, while always remaining a potential course of action, is to essentially fail in communication and argument. Superior morality must not only find expression, but connection to the “other side.” Murder, on the other hand, denotes a breakdown in relations, so that the motives and practices, and unforeseen consequences of an enemy are simply reduced to the status of intolerable, justifying its own end. Thus the question remains: how to force difference? My own assumption is threefold, that the target must be educated as to how “best to be”; those resisting the target’s objectives must appeal to public sentiment, as higher authority denotes representational government (hopefully); and lastly, that these methods might be complemented with the promise of physical opposition if they do not comply with a new mode of operation, and the promise of absolute forgiveness if they do.

Judi Bari writes that, like the forests themselves, those logging wage-slaves are similarly considered by their employers as objects to be exploited for maximum profit. This being the case, those contributing to the destruction of the world might be environmentalists’ greatest assets in the systematic dismantling of the corporate agenda. Coalitions and worker strikes can localize global opposition, instituting new forms of interrelatedness to reassert and promote care for the natural world. This questioning of what has been authored into reality by cultural forces allows us to reconsider what else can be formulated as solutions for systemic problems, i.e. the implementation of practices that more holistically determine the vitality of a bioregion in a “performative, community-based activity based on social learning and cooperation, and can be a therapeutic strategy to expose ourselves viscerally to local ecosystem processes.” (McGinnis, pr. 189) This seems to me the best way to reassert and empower one’s own worldview in the face of an imposing ideological system, that is, to ensure it is constructed with the ideal of harmonizing the individual within the greater, surrounding ecology, maintaining this relationship as an emergent, sacred reality with which to provide meaning and intent.

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