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 engages 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, a method to prove facts beyond all measure of doubt and a means by which to quickly and efficiently coordinate a scientific consensus to halt any destructive tendency becomes necessary. But then what? Once intellect 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 is a self-defense mechanism that has been working for thousands (millions?) of years designed to ensure our survivability, then perhaps in the face of such violent opposition individuals might resort to such extreme measures themselves. Let’s suppose three different scenarios, where one is attacked by a serial killer, one’s race is threatened with extermination by a government, and one’s land-base and environment are being destroyed for profit by neo-liberal policies that eradicate local species in various bioregions. In each of these cases, the victim may have exhausted all methods of reasoning with the systemic logic that profits from their demise so that the threat of death is a reasonable certainty. When this global destruction is enforced by such militancy as promoted by 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?

To my mind, 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, there seems to be 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, disengaged spectator, the potential to kill the enemy (while perhaps always remaining a potential course of action) is to essentially cut short the communication and argument. Superior morality must not only find expression, but connection to the “other side.” Murder, in contradistinction, denotes a breakdown in relations so that the motives, practices, and unforeseen consequences of an enemy are simply reduced to the status of “intolerable,” and assumes the absence of such controversy to be preferable to engaging the contradicting viewpoint. Thus the question remains: how to force difference, so the power of the oppressor is essentially neutralized? 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 to pressure change, as higher authority denotes representational government (hopefully); and lastly, that these methods might be complemented with the promise of physical opposition if the target does not comply with a new mode of operation, along with 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 allies 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 to systemic problems, i.e. the implementation of more holistic practices that 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, pg. 189) This seems to me the best way to reassert and empower one’s own consciousness against an imposing ideological system; that is, to ensure a worldview 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 in the face of adversity.

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