Across America, protests have broken out. They are small, poorly organized, and poorly led. They lack any realistic goal, so clearly, lack any actual plan to achieve any sort of goal. And unfortunately, they have become violent, embodying the very sort of hate, intimidation, and victimization the protesters claim they are fighting against.
The truth is, as the protests currently exist, no matter how long they persist or how big they get, they will accomplish nothing positive, and instead, invite a wide variety of very serious negatives.
All Americans, and those overseas looking in, must logically admit that neither Hillary Clinton nor now President-elect, Donald Trump, truly represented the American people.
Neither were drawn from the people, neither have a record of service to the people, and both have been deeply entrenched in a corrupt system dominated absolutely by corporate-financier special interests. In many ways, both Clinton and Trump in fact constitute those special interests.
This reality means that it is not “Clinton” or “Trump” that either side was voting for or against, but different aspects of the same corrupt system they find abhorrent and in desperate need of changing. It was not “Clinton” or “Trump” that people were voting for, but their opponents they were voting against. It was not the arguments each candidate made that convinced them, it was the arguments of candidates and commentary by the corporate-media that repelled them.
It is a singularly corrupt system, using smoke and mirrors to convince at least a part of society to support at least a part of its continued existence, under either “right” or “left” cover.
Hillary Clinton once infamously declared:
…you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables…
But the truth is, it is not Trump supporters, and not Clinton supporters – none of the American people who are “deplorables.”
It is the system that is deplorable. It is the corporate-financier special interests who are deplorable for monopolizing and dominating every aspect of the American people’s lives for profit and power. It is the politicians who are deplorable for selling themselves to these interests while posing as public servants and representatives. It is the corporate media who helps both special interests and their pet politicians pander to the public, mislead them, confuse them, and most deplorable of all, divide them against one another.
Fighting the Deplorables
Here is where most commentary trails off into a rhetorical rant, peddling political ideals that are just as meaningless as a solution as the rhetoric that has created the problem at hand. Instead, it is far more constructive to explain to you that while a small handful of elite have taken a majority stake in both America and the world for their own benefit and at the cost of everyone else, there are very specific actions you can take right now to take your own stake, and use that to introduce an element of balance to both national and international power.
At the heart of Washington there lies an engine of corporate-financier special interests. They are not simply men and women with immense amounts of money and power. They are men and women who control essential things required for civilization’s continued existence, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, transportation, defense, technology, education, commerce, and monetary systems.
To take your own stake in the game, you must do so by creating alternatives to these vast monopolies.
Toe-to-Toe With the Deplorables
Big-agriculture, big-retail, big-oil, big-retail, big-pharmaceutical corporations, and big-banks (and many more). Any corporation or institution that enjoys a commanding monopoly over the essential functions of modern human civilization falls into the category of “deplorables.” They hold the levers of modern civilization within their hands, and they are the ones that have directed us along the course we currently find ourselves on. They, not one half of the population they have convinced to think differently than the other before pitting both halves against one another, are the problem.
Replacing them is the solution. 1. Big-Agriculture: Food is an obvious essential every living being on Earth requires to sustain themselves. The control over a people’s food supply has been instrumental for defining the “haves” and the “have nots” throughout human history. It is the most essential element to safeguard in order to achieve supremacy over another, and it is the most essential element to undermine when dismantling the source of another’s power.
Big-agriculture, including corporations like Bayer, Dow, BASF, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, John Deere, Tyson, and many others, not to mention the big-retailers they are partnered with to move their products and services, not only monopolize the American food supply, but threaten food security globally. They have not only deeply infiltrated governments, but have exerted unwarranted and insidious influence across the media directly, and indirectly through “independent third parties” that perform lobbying services without disclosing their status as lobbyists.
Solutions: Fighting big-agriculture is easy, and it’s already a fight that is well on its way toward victory. Networks of organic farmers, farmers’ markets, urban agriculture networks, together with the alternative media and organic advocates, have already begun changing the tide, raising public awareness about:
The benefits of healthy, clean, organic food;
The empowerment that comes with community agriculture;
The economic benefits of more equally distributed agricultural entrepreneurship and;
The sociopolitical impact of taking a stake in our collective food security.
And getting started is easy. There are entire networks that not only produce locally grown food for their communities, but have created infrastructure to teach absolute beginners how to get involved in agriculture, both rural and urban. Permaculture Voices hosts a variety of speakers sharing the work of their networks and is a good place to find one that suits you most.
One particularly impressive urban farmer is Curtis Stone of Canada. He is living proof that local agriculture is not only a theoretical solution to shifting the balance of power in the people’s favor, it is a practical solution tangibly making a change.
Something as simple as tearing up your lawn and planting a garden can be the pathway toward creating a sustainable and profitable business. At the same time, you are redirecting money locally your community would otherwise be channeling into big-ag by providing them with a superior alternative. It can be done, regardless of rules, regulations, and social pressures placed in your way, you simply need to be creative and determined enough to find the solutions – and likely, someone in the existing and ever-growing organic food movement has already faced and overcome such challenges. Seek them out and learn from them. There is no excuse.
If you have energy to walk around in the streets all night destroying your neighborhood, you have energy to get together the next day and plant a community garden or start your own independent, socially responsible and prosperous farming operation. Be the change you want to see in the world.
If you don’t aspire to be a farmer, there are other things you can do:
Support local farmers and farmers’ markets;
Grow a fraction of your own food in a home garden, even 1% is better than 0%,
Be more conscious when you buy, not only to shift the sociopolitical and economic paradigm, but for your health and;
Start a blog to advocate local, national, and international networks you see making a difference – the more voices out there, the harder it is for corporate-funded propaganda to drown them out.
Creating a larger and more powerful organic movement, distributed among communities, but collectively representing the same basic principles of healthy, affordable, local food, creates another point of leverage against existing monopolies – the weight of policy demands backed by a physical network of producers, farmers, alternative media networks, and loyal customers who don’t just buy their food to eat, but buy it because they know it is better, and comes from their very own community.
It is a powerful point of leverage that is already putting demonstrable strain upon big-ag, forcing them to expose themselves, their methods, and true ambitions on public display, resort to ever increasingly desperate tactics, and expend vast amounts of resources to maintain what is becoming an unsustainable monopoly.
Big-ag is happy to ignore protesters waving signs. They cannot ignore growing segments of the population eating food produced outside their monopoly. They can either reform, or live in a world increasingly moving on into the future without them.
2. Big-Oil: Chevron, Exxon, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, coal companies, and the corrupt despots of the Persian Gulf who have built evil empires upon their fields of crude, blacken our skies and our lungs with their toxic fuels. Our power plants and cars have burned these toxic fuels for decades. While alternatives exist, and indeed, some nations – like Iceland – have moved beyond petrochemicals and coal, big-oil and energy monopolies have used their power and influence to perpetuate their monopolies and the centralization of energy production at the detriment of human civilization.
Whether or not you believe such fuels are contributing to climate change is irrelevant. You need only stand on a city street corner for 5 minutes during rush hour to feel your health being destroyed, or look at the wars and compromising political partnerships and rivalries our governments have become entangled in to realize an alternative is necessary.
Solutions: Localizing energy production is not as easy as growing your own food – which is in itself probably not as easy as some might think. But it is also not impossible. Energy cooperatives exist all over the world already, ranging from wind and solar power to biogas production.
Involving local communities in renewable energy schemes can help farmers get projects off the ground and deliver benefits well beyond the farm gate. Community energy schemes are still in their infancy in the UK compared with elsewhere in Europe, but momentum is clearly building. More than 5,000 community groups have undertaken energy initiatives in the last five years and the publication of the UK’s first Community Energy Strategy (CES) last year promised a “step change” for the sector and a significant expansion over the next three years.
The article goes on to detail just how such cooperatives work.
Additionally, there are companies like US-based Solar City that produces and installs solar panels on household rooftops, Tesla that produces electric cars and battery banks called Powerwalls for storing energy at home. These high profile companies have inspired many others across the country and around the world to begin moving solar power deeper into mainstream power production.
While in some cases, solar power is still a huge investment compared to living on the grid, prices are dropping toward a future where that isn’t the case. Many already find solar power to be a better solution than drawing from centralized power grids, and in places where grids don’t reach, solar already dominates power production.
Solar power and other community or individually owned and operated power grids decentralizes another of human civilization’s essential building blocks. The people themselves possessing complete control over this particular block, further lends them leverage against monopolies that for decades have used their control over energy to impose their will upon the fate of entire nations.
There is a learning curve to overcome when getting into alternative energy but there are many people already out there doing it both for profit and to make a difference. Just as there are people among the organic movement willing to share their knowledge with those willing to seek them out and learn, so too are there people in the alternative energy community. Seek them out, and learn.
3. Big-Retail: Our food, our manufactured goods, our technology, and much more often comes from big retailers. In the US it is WalMart and Target. In Europe and Asia it includes BigC, Tesco, Carrefour, and other retailing monopolies. When these mega-stores open up, people trade in local socioeconomic independence for cheap junk consolidated for convenience in a single location.
But what seems like a blessing at first, becomes a curse over time. Pretty soon, towns dominated by these big-retailers find themselves completely at the mercy of them and a handful of “chain” restaurants and specialty stores. Local development is nonexistent, because the summation of wealth is often created by working for these stores, and paid to them – much like exploitative and abusive “company stores” during the Industrial Revolution.
Solutions: However, manufacturing can be brought back to our communities through advances in manufacturing technology and innovative institutions often called “makerspaces” or “hackerspaces.”
Computer controlled manufacturing such as 3D printing, laser cutters and computer-controlled routers have become small and cheap enough for individuals to use in their homes, but more often than not, they are found in makerspaces where even absolute beginners can get help in designing and manufacturing their ideas. The technology is not well suited for mass production, but it doesn’t need to. It can deliver short-runs of items, or create other manufacturing systems that can be used for larger scales of production (molds, vacuum forming, etc).
China, famous for being the “factory of the world,” already has seen the advancement of manufacturing technology chip away at its domination over mass production. Companies that once used Chinese factories to produce items can now afford their own machines which not only cuts out shipping costs, but gives them greater control over quality and customization.
Makerspaces are popping up all over the world. In North America and Europe they are virtually everywhere. Search online for the one nearest you. The people there are friendly and eager to expand their already growing community and are hungry for challenges related to the practical application of the tools, talent, and machinery they have in their spaces.
For both ordinary people and aspiring entrepreneurs, makerspaces often serve as the starting line for entire companies and new innovations. Waiting for mega-corporations like Apple, IBM, Google, and others to lead us along is no longer necessary. When you want something, instead of paying into the local “company store,” why not learn a new skill, make it, and perhaps even start a small business making more for your friends, family, neighbors – and with crowd sourcing like Kickstarter, to the rest of the world?
We have gone into great detail specifically on decentralizing big-retail, including profiling some of the progress that was already made as early as 2012. Since then, so much more progress has been made, and the community is simply waiting for the rest of society to end their dependence on consumerism, and try their hand at being producers, designers, makers, and doers.
And while there is an upper limit to what you can get at a big-retail store today, there is no upper limit to what can be made locally leveraging modern computer controlled manufacturing. Opensource car designs are being built in America in “microfactories” by a company called Local Motors and represents a proof-of-concept in decentralizing something as formidable and centralized as the auto industry. 4. Big-Pharmaceuticals: Like big-ag, big-pharma is undoubtedly a deplorable. Corporations like GlaxoKlineSmith (GSK), Bayer, Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, Roche, and many, many more, have been not only accused, but convicted in courts of law around the globe for some of the largest cases of healthcare fraud and abuse in human history. Yet they are still charged by governments around the world with the research, development, production, and distribution of medications human beings rely on to live.
What’s worse is that much of the “research and development” big-pharma is engaged in, is late-stage preparations to bring drugs to market – drugs that have been developed through public funding for years, sometimes even decades. These special interests have infiltrated regulatory and government bodies so deeply, they are able to acquire, then criminally exploit the results of publicly funded research for immense profits.
Worse still, many of the products produced and distributed by big-pharma are either ineffective, or outright dangerous, many times being subscribed for symptoms and uses they were not even approved for.
Solutions; While harder than both food production and energy independence, decentralizing human healthcare is still not impossible.
Community labs (a list of labs around the world) built around the concept of do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) are also spreading around the world. Makerspaces – with their special mixture of talent and technology – are able to quickly produce prototypes and opensource versions of expensive proprietary hospital and lab equipment otherwise inaccessible to community healthcare infrastructure. If enough people interested in healthcare and biology assemble at a particular makerspace, a lab is usually established.
In the US, there already is a program where makerspaces are actually being established within hospitals, allowing nurses, technicians, and doctors to prototype and manufacture solutions to problems they encounter during their work. This concept is beginning to spread around the world to other hospitals where makerspace mainstays like 3D printing are being used for everything from creating physical models of patients’ organs to assist in the planning stages for difficult surgeries, to creating customized hooks, fasteners, and attachments for existing equipment that are expensive or impossible to replace otherwise.
Makerspaces are also increasingly collaborating with university labs, hospitals, and other healthcare providers and institutions. This tangible progress in human healthcare helps open up the technology used to administer and advance it, lowering the overall costs in providing it to patients – a much more sustainable solution than subsidies alone.
The collective knowledge communities acquire during these collaborations helps decentralize healthcare.
In terms of pharmaceuticals, there are even groups working on opensource bioreactors (basically just glass containers with computer controlled temperature, stirring, and mixing functions) and computer software to make brewing pharmaceuticals as cheap and as easy as a cooking recipe. While this exists more on the cutting edge of healthcare decentralization, it proves that it is possible, and the more people that get involved, the quicker it will go from cutting edge to commonplace.
If you have an interest in medicine, biology, or human health, simply use your Internet search engine of choice and find a group active near you.
5. Big-Banks: Currency is the lifeblood of commerce. Regardless of your economic system of choice, money is necessary to make it function. Control over currency and funding grants institutions and special interests immense power over commerce, and thus virtually every aspect of human civilization. Decentralizing this power introduces balance and reduces the scale of abuse one can exercise through any given monetary system.
Alternatives are difficult to establish, but not impossible. And while current alternatives are not perfect, if one’s interest is in monetary policy and monetary systems, then there is a growing community they can join to improve these alternatives.
Solutions: Cryptocurrencies and crowd funding are two such innovations that are giving people alternatives to current monetary systems as well as the raising of funds for projects. Bitcoin is just one of several cryptocurrencies and there are a growing number of crowdfunding platforms including Kickstarterand Patreon.
Cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding help oil this system of alternatives growing from increasingly high-tech, decentralized solutions to the corrupt monopolies at the source of our sociopolitical and economic troubles.
It should be noted that many alternative media sites, not only political, but covering all subjects, from science and technology, to entertainment and education – increasingly rely on sites like Patreon to channel funding from their viewers and expand their work in a sustainable and responsive way to what their audiences want. This stands in stark contrast to the sponsored media currently dominating Western audiences’ attention, presenting them messages and perspectives that suit the corporate-financier interests funding them, not the people consuming their content.
Displace the Deplorables
These are just 5 areas and but a handful of solutions among many where people are already working hard, all over the world, to build the sort of world they want to live in – a world in contrast to the injustice of centralized power and profits we currently live in. The immense problems we face today were not created by one person overnight, nor will they be solved by one person overnight. It will take many people, focusing in many different areas, patiently over time to collectively move the vector sum of human efforts toward something more equitable, just, and beneficial to us all.
Of these 5 areas, you need not cover them all. If you committed yourself to just one of them, and worked incrementally over the next year to achieve even the scarcest of results, you will be further ahead than if you did nothing at all. Efforts, no matter how small, add up over time. When many people are working in parallel, these small incremental steps add up even more.
The only sure way to fail and effect no change at all is to resign yourself to the system currently at hand. Doing nothing, or worse yet, going out into the streets to create chaos, adds up over time as either nothing, or the destruction of what little you already have.
Just as when we were children seeking greater independence, we were unable to obtain it by simply shouting, stomping our feet, and throwing a tantrum. We were required to grow up, acquire skills, apply them effectively, and create a life of our own, in our own way, to suit us rather than have a life imposed upon us by those we depended on. Likewise, as a society, we need to grow up, take an actual stake in this world of ours for ourselves.
By controlling our food, water, energy, local manufacturing, monetary policy, and even our own healthcare, we invest in and derive from these efforts to our own, direct benefit.
We must become the change we want to see in the world, not stomp our feet until someone delivers it to us. It is not “a way” to solve our problems. It is the only way problems can ever be solved. Do not join the protests, do not react to them. There is far too much work to be done to be distracted by them. Offer those who ask you about the protests to join you in a real revolution, one in which we set off to build the world we seek to live in with our own two hands rather than “demand” with our mouths.
LocalOrg seeks to explore local solutions to global problems by empowering people locally with education and technology to not only survive, but to thrive.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.