Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
I spent my childhood in communist Romania in the 1950s. By age eight, I knew that autocratic regimes take away more than your freedom. They also distort your sense of reality. They destroy the fabric of your community. And they undermine your sense of agency, thus invading your very selfhood. School was a minefield, and not just because I was a small, skinny girl who had to sit next to the big bullies. It required complex negotiations and a relentless vigilance daunting for an eight year-old.
The philanthropy practiced by capitalist corporations through foundations they create has a mixed outcome. It rightfully boasts its success, for example, the eradication of malaria and tuberculosis, which saved many lives. But that success has limitations because this philanthropy is a child of capitalism, a system that places profit and economic growth ahead of the environment and people's needs. In capitalism, the ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange of wealth is maintained by private individuals or corporations -- the 1%.
On January 30, advocates with the animal liberation network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) filed a lawsuit in Alameda County, California, against Diestel Turkey Ranch, one of only a handful of suppliers to receive a 5+ rating from Whole Foods' Global Animal Partnership rating program. Just a little over a year prior, DxE's investigation broke the major media, with feature stories in the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, revealing shocking conditions at the northern California farm.
Regardless of their political affiliation, most who follow politics in any depth easily dismissed Donald Trump's series of grave Twitter accusations on March 4 that Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped before the 2016 election. Trump offered no evidence for his wiretapping claims, but instead used inflammatory language such as calling Obama "sick" and "bad," and requested that Congress conduct an investigation into the Obama administration.
Today, the West can respond in four ways. The first is to increase the conflict, continue borrowing, increase weapons production, cut government expenditure, continue receiving migrants, increase surveillance. That is, burn the candle at both ends, and hope that the rich will bail everyone else out when the time comes. This is conservative neoliberalism: Sarkozy, Bush, Cameron, Harper. The second is to promise a slow shift to a better world while not challenging anything. Tax the rich, improve welfare, better health care, take better care of migrants, rights for the disenfranchised, roll out renewables even as you subsidize the fossil fuel economy.
Despite stringent regulations meant to protect US consumers and the nation's food supply, con men still show up and take advantage of loopholes in the law. Those loopholes may be closing, and there's at least one perpetrator who spent time behind bars wishing he hadn't heard of "organic produce." Corrupt politicos have fostered relationships with the nation's "big food" interests to serve themselves at the organic industry buffet by allowing products to be marketed openly while violating the organic criteria set in place by the US Department of Agriculture.
Today, of all days, no one needs to remind feminists, and humanists more generally, that there is no greater moral and political imperative than to ensure the equality of nearly half of the global population -- it is fundamental to a just and more tolerant world. Moreover, equality is a human right, and over the past two decades, the world has affirmed that women's rights are human rights.
Friends, it has long been my privilege to work with courageous men and women resisting dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and military colonialism and who work for a nuclear weapons-free world. After our election, influenced by the FBI director, the Kremlin and Hillary Clinton's uninspiring campaign, millions of Americans understood our need to resist a fascist, white supremacist, lying, militarist, misogynist, corrupt, ignorant, Crusader Christian regime of billionaires, generals and their apologists.
On February 24, the Editor-in-Chief of Sierra Club Magazine, Jason Mark, published a long-winded excuse for meat consumption and the "moral" case for it. By the second sentence, Mark admits, "I had no problem with killing animals," in opening with how he "experimented" with being a vegetarian for environmental reasons. For any environmental organization, these reasons should debunk all arguments in favor of meat consumption.
Tremors from the upheaval surrounding the Trump presidency have been felt all over the globe. Citizens from the United Kingdom have pushed for legislation to bar Trump from entering their country. In cities from Sydney to Nairobi, millions marched in solidarity with women against Trump's discriminatory policies. And scientists, national leaders and citizens from around the world worry about the deleterious potential of Trump's denial of climate change. While in the United States, dissent is in the streets to a degree that has not been seen for generations.