The Organic Revolution: R & D Becomes R, R, R or S, S, or D
Copyright 2010, John Manimas Medeiros
The Industrial Revolution is not followed by the "Cybernetic Revolution." It is followed by the Organic Revolution. The technological imperative of post-industrial society is that Research and Development becomes "Recover, Recycle, Reuse, or Safely Store, or Digest." All of the chemical products that we produce, which includes solid compounds such as plastics, and of course all of the derivatives of hydrocarbons, as well as medicines, insecticides and pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers, all non-existent before 1800, require the development of processes that imitate Nature, and that accomplish recycling, reusing, or digesting for the simple reason that they are new in the natural environment and Nature has been "surprised" and is not prepared to perform on these new chemicals the process of non-toxic decay, which Nature -- primarily bacteria -- does perform effectively for all of the substances produced by Nature since before 1800, such as wood, bone, dead vegetation, and dead animals.
During the later half of the twentieth century, we were aroused by Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller and others to take notice that industrial machines had entered a new phase, a new level of "replacement" of human labor. Electronic information processors -- computers -- and cybernetic machines, meaning computer operated mechanical devices, were raising the replacement of human labor to a new level, with cosmic effects. Not only can our new machines perform mechanical labor, they can also process information which means that they can do a very primitive level of "thinking" or adjusting their performance to "instructions" that are entered into their electronic computerized controls. This means that material-handling machines, and material-processing machines are sufficiently adaptable to perform not only one or two functions, but can be "programmed" to perform a wide range of functions. Cybernetics, or computerized mechanical devices can imitate the functional skills of the human arms and hands with a wide range of focus on precision and strength. In other words, cybernetic machines can perform their functions with high levels of precision, and they can of course magnify the strength of human arms many times, such as by picking up and placing an object that weighs a ton.
What has changed is that machines are no longer monolithic, like a metal-stamping press, which performs only one operation. Now, a relative of mine reported to me many years ago that he worked for a company called "Robo-Hand." The implication of a robotic hand is, of course, a machine that can do much of what a human hand can accomplish. This is indeed a revolution. More recently, I watched a documentary on television that described how a company produced a robotic hand for purposes of performing repairs in outer space. So this is the essence of the cybernetic revolution. The employee who used to be a machinist is now a machine monitor, who watches the machines work in order to assure that they are performing smoothly according to their electronic programs. Who needs people? Well, it turns out that we made a mistake, or two, because of the mindless viewpoint of industrialists and their anti-social effect on society. They have been focused for the last three hundred years on reducing the need for hiring people to perform labor, and they have succeeded brilliantly. They forgot that people in society do not accomplish only the function of labor. People also accomplish consumption. They also miscalculated on the results of the "cybernetic revolution." We have spit in the face of "scarcity" and the warnings of Adam Smith, that we would not be able to produce enough food for a growing population. We have a different problem. As the Industrial Revolution lead to cybernetic technology, together with the globalization, we discovered that our problem really is becoming a problem we did not expect: we can produce far more of everything than we really need, and we are stuck with it. That is why we have the craziest economic and social result of our materialist success: people who used to be poor and starving in the 1930's now have to rent "self-storage" units in order to store the junk they cannot use and cannot jam into their over-stuffed attics, basements and garages, and visible back yards. And of course, this is not even the worst problem. The worst problem is the pollution and environmental damage caused by solid waste everywhere, including in the rivers and oceans, the climatic temperature increases caused by our machines and our activities, and by the toxic liquid and gaseous waste products that we release into the atmosphere, streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. We are killing ourselves, and the solution to this problem, forced upon us by the INDUSTRIAL CLASS and the COMMERCIAL CLASS, is "let the taxpayer pay for it all." Isn't that, Horrors!, socialism?
The problem created for us by one-sided or one-dimensional materialism (produce more, use less labor) was not planned for. It is the problem that made humans look like idiots in the second half of the twentieth century, when all of the solid waste and junk that no one wanted was put into "landfills." How stupid can a human blockhead be? A landfill means just what it says. In order to get rid of all this left over junk, let's "fill the land" with it. Dig a hole and put it in the hole and cover it with a thin layer of lawn. This was the viewpoint of an engineer, who must have studied biology in hell. If you think of the planet organically, as being like an organism such as a human body, then what we are doing by digging a "landfill" is like cutting your arm and stuffing a piece of your feces under your skin. It did not take long for us to discover, to the surprise of the moron engineers who designed landfills, that a landfill is an infection on the surface of the Earth. So what do we do now? That's easy. We turn to Joe the stupid taxpayer and say, "Hey. We've got a problem, and it is very expensive. You can pay for it." And so this is how the "post-industrial" economy works. First you, the citizen, buy everything we can produce, and we can produce more food than you are supposed to eat, and more or everything than you can possibly use, but you must buy it. Second, we just discovered, much to our surprise (because we are human jackass), that our hydrocarbon-based society, and our chemicals and poisons and fertilizers and medicines and toxins and waste packages and detritus and industrial puke is poisoning … well … poisoning Nature. We are killing things, like we are killing LIFE itself. We are probably killing everything: plants, animals, bacteria, fungus, whales, toads, flies, bees, birds, fish, and most of what we admire. We didn't mean it, and it is all your fault, because you wanted things. So, you pay for it. You pay taxes to fund all of the projects and programs that are necessary to remove the toxic waste from the soil, from the rivers and streams, and from the air and from the oceans. But, if this is not socialism I don't know what is. In 2008 we discovered that the world's largest banks and investment companies made stupid mistakes and we needed to rescue them with our tax money. If this is not socialism then I am living in Neverland. Possibly "family values" includes that old fashioned value of "accountability" or fairness, or social justice. And one very old concept of fairness, and social justice, and actually a very old concept of LAW, is that if you profit from something you should pay for it, and for any loss or damage or injury that it causes. This is called "liability," a concept of fairness and justice that has a trail you can follow all the way back to Noah, and his family, and before.
So, this brings me to the crux, to the central concept and theme of my argument. The Organic Revolution means that we must apply both the concept of an organism AND the concept of liability to our commerce and our financial arrangements. What that means is that any person (corporations insist that they are a legal "person") who produces a product or a service for a profit, has to be held accountable and liable for all of the environmental results produced by that product or service. If you produce a chemical product, you are one-hundred percent liable to provide for the total cost of its "recovery, recycling, reuse, or safe storage, or digestion" after the consumer is finished with it and wants to "throw it away." That is such a basic and poetic word "away." As in "flush away" push away, throw away, move away, get away, get out of my life. Die, disappear. Don't bother me. Vaporize. Cease to exist. This is what we want our junk and waste products to do for us. But they cannot. The toxins and heat and pollution and solid waste that we produce cannot be hidden under the Earth's skin, in its pools, or vaporized all by themselves. They need help. And that kind of help is very expensive, and it can only be paid for justly if it is paid for by the person who profited from it. They will argue that the consumer benefited from it. Yes, this is true. But the consumer is changing their mind. They are beginning to see the implications of the post-industrial craziness. I cannot eat fish because it contains mercury. The beef may contain hormones that make me, or my offspring, cancerous. The food I enjoy so much has too much fat, and the animal fat carries the toxins that the animal body cannot use. The healthy green vegetables have to be scrubbed to remove toxin residue, and salmonella. The ancient bacterial enemies of humankind are coming back, because the conditions created by enormous scales of imitation food production by "agri-industry" make it harder and harder to prevent the bacteria, the foundation of Nature's ecological system, from getting into the food. And on and on it goes. I now see that when I buy a plastic and aluminum and poly-compound television, or snow-blower, or leaf-blower, or hair blower, I have to own it forever. As soon as I buy it all of the problems it creates, and will create in the future, are mine. The seller got rid of it. Sold it "away." It is no longer the seller's responsibility. It is mine, all mine. That was not what I had in mind when I bought this thing. I just wanted it to do something for me, and now that it is a pile of toxic junk, I want somebody else to "take it away." But it has turned out, consistent with every science and math and ecology, that AWAY has become the most challenging and expensive service anyone can pay for. That is because we have discovered, after only our first five hundred years of "science," that "away" does not exist. It is an imaginary place, and "away" we now know means right here. And right here, for toxic junk, is very, very expensive.
So now we can see the dark side of the industrial revolution and cybernetic technology that the blind COMMERCIAL CLASS and INDUSTRIAL CLASS did not see coming. While they were busy for three hundred years getting rid of pesky employees who need safety and health and places to live and all that nuisance stuff, and replacing them all with robotic hands and robotic calculators and computers and electronic record keepers, the big surprise that snuck up on them is that the dramatic increase in production capacity requires more consumers, or more consumption per consumer, or both. This is why we, in our dreamland of hope and global village have the astounding spectacle of advertising that urges us to eat more -- and lose weight, wear more clothes -- even though they are more durable and easier to wash, buy more "labor-saving devices" and tools for our homes, saws, hair dryers, hair curlers, hair removers, hair shapers, hair itself, different clothing for every conceivable different occasion, slippers, boots, cutters, slicers, dicers, mixers, cake mixers, paint mixers, drink mixers, a medicine for every occasion, even to recover from eating more (while losing weight), medicines to stop you from questioning your existence, or examining your life, medicine to help you work longer hours, to prolong your sexual arousal, prolong your reproductive years even though you do not want to reproduce, chemicals to kill weeds, to kill ants, to kill anything that interferes with your planned distraction and control over your efforts to decorate the world like you decorate your room, leaving out all of the annoying realities of Nature that make life possible. We have developed a distaste for the inconveniences of the outdoors, and so our industrial masters have designed and produced a wide variety of indoor "exercise machines" so that we can imitate the natural human activities of work and play, which we no longer have time for. We have televisions and play stations to take care of our children. Childhood and school and military training are all accomplished by "virtual experience." We did not anticipate that canned food would lead us to canned life.
The result of our industrial civilization is the spectacle that looms today, called "Black Friday," November 27th in the year 2009, which is the day when millions of people will arise early, or stay awake all night, so that they can fulfill their patriotic and cosmic duty to buy as much as possible as fast as possible before the stores run out. But the stores will not run out. They can produce ten pizzas, or a thousand, when we need one. They can produce a hundred electronic game boxes, when we need one. The commercial class and industrial class is computing frantically and constantly in their effort to produce exactly the quantity that can be sold at the greatest profit. However, their tactics include advertising, the process of persuading you to buy more. And their tactics include socialism, the process of paying legislators to assure that they are not held liable for the total costs of their products. They control the legislators, keep them in a state of corruption or sleep, so that they will not awaken from this nightmare and say, "Hey, wait a minute! Why should the people pay for the fact that your product becomes expensive junk after it is used up?" You made a profit selling your product. You pay for the end result. You pay for the salvage, the recovery, recycling reuse, or safe storage, or digestion. We, the taxpayers, do not want the government to subsidize the poisoning of the environment. If anyone buys a chemical product, they have to pay the producer to provide for the total life and death of the product. I don't want to be taxed to pay for the abundant shit that follows abundant goods and services. Let each product be priced according to its total cost. Then I will pay, and the producer who sells me the product will be held liable, absolutely liable, to also "take it away" when I want it "taken away."
This is the Organic Revolution. It will occur. It has already started. It is just as necessary as blood in your arteries, and lymph in your nodes. There will be the Organic Revolution, or, in the alternative, human extinction. Your choice.
The imperative to recover, recycle, reuse or safely store or digest, is not the only task forced upon us by the success of our materialism, but we must also re-examine and re-design our economy from the bottom up. We have to change or at least adjust our most fundamental principles of operation -- meaning the operation of human society and American civilization. How can we continue to say that people have to work in order to have money, or in order to eat, when work is no longer necessary? Certainly it seems to be far less necessary than it used to be, because the industrial class has been so diligent in its efforts to reduce the quantity of people needed in order to produce the material needs of society. The set of contradictions in "capitalist" society addressed by Karl Marx are still significant and worthy of attention, but the enormous contradictions that arise out of technology are far more disconcerting and disruptive of our philosophical and moral base. What are people thinking and feeling when they say they want to return to "family values"? This is actually a vague notion widely open to interpretation. I believe that what "family values" really means is that people want the relative simplicity and safety of past times when a family, meaning an extended family of fifty people, felt responsible for and encompassed in themselves. Their emotional connections and personal responsibilities were reasonably limited. They did not have to listen to news about the problems of an entire planet and respond with "volunteerism" to save a suicidal world. They took care of themselves and that was enough. That was what it meant to be human, and civilized, and good and decent, and successful even on a spiritual level. But that is not enough in the new "cybernetic" frenetic, wireless communication society, where we are compelled to watch and listen to a television tell us what to buy as we push a large steel cart around the floor of a super-department-market-store-warehouse. We have an obligation to buy more, it seems, because there is more to buy. It is kind of like human civilization was recently a whining baby, a hungry infant, who became an annoyance to an impatient parent, and now the impatient parent has become angry and abusive and is shoving wads of bread and peanut butter down the child's throat, suffocating it. We are dying, but we are not dying from not enough. We are dying from too much. Especially too much waste that the Commercial Class and Industrial Class claims is our dirty diaper, and we have to change ourselves. The cost of recovering, recycling, reusing, or safely storing, or organically digesting the waste and pollution of cosmic proportions, is ours. We wanted everything, so "Shut up! You whining bitch! You pay for everything!" The rich say, to the citizens of the nation, who are poor after they have bought all the junk they have been told to buy. This was in fact the assessment of Senator Phil Graham, an economic advisor to President George W. Bush: that the central problem of the economy is that the American people are whiners.
The people do have all of the material things they wanted, but now they want "family values," which they don't have, because the COMMERCIAL CLASS and the INDUSTRIAL CLASS does not know how to make them and sell them at a profit. Instead, they are using advertising, which has been so successful in enabling them to get people to consume more. They are manufacturing and selling "family values" as a set of political words, and they are sold in the political arena, where words are like money: you can exchange them for anything, especially money. So the commercial class and industrial class tell the candidates for office what to say, and they say it, and they get paid with money contributions to help them get elected. And then after they get elected, the commercial class and the industrial class tells them what to do, what laws to pass, such as when the Food and Drug Administration classifies chemicals according to what instructions the chemical industry gives them, and makes rules to accommodate their constituents, who are not the people, but the chemical industries. And so the "greatest democracy in the world" is dying because the Congress thinks that they are elected "by corporations and for corporations," and they are the government "of corporations" which shall not perish because the drugged voters are slow to notice when they are being used, abused and beaten to death and forced to pay for the destruction of the environment.
It seems, then, that the people behave as though they are a hungry but simple herd. They don't take any great offense if the natural environment is being destroyed, because they think it is not going to make them uncomfortable. They don't like flies and mold anyway. But if the people can be shown that they are already paying for the poisoning of the life supporting environment, and if they can be shown that they are paying for their own slow, toxic suicide, they might object.
Complete Revision of Agricultural Practices:
A main component of the Organic Revolution will be the complete revision of agricultural practices that are designed to preserve and protect Nature's soil building processes. Chemical fertilizers are imitations, like margarine and vinyl and hydrocarbon flavors extracted from coal tar. Chemically produced fertilizers include only a very few specific components of soil chemistry, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. They are toxic to the bacteria, fungi, nematodes and other microbes that build and re-build soil. Therefore, the use of chemical fertilizers is like an athlete taking steroids. It appears to increase potency, but also accelerates the path of decline and death. Soil becomes inorganic, and it cannot re-build itself. The water-soluble chemicals added to the soil drain away into groundwater and surface water and follow the gravity-driven streams to the great rivers and the oceans. The Great American Agricultural Miracle is really a Great American Agricultural Disaster. On a global scale, American agricultural practices, including the dependence on vast quantities of hydrocarbon-fueled machines, kills Life, opposes the processes of Nature that cannot be replaced with an imitation for Life itself.
The only way to "imitate" Nature is to uphold Nature, to promote and protect natural processes and stop trying to "improve upon" Nature. It cannot be improved by an upstart technological monkey because Nature's processes have been tested over a trial period of five billion years or more.
Review and Revision of Our Hot Fire Technology:
Our technology is destructive and in opposition to Nature's processes because Nature uses cool technology and we use hot fire technology. Everything Nature does in and by living things is done at low temperatures, rarely above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of our technology is driven by fire that produces temperatures of 250 degrees or much higher. It is tragic comedy that our "scientists" discovered global warming when they discovered an increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere caused by human technology. Where were they for the past five hundred years while we were heating the Earth directly by simply producing billions of fires and heat that would not have otherwise been produced by Nature. We made fires to heat our homes. We still make fires to heat our homes. We even make fires to produce electrical power or gas-driven heat pumps to cool our homes. Our motor vehicles are fires that heat a chunk of heavy metal to 250 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Cars, trucks, trains, planes, ships, recreational vehicles that entertain us while producing more heat. Factories and power plants are driven by huge fires. Production of metals and plastics and virtually every material rely on electrical power, commonly produced by a giant fire of burning oil, or gas, or coal, or nuclear reaction. What is the "heat" footprint of an added human being, including all of the heat that must be produced by the electrical power that person will use and the bus they will ride and the factories that will produce their food, clothing, shelter, and endless inventory of gadgets, entertainment, and electronic toys?
Digestive Bacteria to Become Our Most Valuable Ally:
Bacteria are the great digesters of matter that is no longer alive. Bacteria are everywhere and they save us from a horror beyond imagination: an infinite accumulation of waste. We cannot live without bacteria. We rely on bacteria in the human gut to digest food and extract the nutrients we need to live in good health. We learned during the twentieth century that the bacteria are far more durable and versatile than we thought. Bacteria are the chemical industrialists of field and forest and seas. They have been found in the fuel tanks of jet planes, in boiling springs, in the upper atmosphere and around undersea volcanoes. We learned that when we take an antibiotic to stop a disease, we can also stop our digestive system. We learned that bacteria can be cultured to digest almost anything. The process is slow, but it is natural, complete, and usually safe. If toxins are released, they are released slowly, and usually in a manner that Nature can absorb and return to the environment safely. Bacterial digestion is environmentally "friendly." We will do this. We will intensively study, promote and nurture bacteria, fungi and algae, which will become our most important allies in the living world, to protect us from self-burial in an accumulation of permanently toxic waste material. We will eventually identify bacteria that reduce radioactivity in nuclear waste products. Bacteria connect the "top" to the "bottom" of the food chain, which is of course a food cycle or circle. All organisms, including the largest organisms, are consumed by the smallest invisible cells, all made possible by the ubiquitous and super equal-opportunity digestive services of our ecological universe.
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