An interesting juxtaposition occurred in 2008. "With the enactment of the 2008 Constitution, Ecuador became the first country in the world to codify the Rights of Nature."1 (Bolivia made a similar law in 2011.) Meanwhile, the United States Empire (USE) -- though it was really the People who were affected -- saw its housing bubble burst, the economy take a stinking nose-dive, and, while some big bank-institutions went under, some were (by the grace of In God We Trust) bailed out.
Here we have the essence of one of the biggest dichotomies, the choice of our times ― Nature or Mammon, Compassion or Commodity.
In his new book, Children of the Days, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano sums up the mind-set of the-powers-that-be, as well as showing us how to shift our priorities: “If nature were a bank, they would have already rescued it."2
Nature is, in fact, a bank of real wealth (providing the resources that fuel our lives), as well as its own slow food movement (plant a seed and the instant gratification you get will not fill your belly, rather nourish your mind and soul).
In a 2008 article, “Eduardo Galeano’s Earth Day Exclusive,” Galeano pinpoints the origin of this great divide: “The communion between nature and people, a pagan custom, was abolished in the name of God and later in the name of Civilization. Throughout the Americas, and the world, we are paying the consequences of this divorce.”3
A recent headline was a real button-pusher for a lot of people: “Supreme Court Says Monsanto Has ‘Control Over Product of Life.’”4 Monsanto’s attempt to monopolize control of seeds and prices can be linked to East Indian farmer suicides and other tragedies. This ongoing expression of absurd corporate (Monsanto)-state(court system) hubris got me thinking how these behemoths exhibit a maniacal sense of ‘playing God’ over life. And that's nothing new.
The 500-plus years old “Doctrine of Christian Discovery” (keenly explained by Steven Newcomb in his wonderful book, Pagans in the Promised Land), proves that church and state are still not separate. The essence of the Doctrine states that, land uninhabited by Christians was up for Christians’ grab (see Pope Alexander’s Inter Caetera papal bull, 1493), hence the genocidal ‘discovery’ of the Americas. In some instances, patents (corporatism) issued to seafaring ‘discoverers’ with the twisted blessing of the church (theology) and nation (state) created a perfect storm called theofascism.
As a later example, “Sir Robert Heath’s Patent 5 Charles 1st; October, 30 1629”:5
|“Charles by the grace of God of England Scotland France & Ireland King Defender of the faith . . . A certaine Region or Territory to bee hereafter described, in our lands in the parts of America betwixt one & thirety & 36 degrees of northerne latitude inclusively placed (yet hitherto untild, neither inhabited by ours or the subjects of any other Christian king, Prince or state But some parts of it inhabited by certain Barbarous men who have not any knowledge of the Divine Dietye) He being about to lead thither a Colonye of men large & plentifull, professing the true religion; seduously & industriously applying themselves to the culture of the sayd lands & to merchandising to be performed by industry & at his owne charges & others by his example.”
This “merchandising/industry” (corporate) under the banner of “God of England, Scotland, France & Ireland” (church and state), reveals a phase in the ongoing theofascist recipe for Global Corporate Empire disaster.
According to Benito Mussolini, “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Maybe we could call it theo-corporatism, but whatever the name, for the masses, it sucks!
The Urban Dictionary states: “Theofascist: Theology based totalitarian government.” A corporate-state collusion, driven by an ideology of supremacist God-hood.
Pledge Drive Down Memory Lane
Let’s take a look in the rearview mirror of history as well as a gander under the God-hood to see how this beastly vehicle operates.
The USE interstate highway system was patterned after the autobahn which was a creation of the Third Reich:
“At the outset of World War II in Europe, the autobahn proved to be a key asset to Germany. The German blitzkrieg (“lightning war”), which involved massive coordinated air and ground attacks to stun opponents into defeat, was a key to the German defeat of Poland in 1939, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in 1940, and the Soviet Army in 1941. The highway network also enhanced Germany’s ability to fight on two fronts - Europe in the west, the Soviet Union in the east.”6
It is worth noting that what Americans now typically call “the highway,” was originally "The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways"7 (bold added).
In the 1940s, “Lobbyists from the oil, tire, and automobile industries, among others, had persuaded state and federal agencies to assume that fundamental expense. Had the big auto companies been required to pay for the roads ― in the same way that trolley companies had to lay and maintain track ― the landscape of the American West would look quite different today,” wrote Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.
Thus, oil, tire, and auto companies, with government backing, conspired and bought up and drove out (no pun intended) the trolley system, and so, ahem, paved the way for the modern American interstate as well as the oxymoronic, fast-paced yet lazy lifestyle still haunting us today.
Nowadays one can readily see fast food restaurants flying their American flags. They appear as forts . . . dotting the landscape . . . symbols of the conquerors.
As an example of manutrition being a side effect of warfare, “The Lakota were eventually confined onto reservations, prevented from hunting buffalo and forced to accept government food distribution.”8
More currently, on the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Reservations,
“Children attend after-school programs to take advantage of snacks as it is often the only food they will have for dinner. Government food programs are not designed for sharing societies . . . There are no food banks or food resources available to regularly meet basic food needs not covered by the government programs. There is also an extremely high incidence of diabetes and other health problems that are likely related at least in part to diet. Government programs provide a high starch diet with little fruits and vegetables.”9
Since the pledge of allegiance to said flag includes “one Nation under God,” once again a recipe of theofascism. And, to connect the plethora of fast food restaurants and gas stations at virtually every corner of suburban America, an old billboard text comes to mind: “Eat Here Get Gas.”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti calls the overall side effects of vehicular addiction “autogeddon.” The recent report of carbon dioxide levels reaching their highest recorded parts-per-million attests to that.10
In his book Fast Food Nation, Schlosser also exposes how flavors can be created from chemical manipulations, revealing that so-called “natural flavors” (approved by the FDA) may be anything but. The main culprit of these taste-bud deceptions is International Flavors and Fragrances, which happens to have a manufacturing facility along the not-so-fragrant New Jersey Turnpike.
Let’s break this down and try to digest it
“According to the study, a whopping $17 billion of the total $260 billion the government spent subsidizing agriculture went to just four common food additives: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soy oils.”11
“Why is corn everywhere? Part of the reason is a subsidy system that has helped glut the marketplace with corn and left the government to find ways to use it. Nowadays, ranchers feed corn to their cows and chickens, and food companies sweeten their foodstuffs with it.”12
“That the $100-billion fast food industry rests on a foundation of corn has been known more through inference and observation than hard scientific fact — until now.
“Chemical analysis from restaurants across the United States shows that nearly every cow or chicken used in fast food is raised on a diet of corn, prompting fresh criticism of the government’s role in subsidizing poor eating habits.”13
In a nutshell, the government subsidy of corn pumps up the fast food industry as well as the shelves of supermarkets and mini-marts, not to mention the pockets of those pushing this instant gratification food system like a street-drug.
“ 'Government subsidies make sweet food very cheap', says Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, pointing to one of the most prevalent sweeteners: high fructose corn syrup, which sweetens most soda pop while upping the calories.” . . . Michael Pollan, food author, sums it up: 'We’re subsidizing obesity'.”14
There exist other problems behind the scenes of fast, super sweet, and cheap meals — revealing how all is connected.
According to Pollan, “Hybrid corn is the greediest of plants, consuming more fertilizer than any other crop.”
Add to this the questionable safety of agri-business GMO corn and suddenly the problem threatens to reduce our even having a choice as to what kind of foods to eat.
Also, corn requires lots of water. “Consider the Ogallala Aquifer, the huge underground reservoir underlying eight states from Texas to South Dakota… By some estimates, the Ogallala could be used up in as little as 25 years. From a water point of view alone, our rush to corn does not seem sustainable.”15
With the mention of the Ogallala Aquifer we come full circle to the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and the current battle to prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from ruining the water supplies and further tainting Mother Earth.
William Salatin and Polyface, Inc. farm encourage “Grass-based, pastured livestock and poultry, moved frequently to new “salad bars,” offer landscape healing and nutritional superiority.”16
The documentary “Food, Inc.” portrays some of his holistic methods, plus the nasty side of agri-business and the mistreatment of animals.
Of course, the government could support farmers AND nutrition, but that’s another story.
Lording over the Earth or Working with it
Another recent juxtaposition pits new heights against grassroots, or potentially treeroots, uprisings. In a two-day time-span, the new “spire that will make One World Trade Center the tallest in the Western Hemisphere was moved into place”17 and the Dow and S&P hit new highs.18
Despite the nationalist-mammonistic euphoria of all that, over a longer period of time (befitting the seed metaphor), there has developed a series of fast food worker strikes.
April, 2013: “In what people are calling the largest ever protest of its kind, over 400 workers from the country's biggest corporate "food" chains—including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC among others—took part in the action.”19
May, 2013: “They came to New York City. Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit. And on Wednesday the wave of strikes by fast food workers has come to Milwaukee, where hundreds of workers are echoing the chorus of voices calling for $15 an hour and the right to unionize.”20
My sentiments are certainly with the workers because, for one, it’s hard work, and two, fast food is the only industry available to many workers in the USE.
Another example points to an evolutionary leap of efficiently out-smarting the theofascist, fast food, industrial-complex.
“After 14 years in the nation and despite many campaigns and promos McDonald’s was forced to close in 2002, its 8 Bolivian restaurants in the major cities of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.”
Why? Because, as “El Polvorin blog noted, ‘Fast-food represents the complete opposite of what Bolivians consider a meal should be. To be a good meal, food has to be prepared with love, dedication, certain hygiene standards and proper cook time.’”21
Farmworkers are also affected, the best known being the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
“The Coalition has had an impressive wave of wins as many companies -- eleven to date -- have signed an agreement to improve conditions for farmworkers. Of the top five fast food chains, McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and Yum! Brands (owners of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and A&W) have all joined the Fair Food Program . . . By signing on to the agreement, companies must now comply with a code of conduct that includes protections for cases of wage theft, sexual harassment, and forced labor. Companies also agree to pay a small premium for tomatoes -- just a penny more per pound. As a result, workers have safer working conditions and have started seeing increases in their paychecks for the first time in more than 30 years.”22
While there is a positive side to fast food, namely the apparatus from which to feed large numbers of people efficiently, unless the food quality and worker treatment improves the overall process will continue to reflect a culture of slave labor, highly questionable food products, and a collusion-based system more interested in profit than people.
An antidote to the overall situation comes from the wise sarcasm of Eduardo Galeano:
“Nature has a lot to say, and it has long been time for us, her children, to stop playing deaf. Maybe even God will hear the cry rising from this Andean country and add an eleventh amendment, which he left out when he handed down instructions from Mount Sinai: ‘Love nature, which you are a part of.’”23
As the Aymara Peoples of the Andes are reminding us, there is “the law of Pachacuti, that says the Earth is in a time of recovery. In order to heal, just like us, the Earth must rest . . . we must let the Earth rest so that it may protect us in the future.”24
Theofascism and its overlord Mammon are addicted to a boom-time buffet. That boom is not only funded by subsidies, it is also funded by the People’s participation. The next time you consider doing something or eating something, at least ask the question: would it be better if I gave it a rest?
READ MORE OF MANKH'S POEMS AND ESSAYS ON AXIS OF LOGIC
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. He edited and published the book, The (Un)Occupy Movement: Autonomy of Consciousness, Practical Solutions, Human Equality, and hosts an audio show "Between the Lines: listening to literature online." You can contact him via his literary website.
1. “Rights of Nature”
2. “The Life and Death of Words, People, and Even Nature”
3. “Eduard Galeano’s Earth Day Exlusive”
4. “Corporate Win”
5. “Sir Robert Heath's Patent 5 Charles 1st; October, 30 1629“
6. “The Reichsautobahnen”
7. “Interstate Highway System”
8. “Lakota people”
9. “PROJECT SHARE: A Food Co-op Program”
10. "400 Parts Per Million”
11. “Billions In Farm Subsidies"
12. “Corn Subsidies”
13. ”Fast Food: Just Another Name for Corn”
14. “Corn Subsidies”
16. "Polyface farm"
17. “Spire hoisted to top of One World Trade Center”
18. “New stock market milestone”
19. “‘We Deserve Better’: Striking NYC Fast Food Workers Demand Higher Pay”
20. “Momentum of Fast Food Workers Strikes Sweeping Nation Hits Milwaukee”
21. “No More “Fast Food” in Bolivia”
22. “Calling on the Fast Food Giant to Stand up For Farmworkers”
23. “Eduard Galeano’s Earth Day Exclusive”
24.”Earth Wisdom: For a World in Crisis”