Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Text-only version These search terms are highlighted: chicken virus cause china farmers chickens Multinational Monitor MAR/APR 2006 VOL 27 No. 2 FEATURES: Plague and Profit: Business, Bureaucracy and Cover-up in the Spread of Avian Flu in Asia by Mike Davis Fowl Play: The Role of Agribusiness in the Avian Flu Crisis by Devlin Kuyek Migratory Birds as Scapegoats: The Role of Wild Birds in Spreading Avian Flu by Dr. Leon Bennun Questions and Answers on Bird Flu from the CDC INTERVIEWS: Preventing Pandemic: The Global Strategy to Stop a Bird Flu Pandemic Before It Starts (Or Control It, If It Does) An Interview with David Nabarro At Risk: The dangers of an Eroded Public Health System An Interview with Irwin Redlener The Sky May Not Be Falling: An Eminent Scientist's Cautious View on Bird Flu Anxiety An Interview with Edwin Kilbourne Stopping Spread Among Poultry An Interview with Alex Theirmann The Tamiflu Manufacturing Controversy An Interview with Yusuf Hamied DEPARTMENTS: Behind the Lines Editorial The Political Economy of Bird Flu The Front Great Bear Rainforest Story -- Dirty Halliburton The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award Names In the News Resources Plague and Profit: Business, Bureaucracy and Cover-Up in the Spread of Avian Flu in Asia by Mike Davis All of today's tens of billions of highly engineered factory chickens are descended from red jungle fowl that still roam wild in forest regions of Thailand and Vietnam. Using mitochondrial DNA analysis, Japanese researchers in 1994 demonstrated that chickens were domesticated in the area of present-day Thailand more than 8,000 years ago. The chicken, along with the pig and the buffalo, subsequently became the basis of agrarian culture throughout Southeast Asia. Chickens are likewise the bottom line of Asia's largest and most powerful agricultural-export conglomerate, Bangkok-based Charoen Pokphand. CP, as it is universally known, figures centrally in the story of H5N1's terrifying return in the winter of 2003-4 and the unprecedented highly pathogenic avian influenza epidemic that threatens to become a global human and ecological cataclysm. The Rise of CP - Thailand's Tyson Founded by the immigrant Chia brothers from Guangdong, CP was a rice-seed distributor in Bangkok's Chinatown until Chia Ek Chow, the youngest of four sons, took over the business in 1964. In the face of growing intolerance toward the Chinese diaspora throughout Southeast Asia, he changed his name to Dhanin Chearavanont and reoriented the company to chicken breeding and broiler farming. Impressed by the success of U.S. companies in transforming poultry raising into a streamlined industrial process more closely resembling chemical manufacture than traditional agriculture, Chearavanont formed two successive strategic partnerships with U.S. companies and quickly became Asia's leading apostle of Tyson-style intensive farming and vertical integration. In 1973 Chearavanont opened Thailand's first modern poultry slaughterhouse and began exporting to Japan. CP's major competitors, the Bangkok Livestock Trading Company and Saha Farms, were forced to keep pace with Chearavanont's innovations, which included organizing networks of contract farms and building modern export processing plants. By the mid-1990s, Thailand (which had adopted CP's corporate slogan, "Kitchen of the World,") had the most corporatized livestock industry in Asia. CP and a handful of other vertically-integrated exporters controlled 80 percent of production, with chicken farming concentrated in a dense, polluted belt 60 to 150 kilometers outside Bangkok. With 100,000 employees across Asia, CP boasts that its agro-industrial empire is "fully integrated horizontally and vertically. Operations take in animal feed production, breeders, farming systems, meat processing, food production and its very successful value-added products." CP also has promoted the spectacular rise of Western-style fast foods in Asia through the sourcing, or in the case of China, the direct ownership of myriad Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. For Chearavanont and other "integrators," economies of scale in a booming export environment have produced fabulous profits, but for CP's 10,000 contract farmers, as well as for hundreds of thousands of backyard poultry producers, the situation is radically different. As journalist Isabelle Delforge points out: "With contract farming, large companies control the whole production process: they lend money to the farmers, they sell them chicks, feed and medicine, and they have the right to buy the whole production. But usually the company is not committed to buy the chickens if the demand is low. Contract farmers bear all the risks related to production and become extremely dependent on demand from the world market. They become factory workers in their own field." Companies like CP, an organic farmer told Delforge, "destroy small farmers with false promises." For the majority of Thai farmers, the Livestock Revolution has meant soaring indebtedness, loss of independence and the continued migration of their daughters to Bangkok's sweatshops and brothels. While Thailand's chickens (and later, pigs and prawns) have made Chearavanont a billionaire and, according to business magazines, one of the 20 most powerful businessmen in Asia, his central ambition has always been to honor his father's dream of bringing the Livestock Revolution - in the form of large-scale agro-industrial capitalism - back to China. Thanks to astute politicking and powerful Guangdong connections, CP was literally the first multinational investor to step foot inside Deng Xiaoping's "Open Door" in 1979 (CP's foreign business license in Shenzhen was number 001). CP, by itself or in alliances with other capital groups, has subsequently invested billions in the PRC. In addition to holding a diversified portfolio of hotels, shopping malls, fast-food franchises (including Kentucky Fried Chicken), telecommunications and restaurants, it has built more than 100 feed mills and poultry-processing plants throughout China in an attempt to forestall both foreign competitors (Tyson Foods, above all) and local upstarts in the world's most dynamic market for chicken products. (During the 1990s, as global poultry output surpassed that of beef, China doubled its share of total world consumption - from less than 8 percent to more than 17 percent - and displaced the United States as the largest consumer.) The Thai Cover-Up The return of avian influenza was shrouded in rumor, denial and conspiracy during the fall of 2003, with Indonesia and China both aggressively suppressing information about the disease's outbreak. But Chinese authorities were not the only ones concealing the epidemic. In early November 2003, chickens started dying on farms across Thailand. As one farmer described it: "Their bodies began shaking; it was if they were suffocating, and thick saliva started coming out their mouths. We tried to give the hens herbs to make them better, but it made no difference. The faces then went dark green and black, and then they died." Although a veterinary scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University warned that he found H5N1 in several dead chickens, he was ignored by Thailand's Livestock Department. ("All the academics and experts," an opposition senator would later allege, "had to shut up due to political interference.") Likewise, when a worried farmer showed the carcasses of his dead flock to an official, he was told that the birds had died "without any medical cause." Strangely, in the midst of all these bird deaths, the corporate chicken-processing plants were working overtime. As angry trade unionists at one factory just outside the capital told the Bangkok Post after the scandal broke: "Before November we were processing about 90,000 chickens a day. But from November to 23 January, we had to kill about 130,000 daily. It's our job to cut the birds up. It was obvious they were ill: their organs were swollen. We didn't know what the disease was, but we understood that the management was rushing to process the chickens before getting any veterinary inspection. We stopped eating [chicken] in October." The wall of official silence across Asia was breached in December when chickens started dying en masse on a farm near Seoul. Korean agricultural officials were stunned to discover H5N1, but, in contrast to their counterparts in China and Thailand, they promptly notified the World Animal Health Organization (OIE); a week later, South Korea announced a massive cull after new infections were identified in chicken and duck flocks in five provinces. Meanwhile children, not just chickens, had been dying mysteriously in Vietnam; just before the New Year, one of the CDC's influenza experts in Atlanta received a worried email from a virologist in Hanoi which described patients suffering from symptoms of viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which had caused the death of many of the 1918 pandemic's victims. The WHO and its veterinary counterpart, the OIE, as well as the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), were horrified to realize that bureaucrats and agribusiness spokespeople had for months been covering up an avian flu epidemic of continental scope. (In impeccable, understated bureaucratese, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf observed that "the lack of timely reporting of infection to the national competent authorities, OIE and other international bodies has contributed to the scale of the problem.") In Thailand, meanwhile, lies were being manufactured almost as fast as sick chickens were being slaughtered and shipped to overseas markets. Deputy Minister of Agriculture Newin Chidchob talked nonchalantly about a few cases of "avian cholera," while Prime Minister Thaksin and his ministers, to assuage a nervous public, consumed Thai-style chicken dishes on national television. CP senior executive Sarasin Viraphol assured reporters that, although the company would not allow the press to inspect its plants, avian flu was completely absent in Thailand. In fact, as the Bangkok press later reported, the government had been colluding with CP and the other giant poultry producers to conceal the epidemic by paying contract farmers with infected flocks to keep quiet; official deceit gave the big exporters several months to process and sell diseased inventory as well as to disinfect their plants and institute isolation procedures in their battery warehouses. Small producers, however, were left alone to bear the brunt of the epidemic's human and economic costs. Finally, in late January, with two young farm boys critically ill from influenza, the Thai parliamentary opposition, led by maverick senator Nirum Phitakwatchara, was able to force Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to admit that H5N1 was, in fact, ravaging the poultry belt. His staff immediately off-loaded responsibility for official mendacity onto lowly provincial officials. "What looks like a cover-up," Thaksin's spokesman deadpanned, "was a misinterpretation of procedures. The most appropriate word is 'screw-up.' Some agencies screwed up. We found there was lots of confusion about the kinds of information that needed to be reported upstairs." Small producers, in response, screamed that "by denying the facts, the government was helping out the major operators, but in the end it's us small farmers who are suffering," reported Agence France Presse. A Bangkok newspaper contrasted the fate of big and small poultry producers in Sukhothai province. The commercial growers "integrated" by CP and other conglomerates were notified about the epidemic in December and were provided with antiviral vaccines by livestock officials, and thus their inventories were saved. But small holders were kept in the dark about the disease, and as a result most of their chickens perished as did one peasant's teenage son. "If we had at least known about the disease," Laweng Boonrod told the press, "I would not have allowed my son to go close to my sick chickens and he would not have died." The main importers of Thai poultry were also furious at the elaborate deception, none more so than EU Health Commissioner, David Byrne, who had just returned to Brussels with Prime Minister Thaksin's personal assurance that Thailand was free of avian flu. Byrne told the press that he "felt dishonored." The EU, Japan and South Korea promptly embargoed poultry imports from Thailand, while the Bush administration, grateful for Thaksin's support of U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, avoided public criticism of the cover-up. CP Sees Opportunity CP's stock immediately fell by an eighth, and the ground shook. ("In Thailand," writes Isabelle Delforge, "when CP sneezes, the whole business community catches cold - or flu.") Dhanin Chearavanont, however, was surprisingly upbeat and urged Thais to "turn the crisis into opportunity." Another CP executive promised that "changes resulting from the crisis would benefit the Thai chicken industry in the long term as well as help it recover from the current difficulties." The plague, in other words, might rationalize poultry production. But opportunities and benefits for whom? The government quickly unveiled a sweeping plan to complete the modernization of the Thai poultry industry by culling small-scale, open-air flocks and requiring their operators to build new industrial poultry houses; only those farmers who fully complied with the plan would be eligible for compensation for their dead chickens. Thailand's agrarian populists, including senator and agricultural economist Chirmsak Pinthong, promptly denounced the government's plan as another cunning move by Chearavanont to force the small operators into extinction or turn them into serfs of CP. "The government is regulating small chicken raisers in such a way that it benefits the big conglomerates." Small holders complained that government compensation for their dead chickens was only a fraction of what CP and others were charging them to restock their flocks. There was also evidence that the poultry cull was being used to strengthen the corporations. "When the avian flu was detected," writes Delforge and Chanida Chanyapate, a Thai colleague, "a red zone was cleared around the farm and all the poultry in the zone were killed to prevent the spread of the disease. However, some farmers reported dead chickens but no red zone was declared around their property. They suspected the authorities of protecting neighboring industrial farms or owners of highly valuable fighting cocks." He Changchui, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, indirectly criticized the giant producers by stressing the role of "high densities of humans and animals ... [in] creating new pathways for disease transmission through inappropriate waste disposal, direct contact or through airborne transmission." He urged a "substantial restructuring" of poultry production along lines that favored the poor, protected the environment and compensated the small producers affected by the outbreak. The Thaksin government, however, uncritically embraced Chearavanont's contention that avian flu's spread was due to the small producers and their "backward" open-air chicken flocks. CP claimed that its industrialized, enclosed farming system was virtually impregnable to viral outbreaks and epidemics. While it is true that Southeast Asia's traditional backyard chicken flocks offer myriad opportunities for infectious interchange between different species of poultry and wild birds, the huge chicken factories (50,000 birds per two-story structure) maximize the accumulation of viral load and subsequent antigenic drift. Indeed, some disease ecologists argue that a high density of smallholders surrounding industrial operations pose particular risks. In an epidemiological sense, the outdoor flocks are the fuse, and the dense factory populations, the explosive charge. Mike Davis is the author of serveral books, including City of Qaurtaz, Ecology of Fear, and Planet of Slums. This article is adapted from chapter eight of The Monster At Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu, which contains full citations. Published with permission of The New Press. To purchase the book, visit (c) Mike Davis Recalcitrance In Indonesia and China Once the Thais had publicly acknowledged their outbreak, the other major deceivers - Indonesia and China - were forced to play show-and-tell as well. The scandal of Indonesia's February 2004 confession that the government had been concealing knowledge of an H5N1 outbreak since late August was compounded by Agriculture Minister Bungaran Saragih's extraordinary explanation that they had withheld information because "we did not want to cause unnecessary losses through a hasty decision." Chinese officials managed to be even more arrogant and egregious in their attempt to save face than their Indonesian counterparts. In the first week of February, they grudgingly doled out in bits and pieces the admission that H5N1 was raging in no fewer than 12 provinces and cities, including Guanxi, Guangdong, and even metropolitan Shanghai. Ten days later Chen Kaizhi, a top official in Guangzhou, demonstrated the stunning scientific ignorance of senior bureaucrats like himself in a speech to the Guangdong People's Congress: "This disease is hundreds of years old and it can be prevented and treated. Vaccines are effective. No humans have been infected, so why this uproar?" Chen went on to contrast the hysteria of Hong Kong health officials, the WHO and other "outsiders" with traditional folk wisdom. "In the past when life was hard, we hoped for a disease among our chickens so that we got to eat chicken. When a chicken at home dropped its head, we said, 'good, now we get to eat chicken.' Now we are so advanced that people are not allowed to eat diseased chicken." The Hong Kong media that had earlier reported suspected cases in China or now dared to criticize the ignorance of officials like Chen were threatened with legal action under the same infamous mainland statute that had been used to suppress reportage of SARS a year earlier. Meanwhile, OIE and WHO were desperately worried about the haphazard, and, in some cases, perfunctory character of the poultry culls that were Asia's only hope of containing the H5N1 catastrophe. The government of Vietnam, previously praised by the WHO for its competent handling of the SARS outbreak, was altogether more cooperative, but the country's poverty and the dispersed character of its largely backyard poultry industry posed huge obstacles to creating effective viral firebreaks. Poor farmers suppressed news of infections and concealed valuable birds such as fighting cocks; in addition, inthe face of rising anger in the countryside, the government was reluctant to extend the radius of culls around sick flocks beyond one half kilometer - the WHO recommended three kilometers - or to exterminate the domestic ducks that were the infection's probable reservoir. Similarly, the disinfection of farms and the disposal of contaminated poultry manure were Sisyphean tasks that always risked further transmission of the virus, typically via the boots or clothing of cleanup workers. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, meanwhile, balked at the task of killing millions of chickens, and so her government initially proposed a vaccination campaign instead. After angry protests from the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, Indonesia finally agreed to slaughter birds, but with a half-heartedness that reassured few critics. February was, indeed, a terrifying month, with new human victims in Vietnam and Thailand and further avian outbreaks in China and Indonesia. Most disturbingly, the new strain, known as GenZ, was more lethal than any influenza in scientific experience. With each passing day, scientists feared they would meet its reassortant offspring, ready to conquer the world. Then in mid-March, the plague suddenly seemed to relent. The last deaths were a twelve-year-old in Vietnam, who passed away on March 15 after a long struggle, and a poultry worker in Thailand who died the following day. On March 16, China announced that it had eradicated the virus in all 49 hot zones; this triumphalist statement alarmed the FAO and the OIE, who cautioned against premature declarations of victory - the international protocol was to carefully monitor flocks for six months before ruling that a region or nation was free of avian influenza. The international agencies warned that the crisis was not over, and they warned countries not to restock poultry until they had adequate surveillance and biosecurity in place. Nonetheless, Vietnam followed China's example on March 30 and declared the outbreak over. Thailand also intimated that it was making splendid progress and would soon join the ranks of the victors. As CP shares began to climb out of the gutter and the Thaksin regime lobbied Europe and Japan to re-admit Thai chicken products, the attention of the international influenza community shifted to the alarming outbreak of a different flu virus in British Columbia. Somehow, despite the cover-ups, official lies and months of lost ground, and despite the bungled culls and the gaping holes in the influenza surveillance network, the great chicken slaughter seemed to have turned the tide. The WHO's warnings about an imminent pandemic seemed less urgent, and the more optimistic, especially the politicians and exporters, thought they had defeated H5N1. But alas, the virus had simply taken a brief vacation. - M.D.

Monday, June 17, 2013

!HOBO KING? Saturday, July 16, 2011 COSMIC CONFLICT spells 666 DOOM 666 FINIS FINAL EMPIRE: Part 1: THE HISTORY OF DISINTEGRATION CHAPTER 1: PATTERN OF THE CRISIS Collapse on the Periphery Individual empires have suffered cyclical collapse since civilization began. The Babylonian, Greek and Roman empires are classical examples. These civilized empires initially expanded, funded by their base of arable land, grazing areas and forests. As they reached out, conquering new lands and peoples, their growth was fueled by slave labor and appropriated resources. Their growth continued until the ecological base of the empire was exhausted. At that point, the empires imploded. Sumeria and Babylonia stripped their lands through overgrazing and deforestation. This brought down huge amounts of erosion material that threatened the irrigation works. They also inexorably salinized their soil by irrigation. Early on, in the history of the Greek Empire, Plato complained of the ecological devastation in the area of Attica. By the end of that empire the ecology of the whole of Greece was severely injured. Both the Greek and Roman empires used North Africa as a "breadbasket" and by the close of the Roman Empire it was ecologically destroyed along with much of the rest of the Roman territories. Though the standard political and social histories of these empires do not stress an ecological view, there is certainly no question that at the end of their cycles these empires had little ecological energy remaining. Anywhere the culture of empire (a.k.a., civilization) has spread one finds devastated ecologies. The life is literally "rubbed out," the original life is gone. Much of the living flesh of the planet does not now exist in those places. But, we know that it did exist. The life in those areas has suffered a die-back. The forests are gone, the topsoil is depleted and the land is eroded. The richness of the land has been used up. The wealth of the earth's life has been spent by the extortion of empire. Empires implode. They collapse from within. This is beginning now on the edges of world civilization where the ecology has been stripped, the population is exploding and the resultant social turmoil insures further decline. These implosions of the colonies will eventually become general throughout the cultural system. Islands such as Madagascar, the Canaries, the islands of the Caribbean, many south sea islands and others have been ecologically stripped. In areas like Peru, whole mountainsides fall off because of the ecological devastation caused by deforestation and hillside farming. In Brazil's Northeast, the coastal rain forest and the fertile areas further inland have been replaced by desert. In some areas of the former fertile southern interior of Brazil, coffee plantations have reduced the land to such eroded conditions that cows cannot even graze it for fear that they will fall into the canyons created by soil erosion. In Central Asia, many bodies of water such as the Azov, Caspian, Black Sea and Baikal are severely injured. The supply of caviar there has almost ceased because the waters are so polluted that the fish die. In Tibet where the Chinese Empire has invaded, devastation is spreading as trees are cut, steep areas are plowed and mines are begun. The story of the brief empire of Venice is instructive as to how the ecological base of empire injures the earth and how the culture of empire uses up the life of the earth to generate its ephemeral power. By the end of the fifteenth century the City of Venice was emerging as a sea-power. Venice traded all the way from the eastern Mediterranean to England. Galley ships were the power behind the merchant fleet. The oar-powered galleys ultimately depended upon slave labor. They were fast and could navigate where sailing ships could not. The whole arrangement was based on wood for ships, and in turn depended upon forests, which in the beginning were abundant near Venice. As the power of Venice was coming to an end, the City was obtaining ships in Barcelona built with lumber from the forests of northern Spain and finally from the Baltic region of northern Europe, which had not yet been stripped. By this time there were no forests anywhere in the Mediterranean that could fund a sea-faring empire. This phenomenon of implosion is occurring now in the present World Empire. The country of Bangladesh shows us one type of implosion. In the distant past the whole of the area was populated by forager/hunters such as those threatened tribes who live now in the Bangladeshi hills. As the waves of empire culture came, first with the Indo-Aryans thousands of years ago, the life of the area was progressively degraded. Bengal as it was formerly called, was conquered by the English early in the colonial period. Prior to the conquest it had been a fertile and self-sufficient area. When the English moved in they began to put heavy pressure on the organic fertility. They established the plantation system and mined the agricultural land to ship valuables to the "mother country." Later, in the Twentieth Century when England was severed from its colonies on the Indian subcontinent, the region became part of Pakistan and finally an independent country. In the later years, Bangladesh has suffered flooding, a constant population explosion and periodic drought. Bangladesh is located on the delta of the Ganges River that drains the Himalayan range. With the Chinese now stripping Tibet, floods and erosion material race down out of central Tibet borne by the Bramaputra River that joins the Ganges and comes through countries that are being stripped along the southern tier of the range: Bhutan, India and in particular Nepal. Because the forests are being stripped, the land no longer can absorb water and the floods grow larger. The State of India's Environment: 1982, a report by non-governmental groups, states: "From Kashmir (far west) to Assam (far east) the story is the same. Below 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) there are literally no forests left. In the middle Himalayan belt, which rises to an average height of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet), the forest area, originally estimated at being a third of the total area, has reduced to a mere 6-8 per cent."1 A global environmental study, Gaia: An Atlas Of Planet Management, says that the erosion is so bad that an island of five million hectares (12,355,000 acres) of erosion material is beginning to surface in the Bay of Bengal. "Around one-quarter of a million tonnes (255,325 U.S. tons) of topsoil are washed off the deforested mountain slopes of Nepal each year, and a further sizable amount from the Himalayan foothills in India's sector of the Ganges catchment zone." The study notes that the countries of India and Bangladesh are geared up to contest possession of the island when it surfaces.2 Due to the periodic catastrophes of flood and drought the society of Bangladesh is beginning to disintegrate into a low-level warlord society where even the central government cannot exert control much distance from the capital city. One effort that the government is making to alleviate its population crush is an attempt to settle a relatively small "hill country" area with lowlanders. These hill areas contain remnant tribes of non-civilized people. The Bangladesh government has warred against these people for some years, attacking them with modern armies and rounding up the survivors into concentration camps. As the lowlanders invade into the vacuum, they level the forest and attempt to raise crops. On the lowlands, a large share of the population lives in the delta. Here the impoverished people fight each other for small plots of land. As the floods come and go, the islands and marshes change continually. As the above-water areas dry out following a flood, the people rush in to claim small plots on which they attempt to grow food before the next flood or drought. The combination of exploding population and ecologically based disasters is causing the society to disintegrate. This process which began years back in Bangladesh is one of the effects that we can expect to see in the years ahead in other parts of civilization. Writer Mohiuddin Alamgir, researching his report, Famine in South Asia; Political Economy of Mass Starvation, asked villagers in Bangladesh during a famine in 1974, about the reasons why people were dying around them. He found that the villagers had only a vague notion about the true cause. The villagers could see that people were dying of disease and that they had various symptoms but few villagers could see or admit that people were starving. The villagers were in a weakened condition, which allowed them to die of the first disease that came around. Death was the end result of the steady social deterioration that they had experienced. "Once people ran out of resources to buy food grains, they sold or mortgaged land, sold cattle and agricultural implements, sold household utensils and other valuables (such as ornaments), and, finally their homesteads," says Alamgir.3 When there is nothing left and people are starving, they leave and wander aimlessly about the country of Bangladesh. Many of the uprooted households that Alamgir studied had begun to disintegrate, with members of the same household wandering off in different directions toward separate areas of the country. Deserted children, deserted wives, deserted husbands and deserted elders are becoming commonplace. Bangladesh society has gone over the brink. The centralized control by the wealthy elite and the military has broken down. The population is destined to continue as a wandering, increasingly hungry mass until, sometime in the future, all coherent human society and culture dies and human cooperation and optimistic effort disintegrates. It is this condition, as shown by Bangladesh, which is the ultimate end of a culture that eats up its survival systems. We need keep in mind that forager/hunter populations lived in stability in this area for hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of years because they did not destroy that which sustained them. Alamgir states that after previous famines in Bangladesh, the society returned to near normal social relationships, but he reports: "Both separation of families and desertion represent a breakdown of the system of security provided by family and kinship ties under traditional social bonds. This is, of course, not unique in the 1974 Bangladesh famine, as reference to erosion of social ties can be found in almost all preceding famines. However, two points should be noted: First, a slow process of disintegration of traditional ties had already set in and famine only accelerated it. Second, manifestations of breakdown of kinship and family bonds were reversible in the past in the sense that old relationships were restored through the normal process of post famine societal adjustment. This is no longer true in the Bangladesh scenario today where such processes seem to be irreversible, which is reflected in the rate of permanent destitution."4 The horn of Africa region where the country of Ethiopia is located represents another example of implosion. Ethiopia is hit with periodic drought. If the region were in its primordial climax ecological condition the droughts would likely have minimal impact but like Bangladesh, the region's ecology is so ravaged that any perturbation of climate becomes a disaster and the human created situation is called an "act of God." Ethiopia originally had a stable population of forager/hunter people but it became one of the "cradles of civilization." The life of Ethiopia is now almost gone. Almost all of Ethiopia is high, mountainous country with good rainfall, but there is little vegetative life left. The ancient empires were nourished on it and the vitality has evaporated. It is estimated that three quarters of the country was originally forested yet at present only four percent of the country has forest. One study estimates that the volume of live trees now, is 800 million cubic meters and then goes on to say that the annual fuel wood consumption is 20 million cubic meters and rising rapidly.5 Even if the remaining forests were only used to heat houses and cook food they would not last long. Despite having one of the highest death rates in the world, the country's population continues to rise. One would think it would decline but unlike our former forager/hunter culture, which sought to keep their population within the carrying capacity of the environment, people of the culture of empire do not. The people of civilization have many motives, other than simply lack of awareness that propels population growth. One important reason is that civilized people work at exploiting the land and the more hands the more production. Agrarians, for example, traditionally have large families to help with farm work and hard times call for more hands to force the land to produce more. There is also motive for large families so that one will be cared for in old age. There is the motive of the pride of the patriarch in large families. Though there are a number of basic motives, there is a functional reason also why population is not responsive immediately to food supply. If there is a famine or drought, the children already born will have children. Demographers say that population responsiveness has a time lag of seventy years to social/environmental events and even this responsiveness is only a momentary blip on the over-all graph line of exponential growth. One researcher highlights the continued drama of destruction in Ethiopia partially attributed to population growth: "A dramatic alteration in environmental quality has been visible within a single lifetime in the hills surrounding Addis Ababa. When the capital was founded in 1883 by the Emperor Memelik II, it was still surrounded by remnants of rich cedar forests and reasonably clear streams. Deforestation and erosion were immediately spurred by the influx of humans. In the ensuing nine decades, virtually all the available land in the region has been cultivated, while charcoal producers cut trees within a 160-kilometer radius for sale in the city. Now the waters of the nearby Awash River and its tributaries are thick with mud, and waterways are shifting their courses more markedly and frequently than in the past."6 Addis Ababa sits in the high mountains of central Ethiopia. It is near the headwaters of the Awash River. From Addis Ababa, the river courses northeast into a rapidly widening valley that eventually reaches the coast at Djibouti on the Red Sea. UN researchers expect the whole Awash Basin to soon become rocky desert; but the eye of civilization sees only war, ideology and revolution. The problem is ecological but the cultural attention and media-focus emphasize war. As civilization fixates on war and violence in Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, the life of the earth dwindles in that area and starvation spreads. Although the destruction of the life of the earth is caused by civilization, civilized society is unable to see its own problem because the organic life of the earth is below its threshold of consciousness. El Salvador, in Central America, is another country that is imploding on the periphery of the Empire of Civilization. The Spanish Empire invaded the area that is now El Salvador early in the sixteenth century. They immediately began to enslave the stable and sustainable cultures of the region as factors of imperial production. At that time, the western two-thirds of the country was inhabited by a Nahuatl speaking culture. The Nahuatl language group includes Aztec, Hopi and Ute. In the eastern one-third of the country, across the Lenca River lived the tribes named Lenca, Jinca, Pokomám, Chortí and Matagalpa. There are now some half-million "invisible" Indians in El Salvador, in a country of five million. They are invisible because they have been forced to abandon their native dress and language. The first census from the years 1769-1798 listed 83,010 Indians in a population of 161,035. Initially, the native people of the lowlands were enslaved into the Spanish estates. These original estates exported cacao and balsam. By the end of that century, indigo plantations were spreading out further into the last Indian communal lands in the higher elevations. Soon cattle ranching moved into the northern tier of the country and masses of Indian people, who were not among the indentured workers, were wandering through the area in a detribalized condition. The native people's habitat had been destroyed. Inasmuch as their cultural knowledge and skills were related to the living world, the native people became powerless and dependent upon the invading culture. By the middle of the Nineteenth Century, coffee began to be the major export crop and this agriculture with its need for the last available higher elevation land, began to finish the remaining communal Indian lands as well as their forest habitat. By 1930, coffee was more than ninety percent of El Salvador's exports.7 In 1932, in the midst of the world depression, Indians in the highlands around Sonsonate revolted against both the imperial conquerors and their latino subjects, the mestizos. The army of the oligarchy was unleashed against the unarmed Indians. The virulent anti-Indian racism of "latinos" was also unleashed as they, also, began to participate. By the time the massacres were over, somewhere variously estimated at between 15,000 and 50,000 children, women and men had been murdered and the native land base was occupied by the aliens.8 The story of El Salvador is of native tribes who lived stably with their habitat, the forests and other ecosystems of the isthmus. The events since that time have been created by the far different culture of empire, which invaded, to extort valuables from the area. The pattern displayed has been consistent since empire culture began. The industrial revolution and markets have added a few new wrinkles. The pattern is that of a small powerful elite taking land and labor from the colony for free or at very low price. The extorted valuables are then exported in exchange for currency that supports the elite of the colony who, in return, keep the native populations in control. This is the classic picture of third world colonies and is the picture of El Salvador. This pattern has persisted in El Salvador and is largely the reason for its environmental destruction. The oligarchy runs the country on a feudal basis little changed from the days of the conquistadors. This means that in the pursuit of their profits they need observe no environmental laws. They may take any land they need, they may use any type and amount of agricultural chemicals on their crops and they may dump toxins in any manner that they please. One group that researches Central America's environmental problems says that as of 1990, "75 per cent of pesticides exported to Central America from the U.S. are either banned or severely restricted for use in the U.S."9 This elimination of the cost of environmental protection controls makes El Salvador a high-profit enclave for its rulers and for the transnational corporations located there. They are provided with an impoverished and cheap labor pool, which is unable to organize effectively because of military repression and death squads. They do not have the expense of meeting environmental standards so this gives them a decided competitive advantage over other countries. Since the arrival of civilized culture, 95 per cent of the country's original tropical, deciduous forest has disappeared. Twenty mammal species and eighteen bird species are gone. Serious soil erosion affects 77 per cent of the country. Following deforestation, groundwater is disappearing, sediments are beginning to fill the dams and stop the hydroelectric supply and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says the country is undergoing a process of desertification.10 In the familiar pattern, particularly since World War II, the alliance between the domestic oligarchy, U.S. aid agencies and transnational corporations have increased exports which has led to the clearing of the last viable stands of old-growth ebony, cedar, mahogany and granadilla trees. Where the country was once food self-sufficient it now exports cash crops of food items and even flowers to the industrial countries (for the profit of the oligarchy) and imports food. The Environmental Project On Central America (EPOCA) says that: "Today unequal control of resources remains at the root of poverty and environmental destruction in El Salvador. A small elite, referred to as the `Fourteen Families,' comprises less than 2 per cent of the population yet enriches itself from ownership of more than 60 per cent of the country's arable land. The poorest 20 per cent of the Salvadoran people own no land and receive only 2 per cent of the national income." In the countryside, the report says that: "two-fifths of the population cannot afford a basic diet of corn and beans."11 The EPOCA report says that one in ten have access to safe drinking water. "Look at a body of water in El Salvador and you will see a reflection of almost every major environmental problem in the country: pesticide and fertilizer contamination; industrial pollution; municipal waste and sewage; sedimentation from deforestation and soil erosion; and waterborne diseases. All the major waterways in El Salvador are contaminated by raw sewage and a variety of toxic chemicals, according to a 1982 report by the U.S. Agency for International Development."12 With the oligarchy occupying the land that an agriculturist would call "arable," the poor are forced up onto the mountainsides where they use slash and burn agriculture. Because the people are overcrowded and there is not enough land, the fallow periods on the slash and burn plots are too short. This quickly erodes the topsoil and leaves the mountains denuded of all vegetation except for hardy brush. In 1974 there were 400 people for each square mile of El Salvador. The population doubling time in El Salvador is now twenty-two years.13 These three countries, Bangladesh, El Salvador and Ethiopia, with their varying histories and varying types of impact from civilization characterize the periphery of what we may term the industrial empire. These are the conquered and colonized resource and labor areas and their societies are collapsing under the pressure of environmental degradation, population explosion, and militarism and export economies. If the oligarchy of El Salvador were to suddenly depart for Miami, the country would still be in a state of disintegration. The soil, water and air are poisoned. There are few natural resources left and importantly for our analysis, the civilized culture of the people of El Salvador would not be disposed to restore the land mass to the climax ecosystem, even if that were possible. This is the beginning of the end for the Final Empire of civilization. Here we see in these examples that there is little remaining to take out and the populations are exploding. When two people have five children and then fifteen years later those five children have five children the stage is being set for disintegration. As these factors of soil and ecosystems work themselves out into social turmoil and breakdown, the reports of the media refer to revolution, economics and politics. The life of the earth is not within their consciousness. As the regions on the periphery of the empire implode, the center is also imploding, though in a qualitatively different way. The most general statement to make on the system-wide implosion of the industrial empire has to do also with the cultural consciousness. Because of the nature of the culture, it lives and profits by exhausting the life of the earth. Within the cultural bubble we tend to measure our progress by our wealth. The more pressure that the farmer puts on the soil, the more the farmer and the banker profit. The more forests that are cut, the more the timber company and the employees benefit. What this means is that as the life of the earth is eradicated, the information feed-back system (bank accounts) reports that things are getting better and betters. Progress is being made. This is another major example of how the reality of life is below the threshold of consciousness and also helps to explain why civilization cannot extricate itself from the fall toward apocalypse. As we approach the end of the Final Empire, societies become paralyzed and disintegrate. There is nothing left with which the society can regenerate itself. In El Salvador, even the "arable" soils are exhausted and poisoned because they have been subjected to years of industrial agriculture with its poisons and artificial fertilizers. The other side of this grim equation is the population explosion. This is compounded by the fact that a majority of the population now is youthful and just beginning to come into their child bearing years. This means that the already overbearing population has reached a take-off point and will climb even more steeply. The life of the earth dies out at varying speeds. So that we do not lose contact with reality we must look at this. These examples show swift destruction. It is possible to see the huge erosion canyons in Ethiopia. It is possible to see the floods of Bangladesh and it is possible to count the children in hospitals in El Salvador who have been poisoned with agricultural chemicals. Although not as dramatic, we must realize that our own backyard is degraded and poisoned. If any of us walk out of our back door and look, we will see gross injury to the life of the earth. We may view a lawn that has been subjected to poisons and artificial fertilizers. At some point in the history of that small area, toxins may have been introduced such as motor oil, household cleansers or maybe air drift or subsoil moisture seepage of some industrial dump. The point is that if the climax ecosystem is not there then the earth is losing its life. This is a difficult concept for modern people to deal with mentally. The statement is that the life of the earth, the climax ecosystem, must regain balance or the earth will become substantially dead. The natural state of health and balance of the earth is to be covered with climax ecosystems or ecosystems closely approximating them. There are examples in the Mid-East of reg pavements (rock-hard soil) where forests once stood. The reg pavement is a hard, virtually impermeable, layer of clays and other dirt that covers wide areas. We have the example of El Salvador proceeding toward desert status (and there are other examples in other parts of the world of tropical forests becoming deserts). With both of these examples we can trace the historical devolution of these ecosystems and soils, which usually begin with the cutting of the forest. When we travel about the earth we don't always realize that where we are seeing a desert now, there may have been a thriving semi-arid ecosystem. Where there is a brushwood hillside, there was once a magnificent forest. In those areas where we now see forest we will soon see deserts. The life of civilization is only an eye-blink in the eons of time of the life of the earth. We can see the killing of the life of the earth in the rapid dramas as well as the long range spirals of descent. As we continue to examine the condition of our earth we must maintain contact with reality and realize that everywhere civilization has spread the earth is hurting, injured and dying. Even if an area is green with vegetation, it may only be the first aid crew of weeds struggling to heal the earth and the chances are good that soon the bulldozers will come to destroy even that, so that the "real estate" can be "developed." Collapse From the Center Our generation is on the verge of the most profound catastrophe the human species has ever faced. Death threats to the living earth are coming from all sides. Water, sunlight, air and soil are all threatened. When Eskimos of the far north begin to experience leukemia from atomic radiation and Eskimo mothers' milk contains crisis levels of PCB's, we must recognize that every organism on the planet is threatened. Compounding this crisis is the fact that the prime forces in this affair, the civilized humans, are unable to completely understand the problem. The problem is beneath the threshold of consciousness because humans within civilization (civilization comes from the Latin, civis, referring to those who live in cities, towns and villages) no longer have relationship with the living earth. Civilized people's lives are focused within the social system itself. They do not perceive the eroding soils and the vanishing forests. These matters do not have the immediate interest of paychecks. The impulse of civilization in crisis is to do what it has been doing, but do it more energetically in order to extricate itself. If soaring population and starvation threaten, often the impulse is to put more pressure on the agricultural soils and cut the forests faster. We face planetary disaster. The destruction of the planetary life system has been ongoing for thousands of years and is now approaching the final apocalypse which some of us will see in our own lifetimes. Far from being a difficult and complex situation it is actually very simple, if one can understand and accept a few simple and fundamental propositions. The planetary disaster is traced to one simple fact. Civilization is out of balance with the flow of planetary energy. The consensus assumption of civilization is that an exponentially expanding human population with exponentially expanding consumption of material resources can continue, based on dwindling resources and a dying ecosystem. This is simply absurd. Nonetheless, civilization continues on with no memory of its history and no vision of its future. Possibly the most important source of life on this planet is the thin film of topsoil. The life of the planet is essentially a closed, balanced system with elements of sun, water, soil and air as the basic elements. These elements work in concert to produce life and they function according to patterns that are based in the laws of physics, which we refer to as Natural Law. The soil depth and its richness are a basic standard of health of the living planet. As a general statement we may say that when soil is lost, imbalance and injury to the planet's life occurs. In the geologic time-span of the planet's life, this is a swift progression toward death. Even if only one per cent of the soil is lost per thousand years, eventually the planet dies. If one per cent is gained, then the living wealth, the richness, of the planet increases. The central fact must be held in mind of how slowly soil builds up. Soil scientists estimate that three hundred to one thousand years are required for the build up of each inch of topsoil. The nourishment of the soil depends upon the photosynthetic production of the vegetative cover that it carries. There are wide differences in the Net Photosynthetic Production of many possible vegetative covers. As a rule it is the climax ecosystem of any particular region of the earth that is the most productive in translating the energy of the sun into the growth of plants and in turn into organic debris which revitalizes the soil. A climax ecosystem is the Equilibrium State of the "flesh" of the earth. After a severe forest fire, or to recover from the injury of clearcut logging, the forest organism slowly heals the wound by inhabiting the area with a succession of plant communities. Each succeeding community prepares the area for the next community. In general terms, an evergreen forest wound will be covered by tough small plants, popularly called "weeds" and the grasses which hold down the topsoil and prepare the way for other grasses and woody shrubs to grow up on the wound. ("Weeds" are the "first aid crew" on open ground.) As a general rule, the "first aid crew" - the first community of plants to get in and cover the bare soil and hold it down - is the more simple plant community with the smallest number of species of plants, animals, insects, micro-organisms and so forth. As the succession proceeds, the diversity, the number of species, increases as does the NPP, until the climax system is reached again, and equilibrium is established. The system drives toward complexity of form, maximum ability to translate incoming energy (NPP) and diversity of energy pathways (food chains and other services that plants and animals perform for one another). The plants will hold the soil so that it may be built back up. They will shade the soil to prevent its oxidation (the heating and drying of soil promotes chemical changes that cause sterility) and conserve moisture. Each plant takes up different combinations of nutrients from the soil so that specific succession communities prepare specific soil nutrients for specific plant communities that will succeed them. Following the preparation of the site by these plants, larger plants, alders and other broadleaf trees will come in and their lives and deaths will further prepare the micro-climate and soil for the evergreens. These trees function as "nurse" trees for the final climax community, which will be conifers. Seedling Douglas Fir for example, cannot grow in sunlight and must have shade provided by these forerunner communities. The ecosystems of this earth receive injury from tornado, fire, or other events and then cycle back to the balanced state, the climax system. This is similar to the wound on a human arm that first bleeds, scabs over and then begins to build new replacement skin to reach its equilibrium state. The climax system then is a basic standard of health of the living earth, its dynamic equilibrium state. The climax system is the system that produces the greatest photosynthetic production. Anything that detracts from this detracts from the health of the ecosystem. Climax ecosystems are the most productive because they are the most diverse. Each organism feeds back some portion of energy to producers of energy that support it (as well as providing energy to other pathways) and as these support systems grow, the mass and variety of green plants and animals increases, taking advantage of every possible niche. What might be looked at as a whole unitary organ of the planet's living body- a forest or grassland- experiences increased health because of its diversity within. On a large scale, the bioregions and continental soils substantially support sea life by the wash-off (natural and unnatural) of organic fertility into aquatic and ocean environments. This is a further service that these whole ecosystems perform for other whole ecosystems. A few basic principles of the earth's life in the cosmos have now been established. Balance is cosmic law. The earth revolves around the sun in a finely tuned balance. The heat budget of the planet is a finely tuned balance. If the incoming heat declined, we would freeze or if the planet did not dissipate heat properly we would burn up. The climax ecosystem maintains a balance and stability century after century as the diverse flows of energies constantly move and cycle within it. In the same manner the human body maintains balance (homeostasis) while motion of blood, digestion and cell creation, flow within it. The life of the earth is fundamentally predicated upon the soil. If there is no soil, there is no life, as we know it. (Some micro-organisms and some other forms might still exist). Its vegetative cover maintains the soil and in optimal, balanced health, this cover is the natural climax ecosystem. If one can accept these few simple principles then we have established a basis of communication upon which we may proceed. Anyone who cannot accept these principles must demonstrate that the world works in some other way. This must be done quickly because the life of the planet earth hangs in the balance. We speak to our basic condition of life on earth. We have heard of many roads to salvation. We have heard that economic development will save us, solar heating will save us, technology, the return of Jesus Christ who will restore the heaven and the earth, the promulgation of land reform, the recycling of materials, the establishment of capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism, Muslimism, vegetarianism, trilateralism, and even the birth of new Aquarian Age, we have been told, will save us. But the principle of soil says that if the humans cannot maintain the soil of the planet, they cannot live here. In 1988, the annual soil loss due to erosion was twenty-five billion tons and rising rapidly. Erosion means that soil moves off the land. An equally serious injury is that the soil's fertility is exhausted in place. Soil exhaustion is happening in almost all places where civilization has spread. This is a literal killing of the planet by exhausting its fund of organic fertility that supports other biological life. Fact: since civilization invaded the Great Plains of North America one-half of the topsoil there has disappeared. The Record of Empire The eight thousand year record of crimes against nature committed by civilization includes assaults on the topsoil of all continents. Forests, the greatest generators of topsoil, covered roughly one-third of the earth prior to civilization. By 1975 the forest cover was one-fourth and by 1980 the forest had shrunk to one-fifth and the rapidity of forest elimination continues to increase. Indeed, World Wildlife Fund study released in 1998 states that between 1970 and 1995 the world's forests declined ten percent. This is a loss of forest cover the size of England and Wales- each year. If the present trends continue without interruption eighty percent of the vegetation of the planet will be gone by 2040. The simple fact is that civilization cannot maintain the soil. Eight thousand years of its history demonstrate this. Civilization is murdering the earth. The topsoil is the energy bank that has been laboriously accumulated over millennia. Much of it is gone and the remainder is going rapidly. When civilized "development" of land occurs, the climax system is stripped, vegetation is greatly simplified or cleared completely and the NPP plummets. In the tropics, when pasture is created by clearing forest, two-thirds of the original NPP is eliminated. In the mid-latitudes one-half the NPP is lost when cropland is created from previously forested land. The next step is, that humans take much of even that impaired production off the land in the form of agricultural products so that not even the full amount of that impaired production returns to feed the soil. This points out a simple principle: Human society must have as its central value, a responsibility to maintain the soil. If we can create culture that can maintain the soil then there is the possibility of human culture regaining balance with the life of the earth. The central problem is that civilization is out of balance with the life of the earth. The solution to that problem is for human society to regain balance with the earth. We are now back to everyone's personal answer concerning how to respond to the planetary crisis. Most proposals for salvation have little to do with maintaining the soil. All of these seek to alleviate the situation without making any uncomfortable change in the core values or structure of existing society. They only try to "fix" the symptoms. If we had a society whose core values were to preserve and aid the earth, then all of the other values of society would flow consistently from that. The civilized people believe they have an obligation to bring primitive and underdeveloped people up to their level. Civilization, which is about to self-destruct, thinks of itself as the superior culture that has an obligation to bring others "up" to its level. Civilization, is a cultural/mental view that believes security is based on instruments of coercion. The size of this delusion is such that the combined military expenditure of all the world's governments in only one year- 1987- were so large that all of the social programs of the United Nations could be financed for three hundred years by this expenditure. Looking back at the simple principle which says that humans cannot live on this planet unless they can maintain the topsoil, demonstrates the delusion. The delusion of military power does not lead to security, it leads to death. The civilized denial of the imperative of maintaining topsoil, and the addictive grasping to the delusion that security can be provided by weapons of death, is akin to the hallucination of a alcoholic suffering delirium tremens! Civilization must come to see that its picture of reality is leading it to suicide. It lives on topsoil and it is destroying that topsoil. This is ultimately a self-destructive act. Here we have the whole of it. The problem is imbalance and the solution is to regain balance. Here we have the simple principle: if human actions help to regain balance as judged by the condition of the ecosystems and the soil beneath them, then we are on the path of healing the earth. If the theory, plan, project, or whatever cannot be justified by this standard, then we are back in the delusional system. We of civilization have lost our way. We are now functioning in a world of confusion and chaos. We must recognize that the delusional system of civilization, the mass institutions and our personal lives function on a self- destructive basis. We live in a culture that is bleeding the earth to death, and we have been making long range personal plans and developing careers within it. We strive toward something that is not to be. We must try to wake up and regain a vision of reality. We must begin taking responsibility for our lives and for the soil. This is a tall order. This will require study and forethought. That is what this book is about. Humans have never dealt with anything like this before. This generation is presented with a challenge that in its dimensions is cosmic. A cosmic question: will tens of millions of years of the proliferation of life on earth, die back to the microbes? This challenge presents us with the possibility of supreme tragedy or the supreme success. Creating a utopian paradise, a new Garden of Eden is our only hope. Nothing less will extricate us. We must create the positive, cooperative culture dedicated to life restoration and then accomplish that in perpetuity, or we, as a species cannot be on earth. NOTES 1 Natural Disasters: Acts of God or Acts of Man? Anders Wijkman & Lloyd Timberlake. New Society pub. Santa Cruz, Ca. 1988. p.58. 2 Gaia: An Atlas Of Planet Management. Dr. Norman Meyers, General Editor. Anchor Books. Garden City, New York. 1984. p. 41. 3 Famine In South Asia: Political Economy of Mass Starvation. Mohiuddin Alamgir. Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain Pub. Sweden. 1980. P. 135. 4 ibid., p. 135. 5 Physical Environment & Its Significance For Economic Development With Special Reference to Ethiopia. Sven Beltrens. C. W. R. Gleerup. Lund. Sweden. 1971. p. 110. 6 Losing Ground: Environmental Stress and World Food Prospects. Erik P. Eckholm. W.W. Norton & Co. New York. 1976. p. 94. 7 "The 500,000 Invisible Indians of El Salvador." by Mac Chapin. Cultural Survival Quarterly. Vol. 13. #3. 1989. pp. 11-14. 8 ibid. p. 14. 9 EPOCA UPDATE. Pressure Mounts To Halt Pesticide Exports. Summer 1990. The Environmental Project on Central America. Earth Island Institute, 300 Broadway suite 28, San Francisco, CA. 94133. p. 13. 10 El Salvador: Ecology of Conflict. Green Paper #4. The Environmental Project On Central America. Earth Island Institute, 300 Broadway #28, San Francisco, Ca. 94133. p. 2. 11 ibid. p.3. 12 ibid. p.3. 13 Margin of Life: Population and Poverty in the Americas. J. Mayone Stycos. Grossman Pub. New York. 1974. See also: Losing Ground: Environmental Stress and World Food Prospects. Erik P. Eckholm. W. W. Norton Co. New York. 1976. FINAL EMPIRE CHAPTER 2: THE END OF CIVILIZATION If the planet and the human species are to survive we must create paradise. We must restore the life of the earth. The only way that the planet can heal itself is for the soils of the earth to be restored along with the ecosystems that will maintain those soils. To do this, human culture must undergo transformation from a culture of suicide and immediate gratification of immature impulses for material goods into a culture focused on life and wisdom, a culture of paradise. We must get below the threshold of consciousness of civilization and examine the real basis of the life of the earth- the soil. All of us have to struggle to throw off the mind conditioning that we have received in civilization. Our reality molding would have us believe that there are environmental problems such as toxic chemicals, radiation and acid rain. The fact is that our life crisis began with empire/civilization. The environmental crisis began thousands of years ago, when the Han Chinese began to destroy the vast forests of China and when the Indo-Europeans began to overgraze the vegetation and exhaust the soils of central Asia. For two to three million years humans lived on the planet in a stable condition; then suddenly with the cultural inversion to civilization, the earth began to die. Civilization is the environmental crisis and the loss of topsoil is our measure of the etiology of the disease. The materialistic values of civilization teach us that the accumulation of wealth is progress. The material wealth of civilization is derived from the death of the earth, the soils, the forests, the fish stocks, the "free resources" of flora and fauna. The ultimate end of this is for all of the human species to terminate in giant parasitical cities of cement and metal while surrounded by deserts of exhausted soils. The simple polar opposites are the richness and wealth of the natural life of earth versus the material wealth of people living out their lives in artificial environments. In order to accurately assess the planetary condition, the ecological survey that follows will first focus on the basic reality, the soil. It will then examine the health of the planetary forests. Then will follow an examination of the greatest ecological disaster, agriculture. We will focus on these matters because these are the basic and enduring damages and unless these are set right, there can be no recovery. Then the focus will turn to the last phase of civilization, the destruction caused by industrialization. Industrialization poses dangers stretching from poisons to planet-wide imbalances such as the greenhouse effect. Here we will see in detail how the options are rapidly narrowing for the human family as soil erosion, overgrazing and deforestation continue their inexorable spread throughout civilization. In the past few centuries, industrial society has provided a swift push toward the climax. The seminal study, The Limits to Growth: Report For The Club Of Rome's Project On The Predicament of Mankind, shows how the dynamics of industrial society point us toward the final paroxysm.1 The Limits to Growth study was done in the early 1970's by an international team of scholars at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The team, which came from many diverse disciplines, isolated the dynamic and interactive movements of the five basic factors of industrial society: resources, food per capita, population, pollution and industrial output per person. The standard- model computer run of all of these factors show that industrial society will begin its swift collapse sometime in the 2020's. Here we quote the authors statement concerning the "World Model Standard Run:" "The `standard' world model run assumes no major change in the physical, economic, or social relationships that have historically governed the development of the world system. All variables plotted here follow historical values from 1900 to 1970. Food, industrial output, and population grow exponentially until the rapidly diminishing resource base forces a slowdown in industrial growth. Because of natural delays in the system, both population and pollution continue to increase for some time after the peak of industrialization. Population growth is finally halted by a rise in the death rate due to decreased food and medical services."2 The standard extrapolation of the growth curves since the 1900's can easily be drawn out to the end, though chances are very good that war, depression, nuclear disaster, or eco-catastrophe will occur sometime before then. We live in a material civilization. We can count the barrels of oil, we can count the acres of wheat fields, and we can count the number of people. All the scholars who created the MIT study did, was to put all of the numbers from all of the scholarly fields on computers and extrapolate. The thing the computer cannot do is anticipate unpredictable breakdowns in the world system. The scholars did examine the possibilities of averting disaster (which assumes a very unlikely world society, nimble enough to coordinate a survival strategy). The scholars programmed the computers so as to double the estimated resource base, they created a model that assumed "unlimited" resources, pollution controls, increased agricultural productivity and "perfect" birth control. None of these or other aversion strategies could take the world system past 2100. The reason that the world system cannot go on with unlimited growth is because each of the five factors is interactive. If we assume unlimited fuels such as a simple fusion process, this simply drives the growth curves faster. There is more cheap fuel so the wheels of industry churn faster and resource exhaustion comes more quickly, population continues to climb and pollution climbs. If there is more food production, then population climbs and resources are exhausted more rapidly. If population is stabilized, resources still continue to decline and pollution increases because of increased consumption. If the factors of resources, food, and industrial output grow then population grows but the resulting pollution creates the negative feedback of having to maintain cancer hospitals and institutions for the birth defected and mutations caused by pollution as well as pollution damage to factors such as farm crops. Growth had been the fundamental pattern of the culture of civilization long before Alexander conquered the "known world." The difference now is that the growth is approaching its outer limits and soon will have nothing left to feed on. We have come to the final cycle in which civilization will fall into entropy because it cannot any longer be sustained. There are no more virgin continents to exploit. There are few remaining forests to cut down so that new soils can be exploited and exhausted. In addition to this, the world population is now counted in the billions. The world has never before known this kind of exponentially increasing volume of flow and consumption of food, resources and industrial poisons. Because of these interactive forces world society is trapped within a system of cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior from which it cannot extricate itself. There is no way out. There will be a collapse of civilization. There is no question that there will be future famines in the ecologically devastated and desertified region of Ethiopia with its exploding human population, just as there is no question that civilization which eats up its resources and poisons the earth, will collapse. We are examining the process now in order to gain knowledge, because we are the people who will be attempting to live through the climax. An Inheritance of Destruction Life on earth has a long history. Bacterial microfossils have been discovered associated with some of the oldest unmetamorphosed rocks, which are 3.8 billion years old. We know that at least twice in this history, life has faced ecological catastrophe roughly equal to the one that we now are in. The first massive die-off was when cyanobacteria evolved, exhaling oxygen, and poisoned vast numbers of creatures. The second die-off, 65 million years ago, was the well known period when dinosaurs became extinct.3 After immense periods of time in which life proliferated, the human form appeared on earth. The fossil record, as unearthed in the Oldavi Gorge in Africa by the archeologist family, the Leakeys, goes back three million years. According to anthropologists, for that period of time, 99 per cent of human existence, we have been forager/hunters. Suddenly, and only an eyeblink in time of approximately ten thousand years, a different social form irrupted among the humans. This form is the monolithic and hierarchic social form known as empire. We are now assembling information on a third cataclysm to face life on earth, the age of human empire and its final apocalypse. The culture of empire, which also travels under the euphemism, civilization, is the cause of the third event. The culture of empire is characterized by ecological imbalance caused by cities, centralization, hierarchy, patriarchy, militarism and materialism. We find aspects of this cultural form among the Aztecs and Mayans of Meso-America, the Incas of Peru, Certain African kingdoms, the Egyptian dynasties and a few other locations. The most virulent strains of this cultural pathology developed in China, the Indus River valley and in Central Asia among the Indo-Europeans. It is the inheritance of this cultural form that is destroying the earth. China J. Russell Smith, author of a classic permaculture text, Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture; gives a characteristic picture of the land occupied by the old Asian empires: "I stood on the Great Wall of China high on a hill near the borders of Mongolia. Below me in the valley, standing up square and high, was a wall that had once surrounded a city. Of the city, only a few mud houses remained, scarcely enough to lead one's mind back to the time when people and household industry teemed within the protecting wall. "The slope below the Great Wall was cut with gullies, some of which were fifty feet deep. As far as the eye could see were gullies, gullies, gullies-a gashed and gutted countryside. The little stream that once ran past the city was now a wide waste of coarse sand and gravels which the hillside gullies were bringing down faster than the little stream had been able to carry them away. Hence, the whole valley, once good farmland, had become a desert of sand and gravel, alternately wet and dry, always fruitless. It was even more worthless than the hills. Its sole harvest now is dust; picked up by the bitter winds of winter that rips across its dry surface in this land of rainy summers and dry winters. "Beside me was a tree, one lone tree. That tree was locally famous because it was the only tree anywhere in that vicinity; yet its presence proved that once there had been a forest over most of that land- now treeless and waste."4 At one time nearly half of China was forested. The famous agricultural scholar, Georg Borgstrom estimates that 670 million acres of China were once covered.5 This forest, with its complex ecosystem was gone almost before written history. There is no doubt that it contained many species that became extinct and of which we will never know. One major consequence of the denudation of the vegetation of China is that its major rivers now carry more silt than any other river system in the world and the stories of the floods in China are as old as the Chinese empire. Indus River Valley The Indus River valley of western India once hosted an empire. Some one thousand years before the Chinese began the ecological destruction of China an empire existed in this area that is dated between 2,500 BC and 1,500 BC Evidence suggests that this was a forested region with an ecology that among other things contained elephant, rhinoceros, water buffalo, tiger, crocodile, bear, goose, lizard and tortoise. Edward Hyams, in his study, Soil and Civilization; indicates that the forest was cleared for agriculture, the fuel needed for the firing of mud bricks and the smelting of metals. This plus soil exhaustion created the destruction of the ecology and the implosion of the empire. This means that much of the area of the former empire of the Indus River valley was forest and it is now semi-arid desert. While this seems at first like an unlikely change, Hyams points to examples from Australia where that change has happened in the past hundred years. He says: "The present vegetation of Sind is tamarisk and scrub. In not dissimilar climatic conditions in Australia in our own times, such a vegetation has sprung up upon soils rendered semi-arid by forest clearance, by overstocking with cattle, or by soil-fertility `mining' with wheat."6 The Indo-Europeans of Central Asia Some seven thousand years before the present, the origin culture of what we now call the Indo-European language group, domesticated wheat and barley, which were wild plants of the region of the Caucasus Mountains. They also domesticated sheep and goats. This was the beginning of the culture of empire in Central Asia. The history of this culture along with the culture of the Han Chinese leads right down to the present day. From Afghanistan, through northern Persia to central Turkey the mountain areas have been deforested and eroded to the point that they are now simply bare, arid ranges.7 Grazing, deforestation for smelting, heating and cooking, and trees removed for agriculture are the chief culprits that have destroyed the soils and the ecology. The soils of Central Asia and the Mid-East have gone to the ocean. Massive erosion of soils on the watersheds of the Tigris-Euphrates river system was created by at least five thousand years of imperial abuse. Scholars calculate that the erosion material from this watershed has filled in the Persian Gulf for one hundred and eighty miles in the last forty-five hundred years. An area of more than 2,000 square miles has been filled. Prior to the empires, the Tigris and Euphrates had separate mouths that emptied into the Persian Gulf.8 Throughout this region we can see what will be the final stages of the whole of civilization. After the forests are cut and the grasslands overgrazed, plant regimes from drier environments move in. Spiny and thorny brush move in along with the hardier, tougher grasses. As the region continues to be razed for firewood and goat fodder, the harder layers of subsoil are exposed. Finally, the hard surfaces of desert pavements form. As hard subsoil and bedrock are reached a moonscape is created from which no recovery is possible. The Empires of Greece and Rome As we follow the denudation of the Mediterranean area, we see that Greece was well advanced toward ecological destruction early in that country's imperial career. Many of the wars of conquest were simply to gain new forests for use in building warships. Author David Attenborough describes the type of effects caused by the denudation of the Greek mainland: "Thermopylae, on the Greek coast, was the site in 480 BC of one of the most heroic battles in ancient history. A tiny detachment of Greek soldiers, commanded by the king of Sparta, held a narrow pass between the sea for three days against a huge Persian army. Today, that pass no longer exists. The soil from the hills above has been washed down by the rivers and deposited at the edge of the sea in such quantities that the pass has been transformed into a wide plain."9 One of the colonies used to gain shipbuilding lumber was Ephesus on the western coast of Turkey. By the fourth century, BC the harbor was so silted because of deforestation and soil abuse in the uplands that the harbor had to be moved farther along the coast. The new harbor quickly filled in and the location now is three miles from the Mediterranean.10 In Italy and Sicily soil destruction has been epidemic. "The Italian coast from south of Ravenna; north and eastward almost to Trieste has been extending itself into the Adriatic Sea for at least twenty centuries," one scholar reports. The city of Ravenna, once on the coastline is now six miles inland.11 The impact of the successive empires on the "breadbasket" of North Africa has been to destroy it. Both Greece and Rome used the luxuriant North Africa as a mainstay of empire. Finally the Arab, Ottoman Turks and other minor empires destroyed the last shreds of the ecology. At one time six hundred colonial cities stretched from Egypt to Morocco and the area provided Rome with two-thirds of its wheat budget. Now much of the area is barren, eroded and can hardly support goats.12 It is no accident that now the diet of these former empires is based on goats, grapes and olives. This is ecological poverty food. As these cultures have destroyed their lands, the plants and animals that remain such as goats, grapes and olives are ones that can subsist on denuded and dry soils. This brief review of the original areas of civilization can help us visualize what the earth will eventually look like in most areas where that human culture has spread. But, because of our massive modern population and technology, the destruction that took place over thousands of years is now being accomplished in very brief time spans. The ecological destruction has not stopped even now, but in the present continues on, headed for bedrock. NOTES: 1. The Limits to Growth: A Report For The Club Of Rome's Project On The Predicament Of Mankind. Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers and William W. Behrens III. New American Library. New York. 1974. 2. ibid. p. 129. 3. 1990 Catalog of Seeds. A.M. Kapular, PhD. Peace Seeds, A Planetary Gene Pool Resource and Service. 2385 SE Thompson St., Corvallis, Oregon 97333. P.1. 4. Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. J. Russell Smith. Devin-Adair Co., Old Greenwich. 1977. P.3. 5. The Hungry Planet: The Modern World at the Edge of Famine. Georg Borgstrom. Collier Books. New York. 1972. P. 106. 6. Soil and Civilization. Edward Hyams. Harper & Row. New York. 1976. P. 69. 7. ibid. pp. 55-64. See also: Man and the Mediterranean Forest: A History of Resource Depletion. J. V. Thirgood. Academic Press. New York. 1981. P. 62. And Losing Ground: Environmental Stress and World Food Prospects. Erik P. Eckholm. W. W. Norton & Co. New York. 1976. P. 94. 8. Man's Role In Changing The Face Of The Earth. William L. Thomas, Jr., Ed. U of Chicago Press. Chicago, Ill. Vol. 2. P. 510. 9. The First Eden: The Mediterranean World and Man. David Attenborough. Little, Brown & Co. Boston. 1987. P. 169. 10. ibid. p. 118. 11. Thomas, op. cit. P. 511. 12. Attenborough, op. cit. P. 116. The Final Empire: Part Two: THE COLLAPSE OF THE ECOSYSTEM CHAPTER 3: SOIL: THE BASIS OF LIFE The Organic Rights All beings of the earth, from microbes to elephants exist in a web of organic energy flows. Everything in the material world is food and everything is excrement. Everything is part of the energy flow. Even edges of tectonic plates slide down into the magma, which is then spouted out of volcanoes. When the flow of energy comes from the sun to be consumed by the plant, this begins a succession of energy transformations called the food chain. Beings eat each other. This flow of solar energy undergoes many transformations. In addition to these connections in the food chain there are many more energy connections that are of a cooperative and contributory nature. Beings provide many services for one another that have nothing to do with eating each other. Bees pollinate flowers, birds transport and deposit seeds. Fungi combine with the root hairs of plants and the ensemble generates food for both plants and fungi that otherwise neither would be able to absorb. Each being, because it lives according to its nature, contributes to the smooth functioning of the whole. There are beings such as elephants, tigers, humans and others whose consciousness is such that the intellectual function is well developed but the organic memory is not highly developed such as it is in animals like the earthworm or frog. Earthworms and frogs do not need to be taught what they are, their identity, they simply know what their nature is. The elephant, tiger or human, on the other hand have to be taught their culture by their parents or clan. This is shown by the fact that these animals, if raised in captivity and turned loose in their natural habitat, will starve, because they have not learned their culture. Many civilized people have starved in the midst of abundant food that native people utilize with ease. These beings, deprived of knowledge, do not know their organic identity. For two to three million year's humans lived in clans and tribes as forager/hunters. In that culture we learned our personal identity within the clan and we learned that we had an organic identity as one among many beings of the earth. We learned of the other beings and their habits of life. We learned of life and the conditions for the growth of life. This organic right, to know who and what we are and that we are located within a web of living energies must be a birthright of all humans. The earthworm conducts its life and contributes its excrement to help create the valuable humus of the soil. The bird visits one oasis in the desert and then transports seeds to another oasis. All beings must act responsibly and do their part for the world to function. For life to persist they must act according to their natures. For a being such as the human who can be so constructive or destructive this is important, important for the continuance of the human species so that they do not ignorantly destroy that which feeds them. All beings of earth have a vital interest in humans knowing their organic place in nature, because when humans do not know, they become organic psychotics and wantonly destroy other beings. If the human species intends to exist in perpetuity, children must be provided with these organic rights. Most people in civilization grow up in boxes. Artificial environments and designer landscapes are most children's' formative, environmental experience. Even farm children do not have a sense of the beauty and complexity of a completely natural and unaltered environment. In order to give the human species a chance of survival, all children should have a right to the organic knowledge that they are an integral part of the life of earth. They need this knowledge in order to make rudimentary ethical and survival decisions. Children should at least be taught fully what soil is. Soil is the foundation of life of the planet, only the uninformed think of it as dirt, they pave it over, they dump poisons on it and they strip the vegetation so that the soil runs away without even realizing what they are doing. Children should be told that soil must receive sustenance. This factor, the decline of the soil's food, applies to all of the land mass where civilization exists, not just farm fields but ballparks, golf courses, wetlands that are drained, houses, yards, pastures and any other place that has had the climax ecosystem removed. Anytime biomass is removed from the land in the form of cattle, logs, corn, vegetables or even grass clippings; the soil is deprived of that amount of feed. Because civilized people do not know what they are, they talk politics, religion, and science and pursue material wealth while the basis of their life on earth, the soil, slips away beneath their feet. The Soil Soil is the gut of the earth, the principal digestive organ of planetary life. Soil is partially composed of rock chips, clay, sand, minerals and organic detritus, but it is also an interdependent living community of micro-organisms, insects, worms, small animals, reptiles and other organisms (even some birds) which live in, contribute to and feed on components of the soil. Like the bacterial community in the human gut that predigests the human food, the soil is a living community of organisms which produces the necessary conditions for the plant communities to exist. The excrement of the gut community feeds the human, and the excrement of the soil community feeds the vegetative community, which lives on the soil. Plants do not absorb earth. Plants absorb nutrients that are in solution in the soil moisture. These nutrient solutions are the result of many energy transformations as they pass through a number of organisms. The creation of soil begins with an inert and infertile subsoil of clay, sand, rock chips and rocks. When the first pioneer or "first aid" plant germinates it begins to thrust its roots down into the hard compacted earth. It pumps moisture and minerals up from the earth to its stems and leaves. It drops its leaves and stems on the surface. The decomposers, small insects and microbes that live in the soil, eat the organic material that the plant has dropped. The organic material, by covering the raw earth begins to shade it from the evaporative and oxidizing effect of direct sunlight. Moisture retention improves the habitat for small creatures that burrow, opening up the earth to more moisture and to oxygen that will allow more microorganisms to exist. Porousness and organic build-up on and in the soil help increase the soil's fertility. The organic material on the surface feeds the soil community and other beings eat primary soil ingredients such as rock chips, roots and other micro beings, both dead and alive. As roots die and leave micro tunnels and as earthworms and others create tunnels, passageways are created for the infiltration of water and oxygen, two vital needs of the soil community. As the soil increases its fertility it becomes more porous, it retains more moisture and the temperature extremes are moderated. As the soil builds, the richness and diversity of the habitat increases. More varieties of beings can find niches in the web of life. As the soil is opened up a succession of plants follow the pioneer species and find it easier to get their roots down into the soil. Bill Mollison, in his definitive work on Permaculture, Permaculture: A Designers' Manual, says of the living component in a typical soil: "50 per cent is fungi, 20 per cent is bacteria, 20 per cent yeast, algae, and protozoan, and only 10 per cent the larger fauna such as earthworms, nematodes, arthropods and mollusk fauna (the micro-and macro-fauna), and their larvae." He adds that, "Such classes of organisms are found in soils everywhere, in different proportions."1 The activities of the fungi are especially interesting. The body of the fungus stretches itself through the soil like a giant spider web. When the time comes for sexual reproduction most varieties of these fungi thrust up out of the soil, and produce what we call a mushroom. This is the sexual organ of the underground body. The web strands underground grow toward the root hairs of plants. As the threads of the fungi touch the root hair, the cells of the fungi invade the cells of the plant root. The fungus does not have the ability to translate solar energy into biomass (photosynthesis) but it can receive foods from the tree. The tree itself begins to absorb food from the cells of the fungi. Sir Albert Howard who wrote the historic treatise on organic agriculture, The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture; explains that: "Here we have a simple arrangement on the part of Nature by which the soil material on which these fungi feed can be joined up, as it were, with the sap of the tree. These fungous threads are very rich in protein and may contain as much as 10 per cent of organic nitrogen; this protein is easily digested by the ferments (enzymes) in the cells of the root; the resulting nitrogen complexes, which are readily soluble, are then passed into the sap current and so into the green leaf. An easy passage, as it were, has been provided for food material to move from soil to plant in the form of proteins and their digestion products, which latter in due course reach the green leaf. The marriage of a fertile soil and the tree it nourishes is thus arranged. Science calls these fungous threads mycelium..., the whole process is known as the mycorrhizal association. This partnership is universal in the forest and is general throughout the vegetable kingdom."2 The soil breathes through the sponge-like passages in it. One cause of air movement is the lunar gravitational attraction. Just as the moon causes tides, it also pulls on aquifers and soil water. This water movement exhales and inhales air in the soil. Differentials of high and low pressure zones in the atmosphere passing overhead also effect the earth's breathing in the same way. As noted by Mollison, even such things as the bodies of worms pushing through the tubes, effect earth respiration. As the soil becomes what we might call "mature" or climax, it is porous; it holds more water and air. As its diversity and richness increase, the vegetative cover grows richer and more diverse, thus feeding the soil more. Trees move in. They put out their feeder roots horizontally in the soil and the taproots deep into the subsoil. From the subsoil they bring up water that is transpired, improving the local microclimate. Minerals are also brought up from the deep, which go into leaf structure and finally end up on the soil surface. When the trees die, their decaying root systems leave deeper cavities. Within this enriching soil, the burrowing animals are working, churning the soil/subsoil, as other plants are growing and dying to deposit their dead bodies on the surface as food for the community. In this way the soil circulates toward increased fertility. Mollison points out the high value of soils by reminding us that the only place that soils are conserved or increased are: in uncut forests, in the muck under quiet ponds or lakes, in prairies and meadows of permanent plants and where we grow plants with mulched or non-tillage systems.3 The general rule of thumb used by ecologists is that three hundred to one thousand years are required to build one inch of topsoil. This means that thousands of years of production can easily be wiped out in a season. The Process of Soil Collapse Soil injury and death is a severe health problem for the earth. Natural processes that severely injure or destroy soil over large areas are rare. They occur in geologic time spans such as the ice ages, vast climatic changes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the movement of tectonic plates. On a smaller scale, intense fires, landslides, or floods can damage local soils. The history of "rapid" and large-scale soil injury is actually the history of the activities of civilization. The process of soil collapse and destruction is essentially the reverse of soil build-up. When soil builds, it opens up, breathes and accumulates moisture. More and more niches are provided to expand the diversity of the soil community. As soil deteriorates these factors decline and soil degenerates toward a solid clay-like impervious mass that inhibits life activities. Soil Exhaustion The soil is in a continuous cycle that must be fed organic detritus continually. If this cycle is stopped, the primary food of the community ceases. If the food ceases and the plants continue to feed on the soil, as in a corn field, the soil will become exhausted. When cattle graze, they remove essential elements from the cycle. A ton of beef has depleted the soil of approximately 26 pounds of calcium, 54 pounds of nitrogen, 3 pounds of potassium, 15 pounds of phosphorus and many other trace elements. This same situation obtains in a forest where the biomass is hauled away in the form of logs. Anything that detracts from the circulation of essential elements injures the soil. Any decline in the climax vegetation will cause a decline in the health of the soil community because of the decline of flow in the nutrient cycles. When a forest is cleared or a prairie is plowed, soil health is impaired. The first growing season on this land may be highly productive, but after several years even with manuring and fallow periods, the soil can function only at a level considerably below its optimum. Agricultural soils that can be maintained over centuries, are generally heavy clay soils but even these erode, lose humus and become compacted. These soils must be maintained with great care to maintain sustainability at their greatly lowered level of health. Unless large amounts of organic material are added each year, the soil will decline, because the soil community continues to feed, consuming the available organic and the biological nutrients until there is no more. At this point we have what farmers call "farmed out" land. On a small piece of land near Willits, California a group of experimental gardeners called Ecology Action began to build soil on a hillside that was considered of "intermediate" value for grazing. They report that it was difficult to get a shovel into the original soil. After seventeen years of intense work, they have created a soil that will support luxurious plant growth through a method that they call "biointensive gardening." To increase soil fertility, they leave three-quarters of the soil in fallow crops of sunflowers, vetch, fava beans, wheat and rye. This experiment is deliberately a closed system, with no organic material being imported for compost (which would deprive other soils). This experiment gives us a rough standard to judge how much must be done to keep a soil sustainable and increasing in fertility. It means that three-quarters of the soil must be planted with plants that build up the soil while one-quarter are used by plants that feed on the soil and are then removed.4 A test conducted for 41 years, between 1894 and 1935 by the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station at Wooster, Ohio, demonstrates the soil loss and yield on three sets of experimental plots devoted to continuous corn cultivation. This test shows the effect on the soil of "normal" farming methods. See Table at WWW.RAINBOWBODY.NET/Finalempire/FEchap3.htm or Page 29 "The Final Empire" by William Kotke (10-5-10 is 10 nitrogen, 5 phosphate and 10-lbs. potassium per l00 lbs. total ingredients) This study demonstrates that even with manuring, the soil suffers. In order to complement the nutrient cycle fully; so that the soil does not become depleted, even larger amounts of organic matter need to be applied. This is part of the problem of civilized agriculture. Where does the organic matter come from? In pre-industrial days, fallow periods were used. Plants were grown on the fields and then plowed into the soil. Manure from draft animals- cattle, pigs and chickens, was also applied to the soil. This slowed the depletion of the soil. Then came the tractor. The draft animal manure was lost. The land that was used to grow feed for the draft animals was turned to other crops. Vast fields of corn, wheat, soybeans or other monocrops were put in and fertilized artificially. In the above table, the greatest loss of organic matter occurred with the use of artificial fertilizers. The artificially fertilized soil lost even more than the plot with no treatment. This happens because the artificial fertilizers do spur plant growth and this in turn draws more energy out, thus causing the soil to lose even more organic matter. This study points out a crucial, but seldom-noticed fact. Everywhere in the world where the industrial agricultural system and the "green revolution" have spread, this process is happening to the soil. Farmers physically take biomass off the soil and this breaks the nutrient cycle. But even though the soil health is declining, crops continue to be raised because artificial fertilizer is injected into the soil. To industrial agriculture the soil itself is irrelevant. In fact, many modern farmers say that all they need the soil for is to "prop up" the plants while they artificially inject the nutrients. While this is true, it is equally true that this process is masking the actual biological deterioration of the planet's soils. The short-term gain might be large, but if artificial fertilizers become too costly to purchase, or if easily extracted petroleum energy from which artificial fertilizers and agricultural poisons are generated, becomes exhausted, the world will face starvation because the soils are dead. The final yield on the top line of the chart where no help was given to the soil shows about where the world population will be when the petroleum fueled fertilizer plants shut down. A billion and a half people in the world are now fed simply because of the added increase made possible with chemical fertilizers. If chemical fertilizers were eliminated, world agricultural production would drop by at least one-third.5 Soil Compaction Compaction of soils is another common injury that occurs on and off the farm. Anytime weight is put on soil; the pores tend to be crushed. This causes the moisture holding ability to decline and decreases soil breathing. This also inhibits plant growth because plants must expend more effort in order to get their roots down into the soil. As compaction increases, less water infiltrates and more water runs off, which increases the erosion of the topsoil. Plowing causes compaction because it requires heavy equipment. Trampling by confined livestock also creates soil compaction. The plow is probably the cause of more soil death than any other factor. When the iron bottom plow was invented, a great change occurred in agriculture. Light soils had earlier been worked with wooden plows, but when the iron bottom plow was created, deep, heavy, clay soils could be worked and this greatly expanded the area of civilized agriculture. Finally the moldboard plow was created which completely overturns the soil because of its increased curvature. The plow historically has been associated with Indo-European field agriculture. It is associated with the Indo-European cultural value of increasing production and as such was used by the Roman Empire in their vast agricultural enterprises. Digging stick and hoe, often in slash and burn plots in forests had done prior planting. This method had minimal interference with the soil and usually the cover vegetation of small plants was not eliminated. With the plow it is possible to completely clear the land and in this way much more land can be worked. Plowing also has the result of burying the cover vegetation. When the open fields are disced or harrowed after plowing, which break up clods and level the soil, the planting can be much more "efficient" and therefore much more land can be farmed. Plowing breaks up and collapses the soil pores and water/air passageways. When the soil is overturned the entire soil community and their relationships are overturned. After a forest is cleared and the land is first plowed, the soil still maintains its crumbly, granular nature. It is soft and friable. After a few seasons the crumb structure has broken down and the clay aspect of the soil begins to predominate. The plowing, which creates chunks and clods, impairs the soil's ability to receive soil moisture which "wicks" upward by capillary action. Edward H. Faulkner who wrote the classic treatise, Plowman's Folly, has shown how plowing disturbs the capillary action and how the moldboard plow by completely overturning the soil, reinforces this disturbance. After plowing, the layer of surface vegetation comes to lie upside down in the soil. Thus, a layer of loosely pressed organic matter is compressed under the soil surface. This breaks the capillary action. The capillary action occurs when moisture evaporates from the surface and draws moisture upward.6 The plowing of soil often results in the creation of a hardpan just below the bottom of the plow. As the plow goes through the soil year after year the layer created just below the foot of the plow becomes more and more compacted until it becomes an impervious layer. This allows water to accumulate and build-up to the level of the plant roots where it can drown the plants and kill the soil community by salinization. The layer of hardpan traps minerals held in the water so that they concentrate as the water slowly evaporates. Eventually this creates a dead soil that can only be reclaimed with great difficulty. When the soil is plowed, the deeper layer that contains soil moisture is overturned and exposed to wind and sun. This dries out the soil. The effect of direct sunlight on raw soil is very destructive. The sunlight oxidizes the soil. When the soil oxidizes, chemicals combine with oxygen and decrease their use to the soil community. The effect is to dry it out and lessen its fertility. All of this prepares the soil to be carried away by the wind and water. As the plowed soil deteriorates, its clayey nature begins to predominate. The surface becomes more and more impermeable. Less moisture infiltrates to the ailing soil community. Water running off soil is the beginning of the end. As water runs off, it begins to carry soil with it. As the more friable top layers go, lower layers with less water absorbency are exposed so that the water runs off faster. As this occurs even more soil is carried away. Even in an undisturbed environment there is some erosion of soil off the land but it is much less than the volume of soil build-up. The following figures show the comparisons of erosion in the same area that has different types of soil cover: "In Ohio it was reckoned that 174,000 years would be required to remove from 7 to 8 inches of top-soil by runoff in a forested area, 29,000 years in a meadow, 100 years if the soil is wisely planted with crop rotation and 15 years if corn alone is planted " (Bennett, 1939).7 The phenomenon of leaching is a pivotal factor in soil conditioning. Rainforest soils are leached constantly by the heavy rains. The large volume of water carries minerals from the topsoil down into the subsoil, but in desert environments, soil moisture evaporates more rapidly than it can be leached downward. This results in a higher level of nutrient/mineral buildup, which can be exploited by irrigators. They can utilize the sandy soils, which have a relatively low concentration of humus but nonetheless are nutrient rich and grow substantial crops if water can be obtained. But buildup of nutrients in desert soils happens over a long period of time and soil can be exhausted quickly unless artificial fertilizers are applied. Organic feed for the soil could be applied, but in a desert environment the production of organic material is limited. In the formerly forested areas of Lebanon, now degraded to a semi-arid desert environment, people collect manure from the goats that graze the sparse brush in the mountains and transport it to Beirut and the coastal city, Tripoli, to the north, to fertilize orange and banana plantations.8 Soil Erosion Soil can become exhausted in place and soil can be removed by erosion. Plow agriculture leads to soil erosion but there are also other civilized practices that create soil erosion. Grazing by livestock, deforestation, mining, and many other human activities all lead to erosion. There are three basic types of erosion; these are gully, sheet and wind. Gully erosion results in the familiar "erosion canyons" that we see on hillsides. Sheet erosion is a more camouflaged type in which large areas of a hillside slowly creep downhill to a "slump" at the foot of the slope. This type of erosion is sometimes only apparent when closely examined or when a Posted by boxcarro at 7:18 PM No comments: Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook Tuesday, January 10, 2012 MURDER of POOR Condition of the Working Class in England, by Engels, 1845 The Attitude of the Bourgeoisie Towards the Proletariat In speaking of the bourgeoisie I include the so-called aristocracy, for this is a privileged class, an aristocracy, only in contrast with the bourgeoisie, not in contrast with the proletariat. The proletarian sees in both only the property-holder -- i.e., the bourgeois. Before the privilege of property all other privileges vanish. The sole difference is this, that the bourgeois proper stands in active relations with the manufacturing, and, in a measure, with the mining proletarians, and, as farmer, with the agricultural labourers, whereas the so-called aristocrat comes into contact with the agricultural labourer only. I have never seen a class so deeply demoralised, so incurably debased by selfishness, so corroded within, so incapable of progress, as the English bourgeoisie; and I mean by this, especially the bourgeoisie proper, particularly the Liberal, Corn Law repealing bourgeoisie. For it nothing exists in this world, except for the sake of money, itself not excluded. It knows no bliss save that of rapid gain, no pain save that of losing gold. In the presence of this avarice and lust of gain, it is not possible for a single human sentiment or opinion to remain untainted. True, these English bourgeois are good husbands and family men, and have all sorts of other private virtues, and appear, in ordinary intercourse, as decent and respectable as all other bourgeois; even in business they are better to deal with than the Germans; they do not higgle and haggle so much as our own pettifogging merchants; but how does this help matters? Ultimately it is self-interest, and especially money gain, which alone determines them. I once went into Manchester with such a bourgeois, and spoke to him of the bad, unwholesome method of building, the frightful condition of the working-peoples quarters, and asserted that I had never seen so ill-built a city. The man listened quietly to the end, and said at the corner where we parted: "And yet there is a great deal of money made here, good morning, sir." It is utterly indifferent to the English bourgeois whether his working-men starve or not, if only he makes money. All the conditions of life are measured by money, and what brings no money is nonsense, unpractical, idealistic bosh. Hence, Political Economy, the Science of Wealth, is the favourite study of these bartering Jews. Every one of them is a Political Economist. The relation of the manufacturer to his operatives has nothing human in it; it is purely economic. The manufacturer is Capital, the operative Labour. And if the operative will not be forced into this abstraction, if he insists that he is not Labour, but a man, who possesses, among other things, the attribute of labour-force, if he takes it into his head that he need not allow himself to be sold and bought in the market, as the commodity "Labour", the bourgeois reason comes to a standstill. He cannot comprehend that he holds any other relation to the operatives than that of purchase and sale; he sees in them not human beings, but hands, as he constantly calls them to their faces; he insists, as Carlyle says, that "Cash Payment is the only nexus between man and man." Even the relation between himself and his wife is, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, mere "Cash Payment". Money determines the worth of the man; he is "worth ten thousand pounds". He who has money is of "the better sort of people", is "influential", and what he does counts for something in his social circle. The huckstering spirit penetrates the whole language, all relations are expressed in business terms, in economic categories. Supply and demand are the formulas according to which the logic of the English bourgeois judges all human life. Hence free competition in every respect, hence the regime of laissez-faire, laissez-aller in government, in medicine, in education, and soon to be in religion, too, as the State Church collapses more and more. Free competition will suffer no limitation, no State supervision; the whole State is but a burden to it. It would reach its highest perfection in a wholly ungoverned anarchic society, where each might exploit the other to his hearts content. Since, however, the bourgeoisie cannot dispense with government, but must have it to hold the equally indispensable proletariat in check, it turns the power of government against the proletariat and keeps out of its way as far as possible. Let no one believe, however, that the "cultivated" Englishman openly brags with his egotism. On the contrary, he conceals it under the vilest hypocrisy. What? The wealthy English fail to remember the poor? They who have founded philanthropic institutions, such as no other country can boast of! Philanthropic institutions forsooth! As though you rendered the proletarians a service in first sucking out their very life-blood and then practising your self-complacent, Pharisaic philanthropy upon them, placing yourselves before the world as mighty benefactors of humanity when you give back to the plundered victims the hundredth part of what belongs to them! Charity which degrades him who gives more than him who takes; charity which treads the downtrodden still deeper in the dust, which demands that the degraded, the pariah cast out by society, shall first surrender the last that remains to him, his very claim to manhood, shall first beg for mercy before your mercy deigns to press, in the shape of an alms, the brand of degradation upon his brow. But let us hear the English bourgeoisie's own words. It is not yet a year since I read in the Manchester Guardian the following letter to the editor, which was published without comment as a perfectly natural, reasonable thing: "MR. EDITOR,-- For some time past our main streets are haunted by swarms of beggars, who try to awaken the pity of the passers-by in a most shameless and annoying manner, by exposing their tattered clothing, sickly aspect, and disgusting wounds and deformities. I should think that when one not only pays the poor-rate, but also contributes largely to the charitable institutions, one had done enough to earn a right to be spared such disagreeable and impertinent molestations. And why else do we pay such high rates for the maintenance of the municipal police, if they do not even protect us so far as to make it possible to go to or out of town in peace? I hope the publication of these lines in your widely- circulated paper may induce the authorities to remove this nuisance; and I remain,-- Your obedient servant, "A Lady." There you have it! The English bourgeoisie is charitable out of self-interest; it gives nothing outright, but regards its gifts as a business matter, makes a bargain with the poor, saying: "If I spend this much upon benevolent institutions, I thereby purchase the right not to be troubled any further, and you are bound thereby to stay in your dusky holes and not to irritate my tender nerves by exposing your misery. You shall despair as before, but you shall despair unseen, this I require, this I purchase with my subscription of twenty pounds for the infirmary!" It is infamous, this charity of a Christian bourgeois! And so writes "A Lady"; she does well to sign herself such, well that she has lost the courage to call herself a woman! But if the "Ladies" are such as this, what must the "Gentlemen" be? It will be said that this is a single case; but no, the foregoing letter expresses the temper of the great majority of the English bourgeoisie, or the editor would not have accepted it, and some reply would have been made to it, which I watched for in vain in the succeeding numbers. And as to the efficiency of this philanthropy, Canon Parkinson himself says that the poor are relieved much more by the poor than by the bourgeoisie; and such relief given by an honest proletarian who knows himself what it is to be hungry, for whom sharing his scanty meal is really a sacrifice, but a sacrifice borne with pleasure, such help has a wholly different ring to it from the carelessly-tossed alms of the luxurious bourgeois. In other respects, too, the bourgeoisie assumes a hypocritical, boundless philanthropy, but only when its own interests require it; as in its Politics and Political Economy. It has been at work now well on towards five years to prove to the working-men that it strives to abolish the Corn Laws solely in their interest. But the long and short of the matter is this: the Corn Laws keep the price of bread higher than in other countries, and thus raise wages; but these high wages render difficult competition of the manufacturers against other nations in which bread, and consequently wages, are cheaper. The Corn Laws being repealed, the price of bread falls, and wages gradually approach those of other European countries, as must be clear to every one from our previous exposition of the principles according to which wages are determined. The manufacturer can compete more readily, the demand for English goods increases, and, with it, the demand for labour. In consequence of this increased demand wages would actually rise somewhat, and the unemployed workers be re-employed; but for how long? The "surplus population" of England, and especially of Ireland, is sufficient to supply English manufacture with the necessary operatives, even if it were doubled; and, in a few years, the small advantage of the repeal of the Corn Laws would be balanced, a new crisis would follow, and we should be back at the point from which we started, while the first stimulus to manufacture would have increased population meanwhile. All this the proletarians understand very well, and have told the manufacturers to their faces; but, in spite of that, the manufacturers have in view solely the immediate advantage which the repeal of the Corn Laws would bring them. They are too narrow-minded to see that, even for themselves, no permanent advantage can arise from this measure, because their competition with each other would soon force the profit of the individual back to its old level; and thus they continue to shriek to the working-men that it is purely for the sake of the starving millions that the rich members of the Liberal party pour hundreds and thousands of pounds into the treasury of the Anti-Corn Law League, while every one knows that they are only sending the butter after the cheese, that they calculate upon earning it all back in the first ten years after the repeal of the Corn Laws. But the workers are no longer to be misled by the bourgeoisie, especially since the insurrection of 1842. They demand of every one who presents himself as interested in their welfare, that he should declare himself in favour of the Peoples Charter as proof of the sincerity of his professions, and in so doing, they protest against all outside help, for the Charter is a demand for the power to help themselves. Whoever declines so to declare himself they pronounce their enemy, and are perfectly right in so doing, whether he be a declared foe or a false friend. Besides, the Anti-Corn Law League has used the most despicable falsehoods and tricks to win the support of the workers. It has tried to prove to them that the money price of labour is in inverse proportion to the price of corn; that wages are high when grain is cheap, and vice versa, an assertion which it pretends to prove with the most ridiculous arguments, and one which is, in itself, more ridiculous than any other that has proceeded from the mouth of an Economist. When this failed to help matters, the workers were promised bliss supreme in consequence of the increased demand in the labour market; indeed, men went so far as to carry through the streets two models of loaves of bread, on one of which, by far the larger, was written: "American Eightpenny Loaf, Wages Four Shillings per Day", and upon the much smaller one: "English Eightpenny Loaf, Wages Two Shillings a Day". But the workers have not allowed themselves to be misled. They know their lords and masters too well. But rightly to measure the hypocrisy of these promises, the practice of the bourgeoisie must be taken into account. We have seen in the course of how the bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat in every conceivable way for its own benefit! We have, however, hitherto seen only how the.single bourgeois maltreats the proletariat upon his own account. Let us turn now to the manner in which the bourgeoisie as a party, as the power of the State, conducts itself towards the proletariat. Laws are necessary only because there are persons in existence who own nothing; and although this is directly expressed in but few laws, as, for instance, those against vagabonds and tramps, in which the proletariat as such is outlawed, yet enmity to the proletariat is so emphatically the basis of the law that the judges, and especially the Justices of the Peace, who are bourgeois themselves, and with whom the proletariat comes most in contact, find this meaning in the laws without further consideration. If a rich man is brought up, or rather summoned, to appear before the court, the judge regrets that he is obliged to impose so much trouble, treats the matter as favourably as possible, and, if he is forced to condemn the accused, does so with extreme regret, etc., etc., and the end of it all is a miserable fine, which the bourgeois throws upon the table with contempt and then departs. But if a poor devil gets into such a position as involves appearing before the Justice of the Peace -- he has almost always spent the night in the station-house with a crowd of his peers -- he is regarded from the beginning as guilty; his defence is set aside with a contemptuous "Oh! we know the excuse", and a fine imposed which he cannot pay and must work out with several months on the treadmill. And if nothing can be proved against him, he is sent to the treadmill, none the less, "as a rogue and a vagabond". The partisanship of the Justices of the Peace, especially in the country, surpasses all description, and it is so much the order of the day that all cases which are not too utterly flagrant are quietly reported by the newspapers, without comment. Nor is anything else to be expected. For on the one hand, these Dogberries do merely construe the law according to the intent of the farmers, and, on the other, they are themselves bourgeois, who see the foundation of all true order in the interests of their class. And the conduct of the police corresponds to that of the Justices of the Peace. The bourgeois may do what he will and the police remain ever polite, adhering strictly to the law, but the proletarian is roughly, brutally treated; his poverty both casts the suspicion of every sort of crime upon him and cuts him off from legal redress against any caprice of the administrators of the law; for him, therefore, the protecting forms of the law do not exist, the police force their way into his house without further ceremony, arrest and abuse him; and only when a working-men's association, such as the miners, engages a Roberts, does it become evident how little the protective side of the law exists for the working-man, how frequently he has to bear all the burdens of the law without enjoying its benefits. Down to the present hour, the property-holding class in Parliament still struggles against the better feelings of those not yet fallen a prey to egotism, and seeks to subjugate the proletariat still further. One piece of common land after another is appropriated and placed under cultivation, a process by which the general cultivation is furthered, but the proletariat greatly injured. Where there were still commons, the poor could pasture an ass, a pig, or geese, the children and young people had a place where they could play and live out of doors; but this is gradually coming to an end. The earnings of the worker are less, and the young people, deprived of their play-ground, go to the beer-shops. A mass of acts for enclosing and cultivating commons is passed at every session of Parliament. When the Government determined during the session of 1844 to force the all monopolising railways to make travelling possible for the workers by means of charges proportionate to their means, a penny a mile, and proposed therefore to introduce such a third class train upon every railway daily, the "Reverend Father in God", the Bishop of London, proposed that Sunday, the only day upon which working-men in work can travel, be exempted from this rule, and travelling thus be left open to the rich and shut off from the poor. This proposition was, however, too direct, too undisguised to pass through Parliament, and was dropped. I have no room to enumerate the many concealed attacks of even one single session upon the proletariat. One from the session of 1844 must suffice. An obscure member of Parliament, a Mr. Miles, proposed a bill regulating the relation of master and servant which seemed comparatively unobjectionable. The Government became interested in the bill, and it was referred to a committee. Meanwhile the strike among the miners in the North broke out, and Roberts made his triumphal passage through England with his acquitted working-men. When the bill was reported by the committee, it was discovered that certain most despotic provisions had been interpolated in it, especially one conferring upon the employer the power to bring before any Justice of the Peace every working-man who had contracted verbally or in writing to do any work whatsoever, in case of refusal to work or other misbehaviour, and have him condemned to prison with hard labour for two months, upon the oath of the employer or his agent or overlooker, i.e., upon the oath of the accuser. This bill aroused the working-men to the utmost fury, the more so as the Ten Hours Bill was before Parliament at the same time, and had called forth a considerable agitation. Hundreds of meetings were held, hundreds of working-men's petitions forwarded to London to Thomas Duncombe, the representative of the interests of the proletariat. This man was, except Ferrand, the representative of "Young England", the only vigorous opponent of the bill; but when the other Radicals saw that the people were declaring against it, one after the other crept forward and took his place by Duncombe's side; and as the Liberal bourgeoisie had not the courage to defend the bill in the face of the excitement among the working-men, it was ignominiously lost. Meanwhile the most open declaration of war of the bourgeoisie upon the proletariat is Malthus Law of Population and the New Poor Law framed in accordance with it. We have already alluded several times to the theory of Malthus. We may sum up its final result in these few words, that the earth is perennially over-populated, whence poverty, misery, distress, and immorality must prevail; that it is the lot, the eternal destiny of mankind, to exist in too great numbers, and therefore in diverse classes, of which some are rich, educated, and moral, and others more or less poor, distressed, ignorant, and immoral. Hence it follows in practice, and Malthus himself drew this conclusion, that charities and poor-rates are, properly speaking, nonsense, since they serve only to maintain, and stimulate the increase of, the surplus population whose competition crushes down wages for the employed; that the employment of the poor by the Poor Law Guardians is equally unreasonable, since only a fixed quantity of the products of labour can be consumed, and for every unemployed labourer thus furnished employment, another hitherto employed must be driven into enforced idleness, whence private undertakings suffer at cost of Poor Law industry; that, in other words, the whole problem is not how to support the surplus population, but how to restrain it as far as possible. Malthus declares in plain English that the right to live, a right previously asserted in favour of every man in the world, is nonsense. He quotes the words of a poet, that the poor man comes to the feast of Nature and finds no cover laid for him, and adds that "she bids him begone", for he did not before his birth ask of society whether or not he is welcome. This is now the pet theory of all genuine English bourgeois, and very naturally, since it is the most specious excuse for them, and has, moreover, a good deal of truth in it under existing conditions. If, then, the problem is not to make the "surplus population" useful, to transform it into available population, but merely to let it starve to death in the least objectionable way and to prevent its having too many children, this, of course, is simple enough, provided the surplus population perceives its own superfluousness and takes kindly to starvation. There is, however, in spite of the violent exertions of the humane bourgeoisie, no immediate prospect of its succeeding in bringing about such a disposition among the workers. The workers have taken it into their heads that they, with their busy hands, are the necessary, and the rich capitalists, who do nothing, the surplus population. Since, however, the rich hold all the power, the proletarians must submit, if they will not good-temperedly perceive it for themselves, to have the law actually declare them superfluous.. This has been done by the New Poor Law. The Old Poor Law which rested upon the Act of 1601 (the 43rd of Elizabeth), naively started from the notion that it is the duty of the parish to provide for the maintenance of the poor. Whoever had no work received relief, and the poor man regarded the parish as pledged to protect him from starvation. He demanded his weekly relief as his right, not as a favour, and this became, at last, too much for the bourgeoisie. In 1833, when the bourgeoisie had just come into power through the Reform Bill, and pauperism in the country districts had just reached its full development, the bourgeoisie began the reform of the Poor Law according to its own point of view. A commission was appointed, which investigated the administration of the Poor Laws, and revealed a multitude of abuses. It was discovered that the whole working-class in the country was pauperised and more or less dependent upon the rates, from which they received relief when wages were low; it was found that this system by which the unemployed were maintained, the ill-paid and the parents of large families relieved, fathers of illegitimate children required to pay alimony, and poverty, in general, recognised as needing protection, it was found that this system was ruining the nation, was -- "a check to industry, a reward for improvident marriages, a stimulant to population, and a blind to its effects on wages; a national institution for discountenancing the industrious and honest, and for protecting the idle, the improvident and the vicious; the destroyer of the bonds of family life; "a system for preventing the accumulation of capital, for destroying that which exists, and for reducing the rate-payer to pauperism; and a premium for illegitimate children" in the provision of aliment. (Words of the Report of the Poor Law Commissioners.) This description of the action of the Old Poor Law is certainly correct; relief fosters laziness and increase of "surplus population". Under present social conditions it is perfectly clear that the poor man is compelled to be an egotist, and when he can choose, living equally well in either case, he prefers doing nothing to working. But what follows therefrom? That our present social conditions are good for nothing, and not as the Malthusian Commissioners conclude, that poverty is a crime, and, as such, to be visited with heinous penalties which may serve as a warning to others. But these wise Malthusians were so thoroughly convinced of the infallibility of their theory that they did not for one moment hesitate to cast the poor into the Procrustean bed of their economic notions and treat them with the most revolting cruelty. Convinced with Malthus and the rest of the adherents of free competition that it is best to let each one take care of himself, they would have preferred to abolish the Poor Laws altogether. Since, however, they had neither the courage nor the authority to do this, they proposed a Poor Law constructed as far as possible in harmony with the doctrine of Malthus, which is yet more barbarous than that of laissez-faire, because it interferes actively in cases in which the latter is passive. We have seen how Malthus characterises poverty, or rather the want of employment, as a crime under the title "superfluity", and recommends for it punishment by starvation. The commissioners were not quite so barbarous; death outright by starvation was something too terrible even for a Poor Law Commissioner. "Good," said they, "we grant you poor a right to exist, but only to exist; the right to multiply you have not, nor the right to exist as befits human beings. You are a pest, and if we cannot get rid of you as we do of other pests, you shall feel, at least, that you are a pest, and you shall at least be held in check, kept from bringing into the world other surplus, either directly or through inducing in others laziness and want of employment. Live you shall, but live as an awful warning to all those who might have inducements to become superfluous." They accordingly brought in the New Poor Law, which was passed by Parliament in 1834, and continues in force down to the present day. All relief in money and provisions was abolished; the only relief allowed was admission to the workhouses immediately built. The regulations for these workhouses, or, as the people call them, Poor Law Bastilles, is such as to frighten away every one who has the slightest prospect of life without this form of public charity. To make sure that relief be applied for only in the most extreme cases and after every other effort had failed, the workhouse has been made the most repulsive residence which the refined ingenuity of a Malthusian can invent. The food is worse than that of the most ill-paid working-man while employed, and the work harder, or they might prefer the workhouse to their wretched existence outside. Meat, especially fresh meat, is rarely furnished, chiefly potatoes, the worst possible bread and oatmeal porridge, little or no beer. The food of criminal prisoners is better, as a rule, so that the paupers frequently commit some offence for the purpose of getting into jail. For the workhouse is a jail too; he who does not finish his task gets nothing to eat; he who wishes to go out must ask permission, which is granted or not, according to his behaviour or the inspectors whim; tobacco is forbidden, also the receipt of gifts from relatives or friends outside the house; the paupers wear a workhouse uniform, and are handed over, helpless and without redress, to the caprice of the inspectors. To prevent their labour from competing with that of outside concerns, they are set to rather useless tasks: the men break stones, "as much as a strong man can accomplish with effort in a day"; the women, children, and aged men pick oakum, for I know not what insignificant use. To prevent the "superfluous" from multiplying, and "demoralised" parents from influencing their children, families are broken up; the husband is placed in one wing, the wife in another, the children in a third, and they are permitted to see one another only at stated times after long intervals, and then only when they have, in the opinion of the officials, behaved well. And in order to shut off the external world from contamination by pauperism within these bastilles, the inmates are permitted to receive visits only with the consent of the officials, and in the reception-rooms; to communicate in general with the world outside only by leave and under supervision. Yet the food is supposed to be wholesome and the treatment humane with all this. But the intent of the law is too loudly outspoken for this requirement to be in any wise fulfilled. The Poor Law Commissioners and the whole English bourgeoisie deceive themselves if they believe the administration of the law possible without these results. The treatment, which the letter of the law prescribes, is in direct contradiction of its spirit. If the law in its essence proclaims the poor criminals, the workhouses prisons, their inmates beyond the pale of the law, beyond the pale of humanity, objects of disgust and repulsion, then all commands to the contrary are unavailing. In practice, the spirit and not the letter of the law is followed in the treatment of the poor, as in the following few examples: In the workhouse at Greenwich, in the summer of 1843, a boy five. years old was punished by being shut into the dead-room, where he had to sleep upon the lids of the coffins. In the workhouse at Herne, the same punishment was inflicted upon a little girl for wetting the bed at night, and this method of punishment seems to be a favourite one. This workhouse, which stands in one of the most beautiful regions of Kent, is peculiar, in so far as its windows open only upon the court, and but two, newly introduced, afford the inmates a glimpse of the outer world. The author who relates this in the Illuminated Magazine, closes his description with the words: "If God punished men for crimes as man punishes man for poverty, then woe to the sons of Adam!" In November, 1843, a man died at Leicester, who had been dismissed two days before from the workhouse at Coventry. The details of the treatment of the poor in this institution are revolting. The man, George Robson, had a wound upon the shoulder, the treatment of which was wholly neglected; he was set to work at the pump, using the sound arm; was given only the usual workhouse fare, which he was utterly unable to digest by reason of the unhealed wound and his general debility; he naturally grew weaker, and the more he complained, the more brutally he was treated. When his wife tried to bring him her drop of beer, she was reprimanded, and forced to drink it herself in the presence of the female warder. He became ill, but received no better treatment. Finally, at his own request, and under the most insulting epithets, he was discharged, accompanied by his wife. Two days later he died at Leicester, in consequence of the neglected wound and of the food given him, which was utterly indigestible for one in his condition, as the surgeon present at the inquest testified. When he was discharged, there were handed to him letters containing money, which had been kept back six weeks, and opened, according to a rule of the establishment, by the inspector! In Birmingham such scandalous occurrences took place, that finally, in 1843, an official was sent to investigate the case. He found that four tramps had been shut up naked under a stair-case in a black hole, eight to ten days, often deprived of food until noon, and that at the severest season of the year. A little boy had been passed through all grades of punishment known to the institution; first locked up in a damp, vaulted, narrow, lumber- room; then in the dog-hole twice, the second time three days and three nights; then the same length of time in the old dog-hole, which was still worse; then the tramp-room, a stinking, disgustingly filthy hole, with wooden sleeping stalls, where the official, in the course of his inspection, found two other tattered boys, shrivelled with cold, who had been spending three days there. In the dog-hole there were often seven, and in the tramp-room, twenty men huddled together. Women, also, were placed in the dog-hole, because they refused to go to church and one was shut four days into the tramp-room, with God knows what sort of company, and that while she was ill and receiving medicines Another woman was placed in the insane department for punishment, though she was perfectly sane. In the workhouse at Bacton, in Suffolk, in January, 1844, a similar investigation revealed the fact that a feeble-minded woman was employed as nurse, and took care of the patients accordingly, while sufferers, who were often restless at night, or tried to get up, were tied fast with cords passed over the covering and under the bedstead, to save the nurses the trouble of sitting up at night. One patient was found dead, bound in this way. In the St. Pancras workhouse in London (where the cheap shirts already mentioned are made), an epileptic died of suffocation during an attack in bed, no one coming to his relief; in the same house, four to six, sometimes eight children, slept in one bed. In Shoreditch workhouse a man was placed, together with a fever patient violently ill, in a bed teeming with vermin. In Bethnal Green workhouse, London, a woman in the sixth month of pregnancy was shut up in the reception-room with her two-year- old child, from February 28th to March 19th, without being admitted into the workhouse itself, and without a trace of a bed or the means of satisfying the most natural wants. Her husband, who was brought into the workhouse, begged to have his wife released from this imprisonment, whereupon he received twenty-four hours imprisonment, with bread and water, as the penalty of his insolence. In the workhouse at Slough, near Windsor, a man lay dying in September, 1844. His wife journeyed to him, arriving at midnight; and hastening to the workhouse, was refused admission. She was not permitted to see her husband until the next morning, and then only in the presence of a female warder, who forced herself upon the wife at every succeeding visit, sending her away at the end of half-an-hour. In the workhouse at Middleton, in Lancashire, twelve, and at times eighteen, paupers, of both sexes, slept in one room. This institution is not embraced by the New Poor Law, but is administered under an old special act (Gilberts Act). The inspector had instituted a brewery in the house for his own benefit. In Stockport, July 31st, 1844, a man, seventy-two years old, was brought before the Justice of the Peace for refusing to break stones, and insisting that, by reason of his age and a stiff knee, he was unfit for this work. In vain did he offer to undertake any work adapted to his physical strength; he was sentenced to two weeks upon the treadmill. In the workhouse at Basford, an inspecting official found that the sheets had not been changed in thirteen weeks, shirts in four weeks, stockings in two to ten months, so that of forty-five boys but three had stockings, and all their shirts were in tatters. The beds swarmed with vermin, and the tableware was washed in the slop-pails. In the west of London workhouse, a porter who had infected four girls with syphilis was not discharged, and another who had concealed a deaf and dumb girl four days and nights in his bed was also retained. As in life, so in death. The poor are dumped into the earth like infected cattle. The pauper burial-ground of St. Brides, London, is a bare morass, in use as a cemetery since the time of Charles II., and filled with heaps of bones; every Wednesday the paupers are thrown into a ditch fourteen feet deep; a curate rattles through the Litany at the top of his speed; the ditch is loosely covered in, to be reopened the next Wednesday, and filled with corpses as long as one more can be forced in. The putrefaction thus engendered contaminates the whole neighbourhood. In Manchester, the pauper burial-ground lies opposite to the Old Town, along the Irk; this, too, is a rough, desolate place. About two years ago a railroad was carried through it. If it had been a respectable cemetery, how the bourgeoisie and the clergy would have shrieked over the desecration! But it was a pauper burial-ground, the resting-place of the outcast and superfluous, so no one concerned himself about the matter. It was not even thought worth while to convey the partially decayed bodies to the other side of the cemetery; they were heaped up just as it happened, and piles were driven into newly made graves, so that the water oozed out of the swampy ground, pregnant with putrefying matter, and filled the neighbourhood with the most revolting and injurious gases. The disgusting brutality which accompanied this work I cannot describe in further detail. Can any one wonder that the poor decline to accept public relief under these conditions? That they starve rather than enter these bastilles? I have the reports of five cases in which persons actually starving, when the guardians refused them outdoor relief, went back to their miserable homes and died of starvation rather than enter these hells. Thus far have the Poor Law Commissioners attained their object. At the same time, however, the workhouses have intensified, more than any other measure of the party in power, the hatred of the working-class against the property- holders, who very generally admire the New Poor Law. From Newcastle to Dover, there is but one voice among the workers -- the voice of hatred against the new law. The bourgeoisie has formulated so clearly in this law its conception of its duties towards the proletariat, that it has been appreciated even by the dullest. So frankly, so boldly has the conception never yet been formulated, that the non-possessing class exists solely for the purpose of being exploited, and of starving when the property- holders can no longer make use of it. Hence it is that this New Poor Law has contributed so greatly to accelerate the labour movement, and especially to spread Chartism; and, as it is carried out most extensively in the country, it facilitates the development of the proletarian movement which is arising in the agricultural districts. Let me add that a similar law in force in Ireland since 1838, affords a similar refuge for eighty thousand paupers. Here, too, it has made itself disliked, and would have been intensely hated if it had attained anything like the same importance as in England. But what difference does the ill-treatment of eighty thousand proletarians make. in a country in which there are two and a half millions of them? In Scotland there are, with local exceptions, no Poor Laws. I hope that after this picture of the New Poor Law and its results, no word which I have said of the English bourgeoisie will be thought too stern. In this public measure, in which it acts in corpore as the ruling power, it formulates its real intentions, reveals the animus of those smaller transactions with the proletariat, of which the blame apparently attaches to individuals. And that this measure did not originate with any one section of the bourgeoisie, but enjoys the approval of the whole class, is proved by the Parliamentary debates of 1844. The Liberal party had enacted the New Poor Law; the Conservative party, with its Prime Minister Peel at the head, defends it, and only alters some pettifogging trifles in the Poor Law Amendment Bill of 1844. A Liberal majority carried the bill, a Conservative majority approved it, and the "Noble Lords" gave their consent each time. Thus is the expulsion of the proletariat from State and society outspoken, thus is it publicly proclaimed that proletarians are not human beings, and do not deserve to be treated as such. Let us leave it to the proletarians of the British Empire to reconquer their human rights. [1] Such is the state of the British working-class as I have come to know it in the course of twenty-one months, through the medium of my own eyes, and through official and other trustworthy reports. And when I call this condition, as I have frequently enough done in the foregoing pages, an utterly unbearable one, I am not alone in so doing. As early as 1833, Gaskell declared that he despaired of a peaceful issue, and that a revolution can hardly fail to follow. 1n 1838, Carlyle explained Chartism and the revolutionary activity of the working-men as arising out of the misery in which they live, and only wondered that they have sat so quietly eight long years at the Barmecide feast, at which they have been regaled by the Liberal bourgeoisie with empty promises. And in 1844 he declared that the work of organising labour must be begun at once "if Europe, at any rate if England, is to continue inhabitable much longer." And the Times, the "first journal of Europe", said in June, 1844: War to the mansion, peace to the cottage -- is a watchword of terror which may yet ring through the land. Let the wealthy beware!" Meanwhile, let us review once more the chances of the English bourgeoisie. In the worst case, foreign manufacture, especially that of America, may succeed in withstanding English competition, even after the repeal of the Corn Laws, inevitable in the course of a few years. German manufacture is now making great efforts, and that of America has developed with giant strides. America, with its inexhaustible resources, with its unmeasured coal and iron fields, with its unexampled wealth of water-power and its navigable rivers, but especially with its energetic, active population, in comparison with which the English are phlegmatic dawdlers,-- America has in less than ten years created a manufacture which already competes with England in the coarser cotton goods, has excluded the English from the markets of North and South America, and holds its own in China, side by side with England. If any country is adapted to holding a monopoly of manufacture, it is America. Should English manufacture be thus vanquished -- and in the course of the next twenty years, if the present conditions remain unchanged, this is inevitable -- the majority of the proletariat must become forever superfluous, and has no other choice than to starve or to rebel. Does the English bourgeoisie reflect upon this contingency? On the contrary; its favourite economist, McCulloch, teaches from his students desk, that a country so young as America, which is not even properly populated, cannot carry on manufacture successfully or dream of competing with an old manufacturing country like England. It were madness in the Americans to make the attempt, for they could only lose by it; better far for them to stick to their agriculture, and when they have brought their whole territory under the plough, a time may perhaps come for carrying on manufacture with a profit. So says the wise economist, and the whole bourgeoisie worships him, while the Americans take possession of one market after another, while a daring American speculator recently even sent a shipment of American cotton goods to England, where they were sold for re-exportation! But assuming that England retained the monopoly of manufactures, that its factories perpetually multiply, what must be the result? The commercial crises would continue, and grow more violent, more terrible, with the extension of industry and the multiplication of the proletariat. The proletariat would increase in geometrical proportion, in consequence of the progressive ruin of the lower middle-class and the giant strides with which capital is concentrating itself in the hands of the few; and the proletariat would soon embrace the whole nation, with the exception of a few millionaires. But in this development there comes a stage at which the proletariat perceives how easily the existing power may be overthrown, and then follows a revolution. Neither of these supposed conditions may, however, be expected to arise. The commercial crises, the mightiest levers for all independent development of the proletariat, will probably shorten the process, acting in concert with foreign competition and the deepening ruin of the lower middle-class. I think the people will not endure more than one more crisis. The next one, in 1846 or 1847, will probably bring with it the repeal of the Corn Laws and the enactment of the Charter. What revolutionary movements the Charter may give rise to remains to be seen. But, by the time of the next following crisis, which, according to the analogy of its predecessors, must break out in 1852 or 1853, unless delayed perhaps by the repeal of the Corn Laws or hastened by other influences, such as foreign competition -- by the time this crisis arrives, the English people will have had enough of being plundered by the capitalists and left to starve when the capitalists no longer require their services. If, up to that time, the English bourgeoisie does not pause to reflect -- and to all appearance it certainly will not do so -- a revolution will follow with which none hitherto known can be compared. The proletarians, driven to despair, will seize the torch which Stephens has preached to them; the vengeance of the people will come down with a wrath of which the rage of 1795 gives no true idea. The war of the poor against the rich will be the bloodiest ever waged. Even the union of a part of the bourgeoisie with the proletariat, even a general reform of the bourgeoisie, would not help matters. Besides, the change of heart of the bourgeoisie could only go as far as a lukewarm juste-milieu; the more determined, uniting with the workers, would only form a new Gironde, and succumb in the course of the mighty development. The prejudices of a whole class cannot be laid aside like an old coat: least of all, those of the stable, narrow, selfish English bourgeoisie. These are all inferences which may be drawn with the greatest certainty: conclusions, the premises for which are undeniable facts, partly of historical development, partly facts inherent in human nature. Prophecy is nowhere so easy as in England, where all the component elements of society are clearly defined and sharply separated. The revolution must come; it is already too late to bring about a peaceful solution; but it can be made more gently than that prophesied in the foregoing pages. This depends, however, more upon the development of the proletariat than upon that of the bourgeoisie. In proportion, as the proletariat absorbs socialistic and communistic elements, will the revolution diminish in bloodshed, revenge, and savagery. Communism stands, in principle, above the breach between bourgeoisie and proletariat, recognises only its historic significance for the present, but not its justification for the future: wishes, indeed, to bridge over this chasm, to do away with all class antagonisms Hence it recognises as justified, so long as the struggle exists, the exasperation of the proletariat towards its oppressors as a necessity, as the most important lever for a labour movement just beginning; but it goes beyond this exasperation, because Communism is a question of humanity and not of the workers alone. Besides, it does not occur to any Communist to wish to revenge himself upon individuals, or to believe that, in general, the single bourgeois can act otherwise, under existing circumstances, than he does act. English Socialism, i.e., Communism, rests directly upon the irresponsibility of the individual. Thus the more the English workers absorb communistic ideas, the more superfluous becomes their present bitterness, which, should it continue so violent as at present, could accomplish nothing; and the more their action against the bourgeoisie will lose its savage cruelty. If, indeed, it were possible to make the whole proletariat communistic before the war breaks out, the end would be very peaceful; but that is no longer possible, the time has gone by. Meanwhile, I think that before the outbreak of open, declared war of the poor against the rich, there will be enough intelligent comprehension of the social question among the proletariat, to enable the communistic party, with the help of events, to conquer the brutal element of the revolution and prevent a "Ninth Thermidor". In any case, the experience of the French will not have been undergone in vain, and most of the Chartist leaders are, moreover, already Communists. And as Communism stands above the strife between bourgeoisie and proletariat, it will be easier for the better elements of the bourgeoisie (which are, however, deplorably few, and can look for recruits only among the rising generation) to unite with it than with purely proletarian Chartism. If these conclusions have not been sufficiently established in the course of the present work, there may be other opportunities for demonstrating that they are necessary consequences of the historical development of England. But this I maintain, the war of the poor against the rich now carried on in detail and indirectly will become direct and universal. It is too late for a peaceful solution. The classes are divided more and more sharply, the spirit of resistance penetrates the workers, the bitterness intensifies, the guerrilla skirmishes become concentrated in more important battles, and soon a slight impulse will suffice to set the avalanche in motion. Then, indeed, will the war-cry resound through the land: "War to the mansion, peace to the cottage!" -- but then it will be too late for the rich to beware. NOTES 1.To prevent misconstructions and consequent objections, I would observe that I have spoken of the bourgeoisie as a class, and that all such facts as refer to individuals serve merely as evidence of the way of thinking and acting of a class. Hence I have not entered upon the distinctions between the diverse sections, subdivisions and parties of the bourgeoisie, which have a mere historical and theoretical significance. And I can, for the same reason, mention but casually the few members of the bourgeoisie who have shown themselves honourable exceptions. These are, on the one hand, the pronounced Radicals, who are almost Chartists, such as a few members of the House of Commons, the manufacturers Hindley of Ashton, and Fielden of Todmorden (Lancashire), and, on the other hand, the philanthropic Tories, who have recently constituted themselves "Young England", among whom are the Members of Parliament, Disraeli, Borthwick, Ferrand, Lord John Manners, etc., Lord Ashley, too, is in sympathy with them. The hope of "Young England" is a restoration of the old "merry England" with its brilliant features and its romantic feudalism. This object is of course unattainable and ridiculous, a satire upon all historic development; but the good intention, the courage to resist the existing state of things and prevalent prejudices, and to recognise the vileness of our present condition, is worth something anyhow. Wholly isolated is the half-German Englishman, Thomas Carlyle, who, originally a Tory, goes beyond all those hitherto mentioned. He has sounded the social disorder more deeply than any other English bourgeois, and demands the organisation of labour. [1] Posted by boxcarro at 7:17 AM No comments: