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Letter to Gretaworld - Minifying megacorp menaces to our climate, peace & democracies

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Dearest Greta and fellow Blessed Unresters,

Don't know if this will ever reach your eyes, but it's sent with great urgency, affection and message-in-a-bottle positivity, so let's see how that works out.

Am an activist fan many times your age and a veteran of the '93 Kyoto Protocol and 2010 COP10 Biodiversity debacles. Like COP25, both efforts were castrated by the Big-coin-operated hands of corporate captured govs. Am writing to offer a late birthday welcome to this fraught decade and a biomimetic path to redemption.

"Let us lift our minds high enough to dominate the problem."
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

COP25's lack of urgency or spine only surprised those unfamiliar with COP history or the 2014 Princeton report documenting that citizens' desires and needs have a "near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." That was a US study, but as Madrid showed, the same contempt for public interest is as flagrant in Australia, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia et corp-suborned alii. And all but the US will be in Glasgow this year with the same marching orders to derail outcomes there. Ditto at Davos, Riyadh G20, Dubai WGS and other global confabs.

In the post-COP25 pause it helps to remember when broad movements falter they tend to fractionate back to local trenches and conflicts, cf. Occupation, Indignados, Arab Springs, recent anti-war coalitions, etc. But rather than lowering sights and getting "realistic", would ask young climate defenders to defy gravity, depression & centrifugal force and take the battle upstream instead.

Specifically would urge impatient climateers to side-step public sector puppets and go directly after their megacorporate masters - not as individual bad actors, but as a malignant form of life.

Your and my grandkids' generation face a cruel diversity of scourges. None may be greater than the climate crisis, but the dangers don't really stop there. Besides the raging climate fevers we're still imperiled by nuclear hazards, pillaged seas, resource wars, hijacked democracies, escalating inequality, migrant torment, etc. And activist efforts have become perilously divided and frequently conquered by focusing on different symptoms. Since this fragmented approach isn't working too well, shouldn't we ask what we'd require for a truly broad spectrum cure?

Consider the major entities currently causing, worsening or fattening from 90% of our eco-social ills: Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Data, Big Chem, Big "Defense" and the whole growth-obsessed Fortune 2000 fraternity. Given the common denominator, couldn't a concerted global effort to radically downsize, decentralize & democratize these cancerous bodies unite and empower activism all around the world?

Megacorporate bodies really are cancers, by the way, cancers of the biosphere and every body politic they occupy. And that's a defensible fact, not a flippant metaphor. They are aggressive living systems that have abandoned positive eco-social purposes for endless self-enriching growth. Climate justice and sanity are two of their latest victims, but left to their own rapacious devices they will continue to devastate democratic governance, generations of hard-won reforms and thousands more species & ecosystems until they destroy their hosts.

What if youth were to demand not just emission reductions, but radical size reductions in all malignant corporate life? Awakening to and uniting against a common lethal enemy would open fresh avenues of collaboration and synergy among countless single issue groups.

Don't know if you've followed the field of biomimicry or its impressive success solving all sorts of technical & design challenges. Nobody's applied it yet to earth devouring cancers, but logically it suggests we mimic the best arts & craft of our own immune systems. Tumors can be shrunk to remission by a diversity of immune cells if their shared intel is accurate re the nature, strengths and weaknesses of the threat. Immune cells are autonomous and decentralized, but strategically collaborate for common goals. Re tumors, their joint objective is ridding the host of the mutant bodies or at least shrinking them back to innocuous scale.

Activists could replicate that strategic wisdom, but most of our intel today sucks. It's way too focused on individual symptoms, "bad apple" players or regulatory iniquities that distract us from their central upstream cause. Our climate, survival and evolutionary promise can only be saved by swiftly recognizing and reversing megacorps' current de facto hegemony over our countries, cultures and policies.

Nobody ever asked the "sovereign people" in any land to approve these bodies' deadly scale or ecocidal impunity, let alone their global control of our governance. Yet their kind and growth uber alles agendas now indisputably dominate our era and an ever increasing number of societies.

In professed democracies, we the people do have some options. Public restraint of corporate form, scale & activities was quite common in 19th century America. State legislatures determined each corporate body's purpose, size, behaviors and lifespan via their charter's DNA; and such controls still remain within our reach.

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Letter to Gretaworld - Minifying megacorp menaces to our climate, peace & democracies

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w david kubiak

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It became doubly clear at COP25 and Davos that there will be no meaningful change in global climate policy or ecocidal corporate practice without a hell of a fight.

We therefore suggest climate activists model our own immune intelligence and mount a collective (but decentralized) offensive directed not just at fossil fuel & banking giants, but at megacorp malignancy across the board.

Megacorp dominion is not just one of many crises, it is the mother crisis of them all. They cause, worsen or profit from 90% of our earthly ills.They must be radically downsized, decentralized and democratized or their kind, not ours, will inherit (and destroy) the Earth.

Submitted on Sunday, Jan 26, 2020 at 2:51:36 PM

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David Wieland

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Where did the ecocide notion come from? We've long been aware that we need to consider the impact on natural systems of human activities, and many changes have correspondingly been made to reduce the impact. Along the way, we may have caused or contributed to the extinction of a few species, and humans have definitely been responsible for some extirpations (regional extinctions). But we've also helped preserve some species facing various natural threats, and some of that help was funded by "megacorp" money.

The real malignancy is the pointless, paralyzing anger that interferes with clear thinking and collaborative action to address confirmed problems. Global "climate policy" is as much a distraction as obsessing over the dark fantasy that the earth is being destroyed.

The biggest crisis we face is the decline in critical thinking, which struggles against lopsided echo chamber rants and virtue signalling. Corporate activity needs constraints, but we'd be much worse off without the progress it has enabled. We wouldn't have this platform for exchange of ideas without fossil fuel and banks. But it seems that some people prefer to see the world as a set of ongoing crises.

Submitted on Monday, Jan 27, 2020 at 4:51:42 AM

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Sire, we equally lament the decline in critical thinking and understand why elders like us want to believe the world we're leaving to our descendants is not as dreadful or tragic as it appears.

But how can a critically thoughtful mind state modern corporate civilization may merely be responsible for "a few" extinctions when scores of UN, Smithsonian and academic scientists agree the extinction rate is now many hundreds of times higher than "normal" and nearly one million species are under imminent threat.

Ditto your implication that our being able to chat here online is somehow a tolerable quid pro quo for that devastation or that the relentless assaults that money driven megacorps wage on peace, public health, privacy, democratic governance, etc. can be simply "constrained."

Who will constrain their growth or current dominance when they now financially control our media, political parties and an increasing number of courts - not to mention our current R&D and educational agendas.

Critical thought recognizes these outcomes as literal crises, which is not to say they're hopeless; but a cure will take a lot more alarmed attention than you yet seem willing to spare.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020 at 3:10:03 PM

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David Wieland

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There's no doubt that many large corporations influence, sometimes strongly, government policy and society as a whole. But I think you're exaggerating the degree and are overlooking the major role of all the rest of the economy and government (bureaucratic and legislative) in how things unfold. Then there's the rest of the world, which provides additional influence.

By the way, the UN is definitely a kind of megacorp and certainly one of the major bureaucracies in the world. Along the way to its current state, it has done useful things. But it's also done many questionable things through one or another of its agencies. For example, the World Bank was a major funder of China's Three Gorges Dam, which despite warnings of direct damage and huge risks was constructed, displacing more than a million people during its construction and triggering earthquakes. Such is the power of a blind bureaucracy. Now the UN is headed by an alarmist, which should really help the UN and us "progress". The million species extinction report you referenced is a great example of how the alarmist tendency at the UN produces intentionally alarming reports, which naturally garner media attention and a few articles that get republished by many outlets. The truth is not as important (e.g., coral reef specialists know they're not really in trouble but most feel compelled to support the narrative) when supposedly virtuous restrictions can be promoted -- and the organization can thereby acquire greater power.

By definition, critical thinking requires looking for and at alternatives, whether explanations or actions. We're rarely given more than one perspective, so it takes more effort than most people can or think they need to exert to get outside the echo chambers. And unfortunately many of those echo chambers, especially the climate-related ones, promote a crisis narrative.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jan 29, 2020 at 3:01:33 AM

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