NOVEMBER 25, 2014
TO: FRIENDS OF WOMEN’S HEALTH IN WOMEN’S HANDS
FROM: CAROL DOWNER
RE: TRIP TO EARTH AT RISK CONFERENCE, SAN FRANCISCO, 11-22 & 23-2014
BACKGROUND: MARY LOU SINGLETON INVITED ME TO GO TO THE EARTH AT RISK CONFERENCE TO MEET MEMBERS OF THE WOMEN’S LIBERATION FRONT (WoLF).
SUMMARY: DURING AND AFTER THE 2-DAY CONFERENCE, I VISITED THE WoLF TABLE. I MET WITH MOLLY ARTHUR, MARY LOU SINGLETON, AND STOPPATRIARCHY.ORG. I VISITED PAT MAGINNIS AND BARBARA HOKE IN OAKLAND, AND PAT AND I ATTENDED A HEARING TO PROTEST CHILD ENDANGERMENT AND ANIMAL CRUELTY BY A LOCAL HAYWARD RODEO GROUP.
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM:
INFORMATIVE ABOUT 1) the extreme risk of ecological collapse: 2) the cause of collapse: capitalist system and its attendant -isms, colonialism, racism, patriarchy, militarism, masculinity; 3) power structure research about the way capitalism pathologizes our social relations, how the U.S. Constitution protects property rights over the people’s rights, 4) what to expect if and when the people challenge capitalist’s corporate rule.
THOUGHT-PROVOKING in presenting legal strategies to expose and force show-downs on basic legal protections of eco-cidal capitalistic behavior; in suggesting projects to directly transform our consciousness, our immediate environment, and the control of our lives.
INSPIRATIONAL in sharing indigenous culture’s example of how people can successfully live in cooperative, communal society that is earth-loving, in poetry performance to express our anger and sorrow; in exhorting us to build: 1) human connections with friendship, 2) human connections with nature “gardens of hope”, solidarity in defending and befriending mountains, rivers, insects, trees and other plants.
The 200-300 people that attended the conference all agreed that capitalism cannot be reformed and must be replaced with ways of organizing society that recognize the necessity of living in harmony with the earth and all its creatures. They also all agreed that the strategy of influencing our elected officials and other governmental or business leaders is almost useless; that instead we have to build communities that take direct, dynamic and creative political action.
26 SPEAKERS PUT ON INDIVIDUAL OR PANEL PRESENTATIONS:
Vandana Shiva, (leader, author)
Alice Walker, (author)
Derrick Jensen, (author)
Chris Hedges, (author)
Dini ze Toghestiy, indigenous speaker
Freda Hudson, resistance leader, Tar Sands. Fracking
Caleen Sisk, Tribal Chief
Dahr Jamail, Journalist
Sarah M. Mah, anti-rape feminist
Yuly Chan, anti-rape, anti-prostitution feminist
Anne Keala Kelly, Hawaiian journalist, filmmaker
Diane Wilson, author, eco-warrior, fisherwoman
Dominique Christina, slam poet
Jeannette Armstrong, Okanagan Nation Knowledge Keeper
Sakej (James) Ward, teaches warrior societies
Vince Emanuele, Veterans for Peace organizer and spokesperson
Cherry Smiley, Indigenous Women Against Prostitution
Thomas Linzey, Attorney, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Gail Dines, Professor, Sociology and Women’s Studies, Wheelock College
Richard Manning, environmental author and journalist
Stephanie McMillan, author, Why Capitalism Must Die, cartoonist
Saba Malik, activist on racism, peak oil and anti-civilization
Charles Derber, environment, power structure author
Kourtney Mitchell, activist, anti-violence and pro-feminist
Guy McPherson, ex-professor, environment author
Stan Goff, ex-military, author anti-sexism, anti-capitalism
Doug Zachary, Veterans for Peace fund-raiser
FEATURED ORGANIZATIONS: Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution, Code Pink, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Deep Green Resistance, Elder Creek Center for the Land, Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry, Iraq Veterans Against the War, One Struggle, Place for Sustainable Living, PM Press, Stop Patriarchy, Stop Porn Culture, Survival International, Unis’tot’en Clan, Vancouver Rape Relief, Veterans for Peace, Warrior Sisters, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Women’s Liberation Front
FERTILE GROUND ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTE (FGEI), organized and sponsored conference. Founded in 2008 in Bellingham, Washington, national organization.
Primary focus is organizing and hosting events with focus on hard-hitting analysis of our current predicament and strategic planning for real victories.
FGEI position: Every successful social movement in history has used force to achieve its goals. There is a continuum of tactics that range from boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience to sabotage and outright revolution. A serious ecological movement is based around communities that embrace and promote dynamic, creative political action.
COLONIZATION AND INDIGENOUS LIFE
- Women are leading the movement to save the earth. Have to change water system. “We can live without electricity; we can’t live without clean water”. Indigenous can teach us “what it means to be human”. “It’s how you respond to living things; protect them”. “Don’t have to be colonizer; come live with us, re-indigenize planet”.
- Many mountains losing water. Mt Shasta, main spring going dry 2 months last 3 summers.
- Other culprit: RELIGION. We’re regressing. Things they say take us forward are taking us backward.
- Hawaii is an “illegal occupation” as per UN.
- Hawaiians (natural, not people of color from other places) are fighting about it.” Country under arrest (50-70% indigenous people incarcerated). Economic terrorism and cultural genocide. American Empire is spreading throughout Micronesia. Overwhelmed with tourism-prostitution, pornography. Largest U.S. Military command.
- Hawaii like woman being raped continuously. “Aloha is a philosophy, not a tourist slogan” It’s a way of sharing, valuing each other and the earth.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: DERRICK JENSEN
Has written 20+ books.
- BAD NEWS: Oceans are dying; there’s no more fish. People being murdered. Movement being infiltrated, people are disappearing. 158 species going extinct every day.
- WHAT TO DO: “If you’re going to say the prayer, you have to be part of making the prayed for thing happening.”
INDICATORS OF ECOLOGICAL COLLAPSE
Stages of Grief on Planet Dying: acceptance, rage, depression. We need new consciousness.
Green revolution a disaster for agriculture. Destroying bio-diversity. 1/3 of world suffering from “Hidden Hunger”. People have enough calories, but deficient in nutrition.
“no way to grow food in monoculture and be sustainable.”
BUILDING RESISTANT COMMUNITIES
- “We (indigenous speaker) decolonized ourselves. We refused to accept or comply and prevent destruction.” We had to support the inherent ability of every organism to protect itself from harm.
- “Now is the time to do battle.” We need hundreds and hundreds of groups, working together, to face down power.
- We must have structure, leadership, rules and norms.
- We must eliminate horizontal hostility.
- Women are the protectors of the higher nature.
- “We put the ‘Indian’ back in our children. We decolonized their minds.”
- We changed our beliefs, and how we live. We went to our homelands, wintered there. We put away fish. We kicked out a mining company, others. We started managing our land.
- We need the warrior arts. Daily practice to develop skill sets of self-defense. We need to fall in love with earth again. We need our ceremonies; we need to respect each other and earth.
- Present system designed to separate us from natural world. We must teach our children to fall in love with trees, soil; that every living being has spirit; the mountains have spirit.
- We may have to defend our land, but we’re not going to encourage that, but, if necessary, we will fight for all that we love. If does result in violence, so be it.
- We reject the idea that the state can dictate whether or not we can defend ourselves.
- Resistance may mean hierarchy-different forms of leadership-persuasion rather than orders-structure is action-based.
- The problem is the U.S. government, not the corporations. The environmental laws are good, but it’s a waste of time trying to enforce the law, because, under the Constitution, it’s not permissible for a governing body (usually municipal) to pass laws to restrict legal uses (factory farms, fracking).
- The only thing environmental regulations regulate are the environmentalists.
- “Taking amendment says you can’t ban corporate business for doing something legal without being sued for loss of business.
- Constitution establishes property rights above people’s rights. Constitution not necessarily democratic.
- Example: community laws banned corporations from factory farming, Then corporations went to State legislators to enforce corporate rights.. Ultimately lost at federal level.
- Still thinks this process can be useful because it forces corporations to show how unfair the law is to the community-“the system illuminates itself!”
- How to force change: now 200 municipalities are going up against the federal government. People are beginning to see that the Constitution doesn’t protect peoples’ rights.
ECO SYSTEM RIGHTS are not property, but have rights to exist on their own. In Ecuador, wrote new constitution giving eco system rights. The River is the Plaintiff. A Watershed can be a plaintiff.
- In Nepal, there’s a Right of Nature Network.
- The problem of liberal politics is that it’s “pressure politics”. The real problem is the government itself.
CAPITALISM AND SOCIOPATHOLOGY
7 Pillars of Capitalism: Anti-social values & practices created by ruling elites.
- Ecoside-violence against nature
- Class violence, inequality
- Profits over usefulness
- Fictive democracy
- 95% of environmentalists think solution is more capitalism. They believe that it’s FATHER CAPITAL PLUS MOTHER EARTH
- Capitalists do cooperate. They just have antagonistic relations with the rest of us. The antagonism is between 1% of us and 99% of us.
- We, (the revolutionary working class) need to organize collectively, get rid of system and the new system will be developed in the revolutionary struggle.
- We need to find a way to speak to people on visceral level about the discontent people have about their lives.
- Example: abused child will cling to abusive parent; it can’t leave parent unless there is an alternative.
- To win, one must destroy enemy’s ability to wage war.
CHRIS HEDGES: KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Capitalism has no internal check.
- Crushing the Occupy movement is a danger sign. Means rulers can only speak through force. They are preparing. They’ve already passed Draconian regulations. They can now hold someone indefinitely, including at offshore prisons.
- Inverted totalitarianism. Corporate state has all the levers of power.
- We must go back to mass movements and fight the fascists.
- Resistance is a way to affirm life.
- Greatest evil isn’t radical—it has no roots. It asks no questions. It can spread over the whole world.
RAPE, MILITARISM AND MASCULINITY
Masculinity sees female body as permeable-coitus, lactation, menstruation, birth. Transgression of female boundaries is thrilling.
- Can lead to mass incarceration, genocide, and mass addiction.
- Many vets are dying from suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction and CANCER.
- Masculinity is a script, and a performance.
Third Wave Feminism: Example: Jennifer Baumgardner “What is feminism is individual to each woman”. Does not see structural inequality within a racist/sexist global capitalist economy. Men are missing as a class.
- This is all coming from the Academy.
- Post-modernism meets Post-Structuralism.
36% of the internet is porn. She listed all the features of the internet, including privacy, payment online, etc. as having been developed by pornography industry.
- Porn has driven the net.
- In January, they’ll have a Pornography meeting in Las Vegas.
- We need to go from “empowerment” to “liberation”.
- We are not living in the same world. But, as Gramse said in 1929, we need a Pessimism of Intellect and a Optimism of Will.
- Indigenous, Asian Women Against Pornography (Canada) are fighting a Global system of imperialism. Patriarchy is part of national oppression. Sexual conquest is part of war. Involves World Bank, International Monetary Fund. Part of privatization, tourist industry.
- Under Mao, China had no prostitution. Now, in the 1980’s, prostitution is in every city.
- Prostitution undermines indigenous communities.
The world economy, organized as it is, has become a CATASTROPHE!
- GNP is the only measure, meaning the measure of that which is commodified, is all that counts.
- The commodification of women, prostitution and porn, is now counted in the GNP.
- Environmental damage is not measured.
- Soil, water degradation is not measured.—only products produced.
- Industrial farming is our biggest threat.
- Next year is “THE YEAR OF THE SOIL”.
- Patenting of seed is commodification. We have seed monopolies.
- Anniversary of Bhopal is coming up.
- GMO crops –toxic systems of agriculture.
- Eliminating insects who are the best controllers of insects.
- We have only 22% biodiversity.
- “Species have intelligence as they evolve.”
- By 2050, ½ of American kids will be autistic.
- We must create commons, stop privatization.
- Cited Ghandi and Rosa Parks as examples of how we have to affirmatively take action to take what is ours. (Ghandi-salt, Parks-seat on bus).
- We must each create a “garden of hope”, and be free (not commodified) creative beings.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: ALICE WALKER
We need to recover our friendships.
MY REACTIONS AND THOUGHTS FROM THE CONFERENCE
Ultimately, I realized that I, at base, am an optimist. No matter how bleak it looks, I keep remembering being in Iran after their revolution. I also think about how although globalization is hurting people and the earth, it is also linking us more together, and that gives me great hope.
I think the main message I received was “we must fall in love with the earth”. My own addition to that is, “we must fall out of love with industrialization”.
Also, everything that we do in self-help, which is having positive interactions amongst women, learning to trust each other, bonding, rejoicing in our bodies and getting acquainted with them, as well as learning how to control our fertility, to ease menstrual cramps, nurse our babies. All this is entirely consistent with the goals of building communities, respecting nature, rejecting authoritarianism, seizing control of our lives.
Of course, I can’t help but be sad that the same individuals who are putting out this strong message seem to be unable to apply it to their own physical sexual and reproductive ownership. The self-help movement should be on that stage, because we have learned how to gain power, both psychologically and physically through mutual help and the use of simple tools.
Also, Pat would like to compile her cartoons. If anyone wants to help in such a project, there are people in Northern California that have worked with Pat to create her website and I’m sure she and they would like to hear from you.
Barbara Hoke continues her 20-year coordination of the defense of an Oakland abortion clinic that is harassed each weekend.
Molly Arthur Birthkeeper Summit (April 30-May 3, 2015)
Mary Lou Singleton
Asian Women’s Coalition Ending Prostitution
Professor of Wheelock College
- I need to get in touch with her by e-mail. What does she know about the Academy and how the post-structuralism and queer theory and pro-pornography movement developed? Who funds it?
- Plan for conference. Perhaps go to Sacramento to speak.
e-mail, maybe go visit.
- Article on commodification
- Get in touch with herbalists to track down people using herbal contraceptives and spreading the knowledge of it.
- Write Gail Dines to find out more about how post-structuralism and queer theory have affected the women’s studies departments.