Jan 212009
 

While I rarely comment on world politics on this blog, the overwhelming media coverage and vehement commentary from both sides of election day prompted me to ask Wolf to write something from our personal standpoint. So here it is, probably less than popular with either Democrats or Republicans (of which we are neither) but also an honest look at a few oft ignored issues that I hope you’ll find thought-provoking if not enjoyable.

-Kiva

Coming Back to Earth:
Obama, Realism & the Grounded Work Ahead

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

It is Inauguration Day as I write this, the historic occasion of not only the first President of African Descent and avowed opponent of the Iraq War but also the sweetest seeming and most articulate in decades.  He will support important alternative energy technology, put a halt to the Bush era practice of using simulated drownings (“water boarding”) to extract unreliable information from suspects, and issue hybrid cars to his staff.  And he’s so sincere it make us want to trust him with our children and our world.  On the other hand, I find it alarming the degree to which all but our most conservative of our acquaintances appear to have lost touch with reality, no doubt high on hope and (after George W.) slap-happy drunk with relief.  I write this because it is dangerous to be self deluded or ecstatically oblivious and disarmed when the more exploitive and unsustainable systems of the civilized paradigm will continue to grow unabated.  There are no clear solutions to the complex quandaries of our times, no politician or person is either all good or all bad, and if anything the election of a President of mixed race should be a reminder than nothing is as simple as black and white.

I am more apolitical and tribal than politically minded, and more Libertarian and Green than either Democrat or Republican.  But even if one was a Liberal in the Democratic Party mold, there would still be much to be concerned about.  If a main issue was getting troops out Iraq, one should be angry about the thousands he wants to leave behind as “Support,“ ‘Trainers” and “Advisors,” or at least be questioning his tripling of American combat troops in neighboring Afghanistan.  If one is concerned about environmental regulation to protect what is left of biodiversity and habitat in this country, they should be appalled at his consideration of opening up offshore drilling in sensitive areas.  If somebody opposes the open ended captivity of suspects in Guantanomo Bay enough to applaud his closure of the Gitmo prison facility, then they should also be deeply disappointed that the new President has made no moves to close the detention and torture facility at Bagram Air Force Base as well.  If you thought the State sanctioning of gay marriages is an important issue, you would have been disappointed over his refusal to support the issue.  If like us, you are disgusted by the shredding of Constitutional rights and liberties in the name of “national security” and fear a “V For Vendetta-like” future regime, then your cheers should stick in your throat over Obama’s retaining of Robert Gates as head of the Defense Department.  As head of the CIA, Gates backed the invasion of Panama to defend our “interests” against the corrupt thug we had helped elect, oversaw the Iran/Contra affair that included the funneling of arms to Central American death squads who were killing endless peasants and a smattering of American nuns.  He played a part in the removal of democratically elected Jean-Bertand Aristide in Haiti, helped prop up the terribly brutal Suharto regime in Indonesia, and ran the very Iraq War that the President is promised to withdraw from.

And regardless of one’s political leanings, our emotional response should be informed by the fact that the billions or even trillions of dollars that will go to the wasteful bank bailouts (one bank used the money to expand and buy another!) and other programs to “save the economy” will be at the expense of our children and grandchildren, who will face absurdly higher taxes, find the dollar worth less, and realize that a large part of America is actually collateral for Chinese and Arab investors who can call in their loans at anytime.  Barack may be an “environmentalist” (a term that we have for several reasons never adopted), but protection of wild places, clean air and rivers, open spaces and sustainable human habitat is simply not possible along with the endless population growth and nonstop economic expansion that he condones or supports.  Not only livable space and precious wilderness continues to be at risk from this modernist paradigm, but also rural culture, self reliance, regional self sufficiency and national sovereignty.

Regardless of who is ever elected our “leader,” they are restricted in what they can accomplish, can’t buck the special interests that funded their elections, and even if they wanted to they can’t sell notions like healthy population reductions or economic contraction, local production or regional autonomy, the repeal of the outrageous Patriot Act or some of the thousands of stranglehold regulations that rule every aspect of our modern lives.  No governmental edict or elected official can make the modernist paradigm tenable or sustainable, neither the unrealistic credit system, our current spending habits or growth patterns.  We applaud any bettering of governance or furtherance of liberty that this or any other administration might provide, but real change will require a shift in basic American values and evolution in lifestyles that few are ready to make.  It is not Presidents that will deliver us from this destructive artificial morass, but new precedents.

It is time to come back to earth after the election high, back down to the living giving ground where we do the real work of limiting family size and empowering as well as loving our children, growing organic gardens and learning to use biorgionally available plant medicines to heal ourselves and each other, ensuring ecosystem integrity while building old fashioned supportive community, protecting what matters most and slowly altering and deepening the values, priorities and goals of the society that even the most nonconformist of us cannot help but belong to.

  7 Responses to “Coming Back to Earth: Obama, Realism & the Grounded Work Ahead”

  1. i agree with much of what you have said, especially that one politician is quite limited in what he/she can accomplish on his/her own. as a whole, we need to realize that politicians are more followers than leaders of the public. for example, WE need to make it politically possible for them to advocate for gays and lesbians or for the protection of the environment. i think this is part of what Obama was trying to get across with his campaign, and what got many people so involved with it (of course it involved plenty of corporate/special interests as well, seemingly unavoidable these days). though i know he is far from perfect, what excites me about Obama are not his policy statements, but his willingness to read, listen, learn, think, change, and act…and his ability to be idealistic while recognizing reality. all of this is such a refreshing change in what has been an era of increasing desperation for many people – and why many are feeling great relief at this moment.

    i have heard worry from others over the dangerousness of the so-called “messiah” syndrome surrounding Obama, but honestly don’t see much evidence for it. it seems many, many of those tears of joy were on the faces of older black Americans who never thought they would see any semblance of racial equality in this country, and i feel they deserve a moment of celebration.

    anyway, sorry for the long comment, but these are interesting thoughts. thanks for sharing. (i’ve been reading the Medicine Womans Roots blog for some time and love it!)

  2. Warm greetings- while I agree with a lot of what you write and appreciate all your good works I have to put out a different take on “overpopulation”. I went to a workshop at Hampshire College on reproductive rights a few years ago and learned a lot.

    http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt/40

    I am not accusing you of anything but I wanted to put this info out there for it is important. I do it with friendly intentions and sincerity. Thanks.

  3. Cullen, I appreciate that you have a different opinion, and while I could debate your link blow by blow (there’s a whole lot of holes in logic there even for the most casual observer/thinker) it’s probably not worthwhile, especially when anyone with internet access can look the subject up and make up their own mind about the subject (which I encourage everyone to do). I assure you we’re not putting out blind opinions, Wolf has an intense background in environmental/ecology issues and the human effect on the planet and we stand by our words.

    This is of course a highly sensitive issue for many people, and it goes against our very biological nature to stop or place limitations on having babies, or even imagine that that might be a rational decision given current circumstances. As much as I would like to believe we can go on as we always have – proliferating, consuming, spreading agriculture and industry in our wake. I just don’t. We (and the planet) don’t just need modification to the current paradigm, we need real transformational change.

    Blessings,
    Kiva

  4. Oh, and this has been crossposted on the Anima blog and readers here might be interested in the comments from readers over there http://animacenter.org/blog/?p=462#comments

  5. Thank you for sharing this!

    Over the last year, I’ve been so disheartened by the reaction to this campaign and election. People, even many people I expected much more of, have been willing to not only settle for so much less than what we need…they dressed that settling up as an amazing REVOLUTION of enlightenment and progressive action. What??

    Everything you’ve mentioned above, plus more (like outright lies – campaigning on one thing while actually doing the opposite) result in something quite less than the messiah that so many people seem to have found in Obama.

    When I have tried to talk to people about this, I have been told that I have to “trust” and have “faith” that everything Obama is doing, even when it ‘appears’ to be against our interests, will all work out to our benefit. That is creepy and scary and disappointing to me.

    No one is perfectly consistent at all times, but I am extremely turned-off by manipulators and deceivers. I can’t settle for so much less. I can’t accept that $170-million is OK for an inauguration when so many people, animals, and our very planet suffers so much.

    I’m really rambling here, so I guess I will wrap it up. But thank you for creating this forum.

  6. Hi,
    I was reading your blog with interest but when I ran into the “Obama” blog I was amazed and amused starting from”

    While I rarely comment on world politics on this blog, the overwhelming media coverage and vehement commentary from both sides of election day prompted me to ask Wolf to write something from our personal standpoint.

    Don’t you see? This would make good satire if you were not serious, it’s really just sad.

    Written by me from MY personal standpoint. because there can be no “our personal”
    anything. It’s oxymoronic.

    Thanks for letting me say my peace. [piece]

  7. Are you seriously writing this long comment just to criticize my grammar? And for the record, in this case, there is an “our personal” since Wolf and I are almost the same person :)

    And if my failure to speak perfect English makes you that sad, you’ll definitely not be sticking around very long ;)

    Have a lovely day.

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