Thursday, February 11, 2010

Divide and Conquer

Yesterday on "Democracy Now" the guest was a food writer who studied the disgustingly cozy relationship between the food industry, and food science as it is practiced in both academia and the government. He remarked that the "food-industrial complex" has a miraculous way of spinning new research into a marketing campaign. For instance in the 70's when research concluded that high levels of fat were detrimental to cardiovascular health the food industry responded by labeling foods "No-fat" and even something as nutritionally useless as jelly-beans could be labeled in a way that made it appear healthy.

The corruption of knowledge, the twisting of facts to reinforce the status quo is a phenom which is omnipresent. It is offensive to see an internet pop-up ad with a ridiculous claim such as "I lost 60 pounds without exercising or changing my diet" but this strikes a discordant note in our logical faculties because the argument must be made in the small time and space of an ad. The more pernicious lies are the all pervading forms of deception that exist on a subtle level, in history classes, in news reports, and in academic debates.

When I posted John Trudell's comments about Columbus part of me asks the question "what does this have to do with you? shouldn't you be grateful for Columbus, you are the descendant of European immigrants who followed after the "discovery" of the new world so what do YOU have against Columbus"?

So my legal training comes to the rescue and causes me to invert the question, why do I identify with Columbus? Because I am white? Because I am the descendant of Europeans? No and No. It is because I am not native American. This then begs the question "must one, or should one be native American to question the justice of the history of the genocide of the native peoples of the Americas?" We will table the debate on whether or not genocide was committed and leave it at 500 years of systematically being disenfranchised. It doesn't really make any difference as regards the point I am trying to make.

I identify with the native peoples of the Americas because they were free men, women and children. They came into the world surrounded by a culture which taught them how to live in harmony with the land, to extract food, clothing and shelter from it and to spend their time in ways that were meaningful.

Just as the food industry can turn research data into a marketing campaign the academic industry can turn a war on free people into a race war. Activists are divided by race, ethnicity, cause, in any myriad of ways to dilute their overall strength and hide the fact that many of us are fighting for the exact same cause..namely a society in which we can live and work and spend time with our loved ones in a meaningful and dignified manner. It all boils down to this. From labor movements, to immigrants rights, to aboriginal rights, to gay rights, to womens rights it is about one thing. The system as it exists uses human beings for fodder to perpetuate meaninglessness. Whether you are dying of cancer from working in a uranium mine, suffering PTSD from a battle tour, or wasting away in a cubicle in a suburban coffin you have been deprived of your dignity by a system you never elected or chose to participate in. We were all born as slaves, to nit pick about what kind of slaves we are, divide ourselves by race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or any other meaningless and arbitrary category is to defeat ourselves before we begin.

There is the system, and there are its victims. Unless you are amassing wealth from the toil of others you are a victim, a slave, and that's all the categorization you need to know.

Rise up.

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