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(en) US, Speech from 2002 "Fight the Power, Build the Power" tour - by M. Treloar

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 19 Nov 2003 12:17:16 +0100 (CET)


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From: Mike Kramer <mkramer666-A-yahoo.com>
(This is the written version of the speech M. Treloar delivered during the first
Bring the Ruckus tour in early 2002, with some minor variations at each stop.)
Good evening. I am a member of Black Cross Health Collective in Portland.
I want to make clear that Black Cross Health Collective is not affiliated
with any Black Cross or Anarchist Black Cross Federation in Seattle or
elsewhere. We will be doing a lengthy training in Seattle in early April,
so there will be plenty of time for questions about our work then. Nor I am here
to speak for Black Cross tonight.

I would like to talk about the Bring the Ruckus
document, which I view as a work in progress, a living
document.

I was asked to address globalization and workers. I
will try to make three points, all of them you already
know; either from listening to the news or from your
participation in the struggle or from your nightmares
or dreams.

First Point

There is a global economic system. You know that,
because you know Pop Tarts are being eaten in
Afghanistan and you’re drinking tea from China.

Now I don’t think anyone here would have any problem
with globalization, if it meant shipping food that
people could actually eat to Afghanistan to aid
earthquake victims, shipping it without antipersonnel
bomblets or CIA agents, shipping it without the
promise of pipelines and oil exploration, sending it
without IMF demands.

But that is not how capitalism operates in 2002.

So here is the rest of that first point that you know,
and though it is not in the Ruckus document it is part
of our understanding:

We must destroy capitalism.
Let me repeat that, and use a different word in case
I’m not being clear: We must dismantle capitalism.
We must smash it. We must ensure that no economic
system arises which has built within it an automatic
incentive for growth. And we must do it soon, because
we don’t have time to waste.
Here is but one reason why:

At the current rate, in fifty years, anywhere from 25%
to 50% of all known species of life on this planet
will be extinct.
Let me cite some sources, since none of us want to
believe that.
We are losing between 17,000 and 100,000 species per
year as a direct result of hunting, loss of habitat,
and the human introduction of alien species into new
ecosystems. Plant, animal, insect. Great Apes, coral
reef, you name it and it’s becoming extinct. No more
authoritative range can be placed on the loss, since
in a number of cases the species are being destroyed
as fast as they can be catalogued. And my sources are
not Earth First!, but the Smithsonian Institution,
World Resources Institute, the United Nations Food and
Agricultural Organization. Among the scientists are
Thomas Lovejoy, Richard Leakey, Edward O. Wilson – all
of whom have different political stances.
Some might respond, ‘Well, there is always extinction
of species. That’s part of evolution.’ Or they might
say, ‘Humans have been causing extinction since the
Ice Age.’
But normal extinction rates would be the disappearance
of one fish species in an ecosystem every four years.
In the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria, two
hundred species of fish have disappeared in twenty
years.

And yes, it is true that humans have caused extinction
of species in the past. Here is one example (here I
would hold up and pass around a molar tooth from a
wooly mammoth-mt), this is one species that most
scientists now believe was made extinct by human
hunters. We can cite dozens of others: passenger
pigeons, dodos, etc.

But the distinction is that ten thousand years ago or
even one hundred years ago WE DID NOT KNOW THAT WE
WERE CAUSING THE EXTINCTION OF SPECIES.

We know now. And the conscious slaughter of entire
species continues.

If a human kills another human, we have a name for it.
What is the name for the conscious slaughter of tens
of thousands of species, ranging from the whales to
one-celled beings that may never be catalogued or
named?

The world has acknowledged that it was just to
overthrow the Nazis for their crimes. Is it not
equally just to overthrow any system that consciously
allows, promotes or causes the death of species?
I don’t want anyone to leave for a minute, since if
you would leave now you might tell your friends,
“Well, there was this primitivist anarchist from
Oregon who spoke.”

I am from Oregon, though not Eugene, so let me say
that primitivism is silly at best.

We are not going to get out of this situation by
individuals becoming vegan – though there is nothing
wrong with that. The endangered species, including
the sentient ones other than us, cannot stop this. We
are not going to stop the destruction of our rivers
and land by people starting organic farms and joining
food cooperatives – though I help on one such farm.
If everyone in the U.S. ate organic foods we would
still be poisoning the oceans with our industrial
wastes.

Slavery did not stop because individuals decided to
stop owning slaves. It took mass collective direct
action, including a civil war and a general strike by
the slaves, before that institution was destroyed in
this country.

Does anyone think that capitalism will be easier to
stop?

Second Point

Most people are overwhelmed when they grasp how bad
things are for the first time. This isn’t just you or
me, it’s common to everyone.

Let me give an example.

A few years ago there were a series of Harvard Medical
School seminars on environmental and nuclear issues.
Now you all know about Harvard Medical’s reputation;
it has some of the brightest and hardest-working
medical students anywhere – these are people who are
expected to become professors and heads of
departments. The students had asked for these
lectures to be held. And, as befitted Harvard, they
brought in some world-class lecturers on the
situation.

At the first seminar, the large auditorium was
overflowing. At the second one, there were one-half
as many present.

The final lecture had a half dozen people.
Now the person in charge of the series wondered what
was going on. Were the demands of med school studies
too overwhelming? Had he scheduled these at a bad
time? So he asked a number of the people who had
dropped out.

Several of them told him. ‘Look, if I believe what
they’re telling me in those lectures, then everything
I’m learning here becomes meaningless. I’m being
trained to fight infection or cancer in one person.
You’re saying that the whole world is infected. That
makes my work worthless.’
Now I work with doctors, some of the most intelligent
and hard-working residents around. And if you spent
much time with them you would hear the same statements
from many of them – they have concluded that the
humanity is going to destroy the earth and they don’t
know how to stop it.

But we as a movement are getting a handle on how to
fight it. People are learning through their own
struggles.

It was important for us to start this tour in Seattle
to honor the global movement that was continued and
re-invigorated here, but we must also honor the
successful Seattle struggle against a Veterans’
Administration medical incinerator that occurred here
in 1998.

Both events should be models for us, however the
organizers of the WTO protests, including myself, have
at least as much to learn from the people of color who
led the struggle against setting that medical waste
incinerator in the middle of a working class
neighborhood here. They fought the federal government
and the city over a period of years and stopped them
cold. How many of you have heard of that?

Third Point

It is when people have become overwhelmed and with few
choices left that they have the potential to act
radically.

In Argentina in the last few months they have toppled
five presidents. They know ‘another world is
possible’, not because they attended a conference, but
because they have fought police, begun seizing
factories, and organized national neighborhood
assemblies to figure out how to run Argentina.

Some folks might say, ‘Well, that’s not going to
happen here in the U.S.’

Three years ago, very few people in the U.S. thought
that we could seize a city, if only for a few hours.

When we stopped for a few minutes and cleared the
pepper spray and tear gas from our eyes, we should
have realized that, while some schools had walked out
to join us, the Seattle docks were still running and
factories were still producing both necessary and
utterly useless products.

If we’re serious about stopping the destruction of
species, including our own, we need to be joining with
the people who work there to seize factories and docks
and hospitals. They need to join us in shutting down
cities. Together we can figure out how to bring this
system to a stop. And create one that will not
destroy other species.

Thank you.

M.Treloar was a co-founder of Black Cross Health
Collective and is a member of Bring the Ruckus.


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