Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 21 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts   

Bernie and the Biotariat

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
Author 512333
Message John Davis

Sander's vision is not based on the nuts and bolts engineering of the future but on a belief in the transformative power of a movement to achieve utopian ends
Sander's vision is not based on the nuts and bolts engineering of the future but on a belief in the transformative power of a movement to achieve utopian ends
(Image by Axious)
  Details   DMCA

It is useful to remember that revolution is clearly sanctioned in the United States in one of the nation's foundational documents, the Declaration of Independence, published by the Second Continental Congress, and now celebrated every July 4th.

Its second paragraph begins with the familiar stanza:

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

So, never mind 'Liberty' and the 'Pursuit of Happiness'. Let's just stick to 'Life'. To be clear, in this moment of environmental catastrophe, 'Life' must include, not just human life but all life. It is in this spirit of inclusiveness, of holism, that the Cambridge academic and poet, Drew Milne, has crafted a riposte to this nation's revered textual beginnings:

"We, the Biotariat, hold no human truths to be self-evident, acknowledging rather that all humans are mutually dependent on unacknowledged life forms, that they are endowed by their genealogy with certain heavy responsibilities, that among these are the Biosphere, the Solar Commune and the mutual furtherance of Peaceful Symbiosis. That to secure these responsibilities, alliances are assembled among humans, deriving their lasting vitality not just from human wills but from the continuance of all species. That whenever any form of Corporation becomes destructive of these ends, it is the duty of the people to alter or to liquidate it, and to institute new formations and alliances, laying its prospects on such principles and organizing its forms as to the best of their Scientific Understanding shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Sustainability, indeed, requires that Corporations long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that humans are more disposed to suffer, while Global Warming appears inevitable, than to take up arms against the forces to which they are accustomed. But when a long slick of Industrial Pollution and Technological Innovation, pursuing invariably the same Profit Motif, evinces a design to bring them unto species extinction, it is their responsibility, it is their duty, to throw off such Corporations, and to provide new regulative frameworks for future Symbiosis."

Thus, the just cause for rebellion established by the Declaration of Independence leads Milne to argue, writing in the late eighteenth century literary style of the original document, that global warming and species extinction are now entirely valid causes for the overturning of the existing structures of power which he identifies as 'Corporations'. His is a 'Declaration of Symbiotic Interdependence', suggesting that whatever we may claim as our 'independence' is entirely mortgaged to the continued existence of other life forms.

We are fortunate to live in a nation where one of its foundational texts allows for on-going revolution. If we truly believe in the exceptionalism of this country, now surely is the time to act on the opportunity bequeathed to the people of the United States by the Founding Fathers. Is it too soon, in 2020, to anoint Bernie Sanders as the agent of the revolution's second coming?

First, some attributions and a definition. The Drew Milne piece, "The Makings of the Biotariat", is quoted in Mckenzie Wark's, Capital is Dead, 2019, and a footnote mentions that it is, "unpublished, quoted with permission." The word 'biotariat' was coined by Stephen Collis, a Canadian poet who teaches at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. It appears first in his poem, To the Barricades, 2013. In it, he writes, "The next revolution / is what culture will teach / we can and can't do / as system's feedback loop / grabbing the red flag / spore poppy claw / of the biotariat." On a now defunct blog, he offers the following definition:

"The biotariat: that portion of existence that is enclosed as a "resource" by and for those who direct and benefit from the accumulation of wealth. So: workers and commoners; most animals and plants, including trees and forest and grassland ecosystems; water; land, as it provisions and enables biological life; minerals that lie beneath the surface of the land; common "wastes" and "sinks" too, into which the waste products of resource production and use are spilledthe atmosphere and the oceans. It's that large. The enclosed and exploited life of this planet."

A few years later, Collis reviews Drew Milne's poetry collection called, Lichen for Marxists, published by the Cambridge Literary Review, Summer, 2017. He begins by writing, "I have been reading Jason W. Moore's, Capitalism in the Web of Life, a book that theorizes the rise of the Biotariat". He goes on to quote Moore, "All limits to capital emerge historically, out of relations of humans with the rest of nature. And in equal measure, so do all projects for the liberation of humanity and our neighbors on planet earth".

The biotariat has been with us all along, but it is our increasing sense of the symbiotic relations inherent in what Moore calls 'the web of life', along with the injection of Marxist analysis, that speaks to the grasping, extractive fundamentals of capitalism, that gives us a full sense of Collis' neologism. There is, of course, an unmistakable whiff of 'proletatariat' in 'biotariat' the former an historical vehicle for revolution and the latter a medium for a future global transformation. In their respective names, old chains can be loosed or corporations thrown-off.

In his essay, Marx's Vision of Communism, Bertell Ollman writes, "One cannot describe communism because it is forever in the process of becoming". He quotes Marx, "We do not anticipate the world dogmatically, but rather wish to find the new world through criticism of the old." The circumstances of the mid-nineteenth century in the advanced, industrializing states of northern Europe called forth a revolutionary response from Marx founded on his analysis of the dynamics of a newly insurgent capitalism. After a century and half of increasingly violent plunder, and the incremental marginalization of the natural world, the notion of the biotariat prompts us to seek solidarity, not with a vitiated industrial proletariat, but, as Collis writes, echoing Donna Haraway, with "collaborative interspecies collectives" or "some form of social relations and interspecies mutual aid". In a new world, the distance between the words, 'proletariat' and 'biotariat', echoed in the historical divide between the human and the non-human, may vanish within this process of 'becoming'.

Marx never described the society that was the end-goal of his revolution. But he believed that the then existing class antagonisms would eventually resolve into a socialist victory. As Ollman suggests, communist revolution initially attempts the overthrow of present exiting conditions its utopian vision irrevocably linked to the premises it must transcend. Like that of Marx, Sander's vision, is not based on the nuts and bolts engineering of the future, but on a belief in the transformative power of a movement to achieve utopian ends devised in opposition to the deficits of the present. He does not promote tinkering with the arcane rules of the senate such as overturning the filibuster rule, because he believes in a day when his movement will deliver a democracy no longer shackled to institutions born out of the eighteenth century.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Interesting 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

John Davis Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

John Davis is a practicing architect in Ojai, California. He has taught Environmental Humanities at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and at Viridis Graduate Institute. He blogs on history and the environment at  (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Isle of White

Geographies of Violence in Southern California

Wildlife Corridors not High-Speed Rail coming to California

Joe Biden is a Collaborator

The Green New Deal and Accursed Wealth

Global Plastic

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments


Lance Ciepiela

Become a Fan
Author 14196
Follow Me on Twitter (Member since Apr 4, 2008), 53 fans, 58 articles, 178 quicklinks, 4872 comments, 214 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

#FeelTheBern may be facing 'strong headwinds' as he approaches the Democratic Convention. He has not attended the AIPAC conference seeking their endorsement and Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon in his AIPAC conference address, ripped Sanders for calling Netanyahu a "reactionary racist," saying: "We don't want him at AIPAC. We don't want him in Israel. Anyone who calls our prime minister a 'racist' is either a liar, an ignorant fool or both." Sanders now faces a reelected, jubilant Netanyahu, a more confidant than ever Trump, and a money soaked AIPAC, all telling Sanders, no, we're not with you, not even 'just a little'.

Submitted on Saturday, Mar 7, 2020 at 12:53:21 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Help

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment