Report: 70 Percent of U.S. Produce Contains Pesticide Residue

MAR 22, 2019

H11 produce pesticides

A new analysis by the Environmental Working Group finds 70 percent of fresh produce sold across the United States is contaminated with pesticide. Topping the list of contaminated produce are strawberries and spinach, while more than nine out of 10 samples of kale were found to contain residues of pesticides, with some leaves containing up to 18 different chemical compounds.

from Democracy Now!

President Trump: “No, I don’t believe it. No, no, I don’t believe it. And here’s the other thing. You’re going to have to have China and Japan and all of Asia and all of these other countries, you know—it addresses our country. Right now, we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been, and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean, but every other place on earth is dirty, that’s not so good. So, I want clean air, I want clean water. That’s very important.”

‘Europe alone—only Europe’

Bruno Latour, translated by Stephen Muecke

 

I begin with the simple idea that climate change and its denial have been organizing all of contemporary politics at least for the last three decades. Climate change plays the same role that social questions and the class struggle played over the two preceding centuries.

We can understand nothing about the way inequalities have exploded for forty years, and the accompanying movement towards massive deregulation, if we don’t admit that a good part of the globalized elite had perfectly understood what was going on with the bad news about the state of the planet, which, thanks to the work of scientists, began to crystallize at the beginning of the nineties.

Since the threat was real, the elites drew the conclusion that it would be necessary to adopt two opposing courses of action. First, give up the post-war liberal dream of a common world created by the modernization of the planet—so, let’s cut ourselves off as quickly as possible, through deregulation at any price, from the rest of the inhabitants to whom we sold this dream of universality; secondly, systematically organize long-term denial of this ecological change, which nevertheless brings in not just the environment but what is called the Earth-system.

(One can see in the case of Exxon-Mobil, which, at the beginning of the nineties, moved quickly from cutting edge scientific research on climate and the Earth, to the organization of a denial of climatic change, a useful empirical benchmark to situate this transformation of liberal ideals).

Denial—designated euphemistically as climato-scepticism—is crucial to hide any scandalous public admission that one was giving up on the ideal of a universal modern world for all its inhabitants. In theory, nothing had changed: “Globalization, here we come!” In practice, everything had: “We will no longer share anything with the rest of you since the planet will not be big enough for everyone.”

What makes today’s political situation so disconcerting is that this double movement, renunciation and denial, is an open secret.

A good number of people around the world seems to have understood fairly clearly that they have been abandoned by elites who no longer have any intention of sharing the state of the world with them. They are staging a hue and cry for a return to the traditional spaces that could be called premodern (or at least look a bit like that). Hence the stampede, astonishing in its simultaneity, from the Philippines to France, via England, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, towards the idea that safety can only be found by going back to national borders, traditional cultures, ancient soil.

Commentators think this running away is “populism”, but it is just the quite logical reaction of people who feel abandoned in the middle of nowhere, and who have been chillingly betrayed by those who, until now, were leading them towards the enchanting horizon of globalization.

As a result, we are all caught up in the midst of what is looking more and more like the beginning of the panic when a theater catches fire. There are those who continue to flee towards the protections afforded by an unprecedented explosion of inequality (conveniently summed up by the term 1% of 1%), and those who flee backwards towards the completely imaginary protection offered by national and ethnic borders. In the middle are all those who run the risk of getting trampled…

Now, this situation takes a potentially tragic turn where a whole government, the United States, is lead by Donald Trump. Trumpism (if one can use the term) is one of those rare innovations in politics, and it would be wise to take it seriously. Just as fascism also knew how to combine extremes and take politicians and commentators of its era by surprise, Trumpism combines extremes and trumps its world, at least for the time being.

 

It brings two contradictory attitudes together in one same movement: first, the flight towards maximum profit while abandoning the rest of the world to its own devices (billionaires representing the “little guy”!); second, a whole people scrambling back to national and ethnic categories (“Make America Great Again”, behind a wall!); and, thirdly, the explicit denial of the geological and climatic situation.

Instead of opposing the two flights—towards globalization and the return to old national terrains—Trumpism proceeds on the assumption they can be fused. This fusion is obviously only possible if one denies the very existence of a conflict situation between modernization on the one hand and the material condition of the Earth on the other. Hence the constitutive role of climate scepticism; the fusion would otherwise make no sense. (Let’s remember that until Clinton, questions of the environment were bipartisan in the United States).

This is the first time that a political movement has been explicitly organized by and for climate deniers. And it is easy to understand why: the total lack of realism of the combination—billionaires dragging millions of so-called middle class people towards a “return to the past”!—would be starkly obvious. For the moment, the whole thing only hangs together on the condition of it being totally indifferent to the geo-political situation.

It is useless complaining that the Trump electors “don’t believe in the facts”. They are not morons. It is, on the contrary, because the geopolitical situation must be denied in its entirety that an indifference to facts becomes so essential. If one had to take into account the massive contradiction between fleeing forwards or backwards, then one would have to start coming down to earth! In this sense, Trumpism is the first entirely ecologically-motivated government (but, alas, in the negative)!

If 2017 is the year that will be full of dangers, it is because Trump is looking like propelling the U.S. into a geopolitical dream that even the mavericks in the administration of Bush Jnr were not able to imagine. How can you be realistic in geo- politics if you deny the very contradiction between the material conditions of the “geo” situation and the political aims for which you are striving?

Bush Jnr still had the idea of constructing a world order—completely unrealistic, it goes without saying, but nevertheless still vaguely linked with powerful interests and relations. What is so terrifying about Trump’s rise to power is that it indicates the US’s abandonment of the vocation to organize a world order. What can we expect of a president who tweets that the “United Nations…is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time”? This very same United Nations that was constructed on the death of so many of his compatriots during the war? One would have to conclude that there is no longer any interest attached to the building of a common world order.

 

In 2017, just when France and Germany will have to vote in national elections, Europe has lost, because of Trump, the protection of what could be called the “moral umbrella” under which it has lived since the war, an umbrella which is at least as important as the nuclear arms one—and certainly easier to open.

 

A united Europe was the greatest institutional invention for exceeding the limits of State sovereignty. What allowed it not to collapse was the fact that together with the U.S. it participated in the construction of a world order that was bigger than itself. With America, the European States were something more than States. Without it, they are just States, arguing about everything.

 

What will Europe do if Trump speaks about the U.S. not as a head of state but as a head of a gang? What can Europe do alone, that is, left to herself? Knowing what happened after August 1914, we can only quake in our boots.

 

After Brexit, after Trump, the tendency, or the temptation, is obviously to continue to dismantle the whole idea of a world order. This is what is most likely going to happen. But it is also what it is still possible to fight against. After all, the abandonment of the idea of a world order under the hegemony of the U.S. is perhaps an opportunity for Europe. But it is an opportunity only if one begins to make changes to the notions of “order” and of “world”. So, Trumpism, because it is so extreme, because it is so contradictory, offers just the right path—as long as one takes it in the opposite direction…

 

First, the contradiction between the ideal of modernization and the state of the planet cannot be denied, it is organizing all the politics; highlighting this contradiction instead of denying it, reorients all the positions. And this has nothing to do with having a concern for “ecology” or a desire to “protect nature”. It is about the concrete and material conditions of existence of one and all.

Secondly: the rush forwards managed for thirty years by the deregulators is no longer compatible with the ideals of development and the calls for globalization. That kind of globalization is finished; there is not enough globe left, to put it in plain language. The modern world is just not possible. Either you have a world—and it will not be modern. Or you are modern, but without a real world.

Thirdly: This is the most delicate point, and also the crucial one for the coming elections. The movement to turn back towards the protection of national or ethnic borders is legitimate if we consider that there was never any alternative to modernization, and that it had been betrayed from the inside by those who profited the most from it.

It is legitimate as a reaction, but it is a mad political project since this national ground, this ethnic soil, simply does not exist. If globalization were a utopia—it was one reserved for those who had abandoned the idea of making a common world with the masses—then the dear old country of yore is another one. And, in the end, everyone knows this. Hence the question: can we recognize the legitimacy of this reaction and channel it in the now perfectly realist direction of a return to the ground, the territory, the Earth, that is, an Earth that is no longer national or global? If it is an alliance that is needed, then it is with the “reactionaries”, but in order to go somewhere else.

So the question has become: Can Europe once again become the common homeland for those who refuse these two utopias? It would be a new ground, as concrete as the one people are looking for with the country of old, and infinitely less limited than the space of national frontiers. After all, since it was Europe that foisted on the rest of the world this strange contradiction between global space and ancient terroir, is it not up to Europe to resolve this contradiction? Can Europeans, tempted by the return to nationalism, reoccupy their own territory and call Europe their true “mother land”?

If we have been abandoned by the US, we, Europeans should not dream: we will have to do it alone.

walter benjamin

The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments. Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war: 

“For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as anti-aesthetic … Accordingly we state:… War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others … Poets and artists of Futurism! … remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art … may be illumined by them!” 

This manifesto has the virtue of clarity. Its formulations deserve to be accepted by dialecticians. To the latter, the aesthetics of today’s war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war. The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production – in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural materrial. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.

“Fiat ars – pereat mundus,” says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.

—from “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Walter Benjamin, 1936