The Bioregional State and the Three Ring Circus of Big Tent Environmentalism
The Empty Circus (Picture from the Inca Trail)
The frameworks of the bioregional state came out of long term comparative historical analysis of the collapses of human societies. Those collapses were instrumentally involved in slow alterations in formal, material, and ideological hegemonies. They were increasingly repressive and intentionally ambivalent toward mounting environmental degradation despite the majority of their population knowing about it.
Jared Diamond's poignant film at the close of this post is reminiscent of some of my sleuthing--particularly on the issue of ambivalent and unrepresentative elites knowing about environmental degradation though deciding on a lack of response or repression as their response. They crashed with that attitude.
This environmental degradation process was typically pressured despite a massive concern of the population at large wanting to develop in a completely different direction. In other words, environmental degradation was hardly a common desire, and increasingly only a small, unrepresentative, vested elite desire against the majority of their population.
Instead of adapting the state to be 'in sync' with environmental concern, vested elites in collapsed states fail to reengineer in this direction. Instead, it is reengineered to be more repressive and self-destructive as they collapse in the midst of environmental degradation.
However, the bioregional state is a peace offering or mechanism for how to engineer the state to facilitate durable ecological checks and balances and more representative policies to achieve that durable society instead of simply see the state and environment collapse mostly due to self-destructive elites.
The Long-Term Thinking of the Bioregional State: Where to Locate it in the Three Ring Circus of Environmentalism?
There are three major 'circus rings' in the Big Tent of Environmentalism. They typically are going on simultaneously, attempting to compete to monopolize the stage or the definition of what 'environmentalism' is.
It is well known that writer/activists like Alex Jones discuss 'environmentalism' as if it was only one ring in the Big Tent. Typically, his concern is that a "New World Order's plan" is to exterminate 80% of the the population. In other words their idea of 'environmentalism' is entirely one of population reduction. Some have attempted to discredit Alex Jones for exaggerating or making up such statements of a part of the global elite. However, perhaps you would like a granola-crunchy female, educated, pro-organic, nutritionist to talk about the same thing? She's read the same U.N. reports. The U.N. is indeed looking forward to 'benign neglect' and the death of around 3 billion people. It's in print. From a previous post:
Saturday, January 20, 2007
The Bioregional State's Bodily Integrity Principle Vs. Codex Alimentarius' WTO Vitamin Police
See the video link there from Dr. Rima Laibow, MD:
Nutricide - Criminalizing Natural Health, Vitamins, and Herbs
Natural Solutions Foundation - 40 min - Sep 2, 2006 -
The Codex Alimentarius is a threat to the freedom of people to choose natural healing and alternative medicine and nutrition. Ratified by the World Health Organization, and going into Law in the United States in 2009, the threat to health freedom has never been greater. This is the first part of a series of talks by Dr. Rima Laibow, MD, available on DVD from the Natural Solutions Foundation, an non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about how to stop Codex Alimentarius from taking away our right to freely choose nutritional health.
Like Alex Jones, Dr. Rima Laibow, MD, though from the the 'crunchy-granola side' of environmentalism does talk about the same depopulationist goals of one wing of the 'corporate-environmentalists.'
"Environmentalism" is one of those Big Tents with lots of different motivations of different groups wanting to join it or steer it. You are unable to avoid this steering simply because it may be going in the direction you (or I) want, because when you attempt to take the wheel you may be surprised you aren't really guiding its larger goals which may be quite different than most think particularly if they think environmentalism is innately a 'consensus reality' from the start. On the contrary, there are several different circus rings in Environmentalism that are attempts to steer it toward very non-consensus goals. I'm defining consensus along the lines that major polls have shown: that the world has already gone green. However, our states are not, and our elites are not. And some of them want to co-opt green thought toward very old non-green Eurocentric goals.
For instance, many with Green sympathies think that being Green means being Neo-Malthusian. This is unfortunately true that some Greens are so, however misleading it is to assume that there is a one-to-one correspondence of population to ecological impact.
I tend to note 'three rings' in the circus of Big Tent of Environmentalism.
There is the:
 localism, autonomy, democracy, materials change, and decentralization aspects of environmentalism closer to my support though not exclusive to my other support of erecting and 'solving' problematic issues of larger political infrastructures across group-watershed 'bioregional commonwealths' (in the bioregional state).
This is very different than the corporate sponsored wing of environmentalism.
This corporate-sponsored wing has two facets. Most are familiar with this already though let's tie it to how an international totalitarian movement has increasingly greencoated itself to slip unobserved into the Big Tent of Environmentalism to mingle with different environmental groups and steer them toward their own goals:
 A 'voluntaristic corporate-producer change' wing of environmentalism, and/or biomimicry. This 'volunaristic corporate change' means "shut up about regulations and public health, we're doing it on our schedule." This would be the work of people like Paul Hawken's or William McDonough's strategies. As much as I like and agree with McDonough and the whole biomimicry movement, it's important though it's hardly enough to expect voluntaristic corporate change because voluntaristic corporate change got us where we are right now so unsustainably. When people sell this as the 'only solution', they sell this as the only politics of the solution.
 The eugenics/depopulationism wing of of environmentalism. This is the group Alex Jones almost exclusively talks about "as Environmentalism"--which is misleading to make this totalizing insinuation. However, he is frankly spot on for this branch of Big Tent Environmentalism and where they want to lead the green circus when it comes to town. This ring in the green circus is really the not-so-long-ago eugenics/depopulationism movement. It was all the rage in the later 1800s of Anglo-America and Germany. For its continuity to the present, Prescott Bush stepped right into U.S. "Planned Parenthood" associations after WWII, after being a major German Nazi banker in WWII. By the 1970s, depopulationists were attempting to turn themselves into 'greens'--though the Green movement by then was much wider and very different [cite: Green Politics (1986) by Spretnak and Capra]. Margaret Sanger, who left-types like to consider a "women's rights" activist in the USA in the early 1900s for her pressures and activism for rights to abortion and female birth control (which I do support so don't trash me for bringing the next bit up), was actually a racist eugenicist and class-based activist who saw that population reduction would kill mostly the 'teeming rowdy and criminal' poor. This eugenic/depopulationist wing has insinuated itself into the Big Tent of Environmentalism by the 1960s. They have popularized an ongoing neo-Malthusian construct of environmental degradation as 'green thought' (like Erlich's 1968 book, The Population Bomb, or the public relations of the Club of Rome). This wing sees population reduction as the only variable capable to affecting or ameliorating environmental degradation--though they wanted it long before they attempted to greencoat it in this manner. In this wing's view, population scale is the direct expression of environmental degradation.
However, it's far more complicated and attenuated than this direct simple idea, and may in some cases be entirely pointless to argue populationism. This is since a lot of environmental degradation is so consumer and distribution based, instead of population based. For instance the U.S. with 5% or less of global population creates more that 25% of all global greenhouse gases and uses an even larger amount of the world's raw materials. (However, Lester Brown of the World Watch Institute now claims in his latest book that China is using more world materials than the U.S..However, it's a misnomer to say that "China" and its population is consuming them, because China is so export-development and transnational-corporate oriented. It's just the global transnational corporations making use of the police state of China to centralize much production there to crush the labor movement and environmental regulation.)
As for 'eugenics/depopulationism as proto-environmentalism,' the same arguments have been made for 200 years out of Anglo-America: that killing off a mostly poor and majority non-white world will help save 'wasted wealth' (of European elites) and stop environmental degradation to boot. Their actual concern is to stop political complaint about further wealth consolidation and externalities by killing these people off, as the Keenan memo from post WWII's State Department so notes.
This 'third ring' or construct about environmental degradation has increasingly been greencoated by the 1960s-1970s. It was originally only an argument about "conserving wealth" as it attempted to argue that massive famines, population despair, and poverty was not the fault of empires taking the most productive land and shipping crops out, though the fault of the poor themselves in 'natural cycles.' Mike Davis recently published the best rebuttal to ideas like these in his book Late Victorian Holocausts. "Greens" that support this corporate-eugenic wing of environmentalism tend to ignore the massive wealth conservation and eugenic aspects that really started the whole idea by the beginning of the 1800s through the first half of the 1900s. This hyper-rich coterie (the railroads monopolists of the Harriman family (the Bushes connect to the Harrimans by the early 20th century)) almost single handedly funded and created the eugenics movement's infrastructure, according to Edwin Black's book War Against the Weak. The Harrimans were quite motivated to propagandize the ideas among a tight knit British, U.S., and German elite that were increasingly the same corporate and political elite by the Great Depression looking for (Final) solutions. Hitler loved and admired the British Empire. So did many of the people who worked closely with him (like Ribbentrop, who was practically raised by the "British" royal family (who are German)). Eugenics itself was a US/UK idea, imported into Germany's Nazi Party. Hitler used pre-existing U.S. eugenics laws about race and 'unfit' people as his legal models (just as gun control movement laws in the U.S. were built from Third Reich law models by the 1960s, as documented in the book Lethal Laws: "Gun Control" Is the Key to Genocide). (And gun control isn't very much of a 'leftist' policy, given the historically racist, religiously biased, and classist contexts that sired gun control in any situation you can name.) Rockefellers and other major U.S. money families invested in the German corporations by the 1930s and locked up the world in certain raw material regimes as early as the 1910s-1930s. I.G. Farben's branch in America helped the German spy machine during WWII and all that [cite: American Swastika; Trading with the Enemy]; you had "America's" IBM Corporation building the German tabulating machines in Germany to make the Shoah 'work smoothly' all through WWII; IBM's CEO/founder gave speeches in the USA in 1939 on "all Germany wants is just a little fair growing room," to paraphrase Edwin Black's other blockbuster book, IBM and the Holocaust; Rockefeller oil companies fueled Nazi submarines during WWII in the Caribbean. [mentioned in the books by Charles Higham: American Swastika and/or Trading with the Enemy.] The point of this litany of unpunished crimes is there is one international corporate morass with eugenic goals across the U.K, U.S. and Germany and it still exists. It still exists and has insinuated itself as a major 'green' (greenwashed) school of thought.
So with Environmentalism as one large Big Tent movement, there is this corporate-fascist wing within environmentalism. Alex Jones is right to rail against it. This is the totally unpunished Rockefeller-oilcorp-media-eugenics wing--the same connections since the early 20th century. Their discredited and very openly discussed 20th century eugenic and depopulationist goals are still there: they have only been now "green-coated". These people (not all people) are using the cloak of environmentalism to justify fascist consolidation and eugenics in the Third World--and soon the First World. Alex Jones should make a differentiation between different 'greens'. His antic broadbrushing doesn't do the variations justice.
And it is the enviro-eugenics wing who invented the meme of Peak Oil. It hardly takes a genius to note that if you are a fascist and you have the stranglehold on the world's oil based energy and you are in the biological warfare research, you would utilize your corporate and military institutional advantage to promote your political eugenic goals even against your own economic interest if what you really were after was political power and shutting off oil to kill off people. Of course there are many alternatives to oil that the world is slowly waking up to. The 'air car' for instance: www.theaircar.com.] By the 1970s, the so called 'green-depopulationist' Club of Rome was merely filled with the same eugenics people (and oil company people) who were helping the Nazis in WWII as reported by Dave McGowan's short biographies of their organizers.
So on the one hand, I think Alex Jones is right though only if you are looking at that 'one ring' in the Big Tent of 'three ring' Environmentalism. He is wrong to insinuate--by omission--that there are many other strands that would have nothing to do with that.
The irony is that many in the Deep Ecology wing of Big Tent Environmentalism are as neo-Malthusian in their views of environmentalism as the corporate-eugenicists. I talked about this on a previous post here.
I assume this is why major U.S. papers like the New York Times promulgate either Zerzan and/or that Texas guy who wants population reduction and calls it 'green' (whom Jones has covered as well).
The corporate media aim the cameras for the masses at a 'one ring circus' of environmentalism (as depopulationism) even though there are two other rings mentioned above going on all the time outside the corporate camera lens. These have a difficulty getting media time like McDonough and/or Hawken to name a few in the 'second ring.'
Or me. I would add bioregionalism or my bioregional state motif which means changing the formal state since it is something we all have in common which can get us toward sustainability developmental politics. This is another non-exclusive route to sustainability.
Some have already jumped aboard a Venezuelan ship for the Bolivarian revolution, thinking opposing one version of a international, totalitarian model 'from the right' means supporting another international, totalitarian model 'from the left.'
I would argue that both are just consolidated international globalism from behind the scenes wrapping themselves in one of two counter-ideologies. Didn't we learn anything from Sutton's massive documentation about the high-level artificial Cold War?   There's plenty of other choices far more multi-centered to allow local communities to express themselves in development, than thinking "Cold War, Part II" is going to get us anywhere except back to a model where revolution only means supporting the same goals of consolidation as transnational corporatism wrapped in a different ideology.
A "US bloc vs a Chavez bloc" is the same fake Cold War plan [read Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution, linked above as  ] to divide up the whole world and consolidate both sides together [read Best Enemy Money Can Buy, linked above as , on the U.S. corporations funding and supplying the Vietnam war machine from the USSR side and the USA side in Vietnam.].
Such a Cold War Sequel is just another rigged game to make profit and further consolidation. And both sides in that game are unsustainable models. There are nice devolution features in Chavez's popularly approved local Venezuelan ideas, though I worry over it becoming more "Bolivarian"--named after the original king-like Bolivar who failed in his project to conquer and consolidate Latin/South America as one state. That failure set up all of Latin America for external informal empire domination from the outside for the past 200 years.
You don't have to wait for the circus to come to town though. The bioregional commonwealth would be my alternative model: having nested local groups getting it straight and right on their own local level economically and materially, first, within an ever expanding form of collaborative state for human rights at the larger levels. See this link to start.
There's nothing to wait for.
On the other hand, given oceanic pollution scale, something collaborative should be done about the oceans though I don't like the ideas of it potentially leading to international standing armies without any ties to democratic politics in a global state without any checks on its power.
Watch this short 12 minute film on oceanic pollution and you'll see what I mean:
Alphabet Soup: A Trip to the North Pacific Gyre (Plastic Pollution in the Seas Worldwide)
A Canadian film maker travels to the north Pacific Ocean to discover a world of unknown plastic pollution.
The 'race to the bottom' economically and ecologically speaking is occurring more than just on land. It's occurring in the oceans. So I find myself in the strange position of desiring some form of major global oceanic protection, yet completely against any form of global consolidation of armies/taxes, etc. on land. What is required is protecting biodiversity and variety against further centralized planning destructions. There are 'bioregions in the sea' as well, like crucial whale breeding grounds or coral reefs, that might have some sort of judicial court to protect it.
Quite a conundrum indeed to hold both these ideas at once: to recognize some form of global protection though only for atmospheric pollution issues and a limited shared coast guard and international ship registration (with co-operative endeavors in the coastal zones of territorial states that have extended their sea jurisdictions) while at the same moment a bioregional commonwealth for land. Nothing else would seem to be sustainable.
So where does the bioregional state's bioregional commonwealth motif fit in the Three Ring Circus of Environmentalism? It definitely fits in 'ring one', the decentralization wing. However, this is only for economic issues without removing the larger civil protections of a national state. As the definition goes:
Bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms and commodity reforms designed to force the political process in a democracy to better represent concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g. water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability. This movement is variously called bioregional democracy, watershed cooperation, or bioregional representation, or one of various other similar names—all of which denote democratic control of a natural commons and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions—while not removing more generalized civil rights protections of a larger national state.It definitely fits in 'ring two,' the biomimicry, materials change, and technological change wing. It completely disagrees with the neo-Malthusian/eugenic/depopulation wing in 'ring three' as just a subtle greenwashing that doesn't assure or get to sustainability at all. The bioregional state promotes a 'humanist green' thought to solving environmental degradation issues, particularly given these polls that show aligning this sentiment more directly into development policy is the solution in the long term instead of gatekeeping against it endlessly in the short term, as corrupt states do.
A Fourth Ring in the Circus: Formal Institutional Change, Green Constitutional Engineering
Toward A Bioregional State cobbles together ideas of a 'fourth ring': how formal institutional arrangements toward 'green constitutional engineering' can move us toward sustainability. I would predict, given the German case, a single political party by itself will always fail to get there and will be co-opted. A single political party calling itself 'green' is perhaps superfluous, politically misleading, or unintentionally divisive when green sentiment is so widely spread across the political spectrum as well as widely spread across the world. The goal then is to arrange this durable "ecological self-interest" into the state without forms of degradative elite gatekeeping on this issue. The book Toward a Bioregional State starts this conversation of turning ungreen states into green states with over 60 additional required formal checks and balances to do it.
Now, watch Jared Diamond ponder some of the ramifications of societies that are no more, so we can ponder these issues now while we are still here to do something about it. Devote some of your 'short now' to think about the 'long now'.
Jared Diamond - How Societies Fail-And Sometimes Succeed
The Long Now Foundation
1 hr 14 min 24 sec