A Better Future is Possible: A Green Anarchist Manifesto

“Modern industrial civilization has developed within a system of convenient myths. The driving force has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate…on grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation. It has long been understood very well that a society based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it is possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource and that the world is an infinite garbage can. At this stage in history, one of two things is possible. Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests guided by values of solidarity, sympathy, and concern for others or alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.”  –Noam Chomsky

The United States is experiencing rapid environmental degradation, fueled by a failing Darwinian economic model driven by competition and constant growth. Capitalism, the economic model that influences policy, disregards the reality of Earth’s finite resources. With a gross domestic product of $18,036,648 billion, the United States is the world’s largest economy and its deleterious thirst for constant growth is concerning on a global scale. The United States’ actions and policies ricochet across communities worldwide, through various outlets of pollution and trade. Within the nation, low-income citizens suffer disproportionately, and the ecological health of the land worsens.

The state perpetuates social inequality and environmental racism. Environmental harms are apparent in growing municipal solid waste proportions, soil erosion, dwindling clean water resources, and rapid species extinction rates. Economic disparities are rampant within the United States, evident in high levels of food insecurity, hazardous working conditions, and limited access to clean water. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the United States has declined into a flawed democracy. Trust in government officials is waning because corporate interests cloud them. Wealthy bureaucrats can no longer be trusted to provide care for the majority of the population. The atrocities committed against the environment and the people of the United States are mechanisms inherent in capitalism. Assuming we can fix the great environmental tribulations we face within the capitalist system is a fallacy. We are exhausting and polluting our resources at an unprecedented rate. Capitalist interests of accumulating wealth slow progression toward initiatives like clean energy. The current environmental issues we face are war-like against the earth and subsequently, ourselves.

A paradigm shift to a decentralized, nonhierarchical society is on the horizon. The new political model will assert the value of mutual aid, direct democracy, local autonomy, and communalism. We must shed the anthropocentric, Aristotelian Great Chain of Being mentality and embrace our place in the ecosystem as interrelated and interdependent on fellow species and the land. We must learn to tailor our everyday lives to the environment rather than engineering nature to extract resources to our greatest gain. A complete shift in the United States’ political-economic model is an immense venture to undertake, so two postures must be assumed; 1. There is a real design superior to capitalism. 2. In a society run by the people, Marx’s idea of vanguardism, or the idea that society must be led by a vanguard party of intellectuals, typically of higher class must be rejected. Vanguardism inherently conflicts with the liberation of the working class by empowering intellectuals and thus, has no place in the anarcho-syndicalism revolution. Resolutions must be created through deliberation, listening to others, and creative problem-solving.

This article will explore the need for a cooperative, locally run society that adapts to the regional environment. In Section I, social and environmental problems will be explained in their relationship to capitalism in the United States. Section II will introduce and highlight the importance of Peter Kropotkin’s idea of mutual aid. Section III will explore direct action as a medium for change.

I. SOCIAL INEQUALITY, ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS, AND CAPITALISM

A. Social Inequality
Annually, 1.7 million deaths of children under five correlate to the environment. More than three million children die each year due to poor environmental conditions, disproportionally affecting the disadvantaged populations. Hope is not obsolete, and the World Health Organization found reducing environmental risks could reduce the mortality rate by twenty-six percent. Poor environmental conditions including unsafe water, air pollution, and inadequate hygiene are the causes of death for one in four children under the age of five annually. Additional causes include pesticides and global environmental changes. Citizens of the United States cannot avoid the effect our consumerism has on the world’s population, particularly the global South. Many of the products we buy have an extended supply chain, linking back to countries with poor working standards.

The inequality extends to affluent countries including the United States. Environmental discrimination is rampant in the United States. Low-income communities experience a tripled unequal exposure effect to environmental hazards in comparison to higher-income communities. The causes of exposure are rooted in “…(1) greater concentrations of polluting industrial facilities and power plants; (2) greater concentrations of hazardous waste sites and disposal/treatment facilities, including landfills, incinerators, and trash transfer stations; and (3) higher rates of “on the job” exposure to toxic pollutants inside the factory.” The permit trading schemes in the environmental commodities market disproportionately expose impoverished communities to poor environmental conditions. The Philanthropy and Environmental Justice Research Project at Northeastern University determined, “…communities [with a] $39,525 or less median household income…[experienced on] average an exposure rate of 35.3 environmental hazard points per square mile…in dramatic contrast to the exposure rates for all other communities, which ranges from 8.5 to 14.3 points per square mile.” In capitalist political-economic systems, neighborhoods with lower incomes tend to wield less political power due to an inability to outspend lobbyists.

B. Consumerism in Capitalism
Environmental degradation is an inevitable trend in capitalism. Increased consumption facilitates profit for companies. Capitalists hold profit over higher importance than social and ecological concerns. Landfills are growing over time, and the sixty-eight per cent increase of municipal solid waste in the United States since the 1980’s is a symbol of success in the current political-economic system. Consumption is on the rise. In 2014, and The United States generated 258,460 thousand tons of municipal solid waste, of which 135,920 thousand tons landfilled. Increased consumption satiates the capitalist agenda. Author and theorist Wayne Price asserted, “[The capitalists] seek to expand the total value they have to accumulate ever more value, not to increase society’s share of useful goods.”

The poor public transport infrastructure is evidentiary is probative of a system favoring consumption over valuable products. Owning and operating a car is a considerable expense from licensing, ticketing, insurance, gasoline, vehicle upkeep, and so on. The average lifespan of a car is 10.8 years, perpetuating the throw-away society. In 2013, 135,452,235 gallons of gasoline was consumed, prolonging the need for ecologically exhausting practices such as oil extraction and growing corn for ethanol. The privatization of transport is not beneficial to society a whole, rather a few capitalists, such as stockholders of General Motors, who profit from the industry.
Waste is an essential aspect of capitalism, apparent in planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence is the phenomena of designing commodities to breakdown over time, fueling the demand for further consumption. Planned obsolescence manifests through “…advertising, product design, incompatibility, and poor after-sales services…” Planned obsolesce is rampant in electronic devices, due to their short lifespans. Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme warned of, “…[the] economic stupidity because we are throwing away an enormous amount of raw materials that are essentially re-useable…[w]hether it is gold, silver or some of the rare earths that you have heard about perhaps in recent years, it is still an incredible amount.” In some instances, greater quantities of rare earth metals are found in landfills than in the ground. Dismantling these devices is dangerous and often done by children in developing countries. Increasing magnitudes of landfills paired with dwindling natural capital portray a dissonance between satiating desires to accumulate possessions and the reality of the scarcity of our natural resources. In addition to municipal solid waste, soil erosion, air pollution, extinction, and diminishing clean water resources threaten ecological integrity.

C. Extinction
Earth is experiencing extinctions at an unprecedented rate. In the journal Science Advances, biologists argued the Earth is entering a sixth mass extinction due to human activities. The average extinction rate of species is up to one-hundred times faster than previous centuries, “…only 34 extinctions have been documented with a high level of certainty since 1500, yet >100 species have likely disappeared since 1980.” Loss of biodiversity causes environmental degradation through obstruction of “…ecosystem services such as crop pollination and water purification…” There is little regard to the intrinsic value of biodiversity in the current political-economic system. Rallying consumers to protect a species is insufficient in a system wherein economic gain is touted above ecological health. Capitalists seek to accumulate wealth, “[t]his is why capitalists are willing to kill the last whales…commodities (and the raw materials they require) are more or less interchangeable, the important thing is the profit they generate.”

D. Air Pollution
Air pollution is an urgent challenge to human and ecological health, dangerous in its inherent difficulty to source and measure. Tracing the causation of air pollution is challenging since winds are capable of dispersing heavy metals far from their industrial origins. On a global scale, 570,000 of the 1.7 million deaths of children under five linked to the environment are a result of respiratory infections. Nationally, the Environmental Protection Agency reported “…approximately 127 million people lived in counties that exceeded the revised national ground-level ozone standards.” The nature of air pollution to travel and disperse will prove detrimental on a global scale if the United States commits to a race to the bottom in the spirit of economic gain.

Financial growth is not necessarily inconsistent with the protecting the ozone layer, reducing acid rain and toxic pollutants, and improving air quality and visibility. The Environmental Protection Agency found “[f]rom 1970 to 2015, aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants alone dropped an average of 70 percent while gross domestic product grew by 246 percent.” Powerful lobbyists from polluting industries oppose progress in air quality standards by appealing to citizens’ economic fears. The Natural Resource Defense Council reported that “[b]usiness Roundtable President John Engler protests that “[e]stablishing these new ozone standards would be tantamount to putting ‘not open for business’ signs in counties across the country at precisely the wrong moment, when unemployment is high and on the rise.” Engler’s claim is a fallacy, evident in the improved air quality and increased value of the United States’ gross national product since 1970. Economic growth is not a barrier to a clean environment, rather capitalist, corporate interests of accumulating wealth.

E. Waning Clean Water Resources
Access to safe drinking water is diminishing; forty states are projected to experience shortages in the next ten years. Conflicts are arising concerning scarcity of clean water resources, evident in the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Lead poisoning from industrial waste dumping rendered the water unfit for consumption. The district’s water resources failed to improve, and despite donations, media coverage, and numerous lawsuits, the state of affairs remains dismal. Citizens continue to rely on bottled water for drinking, and the state has expressed reservations with providing residents their water demands. The failure of the government to address the disaster is evidentiary of environmental racism within the state. Flint, Michiganpredominantly comprises of African-American, low-income households. The Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as, “[e]nvironmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Citizens, especially in marginalized communities, cannot rely on the government to protect their basic needs when there is a conflict with industry. Polluting industries must dump their waste somewhere, and peripheral communities lack political influence necessary in the current political-economic model. Lower property values are targeted to save money for industry leaders. There will be increased examples of poor communities unable to access clean water if the state continues to operate in a capitalist paradigm.

F. The Role of the Agricultural Sector
The current political climate is potentially detrimental to ecological health and social progress. The Trump administration sought a Congressional budget increase in defense spending to $603 billion. Dr. Jacobsson, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict warned that increased war efforts are injurious to sustainable peace and respect for human rights. At a time when humanity is in danger of sustaining life on the planet, building walls and dropping bombs will only harm ourselves. The political-economic structure of the United States favors lucrative military spending because it increases profit for the few weaponry manufacturing owners. Since World War II, producing warfare commodities has been an integral part of the economy. Manufacturing weapons is a lucrative business;, thus, capitalists have a deep-rooted interest in pushing war efforts. Warfare is damaging to environmental and societal health. Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the US government exemplifies is exemplary of the atrocities committed during the war. Vietnamese children suffered congenital disabilities as a result and veterans developed a host of cancers and neurological diseases as a consequence of the spraying. Agent Orange was discovered to have a half-life of about seven years, meaning the chemical persists in the environment as a toxic substance.

Environmental degradation is all-inclusive in capitalism. The United States cropland experiences soil erosion rates of 4.8 tons per acre per year on cropland. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports, “Soil erosion on cropland is of particular interest because of its on-site impacts on soil quality and crop productivity, and its off-site impacts on water quantity and quality, air quality, and biological activity. Cropland includes cultivated and non-cultivated cropland.” Soil erosion is a consequence of the growing divide between agricultural production and cities and is problematic from an ecological perspective. Organic matter from farmland is no longer returned to the soil, instead, shipped to municipalities to feed the ever-growing urban populations. The waste is contained in cities and pollution is rampant. If climate change is not addressed immediately, the trend of growing urban populations will persist.
Current industrial agriculture employs harmful practices, “[g]rowers annually apply billions of pounds of chemical fertilizer and tens of millions of pounds of pesticides to [the] fields, contributing to soil erosion, water pollution problems, and wildlife habitat destruction.” Farmworkers are especially vulnerable to pesticide poisoning because of their continuous direct contact with the substances. Farmworker Justice found, “[p]esticide exposure causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce nationwide. Occupational exposure to pesticides poisons as many as 20,000 farmworkers every year, according to estimates by the EPA.” Farmworkers ought to have the right to healthy working conditions. The unfavorable working conditions of unskilled laborers highlight the indentured nature of labor for the lower class and the motif of marginalized communities’ systematic oppression in capitalism.

In the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, United Nation members informed, “…pesticides are responsible for an estimated 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year, 99 percent of which occur in developing countries, where health, safety and environmental regulations are weaker and less strictly applied.” The Report discredited the claim made by industry giants like Monsanto that chemical pesticides must be used to feed the growing population, by pointing out the failure of industrial agriculture to eliminate hunger presently. Globally, half a billion small-scale farmers continue to feed the majority of the world’s population, without the use of heavy chemical inputs. Monsanto’s policy against allowing farmers to save seeds makes agriculture expensive; farmers are not allowed to replant genetically modified seeds and must purchase chemical inputs for their crops to grow. Pesticides disrupt the ecosystem, cascading from insects to humans. The report includes, “… proving a definitive link between exposure and human diseases…[or]…harm to the ecosystem presents a considerable challenge…This challenge has been exacerbated by a systematic denial, fuelled by the pesticide and agroindustry, of the magnitude of the damage inflicted by these chemicals, and aggressive, unethical marketing tactics remain unchallenged.” The report continues to look positively in the future, “…it is possible to produce healthier, nutrient-rich food, with higher yields in the longer term, without polluting and exhausting environmental resources. The solution requires a holistic approach…[including]…phasing out dangerous pesticides…[and invoking]… sustainable agricultural practices that take into account the challenges of resource scarcity and climate change.” The report affirms the detrimental effects of pesticides including; soil erosion, water contamination, pollinator decline due to neonicotinoids, and the deleterious effects on farmworker health.

Despite the exhaustive resources of labor and natural capital consumed to produce food, the United States Department of Agriculture reported approximately 133 billion pounds of food wasted in 2010, accounting for thirty to forty percent of the national food supply. Kevin D. Hall, Ph.D. reports, “Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and ∼300 million barrels of oil per year.” Meanwhile, 42.2 million Americans, one in eight, lived in food insecure households in 2015. Sixty-nine percent of Americans were forced to choose between buying food or paying utility bills. The national food system is problematic from production to distribution. Unequal distribution of wealth, including ownership of the means of production, is not the result of voluntary exchange but forced displacement, causing citizens to go without food.
Food insecurity in the United States is a complex and deeply systemic issue. The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis and found, in comparison to a less healthy diet, healthy diet costs, on average, $1.50 more per day. The additional $550 per year is a barrier to accessing nutritious food for low-income and marginalized families, comprising of thirty to forty percent of the population. The direct causation is unknown, although researchers asserted “…many decades of policies focused on producing inexpensive, high volume commodities have led to a complex network of farming, storage, transportation, processing, manufacturing and marketing capabilities that favour sales of highly processed food products for maximal industry profit.”

II. Wage Labor and the Current State of Affairs
Karl Marx, a philosopher, and economist highlighted the exploitive relationship between laborer and capitalists. In a capitalist system, the worker exchanges their labor-power for money. Wages are what the laborer is paid for a certain amount of time or quantity of work. Essentially, capitalism commodifies the working-class citizen, forcing workers to sell their time and labor to survive. The working-class is employed to produce more wealth for the capitalist, this phenomenon is known as alienated labor. The laborers do not enjoy the fruits of their efforts. The working-class adds value to commodities through their work through “…extracting raw materials, transporting and transforming them…continuously maintaining, repairing, and operating the machines…” Human input is essential to capitalism despite the increased mechanization occurring as technology advances. There is a constant tension between allocating wages and capitalists’ desire to maximize their profit. Laborers cannot expect capitalists to advocate for the quality of their lives because it is inherently inconsistent with their goals of economic gain.
The current trend of consolidation in the industry undermines citizens’ autonomy and threatens environmental health. The mechanization of industry caused a need for fewer workers and the continuous alienation of labor from the means of production, which is hazardous to genuine democracy. Workers’ councils and popular committees, led by citizens themselves, must replace the state. Marx foresaw capitalism defeating itself;

“[There] grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated…[C]apitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation…cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production.” (836-837)

The overwhelming majority of citizens in the United States, or the 79% comprising the middle and lower class, have a vested interest in seizing autonomy over their communities. The wealth gap between high-income families and everyone else reached record high levels in 2014. Pew Research Center reported a trend of increasing wealth for high-income families while middle and lower-income families remained stagnant. Marx’s concentration on the working class was a strategic move, “…[b]ecaussue they produce the wealth of society, workers have their hands on the means of production and distribution. They have the potential power to stop society in its tracks and even start it up in a different way. And it is in their direct self-interest to do so.” Given the trend of increased consumption and environmental degradation, natural resources will become increasingly scarce. If capitalism persists, a system that attributes little value to social justice, the greater population will become more so marginalized with decreasing access to water, food, and housing. The United States’ homeless population is at least 564,708 people, a troubling statistic for the nation with the largest gross national product. Cooperation and engagement of every citizen is essential to the paradigm shift. We must embrace compassion and be willing to tread into new territory to achieve high-functioning communities and ecological wellbeing.

III. Mutual Aid and Support
A central concept of the anarcho-syndicalist paradigm is the mutual aid principle. Peter Kropotkin, a zoologist, and philosopher advocated for interspecies support. He claimed the phenomenon was inherent in social beings, evident in the necessary cooperation between sexes to continue the species. He wrote,

“The mutual-aid tendency in man has so remote an origin, and is so deeply interwoven with all the past evolution of the human race, that it has been maintained by mankind up to the present time, notwithstanding all vicissitudes of history. It was chiefly evolved during periods of peace and prosperity; but when even the greatest calamities befell men – when whole countries were laid waste by wars, and whole populations were decimated by misery, or groaned under the yoke of tyranny – the same tendency continued to live in the villages and among the poorer classes in the towns; it still kept them together, and in the long run it reacted even upon those ruling, fighting, and devastating minorities which dismissed it as sentimental nonsense…[W]henever mankind had to work out a new social organization, adapted to a new phasis of development, its constructive genius always drew the elements and the inspiration for the new departure from that same ever-living tendency. New economical and social institutions, in so far as they were a creation of the masses, new ethical systems, and new religions, all have originated from the same source, and the ethical progress of our race, viewed in its broad lines, appears as a gradual extension of the mutual-aid principles from the tribe to always larger and larger agglomerations, so as to finally embrace one day the whole of mankind, without respect to its divers creeds, languages, and races.”

In times of peace or turmoil, Kropotkin observed interspecies support in humans. He challenged the Darwinian theory of competition for survival, following migration in birds to be inherently a social activity. Kropotkin views the ethical progression of our species to be an extension of mutual aid principles. Cooperation in social beings is essential to the progressive evolution of a species. The centralization of governance served to disenfranchise individuals for the profit of the state. When the state assumed control of all social functions, citizens were relieved from their responsibility to one other.

Media in the United States plays a key role in dividing citizens from each other, spreading fear and hatred. Fox News spreads hateful messages about Muslims, advocating for profiling and travel bans. The news channel is infamous for its racist and misogynist rhetoric. Framing plays a major role in how we perceive each other; a Muslim shooter is called a terrorist, an African-American a thug, and a Caucasian male is depicted as mentally ill. Fear tactics like framing Middle Eastern women as horribly suppressed serves to quell women in the United States from demanding equality. In 2015, women earned an average of 80% of a man’s income. One in three women have experienced violence from an intimate partner in the United States, and one in four have experienced extreme physical violence in their lifetimes. One in five women is raped in their lifetimes. Citizens of the United States ought to turn attention to the poor quality of lives for women here in the United States. The fear mongering and hateful rhetoric displayed in popular culture disenfranchise the greater population of the United States. People from all religions, cultural backgrounds, classes, and genders ought to embrace mutual aid principles and step out of fear to create a better society for all.

Mutual aid associations are “…organization[s] whose purpose is not primarily to distribute earnings to its members but to assist, benefit, or protect them in some common matters or objectives.” Mutual aid can manifest as self-governed people acting to help one another and the environment for better lives for all beings. The commons own a system wherein working land, duties are shared and rotational, and there is communal surplus and scarcity among all members of the community ought to be adopted. A shift from a paternalistic society towards individual autonomy with a responsibility to others must be taken. Sharing lands and duties is necessary, we all require the same basic needs of food, shelter, and water. Everyone will have a role in securing these needs for themselves and their communities. Rotating positions for hard labor will be implemented to allocate difficult jobs fairly among everyone. Shared scarcity is an important element in an anarcho-syndicalist political-economic framework. In times of shortage, necessities will be allocated equitably among everyone. Solidarity will play a major role in the new paradigm, supporting each other through listening and nonviolent communication to generate creative solutions to issues within communities is essential.

Nonviolent communication is a framework that has proven successful in dispute resolution in war-torn areas. Nonviolent communication comprises of expressing observations, feelings, needs, and requests. The goal is to allow communication to flow freely, without judgment, until compassion arises naturally among parties. One communicates their needs honestly and receives information about the other empathetically. Deep listening, respect, and empathy are paramount in this form of communication. Nonviolent Communications aims to provide creative solutions to expand the pie for all parties, rather than settle for a compromise.
Outliers and uncooperative people will inevitably be an issue in every society. Currently, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, up to five times more than most other countries. More than 2.3 million people are incarcerated, one in five prisoners are imprisoned for a drug-related offense, and most of the jailed youth are held for nonviolent offenses. The current justice system is devoid of integrity. Prisoners are working for as little as ninety-three cents an hour in private prisons. This behavior of capitalists is egregious.

Evidently, there is already an issue of outliers in our current political model. Imprisonment is a crime against human rights. Alternative solutions ought to be adopted. An anarcho-syndicalist system that embraces mutual aid will be rooted in social obligations. A person that is unwilling to work or help others will be driven out of society and expected to care for their own needs. If enough people are not willing to function in the system, they can unify and generate new, creative solutions. The new system will be dynamic and allow for social and economic evolution. Violent crimes like rape and murder will not mystically dissipate from society in the new paradigm, however, it is a fallacy to argue that a stateless society will decay into tribalism. Begging the question of how a stateless society would handle violent crimes seems suspicious when nearly 1,000 people were fatally shot by police in 2016.

A. Mutual Aid in Practice
Portland Anarchist Road Care is a seamless response to the common question, “who will take care of the roads?” The group believes in building community solutions outside of governance. The city of Portland is either unwilling or incapable of fixing the roads in a timely manner, and citizens chose to respond to the state’s negligence with action. To improve the quality of their lives, citizens came together to repair the streets, while freely sharing information on how to do so. The group mobilizes communities to improve infrastructure and take back autonomy over their lives. The paternalistic model of governance in Portland has failed its citizens most fundamental needs. Community members have nothing to gain economically yet choose to spend their time improving their communities. Portland Anarchist Road Care is evidentiary that people are not inherently selfish and helpless to care for themselves. People have a vested interest in the wellbeing of their communities because it affects their daily lives.
Portland Assembly coordinates community organizations to mobilize direct action, solidarity and mutual aid in their municipality. The Assembly is comprised of local, regional, and citywide associations to create a network of support and empower communities. The Assembly aims to foster direct democracy in the oppressive political climate. The Assembly is made up of action councils, which are self-organized neighborhood groups which arrange on a small-scale to promote community togetherness. Within councils, decisions ideally will have unanimous or at least two-thirds support before being adopted. The groups mentioned above are evidentiary mutual aid tendencies are already emerging.

III. Direct Action
Direct action is the use of strikes, demonstrations, and various forms of protest outside of government to achieve one’s goals. Direct action is an opportunity to create social change outside the traditional framework of government. The concept of direct action dates to the early twentieth century, utilized by the Industrial Workers of the World. Their movement was anti-capitalist, anticipating a total eradication of capitalism. Industrial Workers of the World used “…work slowdowns…factory occupations…[and] industrial sabotage.

The largest direct action in the United States occurred on May 23, 1971. In protest of the Vietnam War, 25,000 individuals united on Mayday to stop the underlying functioning of the federal government. The slogan was, “if the government will not stop the war, we’ll stop the government!” Organizers planned to blockage traffic circles and bridges to prevent federal employees from reaching their workplaces. Early detection largely thwarted Their efforts from the government of their plans. Approximately 14,500 protesters were arrested during the Mayday direct action. Although the government stopped the protest, Mayday created a framework for “…decentralized, multi-vocal, ideologically diverse..” grassroots activism, driven by direct action.
Since the 2016 election, protests have gained popularity. 2.6 million people across thirty-two countries attended the Women’s March worldwide to advocate for women’s issues. Citizens must engage in direct action to send a message to our representatives that we are paying attention and will take on issues ourselves if the government fails to do so. Direct action is an essential component to shifting to an autonomous society. We can no longer rely on a patriarchal, capitalist society to ensure the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

A. Incremental Change
In addition to direct action, we can contribute to the paradigm shift by making conscientious efforts to withdrawal from consumerism. Slowing down the financial part of the system will inevitably influence capitalists at the top of the commercial food chain. Evaluating our individual choices to tailor need rather than want is essential. Participating in the shifting paradigm is essential, even if you are unwilling or unable to attend protests or strikes. Refuse to buy products manufactured via unethical practices.
Globalization has significantly impacted the economic framework and clouded transparency. The internationalization of the economy has resulted in cheap labor. A commodity chain is comprised of links among the various stages of the production of a product; including resource extraction, production, and distribution. Some parts of the process are not necessarily easily understood or accurately represented (e.g. a company might hide the origins of some of its resources in an attempt to excuse bad practices). Simple products can hide complex chains of production, and seemingly reliable products like Disney plush toys are manufactured in horrific factories, wherein child labor is a common practice. There was a fire on November 24, 2012, at the Tazreen Fashion garment factory in Bangladesh, resulting in the death of 112 workers and fifty-three suffered from injuries. The facility was found “…with no exterior fire escapes, no sprinkler system, fire extinguishers that did not work, and padlocked exit gates that trapped the workers. Even if some of the gates had not been locked, the only stairways led down to the inferno — the ground-floor warehouse piled to the ceiling with fabric, yarn, garments, and accessories.”

Gross human rights violations like the Bangladesh garment factory can be avoided through shortened supply chains. Vote with your money, buy locally or from sources you can trust. Local shopping provides transparency in consumerism. Conscientious shopping can improve environmental conditions. For example, avoiding products that contain palm oil can slow down the process of deforestation in tropical forests. Swaths of tropical forests have cleared for production of monoculture oil palm plantations. Palm oil accounted for 65% of all vegetable oils traded internationally. Environmental impacts of consumer demand for palm oil include; deforestation, loss of critical habitats, soil erosion, air and water pollution, and subsequently, climate change. Adapting our needs to environmental and social concerns ought to be adopted immediately. Consumer awareness is essential to shift towards an environmentally and socially sustainable society.

IV. Conclusion
The current political-economic model in the United States is wasteful and devoid of justice. The lack of justice is evident in rising municipal solid waste proportions, soil erosion, declining clean water resources, rapid species extinction rates, and economic disparities. A new paradigm of anarcho-syndicalism must be adopted, wherein mutual aid principles, solidarity, and direct action are embraced to take back autonomy in our daily lives. We must embrace solidarity globally between classes as the overwhelming majority. The new paradigm will arise from mass action within the working-class. Production and distribution will be centered on need rather than profit. Democratic unions will materialize to allow for communities to tailor their decision-making to their unique needs. Decentralization is essential for autonomous communities. Decentralization of politics will empower communities to adapt their governance to their cultural and geographical needs. Ursula K. Le Guin poignantly captured the essence of an anarcho-syndicalist society;

“It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.”

 

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[1] The Sociology of Intellectuals, Author(s): Charles Kurzman and Lynn Owens, Source: Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 28 (2002), pp. 63-90 Published by: Annual Reviews, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3069235, Accessed: 11-04-2017 23:52 UTC

[1] “The Twilight of Vanguardism” David Graeber 2003

[1] “Protecting Children From the Environment.” World Health Organization, n.d. Web. http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/ceh-Infographics-2017-english.pdf?ua=1

[1] Gordon, Bruce, Richard Mackay, and Eva Rehfuess. “Inheriting the World: The Atlas of Children’s Health and the Environment.” World Health Organization, 2004. Web. http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/en/atlas.pdf?ua=1 p.7

[1] “Protecting Children From the Environment.” World Health Organization, n.d. Web. http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/ceh-Infographics-2017-english.pdf?ua=1

[1] http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/en/atlas.pdf?ua=1 p.4

[1] http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/en/atlas.pdf?ua=1 p.7

[1] http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/en/atlas.pdf?ua=1 p.8

[1] Faber, Daniel R., Dr., and Eric J. Krieg, Dr. “Unequal Exposure to Environmental Hazards: Environmental Injustices In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Northeastern University, 12 Oct. 2005. Web. http://www.northeastern.edu/nejrc/wp-content/uploads/Final-Unequal-Exposure-Report-2005-10-12-05.pdf p.1

[1] http://www.northeastern.edu/nejrc/wp-content/uploads/Final-Unequal-Exposure-Report-2005-10-12-05.pdf p.1

[1] http://www.northeastern.edu/nejrc/wp-content/uploads/Final-Unequal-Exposure-Report-2005-10-12-05.pdf p.14

[1] http://www.northeastern.edu/nejrc/wp-content/uploads/Final-Unequal-Exposure-Report-2005-10-12-05.pdf p.9

[1] Price, Wayne. Value of Radical Theory: An Anarchist Introduction to Marx’s Critique of Political Economy. Oakland, Ca.: AK, 2013. Print. p. 21

[1] Center for Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan. 2016. “Municipal Solid Waste Factsheet.” Pub. No. CSS04-15. August 2016 http://css.snre.umich.edu/sites/default/files/Municipal_Solid_Waste_Factsheet_CSS04-15.pdf

[1] U.s. Environmental Protection Agency, Materials Conservation And Recycling Branch, Resource Conservation And Sustainability Division, Epa Office Of Resource Conservation And Recovery. “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Tables and Figures.” (n.d.): n. pag. Environmental Protection Agency, Dec. 2016. Web. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-11/documents/2014_smm_tablesfigures_508.pdf

[1] Price 21

[1] Gorzelany, Jim. “Cars That Can Last For 250,000 Miles (Or More).” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2013/03/14/cars-that-can-last-for-250000-miles/#5bb1b247323e

[1] “Table MF-33GA – Highway Statistics 2013 – Policy | Federal Highway Administration.” U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration. Federal Highway Administration, Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2013/33ga.cfm

[1] O’Hara, P. A., & Sherman, H. J. (2004). Veblen and Sweezy on monopoly capital, crises, conflict, and the state. Journal of Economic Issues, 38(4), 969+. Retrieved from http://proxy.greenmtn.edu:2048/login?url=http://proxy.greenmtn.edu:2127/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vol_p86g&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA126420157&asid=bb0602d2bdf4638b272c40a476dd4cbd

[1] Wieser, H. (2016). Beyond planned obsolescence: product lifespans and the challenges to a circular economy. GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 25(3), 156+. Retrieved from http://proxy.greenmtn.edu:2048/login?url=http://proxy.greenmtn.edu:2127/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vol_p86g&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA472474561&asid=85b83282d4bd0cc17c8dd8465b1ee66a

[1] “UN Environment Chief Warns of ‘tsunami’ of E-waste.” United Nations. UN News Centre, 5 May 2015. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2015/05/un-environment-chief-warns-of-tsunami-of-e-waste-at-conference-on-chemical-treaties/

[1] “UN Environment Chief Warns of ‘tsunami’ of E-waste.”

[1] Ceballos, G., P. R. Ehrlich, A. D. Barnosky, A. Garcia, R. M. Pringle, and T. M. Palmer. “Accelerated Modern Human-induced Species Losses: Entering the Sixth Mass Extinction.” Science Advances 1.5 (2015): n. pag. Web. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253.full

[1] http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253.full

[1] http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253.full

[1] Price, Wayne p. 21

[1] http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/en/atlas.pdf?ua=1 28

[1] http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/ceh-Infographics-2017-english.pdf?ua=1

[1] “Our Nation’s Air.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://gispub.epa.gov/air/trendsreport/2016/

[1] “EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Has Fought to Overturn Life-Saving EPA Toxic Air Pollution Standards.” NRDC. National Resource Defense Council, 06 Jan. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/nrdc/epa-nominee-scott-pruitt-has-fought-overturn-life-saving-epa-toxic-air-pollution

[1] “Progress Cleaning the Air and Improving People’s Health.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/progress-cleaning-air-and-improving-peoples-health#pollution

[1] https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/progress-cleaning-air-and-improving-peoples-health#pollution

[1] August 12, 2011 John Walke. “Opposing Clean Air Protections, Industry Lobbyists Misrepresent When Updated Standards Must Be Met.” NRDC. National Resource Defense Council, 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/john-walke/opposing-clean-air-protections-industry-lobbyists-misrepresent-when-updated

[1] https://www.nrdc.org/experts/john-walke/opposing-clean-air-protections-industry-lobbyists-misrepresent-when-updated

[1] 2014, May. “FRESHWATER.” (n.d.): n. pag. GAO. United States Government Accountability Office, May 2014. Web. http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663344.pdf

[1] Chambers, Jennifer. “State Explains Why No Bottled Water Delivery in Flint.” The Detroit News. N.p., 23 Dec. 2016. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/12/22/flint-bottled-water/95772870/

[1] “Environmental Justice.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice

[1] Holland, Steve. “Trump Seeks ‘historic’ U.S. Military Spending Boost, Domestic Cuts.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-budget-idUSKBN1661R2

[1] Mwangi, Patrick. “Top UN Official: Environmental Protection in War More Urgent than Ever | UNEP RONA.” UNEP’s Regional Office for North America. United Nations, 3 Nov. 2016. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.rona.unep.org/news/2016/top-un-official-environmental-protection-war-more-urgent-ever

[1] “War Production.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.pbs.org/thewar/at_home_war_production.htm

[1] US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration. “Public Health.” Protect Your Health. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 04 Dec. 2013. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/

[1] Division of Environmental Health Laboratory Sciences, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia 30333. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2733058

[1] “Soil Erosion on Cropland.” 2007 National Resources Inventory 8.1 (1970): 145-47. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Apr. 2010. Web. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_012269.pdf

[1] https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_012269.pdf

[1] Price, Wayne p. 28

[1] Imhoff, Dan. The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories. Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media, 2010. Print., p. 78-9

[1] “Exposed and Ignored How Pesticides Are Endangering Our Nation’s Farmworkers.” Human Rights Documents Online (n.d.): n. pag. Farmworker Justice, 2013. Web. https://www.farmworkerjustice.org/sites/default/files/aExposed%20and%20Ignored%20by%20Farmworker%20Justice%20singles%20compressed.pdf

[1] A/HRC/34/48 https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/017/85/PDF/G1701785.pdf?OpenElement p. 3

[1] Shiva, Vandana. Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard of the Fight against GMOs and Corporate Agriculture. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 2016. Print. P. 9

[1] A/HRC/34/48 https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/017/85/PDF/G1701785.pdf?OpenElement P. 3-4

[1] Id. P. 4

[1] Id.

[1] Id.

[1] Roumeliotis, Greg, and Ludwig Burger. “Bayer Clinches Monsanto with Improved $66 Billion Bid.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 15 Sept. 2016. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-monsanto-m-a-bayer-deal-idUSKCN11K128

[1] Drozdiak, Natalia. “Dow, Dupont Tell EU They’ll Sell Businesses to Get Greenlight for Merger.” Market Watch, 08 Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-dupont-tell-eu-theyll-sell-businesses-to-get-greenlight-for-merger-2017-02-08

[1] Drozdiak, Natalia. “ChemChina, Syngenta Reply to EU over Merger.” Market Watch, 10 Jan. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chemchina-syngenta-reply-to-eu-over-merger-2017-01-10

[1] Drozdiak, Natalia. “Dow, Dupont Tell EU They’ll Sell Businesses to Get Greenlight for Merger.” Market Watch, 08 Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-dupont-tell-eu-theyll-sell-businesses-to-get-greenlight-for-merger-2017-02-08

[1] Drozdiak, Natalia. “ChemChina, Syngenta Reply to EU over Merger.” Market Watch, 10 Jan. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chemchina-syngenta-reply-to-eu-over-merger-2017-01-10

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-14/syngenta-falls-as-chemchina-said-to-plan-merger-with-sinochem

[1] Id.

[1] Roumeliotis, Greg, and Ludwig Burger. “Bayer Clinches Monsanto with Improved $66 Billion Bid.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 15 Sept. 2016. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-monsanto-m-a-bayer-deal-idUSKCN11K128

[1] “Frequently Asked Questions.” United States Department of Agriculture. Office of the Chief Economist, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/faqs.htm

[1] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0007940 K.D. Hall, J. Guo, M. Dore, C.C. Chow, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its environmental Impact,” PLoS ONe 4(11):e7940, 2009.

[1] “Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics.” Feeding America. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/hunger-and-poverty/hunger-and-poverty-fact-sheet.html

[1] “Community Health and Nutrition in America.” Feeding America. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/helping-families-in-need/nutrition-initiative/

[1] Rao M, Afshin A, Singh G, et al Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ Open 2013;3:e004277. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004277

[1] Marge Dwyer, Marge. “Eating Healthy vs. Unhealthy Diet Costs about $1.50 More per Day.” News. Harvard School of Public Health, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/healthy-vs-unhealthy-diet-costs-1-50-more/

[1] Kobayashi, Lindsay. “How Much Does a Healthy Diet Actually Cost?” Public Health. PLOS, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://blogs.plos.org/publichealth/2014/08/04/diet-cost/

[1] Rao M, Afshin A, Singh G, et al Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ Open 2013;3:e004277. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004277

[1] Marx, Karl. “Wage Labour and Capital”

[1]Id.

[1] Price, Wayne p. 19

[1] Id. p. 25

[1] Id. p. 91

[1] Id. p. 118

[1] Suh, Michael. “Share of Adults Living in Middle-income Households Is in Steady Decline, and Share in Lower- and Upper-income Households Is Rising.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. Pew Research Center, 08 Dec. 2015. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/st_2015-12-09_middle-class-08/

[1] Fry, Richard, and Rakesh Kochhar. “America’s Wealth Gap between Middle-income and Upper-income Families Is Widest on Record.” Pew Research Center. N.p., 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

 

[1] Price, Wayne p. 121

[1] “The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.” (2015): n. pag. E U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Nov. 2015. Web. https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2015-AHAR-Part-1.pdf

[1] Kropotkin, Peter. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1960. Print. P. 223

[1] Id. 38-39

[1] Kropotkin p. 224

[1] Kropotkin p. 227

[1] Fox News’ Islamophobia In 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVl3QrVVc0o

[1] “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2017).” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] “National Statistics.” Statistics. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] Id.

[1] “Mutual Aid Association.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] https://www.cnvc.org/about/marshall-rosenberg.html

[1] Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer, 2002. Kindle. P. 411

[1] Id. p. 488

[1] Initiative, Prison Policy. “States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2016.” States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2016 | Prison Policy Initiative. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] Initiative, Prison Policy, and Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy. “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016.” Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016 | Prison Policy Initiative. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] Initiative, Prison Policy. “Section III: The Prison Economy.” Section 3 The Prison Economy – Prison Labor – Prison Index | Prison Policy Initiative. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] “Police Shootings 2016 Database.” The Washington Post. WP Company, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/pg/PortlandAnarchistRoadCare/about/?ref=page_internal

[1] https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxJb6e1lsvEYczBhbWFDeWQxZzA/view

[1] Kauffman, L. A. Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. N.p.: Verso, 2017. Print. p. x

[1] Id. p. x

[1] Id. p. xi

[1] Id. p. xi

[1] Id. p.1

[1] Id. p.2

[1] Id. p.33

[1] Przybyla, Heidi M., and Fredreka Schouten. “At 2.6 Million Strong, Women’s Marches Crush Expectations.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 22 Jan. 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] Walsh, Margaret. “Plush Endeavors: An Analysis of the Modern American Soft-Toy Industry.” The Business History Review, vol. 66, no. 4, 1992, pp. 637–670., http://www.jstor.org/stable/3116843.

[1] Manik, Julfikar Ali, and Jim Yardley. “Bangladesh Finds Gross Negligence in Factory Fire.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] “Wal-Mart and Disney Toys from Hell.” Www.globallabourrights.org. Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] “Environmental & Social Impacts of Palm Oil Production.” WWF. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] “Palm Oil.” WWF. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] “Environmental & Social Impacts of Palm Oil Production.” WWF. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

[1] Le, Guin U. K. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Print.

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