Some thoughts on resistance and manifesting alternatives

Community, democracy, employment, inequality, LNG, mining, new economy, oil, powell river, transportation

Resistance is fertile.

Mordor, Made in Canada.

Mordor, Made in Canada.

You know, the letters to editors, press releases, opinion pieces and ads (overt and covert) FOR resource extraction, liquid natural gas (LNG), mining, coal transport, pipelines, Mordor Inc. (tar sands) etc. outnumber anything offering alternatives to these by a huge margin.

This is a very dangerous moment, especially when the unabashed and unapologetic surge to choke the planet is being spun as a really “positive thing” for First Nations and generally for youth employment. It’s analogous to the argument that since the Third World has not had access to the pollution-causing cars we’ve had in the over-developed world, that they should not be worrying about their carbon footprints (just yet). Like there even exists a ‘they’ and ‘us’; amazing myopia when we are all coming to recognize that we’re all in this together, really, and we always were. Philippines or Fukushima, anyone? The spin these days is that youth and First Nations folks have not had the opportunity to make a decent living  off of good-paying jobs yet, and saying “no” to these ultra-polluting industries that contribute to even huger amounts of pollution via their end product use, is essentially stunting their collective ability to grow and marginalizing youth and especially First Nations youth, further. Equating conservation with racism is a line they are slyly pushing out there.

Young and not-so-young (even retired!) people are rushing into northern areas in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan in their generation’s gold rush. And it is not just for the money, but also for peripheral aspects related to employment: we all need to feel useful and productive toward a certain end. And we all have those bills to pay as part of our bid to remain within a society, even if it is warped. We’re social creatures. Then there’s habit and a feeling of ‘what else am I going to do’. We’ll be seeing much more of this when the youth now trained in ultra-specific technical skills may find it hard to even imagine doing something else.

[ Groaning ] Oh! I ain’t fer it.
I’m agin it! [ All Chanting ]

Being against something – often with no time/energy/ideas for arguments that are PRO-something, especially in regard to providing people with an occupation – is pretty obviously a non-starter in a culture that overwhelmingly equates money and the employment which produces it (albeit less so) with self-worth and dignity.

It’s just so easy for so-called capitalists: “just make as much money as quickly as possible, at any cost to anyone or anything”. This system is always-already rewarded and honored, to the extent that is itself ‘environmental’; everything that happens, happens within its rules. No amount of death, misery and destruction seems to tarnish this Teflon system. No big news here, postmodernist thought has long held to this and it’s devolved into truism, and  joyfully accepted as a necessary critical evil, and one that can be monetized, too!

Where does this leave the alternatives? Exactly where we have been and find ourselves today. What we’re doing is SO not working. We need to move beyond resistance (which shows that yes, there is something wrong)to creating a new system that puts the old invisible one to shame. People do want to protect and conserve together, but almost everything in our culture says “pillage what you can now, and hoard it away”. Ironically, even the  Doomers and Libertarians get caught in this cycle that allows for infiltration of the divide-and-conquer ethos onto the Left-leaning.

It’s a crazy web we’ve woven through both our actions and inaction, but also through a value system we’ve swallowed and allowed the Corporate Others to construct for us, using unfair and historically unparalleled advantages of access to media, funds and governments via lobbyists and campaign funding. Signals that a paradigm shift is happening right now (Occupy, Idle No More and the resistance to fracking, pipelines, coal transportation, mining, deforestation, tar sands, LNG transportation, damaging hydro-electric projects, etc.) may provide ideas that could form the stepping stones to a new world , but without a very clearly envisioned, articulated, and most importantly manifested examples of how a society can work within its environment (and not against it), we are emulating King Kong, swiping at the symbols of our own environmental and social destruction, with nowhere to eventually go, but down. I see worker owned and operated cooperatives of all kinds as one living example of how things can work out differently.

In the next few cross-posts with Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative, I will be looking at some co-op models to give me (and maybe you) a better understanding.



On “tax freedom”

democracy, inequality, tax freedom day

Hack Freedom Day!

Today is supposedly “Tax Freedom Day“. In theory, it’s the first day of 2013 when the money you make goes to YOU alone.

It makes for a snappy headline, and that’s about all this misleading and scab-picking idea does. But it’s enough to make it a ubiquitous yearly pseudo-event. ‘Mark your calendars!’ I love that each country is given a ‘tax freedom’ date, with no regard to social equality, the state of its democracy, disease and child mortality rates, and general well-being there.

The fact that each year, the date in question comes a bit later (this year, it was 2 days further into the year than last year’s Tax Freedom Day), drives us mad at all the taxes we pay, leading to calls for (C)onservative-style restraint, which in practice is increasing  tax credits to the 1%: the wealthiest, and to huge corporations, especially the ones that ruin our environment for us all.

Some of the problems with this concept include the fact that if we didn’t pay tax, we also would not get the benefits of doing so in terms of services, infrastructure, etc. Our society, communities, and individual lives would be very different if tax freedom day came on January 22, like it supposedly did in the year 1900.

The trend has been to look at how the taxes (some of us) pay is spent, but why not look at the fact that so many huge earners pay so little tax, while simultaneously having great power over our elected officials via lobbying and gift-giving in exchange for little favours. But “tax freedom day” is a nice, easy distraction that leads to powerlessness in those who are paying a larger part of our wages toward taxes and it feeds into a justifiable ‘something’s wrong here’ feeling, except what’s wrong is actually the inequality inherent to our tax system with its loopholes for the few.

This explains the justifiable general malaise that led to the Occupy Movement. So, maybe let’s call it ”Tax Inequality Day’, or ‘The Day We Pay Out Cash to Help The 1% Make Record Profits”, but then every day is that.