"the freedom of all is essential to my freedom"

human and animal liberation

Posts Tagged ‘economy

Building Alternatives

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As residents of the western world we often complain about working conditions and low salaries. However, in comparison with the residents of developing countries, and especially China, our situation is a whole lot better. Don’t get me wrong here, we are also slaves of global capitalism, the slaves of our employers, banks and we are fine as long as we play to their rules. Every day we meet with negative issues such as abuse of power, consumerism, or unemployment, crimes and corruption too. And obviously in the Western world, there are many things that should be changed as soon as possible.

But in many ways the face of globalization with whom we deal is milder than the one which face workers from other countries. Mass production is operating for us – the West. And they produce because we consume and we never have enough. So in many cases, we make use of other people’s murderous work for our conformity. A new iPad for example. Last (and next), corporate affair perfectly illustrates what mass production is based on, and in what way corporations earn their millions. That’s not all, we may blame those awful corporations once again, we can blame the Chinese politicians. Together we can admit, it’s terrible that the desperate workers are not allowed to commit suicide! Or that they are forced to massive overtime and are banned from talking and are made to stand up for their 12-Hour Shifts. The problem is that soon after we will express our indignation we log on to Facebook using our iPhone. Guess where your iPhone was produced? This does not mean that we are evil people though. We were taught we need more stuff that we really need. But look where it led us.

BOYCOTT

So people say, Ok, let’s boycott Apple products straight away! But I partly agree here with Noam Chomsky who said: “If only a few people do it, it isn’t going to have any effect – it just means that some guy picking bananas in East Costa Rica isn’t going to have money to feed his children tomorrow” and also “So there might be particular moment when a boycott of something would be helpful. But as general matter, I don’t think they really make a lot of sense frankly. I mean, suppose we got millions of people to stop buying: what would happen? The economic system barely functions as it is – I mean, the contemporary economic system is a complete catastrophe (…) So you know they maybe worthwhile as a tactic at some point, but what’s really required is just a complete of rethinking of the entire nature of economic interactions and structures – there really is no other way to overcome this massive failure of the economy”. Another thing is how many products we use every day were not made in China? Two? So yes, boycott sounds good, quick response to injustice. But the results do not meet expectations. We need to change the entire system, not one company. The problem is not just Apple and Foxconn. The problem is the whole globalization, based on exploitation and false premises. So we need to start to build new solutions, rather than focus all attention on the politics of protest. Protest is important, but it rarely brings a radical change.

BUILDING ALTERNATIVES

Fortunately after years of struggle with globalization, it seems, that many of the activists comes to the point where you realize, that the only way to end exploitation, poverty and abuse is to build a self-governing society, based on the local economy. But what does it really mean? Well, for example, that rather than to import apples from China, you better grow them in a village 10 km from your city. Why do you buy apples from China, since you can have it locally? Without pesticides and transport issue which pollutes the environment. I mean if we pollute the environment we also pollute ourselves. People must finally understand that. And I think that in this direction we must go. Want an iPhone? Produce it locally. Just follow the principles. Don’t destroy the environment and don’t hurt others for your own interests. You are not able to produce it locally? Ask if you really need it. And if so, then buy elsewhere and make sure that its manufacturers were well rewarded. Sure, I know it’s easy to say and I do realize this requires a redefinition of the whole system of thinking. But at the end of day what’s left? 12 hours shifts for €5.20 or 30 year mortgages to own a house?

Localization can result in reducing power of multinational capital while increasing the strength of local societies. Local communities very rarely want to hurt themselves. Therefore, the proposed solutions are based on ethics. Nobody wants to drink contaminated water, no one wants to be poor and exploited. So we have a whole package of ideas: community banks, local economy, green energy, self-organized businesses, support groups, etc. For big business it has no meaning. They just want profit. For the community it is the basis of sustainability. For the community it does matter are people happy.

Finally there’s an old saying: if you want to get something done, do it yourself. This works not only in the micro level but also in the macro scale. Do you want a better life? Start to build it with others. No one can do this for you. No government or company. And you won’t be able to do it on your own. But there’s a great group of others who look for change, who seek values in their lives and communities. Whether you’re in Canada or in Chile start building alternatives. This is the best way to oppose the policies of inequality and lack of ethics.

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Written by Kruk

May 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Films & activism

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In recent months I run a quite intensive educational campaign by organizing a series of screenings of films involved politically and socially. They’re connected with lectures and discussions held after the screenings. Some of the movies I watched for the first time, and I think it is worth to mention a few titles, and post a short review. Perhaps it will be useful to other activists in their work.

Let me start by Bold Native, which to me is a big favorite. For me it’s the best film of 2010. The film tells the story of a member of Animal Liberation Front, wanted by the FBI, and his father (the CEO of one of the corporations) who is desperately trying to make contact with him. We find here a range of difficult questions and tough answers; we also find here the truth about the so-called. organic milk and organic eggs, vivisection, farming, etc. The film unobtrusively prompts to think over our choices, our commitment to the conformism based on suffering of thousands of animals. At the same it presents a number of controversial topics such as the use of violence against those involved in animal cruelty, the absurdity of vegetarianism, or double standards. All this is wrapped in a gripping story, excellent camera work, music and directing. I showed the movie twice already, and soon I will show it once again. Each time the reactions were very positive, people were touched, some even shocked, and most inspired by what they saw. A must-see-before-die for everyone!

The Economics Of Happiness is a documentary about globalization and its alternative, namely building a society based on the local economy, ecology and equity. The first part sets out the key features of globalization and its tragic impact on people’s lives in different parts of the world. We are talking about climate change, the environmental devastation, exploitation, drastic Western consumerism and the destruction of local cultures. The second part deals with aspects of local social life. The film presents a pretty interesting alternative, while explaining the mechanisms that can improve the lives of us all. The advantage of the film is a positive message, hope for change that moves between different sequences. The downside is a utopian belief or omission of fact which is familiar to most activists. Building egalitarian alternatives and opposing status quo is always connected with the reaction of corporate and political elites who seek to block any possibility of rejection of capitalism, corporatism, or the monetary system. Just to mention the Zapatistas struggle or Shell To Sea campaign in Ireland, which has been well documented in The Pipe movie and the book Once Upon A Time In The West. The lack of a theme for me is a big omission on the part of the filmmakers.

At the end, well-promoted another part of the Venus Project Zeitgeist: Moving Forward. Unfortunately, despite much promotion of it, this production is a disaster. We are dealing here with nearly three hours long document, which consists mainly interviews with people from diverse fields. Although quite interesting issues rose in the film, such as genetics, the monetary system and a more anti-capitalist expression of this (third) part, the film is simply boring. It’s more a propaganda tool of the Venus project. Futuristic solutions proposed by the authors do not convince viewers, often seem unreal and far from the expectations of people. In the discussion after the film it turned out that nobody liked it. It is worth noting that at least half of these people would have seen the previous parts. The only good aspect of the film is a thorough critique of neo-liberalism, the banking and monetary system. But I’m afraid it is all what it can offer.

Zeitgeist: Moving Forward screening

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The Happy Pear Film Club is back on 19th of February! We’ll be showing Zeitgeist: Moving Forward! It is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society.

This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical “life ground” attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a “Resource-Based Economy”.

I haven’t seen it myself but as far as I know screenings around the world went very well so it looks quite interesting! If you’re around pop into The Happy Pear. It’s a free screening of course!

19/02/2011 (Saturday)
8pm
The Happy Pear
Church Road,
Greystones

Written by Kruk

February 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm