Shock Doctrine: The U.S. Supreme Court has declared war on humanity.

The Supreme Court of the United States of America has declared war on humanity. The assault on bodily autonomy in overturning Roe v. Wade is already set to do incalculable amounts of harm for generations to come, and you think an increasingly fascist U.S. wouldn’t use its power to push this vicious ideology around the world, then I don’t think you’ve been paying attention.

Unfortunately, there’s more. The most recent outrage is the decision to gut the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the court said that any time an agency does something big and new – in this case addressing climate change – the regulation is presumptively invalid, unless Congress has specifically authorized regulating in this sphere.

“That’s a very big deal because they’re not going to get it from Congress because Congress is essentially dysfunctional,” said Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus, an expert on environmental law. “This could not have come at a worse time” because “the consequences of climate change are increasingly dire and we’re running out of time to address it.”

As I understand it, this means that all regulations may be on the chopping block, if they’re not explicitly spelled out by Congress. That doesn’t just mean greenhouse gas emissions, it could theoretically gut the entirety of the agency system of the U.S., which has been the primary bulwark protecting the general public from the murderous greed of corporations.

From everything I can tell, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court is applying Shock Doctrine tactics. To quote Milton Friedman, the Prophet of Neoliberalism:

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. What that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.

In this case, they are creating their own crisis, and using it to destroy barriers to corporate and oligarchic power. They want to take us back to the time of burning rivers an choking smog, and they want to do it in the middle of a warming event that already threatens humanity with extinction.

At this point, it’s starting to seem like the death of most of humanity is their goal.

They’re relying on the scale and speed of their action to shock institutions of power into inaction. They’re also relying on the majority that doesn’t like what’s happening being unable to do anything to stop it. At the moment, I’m worried that they’re right. It doesn’t seem like the Democratic party intends to do much of anything about what this court is doing. They certainly didn’t have any plan ready to go for this extremely predictable situation. It’s not just that we got the leaked Roe ruling, or that it was obvious the three Trump appointees lied about abortion to get on the court. It’s that these tactics have been a standard part of the US foreign policy playbook for decades. Many of those “centrist” politicians whose careers supposedly make them qualified to lead have been involved in inflicting this kind of treatment on other countries, so we have a pretty good idea of the playbook. If you haven’t read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, I continue to think it’s essential to understanding what’s going on in the world today, and the audiobook is free.

I’m worried about what will come next, and I think you all should be as well. With climate change, habitat destruction, chemical pollution, and fascism all in the mix together, it feels like there’s no limit on how bad things could get. The Supreme Court of the United States has declared war on humanity, and they will wage that war whether we fight back or not. As always: Organize, train, practice coordinated action, and prepare for hard times.

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Back in the beginning of June, I had gotten a thousand words or so written on a post about the recent spike in transphobia in the United States. I promised that post because I felt fairly confident that I’d have it done in a week or so. So far I’m at around a little under 6,000 words, and it’s no so much an essay as it is a literary amoeba that keeps extending new psuedopodia as new, terrible things happen to feed it. I’m not even clear on what my point is, beyond wanting people to be safe, which feels like it ought to be the bare minimum. At this point the fact that I still haven’t finished it is becoming a problem in my brain, so as odd as it may sound, I have to remove the deadline if I want to get it done any time soon.

I feel like I’ve been talking about ADHD a fair amount on this blog recently. It’s a predictable result of maintaining a commitment to daily posting, if I want this blog to be more than just recycled content. I only really came to believe I have the disorder in the last couple years, and since medical treatment remains out of reach, I’ve been in the process of trying to figure out how to manage a brain the often refuses to cooperate. One lesson I should have learned a while ago is that I need to stop promising the results of work that isn’t already done.

That post will be up when it’s finished, and unfortunately I see no indication that it will be less relevant in July or August than it was in June. The tragic reality is that without some very uncharacteristic behavior from the leadership of the Democratic Party, it looks like we’re in for a long period of conservative, theocratic, minoritarian rule in the United States. If the implications of that don’t chill you to the bone, then you either haven’t been paying attention, or you’re one of the bad guys. Neither of those are good things.

I’m generally inclined to believe that people are products of our experiences. To me that means that saying someone is “good” or “bad” tends to obscure a more complicated reality. That said, bigotry is similar to violent crime – we can discuss the philosophical implications after the harm has been stopped, and the people inflicting the harm no longer have the power to do so. The important thing right now is defending those who are under attack, and as with oppressive regimes of the past, that may will involve doing things that could make you a target, either of the government, or of the fascist movement that is currently being emboldened.

That’s not an easy call to make. I would never pretend it is, especially seeing as how I up and left the country.

But I think it’s important to understand what seems to be happening, and to think about what that means for us, and for the other people in our lives. A lot of people are justifiably frightened, angry, and grieving right now, all while continuing the never-ending struggle to make ends meet.

To quote my new favorite movie, “The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”

Video: True Facts about the beaver

So I got lots of writing done today, but most of it was for a fantasy novel that’s not going to be available for at least a year (though maybe some stuff sooner for patrons?). Long story short, I’m wiped, so I’m going to lean on Ze Frank again, to continue my ongoing campaign for a human-beaver partnership.

There are a couple of things in that video I never knew, including the fact that beavers apparently build dams because one of their common ancestors hated a very particular kind of noise made by flowing water, to the point where the entire species seems to structure its life around putting sticks on the noisy water to make it stop.

Science says win first, answer questions later.

The prevailing theory of change in the United States has long been that you persuade people to agree with you, and when you get enough people on your side, they vote for representatives, who will enact the policies desired by the majority. It’s something that works in theory, but that has been consistently undermined and sabotaged by the forces of capitalism. Even before the U.S. entered this period of more or less open minoritarian rule, the will of the majority was regularly ignored on things like climate change or a public health insurance option. Despite all of this, a lot of the mainstream rhetoric around political change has remained focused on persuading those who are either apathetic or in opposition to our goals.

Unfortunately, it seems that public opinion tends to follow policy much more than some of us might wish:

“The design of climate mitigation policies relies on economic models. Our research shows that it is possible to improve such models to represent changes in preferences,” says Linus Mattauch, lead author of the paper and researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the University of Oxford. “Preferences represent values and habits, meaning essentially what you as an individual like and not, what you prefer to consume more of and what less. Economists typically assume you are basically born with a fixed set of values and preferences that remain that way throughout your life. It makes calculations easier – but it is a simplification from reality. And, crucially, if you assume preferences will always remain the same, real change like the transition to a decarbonised economy is harder.”

Preference changes are well documented in the past: When the negative health impacts of smoking were raised in education campaigns alongside price interventions and bans, more and more people quit smoking – economics rarely understands this as a change in preferences.

Climate policies can change people’s way of looking at things

“Carbon pricing is indispensable for delivering on climate targets,” says co-author Nicholas Stern, who published the famous 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. “However, if carbon pricing changes people’s preferences – and there is evidence that it does – this has implications. For example, if citizens see carbon prices as indicating purposefulness of policy in directions that they find sensible, then the response to carbon pricing could be enhanced.” They do not simply act as consumers: as citizens, they will develop low-carbon preferences, and more environmental protection could be achieved by a given tax rate.

“Another example is urban redesign,” adds Mattauch. “If a government puts in the money and makes a city’s infrastructure more bike-friendly, citizens will switch from driving to using public transport or cycling. This behaviour will stick, even in different infrastructures – bringing further benefits to the environment and their own health. Taking those benefits into account can lower the threshold for making such big investments worthwhile.”

Reducing demand-side emissions to the benefit of planet and people

One might argue that aiming for preference changes is something policies shouldn’t do. “Our short general answer to this objection is: If society does not debate how preferences are formed, they risk being shaped by and to the benefit of special interest groups rather than in a democratic way. For the enormous challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions drastically in the near-future, recognizing that climate policy instruments modify the preference formation process can produce better climate policies for everyone – and help advance the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent recommendation of using demand-side measures to curb carbon emissions,” Mattauch concludes.

I call this “unfortunate”, because of what’s happening with the Supreme Court right now. That, combined with billionaire-funded propaganda could well result in public opinion swinging to the right on a number of issues. Unfortunately, abortion isn’t close to being the only thing on the table. I also think it’s a bit unfortunate because I don’t share their belief that carbon pricing is the way to go.

That said, I think this is useful information to have. It bolsters what many of us already suspected – if we can actually get the changes we want, it’ll be a lot easier to convince people that their hesitation or opposition was ill-founded. That’s one reason why I think we need to be building collective power – there are times when you need to make change over the objections of those who see everything new as a sign of the coming apocalypse. Trying to persuade someone who sees you as an enemy could well be a lot harder than simply changing the world around them, and demonstrating that it’s better.

That’s basically what the conservatives have been doing, though their definition of “better” is abominable. They don’t care about persuading you, they care about getting their way, and silencing objection. I fear this may be one of those cases where the ends really do justify at least some means. To be clear, I don’t think we need to sacrifice our commitment to the values of life, autonomy, and democracy to win; but I do think that we need to be willing to work outside the system, and to “play dirty”, so to speak. To me, there is no honor in pretending that we’re in a fair fight, while the delay that causes destroys lives. At this point, playing by the rules of this system is conceding defeat before the battle has begun, and I think that includes trying to solve climate change with carbon pricing. Our system is corrupt and it has been from the start, and real change will only ever come from outside it.

So we win first, and answer questions later.

If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!

Dinosaur fight!

I’ll probably have something more substantive up later today, but I wanted to share this picture I saw on twitter.

The image shows a Canada Goose in the foreground, as though the photo was taken from just over its shoulder. You can see a bit of its body, in the bottom right corner, and its neck snaking in from the righthand side. Its head and neck are black, and its cheeks are white. Its bill is slightly open. In front of the goose is a small stretch of rippled green water, and then a log. There's a Green Heron standing on the log, one big yellow foot facing the goose, the other apparently facing the first foot, with the heel/

For those who can’t see it, The image shows a Canada Goose in the foreground, as though the photo was taken from just over its shoulder. You can see a bit of its body, in the bottom right corner, and its neck snaking in from the righthand side. Its head and neck are black, and its cheeks are white. Its bill is slightly open. In front of the goose is a small stretch of rippled green water, and then a log. There’s a Green Heron standing on the log, one big yellow foot facing the goose, the other apparently facing the first foot, with the heel sticking awkwardly out to the side. Its folded wings are blue with some white edging, its belly is gray, and its long, fuzzy, purple neck is fully extended towards the goose. There are a couple white lines running along its throat. Its head is a similar blue to its wings, with the sharp, blue-black beak open to reveal a pink mouth. Its eyes are bright yellow with black pupils, and staring ferociously.

Video: How Prager U corporatized the Youtube “Alt-Right Pipeline”

This video from Zoe Bee is an important update on the state of right-wing propaganda. I’m assuming that by now most people are aware of who and what Prager U is, but it’s easy to dismiss them for the occasional take that goes viral for how extremist or dishonest it is. Unfortunately, as with so much else in right-wing politics, they’re playing a long game. It’s easier for them, because as the video describes, they’re extremely well funded. They can literally afford the play the long game, because they are working for those who’re already at the top. They “win” if they die filthy rich, and they know their kids and grandkids will be fine, as long as they do their part now to head off any future political change.

I would quibble with some of what the quoted researchers characterize as “radical” vs “mainstream” within the general conservative movement (Ginni Thomas seems pretty radical to me), but I think it’s actually a distinction worth drawing; not because the mainstream GOP isn’t radical, but because they’re not treated as radical.  What Prager U is working to do, along with lying about history, is to normalize open fascism. The mix of mainstream and fringe, politician and pundit, academic and firebrand, serves to present all of them as equally valid in the eyes of viewers who might have come in for a cute cartoon about something non-controversial.

Make no mistake – Prager U is dangerous to any chance at a better world. Their dream for the United States won’t just make life hell for the working class of that country – they want the U.S. as a capitalist Christian hegemon in perpetuity, with all of humanity playing their role in the games our ruling class decide to play.

Video: Let’s talk about what they’re going after next…

Tired, angry, and a bit depressed. Unfortunately, as bad as the Roe v. Wade ruling is, it’s just the beginning. This isn’t going to end, probably for as long as the Supreme Court has its current makeup. They’re coming for other rights. They’re also coming for things like the EPA. Form networks. Organize. Think about who you can and cannot trust, and under what circumstances.

I see the bad moon risin’

I see trouble on the way.

I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings, right now, and while I’m going to write about them in the coming days, there are other projects that need finishing, so I’m going to work on those today, to remove that mental block. There are so many bad things happening, it’s hard to keep up. For now, here are some messages that I think you should be spreading around:

  • No more coathanger talk! Illicit abortions are no longer done with coathangers. That rhetoric was true and necessary when it was popularized, but now it is putting lives in danger. These days, if you want a DIY abortion, you take pills. Coathangers grab attention because of the extreme danger they present, but if someone is desperate we do not want them turning to that because they think they have no other options. The underground abortion “market” will probably follow similar channels to all other illicit drugs, which means any internal or external, physical attempt to end a pregnancy should absolutely not be the first thing anyone thinks of if they realize they need an abortion.
  • Abortion funds exist, and you can donate to them. There are also groups that have been preparing for this day, and they could probably use help.
  • Networks are vital in times like this. Word of mouth, to people you know you can trust, is a way to seek and give help and information. As I keep saying, interact with your community. Learn who your neighbors are, and in what ways you can rely on them. Make sure that they know they can turn to you in a crisis, and be prepared to back that up.
  • Prepare. If you have access to meds you think will become harder to get (like if the GOP takes the government in 2026), don’t buy large amounts, but consider keeping a little for emergencies. Keep track of expiration dates. This applies to all medical supplies, but it also applies to food, hygiene products, water purification tools, and so on. Which reminds me
  • Get drug testing kits. Specifically, if you think that you or someone you love might conceivably have to get life-saving medication from a less-than-reputable source, get drug testing kits. Cops are lying about how dangerous fentanyl is, but it is dangerous, and it seems to be increasingly contaminating pills and powders specifically. Even without the overdose risk, there are dangers. Fentanyl test strips are legal *in 22 states*
  • Be kind. The Roe v. Wade ruling is not going to be the last disastrous ruling from this court. More hits are coming, and a lot of people are going to be under stress. Practice patience, and practice giving those you love the benefit of the doubt.
  • EDIT: If you have a period app, seriously considering deleting it. Those data can and will be available to law enforcement, and can be used as evidence of pregnancy and/or abortion
  • EDIT: How To Give Yourself An Abortion

Hang in there. Take care of yourself as best you can, and remember to do things that make you happy, because they make you happy.

Important Video: Unsustainable water usage is reaching a crisis point for the Southwestern U.S.

Watch this video, or at least click through to youtube and read the transcript (click on the “…” next to the “save” option). The states that draw water from the Colorado River have very little time to find a way to eliminate one Arizona’s worth of water usage. Failing to do that means 25 million people could lose their electricity, because Lake Meade has almost dried up to the point that the Hoover Dam can no longer generate power reliably. I was recently talking to someone who was shocked that I would suggest we rebuild infrastructure and relocate people to make nationwide mass transit more viable.

The reality is that people are going to have to change and relocate either way, unless they want to be living without electricity in a notoriously hot and dry region, as the planet continues to heat. We are out of time.

Driven to extinction by “leaders” with all the maturity and responsibility of a bunch of drunken frat bros.

So, you may not have heard, but we’ve got a bit of a problem where we’re taking too much stuff out of the ground, and making too much other stuff with it. It almost feels weird to say that when so many people are trapped in grinding poverty, but as I’ve covered before, poverty in 2022 is not due to a lack of resources. The reality is that we’re over-producing. We’re making far, far more stuff than we need to, primarily because capitalism is a way to turn raw materials into money and power, and the folks at the top have less self control than my fucking cat. That’s why we have things like planned obsolescence, and it’s part of why garbage and chemical waste are such a huge problem. It’s also a colossal waste of energy.

None of this is new. None of this is a revelation. Apart from some of the words and perspectives in that paragraph, I could just as well have posted an excerpt from one of the Ranger Rick magazines I read in the 90s.

If we want a habitable planet, we need to dramatically reduce the amount of stuff we’re making. That doesn’t mean a worse life, or even necessarily fewer personal belongings. It means that the personal property we do have will be built as well as it can be. It means producing fewer things of higher quality (more on this theme in a future post). The step before giving up everything is making sure that we’re using the resources we have in a responsible manner. That means no more products designed to break so customers need to buy more. That means much less in the way of “single-use” products, and it also means making sure that when something like a machine no longer works, we salvage the parts to make other machines run.

Since we’re on the topic, I’m personally of the opinion that we ought to halt most of our mining, and return those sites to Indigenous control. That should come with a blank check for cleaning and restoration of the land, and help setting up more sustainable mining practices if that community decides that they want to do so. At the same time, we focus on using and re-using what we’ve already got. We need to actually recycle. We need to mine the landfills and junkyards. The goal is to both reduce the energy expended on extraction, refining, and overproduction, and to take a more active role in healing and supporting the ecosystems that give us life.

I’m sort of just riffing on this, because I want to give an taste of the kinds of conversations we probably should have been having for a while, and we should definitely be having now. You know how I started this with “you may not have heard”? Yeah, that was a joke. I feel like this stuff should be obvious to any halfway reasonable person.

I’m over-explaining now because apparently it’s possible for fully grown adults with real power and responsibility to still not get this shit.

What the fuck is this?

Why is this happening?

What is going on in our society that this doesn’t trigger an immediate investigation for criminal waste of resources?

In what world is this pointless destruction less of a crime than riding dirt bikes in New York City?

We are facing an existential crisis unlike anything in recorded history. We know that we need to use our finite resources more responsibly, and our so-called leaders are performatively destroying functional, efficient vehicles. Because in a city infamous for having its streets choked with cars, dirt bikes are the real  problem. Are you kidding me? Is this a prank show? Did some college kids get drunk and hijack an earth mover?

No, none of that. It’s our responsible, serious leaders destroying perfectly good vehicles and bragging about it.

This would be like incinerating a bunch of PPE at the beginning of the pandemic because you caught non-medical personnel with it. This would be like destroying a few tons of good food during WW2 rationing, because the person who cooked it wasn’t licensed to do so. Even if just taking those people’s dirt bikes was a legitimate use of state power (and of course it’s not), don’t destroy them!

For that matter, I thought our society was all about protection of property! I thought destruction of property was supposed to be a bad thing!

I am beyond fed up with public officials who act like this is all a game, or a play or something. They’ll do performative bullshit that demonstrably makes the world worse, and then expect us to praise them for it.

I think I’ve mentioned once or fifty times that repetition is an important part of getting any message across. I think another important part is knowing to whom you’re speaking. There are a lot of people out there who will not change their minds no matter what we do, and I’m sorry to say that a great many of them are the ones running things. I think it’s worth it to keep repeating most of the actual statements I’ve made in this post, but I do not think repeating them to people like NYC mayor Eric Adams will do any good. I feel the same about most of our leaders.

No, the repetition I’m building to is this: We have to take power away from these people. We’ve seen what they do with power when they have it, and I can’t think of a better metaphor for that than the braggadocious destruction of these dirt bikes.

We have to take power away from these people, and that means we have to build collective power. Organize, train, and practice taking action in coordination with other groups in other locations.

If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!