Are Apple and Google Really on Your Side Against the NSA?

  Civil Liberties

The tech giants’ tacit message: Open your wallet for the latest gadget and you’ll be safe from Big Brother.
 In the past couple of days both Google[i] and Apple[ii] have announced that they’re enabling default encryption on their mobile devices so that only the user possessing a device’s password can access its local files. The public relations team at Apple makes the following claim:

“Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data… So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8″

The marketing drones at Google issued a similar talking point:

“For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement… As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”

Quite a sales pitch? Cleverly disguised as a news report no less. Though it’s not stated outright the tacit message is: open your wallet for the latest gadget and you’ll be safe from Big Brother. Sadly, to a large degree this perception of warrant protection is the product of Security Theater aimed at rubes and shareholders. The anti-surveillance narrative being dispensed neglects the myriad of ways in which such device-level encryption can be overcome. A list of such techniques has been enumerated by John Young, the architect who maintains the Cryptomeleak site[iii]. Young asks readers why he should trust hi-tech’s sales pitch and subsequently presents a series of barbed responses. For example:

Because they can’t covertly send your device updated software [malware] that would change all these promises, for a targeted individual, or on a mass basis?

Because this first release of their encryption software has no security bugs, so you will never need to upgrade it to retain your privacy?

Because the US export control bureaucracy would never try tostop Apple from selling secure mass market proprietary encryption products across the border?

Because the countries that wouldn’t let Blackberry sell phonesthat communicate securely with your own corporate servers, will of course let Apple sell whatever high security non-tappable devices it wants to?

Because they want to help the terrorists win?

Because it’s always better to wiretap people after you convince them that they are perfectly secure, so they’ll spill all their best secrets?

Another thing to keep in mind is that local device encryption is just that. Local. As Bruce Schneier points out this tactic does little to protect user data that’s stored in the cloud[iv]. When push comes to shove executives will still be able to hand over anything that resides on corporate servers.

Marketing spokesmen are eager to create the impression that companies are siding with users in the struggle against mass surveillance (never mind the prolific corporate data mining[v]). Especially after business leaders denied participating in the NSA’s PRISM program. Yet the appearance of standing up to government surveillance is often a clever ploy to sell you stuff, a branding mechanism. It’s important to recognize that Internet companies, especially billion dollar hi-tech multinationals like Yahoo[vi] and Cisco[vii], exist to generate revenue and have clearly demonstrated the tendency to choose profits over human rights when it’s expedient.

End Note

[i] Craig Timberg, “Newest Androids will join iPhones in offering default encryption, blocking police,” Washington Post, September 18, 2014.

[ii] Craig Timberg, “Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants,” Washington Post, September 18, 2014.

[iii] John Young, “Apple Wiretap Disbelief,” Cryptome, September 19, 2014.

[iv] Bruce Schneier, “iOS 8 Security,” Schneier on Security, September 19, 2014.

[v] Bill Blunden, “The NSA’s Corporate Collaborators,” Counterpunch, May 9-11, 2014.

[vi] Bill Blunden, “Corporate Executives Couldn’t Care Less About Civil Liberties,” Counterpunch, September 15, 2014.

[vii] Cindy Cohn and Rainey Reitman, “Court Lets Cisco Systems Off the Hook for Helping China Detain, Torture Religious Minorities,”Electronic Frontier Foundation, September 19, 2014.

Bill Blunden is an independent investigator whose current areas of inquiry include information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis.

The witch-hunting of Steven Salaita and the new McCarthyism

23 September 2014

The political victimization of Steven Salaita, whose appointment as a tenured professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was revoked because he tweeted outraged protests against the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, is a chilling attack on core democratic rights, including freedom of speech and academic freedom.

The university administration and the University of Illinois Board of Trustees have justified the witch-hunt against Salaita in the name of “democracy,” “civility” and “pluralism.” This not only expresses the hypocrisy that pervades these institutions, it reflects the evisceration of all democratic principles and mechanisms within American capitalist society as a whole.

The termination of Salaita’s appointment as a tenured professor of American Indian Studies at UIUC came after he had given up his position at Virginia Tech and moved with his wife, who also left her job, and young child to Illinois. The pretext for his removal was a series of tweets he had sent in the midst of the one-sided Israeli war on the Palestinian population of Gaza.

A campaign initiated by the political right and the Zionist lobby to twist what Salaita said in these tweets in order to smear him as an anti-Semite was embraced by the university administration and some ostensibly liberal representatives of academia. The most frequently cited tweet, written by Salaita on July 19 as Israel escalated its murderous violence against Gaza, stated, “Zionists: transforming ‘antisemitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

The tweet was ripped out of its context of a series of statements, including the clarifications that it was the Zionists who had distorted the meaning of the term “anti-semitism” by equating it with something as “honorable” as “deplor[ing] colonization, land theft and child murder,” and that this outlook served to “cheapen anti-Semitism by likening it to principled stands against state violence.”

He further wrote: “My stand is fundamentally one of acknowledging and countering the horror of antisemitism.” In others tweets, he added that he supported Gaza because “I believe that Jewish and Arab children are equal in the eyes of God” and that he found himself “in solidarity with many Jews and in disagreement with many Arabs.”

Only a grotesque and willful distortion could attribute to Salaita support for anti-Semitism based on these messages. This, of course, is precisely the specialty of the American right and the Zionist lobby, which proceeded to do just that.

The right-wing web site the Daily Caller gave prominence to these slanders, while the Simon Wiesenthal Center—for which there is no greater crime than demanding equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis—demanded that the university rescind Salaita’s appointment, describing him as “nothing more than a baseless anti-Semite.”

That this noxious political alliance of right-wing ideologues and rabid Zionist anti-Palestinians found powerful backing has been established with the exposure of emails from prominent wealthy donors to the university threatening to withhold funding if the administration failed to carry through the politically motivated victimization of Salaita.

Whatever Salaita tweeted had no bearing on his appointment as a professor, and its distortion and use to deny him employment was a vicious attack on his democratic right to free speech, as well as a direct assault on academic freedom. As Salaita correctly responded, the university’s action was based on “a highly subjective and sprawling standard that can be used to attack faculty who espouse unpopular or unconventional views.”

The university proceeded to act on just such a perverse “standard” and then defended it as a blow for “civility” and even “democracy.”

Following a September 11 vote by the Illinois Board of Trustees to uphold the decision to victimize Salaita, the board’s chairman, Christopher Kennedy, insisted that anyone “with an open mind” would be convinced “we did the right thing, ethically and procedurally.”

Kennedy, the son of the assassinated senator and Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, is a political appointee of Illinois’ Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. He has acted as a fundraiser for Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates.

Referring to the opinions Salaita expressed in his tweets, Kennedy declared: “There can be no place for that in our democracy, and therefore, there will be no place for it in our university.”

If constitutionally protected speech criticizing the policies and actions of Washington’s key Middle East ally, Israel, can have no place “in our democracy” or “in our university,” what other views can be outlawed and suppressed? Why not opposition to imperialist war, or criticism and questioning of the “war on terrorism” pretexts being used to drag the American people into another predatory military intervention in the Middle East based on lies?

The proscription of views as having no place “in our democracy” has a long and ignoble history in the United States, reaching its apogee during the McCarthyite anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, which half a century later still cast a dark shadow over American political and intellectual life.

The revival of these anti-democratic methods today in cases like that of Steven Salaita is deeply rooted in the degeneration of American capitalism, expressed most sharply in the poisonous combination of unrestrained militarist violence abroad and unprecedented social inequality and monopolization of wealth at home.

This is why the new McCarthyism enjoys the support not only of the political right and Zionism, but also ostensibly liberal Democrats like Kennedy and other supporters of a president who has arrogated himself to the “right” to order the assassination of US citizens, while overseeing a massive illegal spying operation that sweeps up virtually all electronic communications of citizens of the US and countries all over the world.

The defense of fundamental democratic rights today is inseparable from the development of a struggle against war and the independent mobilization of the working class in defense of its social and political rights. As part of this struggle, the demand must be raised for an end to the victimization of Steven Salaita and a halt to all attacks on academic and intellectual freedom, which are bound up with the preparations for police state rule.

Bill Van Auken

US plans to invest $1 trillion in nuclear weapons arsenal

Nuclear Explosion (pixdaus)

By Niles Williamson
23 September 2014

The New York Times reported on Monday that the Obama administration is planning to spend more than $1 trillion over the next three decades to significantly upgrade its nuclear weapons capability.

The front-page article, authored by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, serves a definite political purpose. It is a warning to Russia, China and any other country that may try to stand in the way of the American ruling class that the US military is preparing for nuclear war.

The Times writes: “With Russia on the warpath, China pressing its own territorial claims and Pakistan expanding its arsenal, the overall chances for Mr. Obama’s legacy of disarmament look increasingly dim, analysts say.”

The newspaper quotes Harvard Professor Gary Samore, Obama’s former chief nuclear weapons advisor and a stand-in for the administration itself: “The most fundamental game changer is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That has made any measure to reduce the stockpile unilaterally politically impossible,” he told the Times .

While the Times article is couched in the language of defense, in relation to both Russia and China the US has played the role of aggressor. The US and its allies in Europe organized a right-wing coup in Ukraine that has been followed by a campaign of sanctions and war threats against Russia. And the Obama administration has been carrying out a “pivot to Asia,” asserting its control over the Asia-Pacific while encouraging the remilitarization of Japan.

These confrontations, as well possible conflicts with European powers, pose the danger of nuclear war. Moreover, in its conflicts with Iran, Syria and other smaller countries, there can be no doubt that the US military is preparing for the use of nuclear weapons as well. It should be recalled that the United States is the only country in the world to have ever used nuclear weapons in combat: the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan at the end of the Second World War.

As part of these preparations, the US military is retooling its nuclear arsenal. The White House had announced in August that it would be reviewing its atomic spending plans in advance of next year’s Congressional budget request, which will set spending for 2016.

Amidst continued austerity and endless claims that there is no money for basic social programs, the US military is spending vast sums on this project. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Obama administration’s current atomic weapon plan will cost at least $355 billion in the first ten years alone. The plan is focused on developing and deploying nuclear weapons that are more powerful and reliable, yet smaller, than the current warheads. This will serve Obama’s publicly stated goal of reducing both the number and tonnage of nuclear weapons held in US stockpiles, while increasing the targeting capability of delivery systems and destructiveness of the warheads.

The administration’s modernization plans include the refurbishment of existing nuclear warheads, development and construction of improved nuclear weapon delivery systems, and the upgrading of major nuclear weapons plants and laboratories.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the United States currently maintains an estimated 4,650 deliverable war heads. Of these, 2,120 are currently deployed on ballistic missiles. Under the terms of the New START treaty signed with Russia in 2010, the US is required to reduce the number of deployed war heads to 1,550 by early 2018.

When President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, the committee placed special emphasis on his “vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.” In spite of Obama’s supposed vision and public calls for the elimination of the threat of nuclear weapons, he is committed to a development of the country’s nuclear weapon infrastructure that will increase both the precision and lethality of its stockpile.

The Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) reasserted the US government’s right to a nuclear first strike against other nuclear-armed powers and countries Washington deems to be in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, i.e., Iran, Russia and China.

Ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation against non-nuclear states that deploy chemical weapons, the NPR made clear that in “extreme circumstances” the United States still reserves the right to use nuclear weapons “to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”

The United States nuclear weapons industrial complex, overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration, consists of eight plants and laboratories across the country, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. It employs more than 40,000 people. At least 26 upgrades to these facilities have been approved and a further 36 have been proposed.

A $550 million fortification project was completed in 2011 at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which serves as the main supplier of highly enriched uranium bomb fuel in the United States. The price of a new project at Y-12 to upgrade uranium processing facilities has risen from $6.5 billion to $19 billion.

The latest addition to this network is the National Security Campus, which opened in 2012 in suburban Kansas City, Missouri, and was built at the cost of approximately $700 million. Employees at the plant are currently working on refurbishing nuclear warheads built in the 1970s, which are utilized by the Navy on its 14 Ohio class nuclear submarines. Each of these submarines is capable of carrying and firing 24 nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

Costs for modernization projects are projected to soar further in the second and third decades of the plan, reaching the trillion dollar mark as current nuclear-capable bombers, submarines, and missiles reach obsolescence and must be replaced. The administration has requested that the Pentagon make plans to purchase 12 new ballistic missile submarines and 400 new or refurbished land-based missiles.

A report released in January by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), “The Trillion Dollar Nuclear Triad,” details the administration’s plans to spend at least $100 billion for 100 new long-range strategic manned bombers, and a further $30-40 billion to build the nuclear bombs and cruise missiles to arm them.

The CNS report notes that the budget requests for the country’s nuclear weapons program have been largely unaffected by recent budget cuts since they were exempted from the 2013 budget sequestration cuts.

The report also indicates that $1 trillion is a conservative estimate for the total cost over the next three decades. Defense procurement programs often go as much as 50 percent over budget, and estimates do not consider the cost of dismantling weapons systems or paying out benefits to retired military personnel.

A climate of disobedience: Flood Wall Street

 …the coming destituent flood

by Skye Bougsty-Marshall on September 22, 2014

Post image for A climate of disobedience: the coming destituent floodFlood Wall Street signals radical disobedience, a destituent power that will rise to inundate the institutions of the political and financial order.

On September 22, 2014 a flood descended upon Wall Street and financial centers across the globe, an emergent flood of collective disobedience, creativity, and shared compassion and existential terror to confront ghoulish capitalism, states, corporations, and financial institutions relentlessly unraveling the planet’s delicate network of ecosystems. Flood Wall Street will bring swelling waters forcing a necessary disruption to the flow of capital, which acts as the pathogenic blood pumped through the planetary body progressively bringing about its decay.

The flood will come as global emissions continued to increase 2.1 percent in 2013; as consensus is being built around constructing emissions reductions in the form of voluntary pledges rather than binding legal obligations in the 2015 Paris climate agreement; as current voluntary emissions reduction pledges are associated with levels of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere exceeding 580 parts per million (ppm) by the end of the century (with prominent scientists increasingly arguing that the 350 ppm threshold associated with the generally agreed upon “safe” 2°C of warming is itself too high); and as 150-200 species go extinct daily in the midst of the sixth mass extinction in planetary history (how many just while you are reading this article?).

The gravity of the tragedy in which we are living defies psychological assimilation, a putrid sun at which we cannot bare to look for more than mere moments as even fleeting glances leave us quaking and disoriented as we shuffle along the abyss. Flood Wall Street is a harbinger of gathering waters of radical disobedience, of a destituent power that will rise to completely inundate the institutions of this political order and the power relationships that traverse them, to halt their operation. Our collective waters will finally recede in a withdrawal of all our vital energies and support for the legitimacy and representation of the political order to the vanishing point of the state and capitalism on new horizons.

The praxis and theory of destituent power, which Flood Wall Street embodies and announces, constitutes a radical disobedience that consummates itself in a rejection of and subtraction from the extant political order. In the urgent present, it reflects the pressing need to disrupt and deactivate the continuous functioning of capitalism that is destroying the biosphere. The virtually unparalleled level of scientific consensus surrounding the gravity and imminence/immanence of the threat of climate change, as well as the almost daily release of further documentation of the extent of intersecting ecological crises, cannot assail or forestall the economic logic of capitalism.

Neoliberal Rationality

The penetration of neoliberal political rationality into every corner of the global social space and its generalized application to an expanding domain of social life correspond with and extend the reductionist logic of capital incessantly striving to transmogrify the dense universe of heterogeneous, non-fungible human and ecological values into the smooth monolithic texture of economic value. The relative imperviousness of the continuing flows of financing from Wall Street — as the embodiment of global financial capital — to extractive industries, even as these businesses’ activities are directly and transparently causing the climate catastrophe (not to mention their literal mutilation of communities and ecosystems), testifies to this singular rapaciousness.

Through its univocal conception of value, capital serves to shape our actions and how we imagine our relationships with one another and the ecosystems that support us. It also mediates how we cooperate together to reproduce our world. This reconfiguration of personal and social life in strictly economic terms obliterates a whole ecosystem of values which are foundational to the continued maintenance of life on this planet. This inherent drive of capitalism to commodify ecological values, when multiplied and extended globally by its structural imperative for endless expansion, leads to the despoliation of the natural world we are ever more acutely experiencing. In its injunction to “Stop Capitalism! End the Climate Crisis!”, Flood Wall Street diagnoses a critical node in the network of power relations suffusing global society that must be resisted and dismantled in order to avert planetary disaster.

Yet we remain obedient to and actively enable this system to persist despite the immiseration, deracination, and chaos it engenders and on which it feeds because of the productive nature of power and the occlusion of power’s operations that ensure we largely misapprehend its elaboration and functioning. As Foucault suggested, power is successful to the extent that it is able to mask its operations. Power operates to produce us as subjects who then act as accomplices in our self-enslavement through obedience to this system and the deformed set of values it fosters.

Voluntary Servitude

The political logic of modernity that we have inherited and that informs our discourses can in many ways be understood as a response to the lack of a transcendent objective foundation for this obedience and the resultant need for artificially constructing it and ensuring its maintenance. However, paradoxically, this political project for securing obedience cannot completely negate disobedience, as this would entail the negation of the basic fundamental assumptions of modern subjectivity — freedom, autonomy, and self-determination — those which founded the modern political order (though are not exclusive to it) and which characterize the modern subject, on which this order is predicated and for which it was originally created to sustain.

In order to neutralize the most destabilizing and subversive effects of these foundational qualities which animate disobedience, modern political thought transformed these principles into “voluntary servitude” under the state. This reigning mode of voluntary servitude is everywhere identifiable, permeating our social existence and is reinforced through the operations of power mechanisms that appear to place the naturalness of the state and capitalism beyond assailment. Flood Wall Street constitutes an activation of the latent and suppressed disobedience our political order strives to contain and manage, and its effective release and exercise requires a careful understanding of the functioning of power.

We are accustomed to the view of power as that force which is external to the actor and impinges on, constrains, represses, or subordinates her actions. However, following Foucault, power is productive and creative, that which also forms and formulates the subject, providing coordinates for her social positioning that she, in turn, vivifies and lives through thereby rendering such position coextensive with her social identity and orienting the vectors of her desires. In this way a normative discourse, concerning, for instance, gender or heteronormativity — always and everywhere already invested with power relations — only persists as a norm to the extent that it is (re)produced through its instantiations in subjects acting out this idealization in social practice. This is how subjects are both the effect and vehicle of power.

The norm is reproduced through the acts of subjects that seek to approximate it, through the normalizing idealizations concretized in and through these acts. Discursive regimes and normative constraints are not external to individuals, but are guaranteed by individuals subscribing to them and reproduced through being subjected by them. The operation of power through subjectification and subjects in turn self-activating these mechanisms of power effaces power relations and dominance, rendering them difficult to perceive because we, in apparent freedom, participate in their (re)production in the ways we relate to and govern ourselves and our bodies.

Crisis and Control

Power can infuse and achieve effective control “over the entire life of the population only when it becomes an integral, vital function that every individual embraces and reactivates of his or her own accord.” In this society of control, power mechanisms become immanent to the social field, enacted and reinscribed constantly through their diffusion throughout the consciousnesses and the bodies of the population across the whole of social relations. Thus, we must conceive of power as not merely suppressive or repressive, operating on its objects (“from above”), but also as productive and creative, operating within and through them (“from below”), as not in a position of exteriority to other relationships but interior to and traversing them.

This means that power, in addition to bringing about that which must be resisted, also, and more perniciously, gives rise to the forms resistance assumes. Because power shapes and configures its own resistance, it is crucial to engage in analysis of local, specific power mechanisms to properly understand the operation of power so as to apprehend modes of resistance that do not inadvertently reinscribe and reinforce those very power relationships.

The importance of scrutinizing particular power mechanisms is heightened in our present reality which, following the assessment of Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben, is characterized by a state of perpetual crisis — ecological, economic, social — a time where crisis distends and stretches forth from horizon to horizon. Its uninterrupted nature collapses it into the smooth surface of the now, divesting the concept of its traditional restriction to any temporal reference or spatial register. The expansion of security and multiplication of control have attended this phenomenon, laying bare the dominant mode of government consisting almost exclusively of governing effects, as opposed to endeavoring to ascertain and address causes.

As Agamben points out, causes are difficult and costly to determine and so governing is focused on controlling and containing effects, marshaling them in a “profitable direction.” Modulating effects assumes an undulatory character in a ceaselessly mutating, smothering security blanket that touches all points, simultaneously purporting to support the social body while enveloping it as water to a drowning victim.

The virtually complete posture of reactivity corresponding to this method of governing — with even apparently proactive, preventative measures like the deepening penetration of surveillance and increasing militarization of police forces ultimately being reducible to mere preparations for managing future effects, for governing future disorder — finds its dominant expression in the intensification of policing, which by its nature is only capable of acting on effects.

Viewed in this light, the Pentagon’s warning about civil unrest stemming from ecological shocks assumes a particularly ominous tone. In 2008, the Department of Defense’s Army Modernization Strategy analyzed the arrival of an “era of persistent conflict” stemming from competition for “depleting natural resources” that would contribute to “future resource wars over water, food and energy,” as well as increasing “anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten government stability.” That same year, the Pentagon was developing a 20,000-strong force of troops to be ready to respond to “domestic catastrophes” and civil unrest.

The menacing prospects of these developments do not require much elaboration by the imagination when considering the wide, vague powers granted to the US military under existing law: “Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances…”19

Destituent Power

It is within this context of the prevailing security paradigm that we must evaluate and situate the mode of political struggle Flood Wall Street betokens. The modern conception of political conflict has been predominantly understood in terms of “constituent power,” which is the creative energy or violence that, ex nihilo, is capable of creating a (new) institutional order — a new constitution and new juridical norms — whereby social relations are organized (into “constituted power”). The peculiar and aporetic character of constituent power is revealed when considering that if constituent power succeeds in creating a new legal order, constituent power will, in following its essence, instantly threaten the same constituted power it has just created.

Thus, as Rafaele Laudani notes, if constituent power with this excess is not to undo the new legal order it has just constituted, “constituent power must then, at some indeterminate but decisive threshold, begin to be neutralized and contained.” It is in this dynamic that Walter Benjamin, in his essay On the Critique of Violence, identified and located the dialectic between constituent power (as lawmaking violence) and constituted power (as law-preserving violence). The mutually constituting and reinforcing nature of security and resistance reflects this underlying dialectic between constituent power and constituted power.

The concept of destituent power, on the other hand, originates from the Colectivo Situaciones’ analysis (poder destituyente) of the uprisings in Argentina on December 19th and 20th, 2001. Destituent power exhibits a similar potency to constituent power, but operates as a continual process of open-ended withdrawal from or refusal of the juridical, institutional order. It functions completely outside the law — extra-institutionally — seeking to dismantle sovereign, constituted power altogether rather than to reform it or overthrow it and then re-institute it in a different form. Destituent power is the energy immanent to law that tends toward the latter’s dissipation and disordering in a relationship analogous to that between entropy and matter.

Destituent power, in this sense, undermines and erodes the obedience that is fundamental to and presupposed by the constituted order for its continued existence. However, destituent power is not a purely reactive or nihilistic force, but instead is creative — not in the sense of producing new institutions to replace the old, but through its deactivation of juridical norms it opens new horizons of possibilities for harmonious social and ecological relationships far exceeding what is practicable under the current destructive political order.

Constituent power’s direct confrontation with the state — through “terrorism” or insurrection — simply reinforces the security apparatus, provides more effects for it to control, and invites greater levels of repression. As destituent power, disobedience can be conceived not as direct clash with constituted power but instead as the withdrawal of consent to the political order, as a direct negation of its legitimacy. Étienne de La Boétie recognized the potency of destituent power in 1548 in his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude when he wrote: “I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces?”

Benjamin also envisaged this immanent creative potential within destituent power as he attempted to identify a pure violence that could “break the false dialectics of lawmaking violence and law-preserving violence.” Following this line of reasoning, he argues that “[o]n the breaking of this cycle maintained by mythical forms of law, on the suspension [destitution] of law with all the forces on which it depends as they depend on it, finally therefore on the abolition of state power, a new historical epoch is founded.”

Thus, although a constituent power destroys law only to re-institute it again in a new form, merely perpetuating the cycle; insofar as destituent power dismantles and deposes the law once for all, it can function to open onto the terrain of a new epoch characterized by radically new possibilities. In deposing the political order, destituent power opens becomings, enabling for experimentation with new practices and the development of new knowledges that will, in turn, themselves be de-instituted in the continual and open-ended process unfolding.

Flood Wall Street

Flood Wall Street arises within and partakes of the ferment of the most recent wave of global social movements — Occupy, the Indignados, and the Arab Spring — that significantly articulated a strategy of radical disobedience and channeled a plurality of discontent into the unifying rejection and refusal of the interrelated crises wrought by capitalism.As we confront the current security paradigm of government, we must understand the critical importance of the destituent power embraced by Flood Wall Street as its waters swell to inundate the centers of global capital to block the latter’s destruction of the planet and then recede in an exodus withdrawing all support to the institutional order to open onto the wild of new possibilities.

This motif expresses how Flood Wall Street must carefully proceed to urgently bring the global machine of capital to an abrupt stop, while at the same time avoiding recuperation in the endless dialectical spiral that binds together security and resistance, through the evacuation of institutions, dissolving and dissipating them, emptying them of their support and power. This radical disobedience, in the form of destituent power, has the potential to escape from the endless dialectic of lawmaking and law-preserving violence — the most salient expression of which is the prevailing reflexive interplay between security and terrorism, with each inducing and strengthening the multiplication of the other.

Each day passes as we lay prostrate on the precipice watching the violent churning of the odious machine of capital. As Hannah Arendt argued, we voluntarily give power and legitimacy to institutions to the extent that we obey the law-making authority. Accordingly, acting with continued submissive obedience to the global capitalist order is to be complicit in its depravity and serves as an ongoing legitimation and proffering of consent to the system’s operation. In rushing torrents, Flood Wall Street is determined to follow Mario Savio’s exhortation to throw our bodies on the gears and levers and all the apparatus of the machine to wrench it to a halt.

Given the relative lack of radical militancy characterizing the political landscape, we cannot only rely on a gradual mass exodus as the climate change juggernaut continues until planetary tipping points have been reached and exponential accelerations in climatic disruptions proliferate and become irreversible. With Flood Wall Street we endeavor to bring down the Colossus of capitalism and the illegitimate political institutions — the state, corporations, financial institutions — which comprise it and act as its functional vehicles. At the same time, the flood announces the arrival of the beginning of a process of withdrawal, the beginning of an open-ended process entailing a radical reorientation of our relationships with the biosphere through practices of food sovereignty, commoning, and radical participatory democratic practices.

A Rising Tide

In this way, the concept of destitution should be understood as a “positive no”, rather than a pure negation, that in rejecting representation at once produces “a ‘self-changing’ affirmation that engenders new practices and modes of subjectification, from which the ‘no’ first derives its force.”Destituent power deactivates sovereignty, institutions and representation, thereby expanding “the field of the thinkable” as if manipulating an aperture. This capacity of destituent power to expand the thinkable, the horizon of possibilities, finds consonance in David Graeber’s analysis of the effects actualized through the neutralization of the constraints imposed by institutional bureaucracy in past revolutionary moments. With the destitution of the apparatus that limits imaginaries, the unequal structures of creativity will unravel and a proliferation of social, artistic and intellectual creativity and experimenting with new ways to see the world can flourish.

Flooding Wall Street is the incipient act of disobedience, the first wave of a rising destituent tide, suffusing the concrete, glass, steel, and material power of Wall Street with an existential “NO!” presaging the razing of the institutions of finance capital and the state, and that will finally recede in a cacophonous subtraction and reciprocal production of an opening onto new horizons of possibilities for alternative forms of social relationships and harmonious relations with ecosystems. Desertion and withdrawal of obedience and support to the institutions and representation of the constituted political order is the trajectory we must follow, but this process must be accelerated through more immediate disruptions to the flow of capital because we do not have enough time to pursue exodus at a walking pace; we must move at the pace and with the indomitable urgency of a flood.

We must urgently deactivate the operations of capital while minimizing embroilment in the spiral of the security paradigm. Simultaneously, we must conceive of ways in which the flood of the precarious, the excluded, the indebted, the refugees can withdraw their vital energies from the mutilating system of capital and its dominant actors (state, corporations, financial institutions), to swell and discover outlets for escape in an eerie tandem ballet with actual floodwaters climbing, inundating, and displacing those least responsible for and least equipped to address them. We are invoking a flood after which nothing is rebuilt — only a line of flight into the wild, a radical smooth openness, a piece of origami with indefinite dimensions that is shit-covered and delicate which we collectively begin to unfold and find we are doing the same with ourselves.

Skye Bougsty-Marshall is an activist and organizer with Flood Wall Street, a direct action taking place in New York City today (September 22).

Why do so many poor people eat junk food, fail to budget properly, show no ambition?

‘Poor people don’t plan long-term. We’ll just get our hearts broken’

Linda Tirado knew exactly why… because she was one of them. Here, in an extract from her book, Hand to Mouth, she tells her story in her own words

Linda Tirado photographed by Scott Suchman near her home in Washington DC for the Observer New Revie
Linda Tirado photographed by Scott Suchman near her home in Washington DC for the Observer New Review.

In the autumn of 2013 I was in my first term of school in a decade. I had two jobs; my husband, Tom, was working full-time; and we were raising our two small girls. It was the first time in years that we felt like maybe things were looking like they’d be OK for a while.

After a gruelling shift at work, I was unwinding online when I saw a question from someone on a forum I frequented: Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive? I thought I could at least explain what I’d seen and how I’d reacted to the pressures of being poor. I wrote my answer to the question, hit post, and didn’t think more about it for at least a few days. This is what it said:

Why I make terrible decisions, or, poverty thoughts

There’s no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6am, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes), then work, then I get the kids, then pick up my husband, then have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12.30am, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I’m in bed by 3am. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr Martini [her partner], see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork.

Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.

When I was pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel for some time. I had a mini-fridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC [government-funded nutritional aid for women, infants and children]. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12 for $2. Had I had a stove, I couldn’t have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron while knocked up.

I know how to cook. I had to take Home Ec to graduate from high school. Most people on my level didn’t. Broccoli is intimidating. You have to have a working stove, and pots, and spices, and you’ll have to do the dishes no matter how tired you are or they’ll attract bugs. It is a huge new skill for a lot of people. That’s not great, but it’s true. If you fuck it up, you could make your family sick.

We have learned not to try too hard to be middle class. It never works out well and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to get food that you know will be palatable and cheap and that keeps well. Junk food is a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up?

We have very few of them.

The closest Planned Parenthood [family planning clinic] to me is three hours. That’s a lot of money in gas. Lots of women can’t afford that, and even if you live near one you probably don’t want to be seen coming in and out in a lot of areas. We’re aware that we are not “having kids”, we’re “breeding”. We have kids for much the same reasons that I imagine rich people do. Urge to propagate and all. Nobody likes poor people procreating, but they judge abortion even harder.

Convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences. Especially since the Patriot Act [aimed at strengthening domestic security in the war against terrorism] was passed, it’s hard to get a bank account. But without one, you spend a lot of time figuring out where to cash a cheque and get money orders to pay bills. Most motels now have a no-credit-card-no-room policy. I wandered around San Francisco for five hours in the rain once with nearly a thousand dollars on me and could not rent a room even if I gave them a $500 cash deposit and surrendered my cellphone to the desk to hold as surety.

Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation.

Patients without medical insurance flock to a free dentistry event in Los Angeles.
Patients without medical insurance flock to a free dentistry event in Los Angeles. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn’t give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don’t apply for jobs because we know we can’t afford to look nice enough to hold them. I would make a super legal secretary but I’ve been turned down more than once because I “don’t fit the image of the firm”, which is a nice way of saying “gtfo, pov”. I am good enough to cook the food, hidden away in the kitchen, but my boss won’t make me a server because I don’t “fit the corporate image”. I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on B12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that’s how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn’t much point trying.


Professors on food stamps

The shocking true story of academia in 2014

Forget minimum wage, some adjunct professors say they’re making 50 cents an hour. Wait till you read these stories

Professors on food stamps: The shocking true story of academia in 2014
(Credit: domin_domin via iStock/Roobcio via Shutterstock/Salon)

You’ve probably heard the old stereotypes about professors in their ivory tower lecturing about Kafka while clad in a tweed jacket. But for many professors today, the reality is quite different: being so poorly paid and treated, that they’re more likely to be found bargain-hunting at day-old bread stores. This is academia in 2014.

“The most shocking thing is that many of us don’t even earn the federal minimum wage,” said Miranda Merklein, an adjunct professor from Santa Fe who started teaching in 2008. “Our students didn’t know that professors with PhDs aren’t even earning as much as an entry-level fast food worker. We’re not calling for the $15 minimum wage. We don’t even make minimum wage. And we have no benefits and no job security.”

Over three quarters of college professors are adjunct. Legally, adjunct positions are part-time, at-will employment. Universities pay adjunct professors by the course, anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000. So if a professor teaches three courses in both the fall and spring semesters at a rate of $3000 per course, they’ll make $18,000 dollars. The average full-time barista makes the same yearly wage. However, a full-time adjunct works more than 40 hours a week. They’re not paid for most of those hours.

“If it’s a three credit course, you’re paid for your time in the classroom only,” said Merklein. “So everything else you do is by donation. If you hold office hours, those you’re doing for free. Your grading you do for free. … Anything we do with the student where we sit down and explain what happened when the student was absent, that’s also free labor. Some would call it wage theft because these are things we have to do in order to keep our jobs. We have to do things we’re not getting paid for. It’s not optional.”

Merklein was far from the only professor with this problem.

“It can be a tremendous amount of work,” said Alex Kudera. Kudera started teaching in 1996 and is the author of a novel about adjunct professorship, “Fight For Your Long Day.” “When I was an adjunct, I didn’t have a social life. It’s basically just work all the time. You plan your weekend around the fact that you’re going to be doing work Saturday and Sunday — typically grading papers, which is emotionally exhausting. The grading can be tedious but at least it’s a private thing. It’s basically 5-10 hours a day for every day of the week.”

One professor from Indiana who spoke to Salon preferred to remain anonymous. “At some point early in my adjunct career, I broke down my pay hourly. I figured out that I was making under minimum wage and then I stopped thinking about it,” he said. “I can’t speak for everyone, but I essentially design my own courses. And sometimes I don’t find out how many courses I’m going to be teaching until maybe Thursday and they start Monday. … So I have to develop a course, and it’s been the case where one summer I taught English 102 where the course was literally dropped in my lap three days before it started and I had to develop it entirely from scratch. It didn’t even have a text book. That was three 16-hour days in a row developing a syllabus. … You’re expected to be in contact with students constantly. You have to be available to them all the time. You’re expected to respond to emails generally within 24 hours. I’m always on-call. And it’s one of my favorite parts of my job, I don’t regret it, but if you factored those on-call hours in, that’d be the end of it. I’d be making 50 cents an hour.”

Being financially secure and teaching at an institute of higher education are almost mutually exclusive, even among professors who are able to teach the maximum amount of courses each semester. Thus, more than half of adjunct professors in the United States seek a second job. Not all professors can find additional employment. An advanced degree slams most doors shut and opens a handful by the narrowest crack.

Nathaniel Oliver taught as an adjunct for four years in Alabama. He received $12,000 a year during his time teaching.

“You fall in this trap where you may be working for less than you would be at a place that pays minimum wage yet you can’t get the minimum wage jobs because of your education,” Oliver said.

Academia’s tower might be ivory but it casts an obsidian shadow. Oliver was one of many professors trapped in the oxymoronic life of pedantic destitution. Some professors in his situation became homeless. Oliver was “fortunate” enough to only require food stamps, a fact of life for many adjuncts.

“It’s completely insane,” he said. “And this isn’t happening just to me. More and more people are doing it.”

“We have food stamps,” said the anonymous adjunct from Indiana. “We wouldn’t be able to survive without them.”

“Many professors are on food stamps and they go to food donation centers. They donate plasma. And that’s a pretty regular occurrence,” Merklein told Salon.

Life isn’t much easier for those lucky enough to find another income stream. Many are reduced to menial service jobs and other forms of first-world deprivation.

“I ended up applying for a job in a donut shop recently,” said an Ohio professor who requested to go by a pseudonym. Professor Doe taught for over two decades. Many years he only made $9600. Resorting to a food service job was the only way he could afford to live, but it came with more than its expected share of humiliation.

“One of the managers there is one of the students I had a year ago who was one of the very worst writers I’ve ever had. What are we really saying here? What’s going on in the work world? Something does not seem quite right. I’m not asking to be rich. I’m not asking to be famous. I just want to pay my bills.”

Life became even more harrowing for adjuncts after the Affordable Care Act when universities slashed hours and health insurance coverage became even more difficult to obtain.

“They’re no better off than people who work at Walmart,” said Gordon Haber, a 15-year adjunct professor and author of “Adjunctivitis.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, other professors echoed this sentiment.

“There’s this idea that faculty are cheap, renewable labor. There’s the idea that student are customers or clients,” said Joseph Fruscione, a former adjunct of 15 years. “And there are some cases where if a student is displeased with a grade, there’s the notion where they’re paying for this, so they deserve an A or a B because of all this tuition.”

“The Walmart metaphor is vivid,” Kudera said. “There are these random schools where they’re just being terrible. But as some of the schools it seems like there’s some enlightened schools and it doesn’t seem like every single person who speaks up loses their classes. It varies school to school. They’re well aware some of their adjuncts may not afford toothpaste at the end of the month or whatever those kinds of tragedies may be.” He suggested looking at the hashtag #badmin to see transgressions and complaints documented in real time.

Robert Baum, a former adjunct and now a dean, was able to provide insights from both sides of the problem.

“That pressure [to make money] has been on higher education forever,” he said. “A lot of the time when I was an adjunct, things were very black and what I’m finding is that the graying is happening a lot. I’m losing track of the black and white.” Still, Baum noted that the current system was hardly ideal, and that change was necessary. “The Walmart model is based on the idea of putting the burden on taking care of the worker on either the state or on the worker’s credit card or on the worker’s family. And that is no different than what I’ve experienced across my adjunct life. No different. Zero difference.”

Ana Fores Tamayo, an adjunct who claims she was blacklisted over her activism, agreed with the latter parts of Baum’s assessment.

“Walmart and the compartmentalized way of treating faculty is the going rate. The way administration turns around and says, for instance, where I was teaching it was probably about 65% adjunct faculty. But the way they fix their numbers, it makes it looks as if it’s less when they show their books because the way they divide it and the way they play with their numbers it shows that it’s less.”

“As soon as they hear about you organizing, they go on the defensive,” Merklein said. “For instance, at my community college, I am being intimidated constantly and threatened in various ways, hypothetically usually. They don’t like to say something that’s an outright direct threat. … They get really freaked out when they see pamphlets around the adjunct faculty office and everyone’s wearing buttons regardless of what professional organization or union it is. They will then go on the offensive. They will usually contact their attorney who is there to protect the school as a business and to act in an anti-labor capacity.”

The most telling phrase in Merklein’s words are “the school as a business.” Colleges across the country have transitioned from bastions of intellectual enlightenment to resort hotels prizing amenities above academics. Case in point: The ludicrously extravagant gyms in America’s larger universities are home to rock climbing walls, corkscrew tracks, rooftop gardens, and a lazy river. Schools have billions to invest in housing and other on-campus projects. Schools have millions (or in some cases “mere” hundreds of thousands) to pay administrators.  Yet schools can’t find the money to hire more full-time professors. If one follows the money, it’s clear that colleges view education as tertiary. The rigor of a university’s courses doesn’t attract the awe of doe-eyed high school seniors. Lavish dorms and other luxuries do.

Despite such execrable circumstances, professors trek onward and try to educate students as best they can. But how good can education provided by overworked, underpaid adjuncts be? The professors Salon spoke to had varying opinions.

Benay Blend has taught for over 30 years. For 10 of those years, she worked in a bookstore for $7.50 an hour because she needed the extra income.

“I don’t want to fall into the trap that the media use that using adjunct labor means poor education,” Blend said. “I have a PhD. I’ve published probably more than full-time people where I teach. I’ve been teaching for 30 years. I’m a good teacher.”

“On the whole, teaching quality by adjuncts is excellent,” said Kane Faucher, a six-year adjunct. “But many are not available for mentoring and consultation because they have to string together so many courses just to reach or possibly exceed the poverty line. This means our resources are stretched too thinly as a matter of financial survival, and there are many adjuncts who do not even have access to a proper office, which means they work out of coffee shops and cars.”

The anonymous adjunct professor from Indiana expressed a similar sentiment.

“I definitely don’t want to go down the road of ‘Adjunct professors, because of the way we’re handled, are not able to be effective teachers.’ I think some of us are more effective teachers than people who get paid a lot more than we do. Some of us aren’t for really good reasons which have to do with not having the resources. I mean if you’re working at three different colleges, how can you possibly be there?”

Ann Kottner, an adjunct professor and activist, agreed.

“The real problem with the adjunct market right now is that it cheats students of the really outstanding educations they should be getting,” she said. “They’re paying a lot of money for these educations and they’re not getting them. And it’s not because they have bad instructors, it’s because their instructors are not supported to do the kind of work they can do.”

The situation reached such a flashpoint that Kottner and several colleagues (some of which spoke to Salon for this article) penned a petition to the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. The petition calls for “an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty.” Ana Foryes Tamayo has a petition as well, this one to the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. They both have over 8,000 signatories.

When asked about the petition’s impact, Kottner said it was “just one tactic in the whole sheath of a rising adjunct response to contingency.” Other tools included unionization, which is difficult in many states. Kottner said the most powerful force was information. “I think our biggest weapon now is basically making the public aware of what their tuition dollars are not paying for, and that is professor salaries and professor security.”

When asked if there was any hope about the future, no consensus was reached among the adjuncts Salon spoke with. Some believed things would never change. Others thought the tide would turn if enough people knew how far the professoriat had fallen.

Do You Really Want to Save the Earth? Flood Wall Street!

  Occupy Wall Street  

Monday’s rally in NY’s financial district will target the role of global capitalism, the root cause of our environmental crisis.

Photo Credit: Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

This is a critical week for the planet. On Sunday, the People’s Climate March is expected to be the largest environmental march in history. But it would be a grave mistake, for the planet and for ourselves, to overlook another event that is to take place on Monday. That’s when the Flood Wall Street rally will target the role of global capitalism in our environmental crisis.

The profit economy is a root cause — make that the root cause — of climate change.

Wall Street is, in a very real sense, the epicenter of our environmental crisis. To ignore that fact is to risk dooming our other climate efforts to failure, or to use them merely as palliatives for troubled consciences. There’s no other way to say this: Capitalism, as practiced on Wall Street today, is an existential threat to humanity.

To make that statement is not necessarily to issue a jeremiad against capitalism in all its forms. The danger comes not from commerce itself, but from the extraordinary concentration of wealth and power that has accrued in recent decades to corporations and their Wall Street investors. This has led in turn to an ideological shift that has entirely captured the GOP and has seized large portions of the Democratic Party as well.

There has been a counter-revolution in the boardrooms of America’s corporations as well. The widespread amorality that characterizes the current generation of corporate executives — and their Boards — would have been unrecognizable to business leaders of the 1950s and 1960s. While those gentlemen weren’t saints, they understood that society would not tolerate corporate behavior that included widespread fraud, open disregard for the lives of a global workforce, or a rapacious indifference to the fate of the planet itself.

Times have changed. The men and women who lead today’s corporations are a new and more calculating breed. The new culture of corporate America makes every executive a Wall Street speculator. Executive pay packages rely heavily on stock options and bonuses that drive CEOs to push quarterly results without any concern for the future of the company, much less the future of the planet.

They’re aided and abetted by the political class. The cult of Ayn Rand-style libertarianism has infused much of the right with a fanatical belief in the infallibility of executive greed. Democrats in the Bill Clinton mold insist on legitimizing errant executives and their ideas, whether by inviting Goldman Sachs leaders to the Clinton Global Initiative or boosting the pro-corporate “centrism” of the Simpson/Bowles crowd.

Mainstream journalists have idealized the behavior of the ruthless men and women who now lead the private sector. They continued to glorify bank executives like JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, even as his institution was paying out tens of billions for rampant and ongoing fraud. (It’s worse than Enron.) They uncritically lionized Steve Jobs, despite the fact that Jobs and his subordinates appear to have engaged in control fraud, and knowingly tolerated the conditions that led to the burning deaths of employees in China. (See “Hell is Cheaper.”)

This ideology of profit über alles has created a climate of public tolerance for corporate greed, at least in certain quarters, which has helped a number of major executives escape public censure — even when their behavior threatens the planet itself. A Newsweek list of the worst companies for the planet includes Archer Daniels Midland (Patricia Woertz, CEO), Duke Energy (Lynn J. Good, CEO), ConAgra Foods (Gary Rodkin, CEO), and Peabody Energy (Gregory Boyce, CEO).

And let’s not forget Koch Industries, whose actions pollute the environment as its leaders pollute the political process.

If large corporations were held accountable for the damage they’re causing — $2.2 trillion per year, by one estimate — many of them would become unprofitable. But, in an unprecedented shift of social responsibility, it has been determined that others will bear the cost instead, one way or another.

Although corporate executives have always misbehaved, society eventually found ways to control their behavior: with regulations, with law enforcement, and with that ancient form of social control known as shame. Now, even shame is failing us. Ironically, in a case of greenwashing on an epic scale, JPMorgan Chase even sponsored a massive rock concert for Hurricane Sandy relief, which featured the formerly Ameriquest-sponsored Rolling Stones. (See “Jumpin’ Jamie Flash” for more on Sandy, Jamie, and Mick.)

Regulation, prosecution, shame: Our modern systems of control have broken down, leaving the planet in danger.

Today’s blatantly amoral capitalism is an anomaly in modern history, a throwback to the days of the Industrial Revolution. But it is an anomaly we can no longer afford. The skies of 19th-century Manchester, England, darkened with soot and smoke, but the planet survived. Today’s threat circles the globe and is already darkening our future. There is no escaping it — not in space or time.

We need to draw the world’s attention to the harm that corporations and their investors are inflicting on the planet. We need to redeploy the anti-apartheid sanction strategies of the 20th century against the corporate interests that are causing such devastating harm to current and future generations. That means publicly identifying the malefactors, boycotting their products, and bringing pressure to bear on the investors and institutions that finance their environmental destruction.

It can be done — but only if Saturday’s marchers carry on for one more day and walk a little bit further down the island of Manhattan. Sunday’s demonstrators will gather around the massive statue of a bull that sits outside the New York Stock Exchange. (Apparently the golden calf hasn’t been erected yet.) The rally will feature Naomi Klein, whose new book is on the relationship between capitalism and climate change, as well as speakers like Chris Hedges and Rebecca Solnit.

Marchers will be wearing blue to represent a “flood.” That metaphor will eventually become fact if climate change goes unchecked. Scientists say that rising sea levels will eventually leave most of Manhattan below 34th Street permanently underwater. Of course, the titans of uncontrolled capitalism will be long gone by then. Only the devastation will remain.

Richard Eskow is a writer, a senior fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future, and the host of a weekly radio show, “The Breakdown.”