How is capitalism like an elephant?
The system is broken. Everyone knows that. But do you know that no one knows what te hell the system is? We may be missing the obvious, like the proverbial elephant in the room, that we’re blanking out to, as if it weren’t there or was invisible to us. Or perhaps each of us is touching on only a small part of the whole system from our limited vantage points and think we’re on to something but are only feeling a swishing tail or the tip of a tusk or the fanning of a floppy ear, like the proverbial blind men trying to describe an elephant by touching the part of it within each’s reach, each describing each different part accurately but having no clue about what the whole thing is or how to keep it from going on a rampage or, better yet, how to put it out to pasture. See the quotes below of some notable folks who are putting their fingers on the system problem.
Help Produce the Alliance’s 2015-16 Sustainable Lehigh Valley
and its Directory of Organizations & Businesses
We’re gearing up for the 2015-16 edition of our annual publication and invite any and all interested in being part of this project to join in the fun.
It needs to get to the printer by mid-March, so we have about two months to get the material and put it all together for:
- The Directory of Organizations & Businesses (also published online on the Alliance website)
- Voices of the Valley: Essays from Diverse Perspectives
- Artwork: for the cover, to accompany essays, and interspersed among the directory listings
- Display Ads
- Layout and Design Work
Students: you can work on this year’s edition and get college credit as an Alliance intern. Editorial Interns have played major roles in our previous 11 editions.
Community folks in general and Alliance folks in particular are invited to be part of the action as well. Last year, Ida Halleröd was a great addition to the usual Alliance Team.
To participate or for more information, contact email@example.com
From Kim Schaffer, Kathy Fox, Martha Christine, Sheila Gallagher, 12/27/14:
Cask night fundraiser for Citizens Climate Lobby at Bethlehem Brew Works!
Join in for a fun and friend-filled evening and learn about the local and national work of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. All sales from the special cask benefit our education efforts to create the political will for a stable and healthy climate.
Thursday – 1/8/15 – 5-10pm
Bethlehem Brew Works, 569 Main Street, Bethlehem
Bring a friend!
The Brewmaster is brewing up a special beer for us to share with our friends and guests!
Please stop by anytime that evening and say hello.
We look for forward to seeing you there!
From Nurture Nature Center, December 2014:
Easton Matters: Your Opinion Matters. Your Voice Matters.
Easton Matters is a new Nurture Nature Center project that plans to learn about the environmental concerns of Easton residents, and we need your input!
What concern(s) do you have about the local environment in your neighborhood / community? Please fill out a postcard or call us at 610-253-4432 and let us know!
Additional information can be found at
Action Alert from the 12/18/14 Organic Bytes, online publication of the Organic Consumers Association
Tell these Organic Dairies: Support Consumers, not the IDFA!
If Stonyfield can do it, so can the other Big Three Organic Dairies.
On December 5, 2014, Stonyfield Farm resigned from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), a trade group that is suing Vermont to overturn its GMO labeling law, passed earlier this year.
The resignation came about five months after OCA and its allies, including:
- Mercola Health Resources, LLC;
- Cedar Circle Farm in Vermont;
- Vermont Public Interest Research Group;
- Alliance for Natural Health USA;
- Food & Water Watch;
- Rural Vermont;
- GMO Inside; and
- Food Democracy Now!
sent the organic dairy companies an open letter asking that they withdraw their membership in the IDFA.
The IDFA is not only party to the lawsuit against Vermont, it is also lobbying for H.R. 4432, an outrageous anti-consumer bill, introduced in April 2014 in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan). The bill, dubbed by consumers as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, would preempt all state GMO labeling laws, and make it legal to use the word “natural” on products that contain GMOs. See more.
Here are three more reasons organic dairies should not belong to the IDFA:
- IDFA is a leading force lobbying to outlaw the sales of raw milk and dairy products in the U.S.
- IDFA is a member of the COOL Reform Coalition, which wants to keep consumers in the dark by fighting Country of Origin labels.
- The IDFA wants dairy companies to be able to hide the fact that their products contain aspartame which has been linked to brain cancer and to the accumulation of formaldehyde, known to cause gradual damage to the nervous system and the immune system and to cause irreversible genetic damage at long-term, low-level exposure.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Organic Valley, White Wave/Horizon Organic, and Aurora Organic Dairy: Do the right thing and quit the IDFA
Capitalism, Climate, Elephants, Corporations, Invisibility, Silo-Vision
“What do corporations do? (The question should be, ‘What do people do behind the fiction of corporations?’ . . . ) . . . The short version is that they write a script for us [a big part of which is Regulatory Law], and we follow it. Then they write a script for themselves, [Defining Law.]” (10)
“Corporations are artificial creations that are set up by state corporation codes. These state laws, plus a bunch of court cases, form the basis for the notion that corporations have powers and ‘rights.’ This law is Defining Law. But this Defining Law is invisible to us because we have been colonized and have accepted it as a given. We leave defining law — in corporation codes, bankruptcy law, insurance law, etc. — to corporation lawyers [to] rewrite it every few years without so much as a whimper from citizen activists . . .
“This law bestows upon corporations powers and rights that exceed those of human persons and sometimes of governments as well. It seems pretty obvious, then, that we need to rewrite the Defining Law.”
– Jane Anne Morris, in ” ‘Help! I’ve Been Colonized and I Can’t Get Up . . .’: Take a Lawyer and an Expert to a Hearing and Call Me in a Decade”, 1998, published in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy, 2001, edited by Dean Ritz: p. 11.
“. . . our Movement’s standard gloom and doom message . . . overlooks the fact that there are practical, time-tested methods (enhanced photosynthesis via regenerative organic farming, ranching, reforestation and land restoration) for safely moving 100 ppm or more excess CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it where it belongs-in the living soil.
“This regeneration and revolution in agriculture and land use, in combination with radical reductions in GHG emissions, if carried out globally on billions of acres of eroded, decarbonated, deforested, bare, and exhausted soils will not only reverse global warming, but also qualitatively increase water retention, crop yields and food nutrient density or quality — enabling us to basically eliminate global poverty, hunger, water shortages and deteriorating public health.”
– Ronnie Cummins, in “Letter from Lima: What’s Wrong with the Climate Movement?“, on the Organic Consumers Association website, dated 12/16/14.
“We believe that nurturing an economy from the middle out and the bottom up is how this country can achieve and sustain real-earned, and unborrowed-prosperity of the kind that trickle-down has never once delivered.
“To be sure: government needs to be smarter and more efficient in its role as circulator and investor. And there is no question that the animal spirits of capitalism and markets remain an unsurpassed force for innovation and solutions. We are pro-capitalism. In fact, we are fiercely so. What that requires is remembering what capitalism is supposed to be about — generating the most widespread competition possible so that society gets the most fruitful results possible.”
– Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer, in The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government, 2011: pp. 115-116.
“Why are we marching to disaster, ‘sleepwalking to extinction’ as The Guardian‘s George Monbiot once put it? Why can’t we slam on the brakes before we ride off the cliff to collapse? I’m going to argue here that the problem is rooted in the requirements of capitalist reproduction, that large corporations are destroying life on Earth, that they can’t help themselves, they can’t change or change very much, that so long as we live under this system we have little choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead of slamming on the brakes.
“The only alternative — impossible as this may seem right now — is to overthrow this global economic system and all of the governments of the 1% that prop it up and replace them with a global economic democracy, a radical bottom-up political democracy, an ecosocialist civilization. I argue that, although we are fast approaching the precipice of ecological collapse, the means to derail this train wreck are in the making as, around the world, we are witnessing a near-simultaneous global mass democratic ‘awakening,’ as the Brazilians call it, almost a global uprising from Tahir Square to Zuccotti Park, from Athens to Istanbul to Beijing and beyond such as the world has never seen.”
— Richard Smith, in “Capitalism and the Destruction of Life on Earth: Six Theses on Saving the Humans“, originally published in Real-World Economics Review, issue no. 64, 2013
“[To understand economic scandals we need to investigate] the story not of a few bad-apple CEOs but of an economic system designed to do precisely what it did — to enrich a few at the expense of many. At the most visible level, this means CEOs. But if they are the whipping boys singled out for punishment, they have not acted independently. They are subordinates to the real masters of the system, the invisible aristocracy of major shareholders.”
“After a decade and a half of advocating corporate social responsibility and seeing its promise thwarted, I’ve asked myself, What is blocking change? . . . The answer is the mandate to maximize returns for shareholders. It is a systemwide mandate that cannot be overcome by individual companies. It is a legal mandate with which voluntary change can’t compete.”
— Marjorie Kelly, in The Divine Right of Capital: Dethroning the Corporate Aristocracy, 2001, 2003: pp. xiii, xv.
“By posing climate change as battle between capitalism and the planet, I am not saying anything that we don’t already know. The battle is under way, but right now capitalism is winning hands down. . .”
“The challenge . . . is not simply that we need to spend a lot of money and change a lot of policies; it’s that we need to think differently, radically differently, for those changes to be remotely possible. Right now, the triumph of market logic, with its ethos of domination and fierce competition, is paralyzing almost all serious efforts to respond to climate change.”
“[What we need to focus on is the social and political context, that is, the needed] radical changes on the social . . ., political, economic, and cultural sides. What concerns me is less the mechanics of the transition . . . than the power and ideological roadblocks that have so far prevented any of these long understood [low-carbon technological] solutions from taking hold on anything close to the scale required.”
— Naomi Klein, quotes here are from This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, 2014: pp. 22, 23, 24-25
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Martin Boksenbaum, sustainability doings editor