Glimmers of hope from strange places in America

I’ve worried lately about the pile of reasons to abandon all hope that’s accumulated in the corner of my office. So this week I went to the orchard of awfulness that our world often seems to be and plucked these precious four cherries of hope, from the ever-unpredictable USA:

So far as we know, this image and text has yet to make it onto a Hallmark card

So far as we know, this image and text has yet to make it onto a Hallmark card

1. Seed-lovers and librarians beat Monsanto and DuPont

The world’s three biggest “agricultural” corporations, Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont-Pioneer, keep buying up local seed companies and, as my friend Mark Schapiro writes in PacificStandard (, they now mass-produce seeds they have patented “to be planted over vast swaths of farmland, augmented with chemical boosters to compensate for what’s lacking from generations of local adaptation.”

Meanwhile, beneath the radar of Monsanto and the mainstream media, hundreds of seed libraries have emerged across the USA, many of them in public libraries – yes, instead of books you take out seeds and, when you can, return them with suggestions to help the next planter.

But, in 2014, the Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, received a notice from the Bureau of Plant Industry in the state Department of Agriculture that listed several statutes the library could be violating, like “the disseminating of unregistered seeds”.

This story went viral, or fungal, leading the California Climate and Agriculture Network and the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center to ask the California State Legislature to beat back the California seed industry – which they did! Governor Jerry Brown stepped up and signed a bill that protects seed exchanges and recognises that the seed-borrowing farmers are nurturers of plants that belong to the soil, not to Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, or DuPont-Pioneer.

2. Opposition in the business community to burning evermore fossil fuels.

Mark Carney is the governor of the Bank of England, which makes him one of the one percent of the one percent, and he’s warning his fellow bankers about the risks of the “carbon bubble.” And Carney has been joined recently by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and private banks HSBC and Citigroup.

In their banksterish way, these plutocrats worry that we will realise, sooner or later, that most fossil-fuel reserves cannot be burned and will thus become “stranded assets”—things you own that have lost their value. Citigroup estimates that the “total value of stranded assets could be over $100 trillion” by the time high-finance idiots realise that carbon fuels have to stay buried not burned. That dwarfs the stranded assets of the American housing bubble that begot the 2008 financial crisis.

UBS, the Swiss global financial services company, told its clients last year that the fossil fuel disinvestment campaign will succeed. Why? “Because many of those engaged in the debate are the consumers, voters and leaders of the next several decades…this single fact carries more weight than any other data point on the planet for this issue.”

3. American libertarians, rads in BMWs

I listened the other day to a 40 minute talk by a guy in Texas railing against the bankrupting of America by the military-industrial-intelligence-surveillance complex that has hijacked the government – keeping the country and its blind followers like Australia convinced that the warmongers need a trillion dollars a year they squeeze out of the people. What’s hopeful about this video talk is that the speaker is one David Stockman, the guy a few of us over-60 might remember was President Ronald Reagan’s budget director, who popularized trickle-down theory. Stockman is amazed it only took about 80 days for Trump to be co-opted by the warmongers of Washington and suckered into their club, and he explains in accountant’s detail why Russia, China, and Islamic terrorists are NOT significant threats to America – the warmongers of Washington are.

Stockman was addressing a conference of libertarians, which in the US are wealthy people who believe they worked hard for their wealth and it shouldn’t be wasted on public services for not-rich Americans or dropping bombs on poor foreigners. It’s a slim hope, but these particular business types might just win control of the Republican Party when Trump runs out of opportunistic supporters, and they might set about dismantling the warfare state.

4. People power bursting out all over

It is impossible to overstate the fury and despair that tens of millions of Americans, particularly women, felt when Trump was elected. Not just Americans right?

The giant rallies led by women across the US during Trump’s inauguration kicked off a mass movement of ongoing, creative actions against the nut-bars in today’s White House. In New York, next Sunday -- Mothers Day -- an agitprop group called The Reverend Billy Talen and his Stop Shopping Choir will celebrate Julie Ward Howe, who founded Mother's Day as a Day of Peace, in 1870. In her inspiring declaration Ms Howe wrote “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.… We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.” You could read her full declaration at your mother’s day event – and if that’s no more than mum gets morning tea in bed, it doesn’t take much longer to read than a cuppa takes. Check it out here:

P. FrazerComment