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Is there hope for a dying planet? – Regis Tremblay, award winning independent film maker
Climate change promises to bring environmental disaster that will render life on Earth unsustainable, while U.S. militarism fueled by the capitalist system threatens to end life on earth. Neither of these two scenarios are pleasant, but they are unavoidable unless the people of the world rise up and overthrow the system within the next ten years.
Scientists overwhelmingly agree that unless the world converts to renewable energy within the next ten years, climate disaster is a certainty, and yet, the leaders of the world are incapable of leading and doing what is necessary to solve the problem. Make no mistake, climate change is not reversible because we have passed a point of no return. All that is possible is to keep temperatures at or below 2 degrees Celsius and get used to extreme weather around the globe.
I attended the People’s Climate March in New York City with 400,000 people and produced one of the best short films on the march.
Unfortunately the mainstream completely ignored the historic event. We were not alone on September 21, 2014. Tens of thousands of people from around the world also marched to send the message to world leaders that the time was now to change the system, and if they were not ready and able, we would do what was necessary to be that change.
The Root Cause of Climate Change
If we, the people of this planet, are to save ourselves it is imperative that we reject the system of Capitalism that is the underlying cause of climate change. Since the industrial revolution, we have been victims of the myths of progress, consumerism, and the perpetual growth of our economies.
The proponents of Free-market Capitalism have convinced most of the world that competition in the market is the solution to all of our problems. They believe that government is the problem and in the way of progress.
These proponents of Capitalism are the big banks in every country, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the multi-national corporations, the military industrial complex, and the Oligarchy, the 1% who possess most of the capital in the world. They have convinced enough people that trickle-down economics benefits all, but for the past 40 years everyone can see that the poor and the middle class have not benefited while the 1% have seen their wealth grow exponentially. Poverty has increased and the disappearance of the middle class is underway. The disparity of wealth is now greater than at any other time in human history.
The Role of the United States Military in This System
Capitalism is based on competition and consumption. However, the Earth’s resources are finite and not renewable. The competition for resources that corporations need to produce food and consumable goods is what leads to the extraction of those resources by force. This is the role that the U.S. military has played since 1798. In the past 200 years, the United States has intervened militarily over 300 times in every corner of the globe from Central and South America to the South Pacific, and from Eastern and Western Europe to Asia. The United States’ system of Capitalism and the military today make it the sole superpower in the world. Not only does the US outspend the next 14 countries combined, but the massive US and unchallenged military consumes the most amount of oil and has the largest carbon boot print on the planet.
Furthermore, it is the strategic plan of the United States Space Command, clearly spelled out in their document entitled “Vision For 2020,” where the United States will become the Masters of Space” and dominate the entire planet through “full-spectrum dominance” on the land, the seas, the skies, and in space, the final frontier which is the strategic “high ground” in military strategy.
It is the avowed claim of the U.S. Space Command and the Department of War to deny their enemies the use of space while they use space as a launching pad for attacks anywhere on the planet within minutes. One key role for the Space Command is to develop the military technology to control the pathway on and off the earth as the aerospace industry prepares to mine the sky. This in itself is a declaration of war and a provocation of the highest order.
This is all possible because militarism saturates American culture on every level from the glorification of soldiers to the recruitment of children still in grade school through programs such as Junior Recruit Officer Training Programs (ROTC and JROTC). Movies and television shows about war and violence gain the highest ratings. America’s super heroes encourage and promote violence. The most popular video games are about violence and battles against fictitious enemies and even aliens. From the earliest years, children are given toy guns to play army in the woods and miniature army men to fight battles, and they are told stories that glorify war and make heroes of soldiers.
Television commercials produced by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all perpetuate the lies that they a promoting freedom and Democracy around the world and defending our freedoms and safety here at home.
America’s multinational corporations produce million dollar patriotic commercials for all of our college and professional sporting events. Giant flags are unfurled in our stadiums and military fly-overs elicit oohs and aahs from fans. The national anthem is sung before every contest and since 9/11, America The Beautiful is sung during professional baseball games. Even team uniforms sport Army camouflage designs. All of this to glorify militarism and war, and to perpetuate the myth that might makes right.
When the barons of industry have not been able to secure oil, rubber, food, gold, silver, and rare earth minerals, the U.S. military has enable the extraction of these resources by force, all in the name of “America’s interests.” Since 1798, hundreds of millions of people have been slaughtered who posed an obstacle to this system. Democratically elected leaders have been assassinated or overthrown by the CIA or its forerunners operating secretly and clandestinely.
The myth that was created is based on the lie that America’s interventions in the world are to spread freedom and Democracy and to liberate people from oppression. This myth includes the false belief that the American Way of Life has been approved by god.
But, the American Way of Life is a lie based on greed, predator Capitalism, and glamour.
Instead of spreading freedom, Democracy and a better life for all, the results of this system have been death and destruction, world-wide poverty, and the rape of the planet.
The 1% have convinced politicians that institutions serving the public good must be privatized. So unions that led to the rise of the middle class are to be busted. Schools, prisons, and even water are considered commodities that must be privatized. All of this has resulted in higher prices, unprecedented rises in prison populations, and the creation of populations incapable of critical thinking.
Multi-national corporations have convinced politicians to roll back and remove environmental protections allowing them to destroy the environment by poisoning the air and water we need to survive. Examples are everywhere to be seen from mountain top removal, mining and deforestation on every continent to fracking and the pollution of our air, rivers and streams.
The Pivot to Asia and the Coup in Ukraine
On the surface, Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” to project power against China, and the American/NATO backed coup in the Ukraine on Russia’s border are dangerous provocations of nuclear-armed countries and their nuclear-armed allies. Furthermore, the sanctions and threats to Russia have already begun to destabilize the region and Europe, forcing Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa into a political, economic and military partnership (BRICS) that threatens to undermine the U.S. dollar as the global standard by using the Ruble or the Yuan as their own standard. This is tantamount to an economic declaration of WWIII. How America will respond is quite predictable.
Clearly the imposition of the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP, which if enacted will subordinate sovereign nations to the rule of corporations, is behind the US/NATO plan with the Baltic countries and the Asia-Pacific. In plain language, this means that countries will no longer be able to prevent corporations from extracting their resources, and huge multi-million dollar fines will be adjudicated by corporate lawyers in a new world court.
The “Pivot” of 60% of America’s military might to the Asia-Pacific is obviously designed to enforce the TPP, control the East China Sea and China’s primary trade routes. As it is, China imports 80% of its petroleum needs via the sea. The “Pivot” is also to project power against China…and Russia which also borders that region.
This strategy is designed to impose a “new world order” concocted by the Oligarchy, the multi-national corporations, the world banks and the military industrial complex. It was publicly announced by the first president Bush and has been systematically executed by every president since, including Barack Obama. President Clinton deceived the American public into believing that the North American Free Trade Agreement would be a good thing and that has led to the outsourcing of millions of jobs from the U.S., and is the template for the Trans-Atlantic Trade Partnership and the TPP. We have all been convinced that the new world order based on globalization is a good thing, but all it has done is make the rich richer and the poor poorer. It is really a form of neo-feudalism designed to subordinate the masses to the rule of the few.
Tyranny, Fascism, and Oppression Around the World
Even a casual observer of world events today must recognize, even if they are too fearful to admit it, that governments – even democratically elected ones – have been violating basic human rights, denying individual freedoms, and using militarized law enforcement agencies to violently put down the many popular uprisings in all parts of the world from the Arab Spring, massive uprisings in the Philippines, Spain, Greece, Canada, as well as the Occupy Movement in the U.S.
Governments the world over, just as in the U.S., have been taken over by the powerful, dark forces comprised of the super wealthy elites, the banks, the multi-national corporations, and the military industrial complex. This is a classic definition of Fascism when corporations, governments, and the military are united. And yet, we in America and Europe continue to believe the lies that we live in a free and democratic country, when in fact, our constitutionally protected freedoms and rights have been trampled upon, and our protests are being violently suppressed by overwhelming police brutality and violence.
The Origins of Militarism and Violence in America
Violence, genocide, the stealing of land and the pillaging of the environment began when the European explorers first discovered the Americas. They believed that god had led them to the land of plenty to claim as their own. This belief in their own superiority and righteousness resulted in the genocide of hundreds of millions of Native Americans in what is now North America, Central America, and South America. The indigenous civilizations they found were considered uncivilized, pagan savages.
These first explorers, like Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro, were murderers who stole the land and the precious resources of these native peoples. This belief that god chose America as his nation and approved the slaughter of Native Americans, slavery, inequality, and racism and the right to claim the land and resources of other nations as her own in the name of America’s national interests, has been engrained in the American psyche and is known as “American Exceptionalism.”
As the young nation grew, it was necessary to move 3,000 miles to the West Coast to establish settlements and political rule. In the move West, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona were stolen from Mexico and the massacre of Native Americans continued. The early settlers believed this was their destiny, their obvious fate and given to them by god and therefore morally justified. This doctrine of “Manifest Destiny” was later applied, under the veil of spreading Democracy and freedom, to the entire world. And it is these two core beliefs that pervade American culture, politics, and economics that account for all of the wars and coups since 1798. I do not believe that most Americans believe this, but there is little doubt that the wealthy elite and powerful, the multi-national corporations, the banks, and the military industrial complex believe this without question.
William Blum in Rogue State sums it up this way:
“These interventions (since 1798) prove that American foreign policy has not been motivated by the moral imperative to spread freedom and Democracy, but by the following three imperatives:
Spreading American Capitalism
Globalization, feeding the military industrial complex and the banks who have bribed the presidents in the White House and the Congress.
No Alternative to Capitalism
Preventing the rise of any society that might serve as a successful alternative to Capitalism: Communism, Socialism or any system not in line with American interests.
Expanding The Empire
Expanding political, economic, and military hegemony over the entire globe to ensure # 1 and #2, and to prevent the rise of any power that might challenge American supremacy.
Here is a short film I produced depicting the origins of violence and Capitalism in the USA.
Changing the System
There is very little time left to avert the catastrophic disasters that climate change will bring. The overwhelming number of scientists agree if we don’t act now and within the next 10 years, we’re in trouble….they saying life on Earth will not be sustainable. In the words of T.S.Eliot, …”this is the way the world will end, not with a bang but a whimper.”
If the psychopaths don’t blow us all to kingdom come with all the nukes in the world, then Climate Change will gradually, cruelly, and painfully end it all with a whimper.
So, this isn’t about using the political system, local organizing, and hoping for small successes. There’s no time for that. Given all of the serious issues facing the entire earth from poverty, the great disparity of wealth, privatization, unfettered Capitalism, militarism, inequality, climate change, and the militarization of police forces along with the loss of personal freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution – the ONLY solution is massive, world-wide, popular uprisings to overthrow the evils of corporate Capitalism and FASCISM that are destroying human life and the planet.
This revolution is already underway all over the world with massive, popular uprisings in Mexico, The Philippines, the Middle East, all across Europe, Greece, Turkey, Hungary and from Hawaii all the way down through the Pacific Islands to Australia.
Let us not forget the Occupy Movement in America and around the world. The fire that burned so hot was not extinguished and as things worsen in America and around the world, as the surely will, it will only take a tiny spark for the entire planet to erupt. So, there isn’t time for a major re-thinking about liberal and progressive politics. It is time for a revolution.
Admittedly new economic systems, the focus on sustainable communities, renewable energy, a return to small farms, horizontal forms of Democracy, worker co-ops and alternative media are occurring everywhere. Naomi Kline in This Changes Everything lists many new solutions that could work on a massive scale.
But while these isolated reforms might make us feel positive and lull us to sleep thinking “someone” will save us, there isn’t much time left to bring about a new world order based on justice, equality and peace for all.
There is Hope – If Only a Sliver
People are despairing, feeling overwhelmed, and do not believe they can do anything to solve any of the problems. There is hope, but first we must recognize what Tufts University Political Science Professor Michael J. Glennon describes as the “pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American people and the indifference to the threat that is emerging.” This is also true for America’s major allies in Canada and the European Union who have all been co-opted by the same dark forces of Capitalism that have overtaken them.
It is also imperative that the people of the world recognize that Climate Change, if not halted within the next ten years on a massive world-wide scale, will render all forms of life unsustainable. In order to solve the climate crisis, the underlying systems of governing and Capitalism must be replaced with systems that benefit all people and that safeguard the only home we have.
There is hope only in the minds, hearts and determination of all of us who people the earth. What is at stake is not which system is better or who is richer or stronger, but the survival of all of us. What is at stake for all of us is our freedom and our survival as a species in harmony with each other, all living things, the earth and the universe. That is our hope and the prayer that we lift to the heavens today.
My friend, author, journalist and filmmaker, John Pilger concludes: “We need not accept any of this if we recognize that there are now two superpowers. One is the regime in Washington (he means the dark forces that have taken over the United States government), the other is public opinion now stirring all over the world. Make no mistake it is an epic struggle. The alternative is not just conquest of faraway countries; it is the conquest of us, of our minds, our humanity and our self-respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured.”
Regis Tremblay is an independent filmmaker living in Woolwich, Maine. His interest in filmmaking began at an early age with the gift of a Kodak Brownie camera and learning to type on a Smith-Corona manual typewriter. Cameras, typewriters, and the keyboard have been part of his life ever since.
He studied for the priesthood and was ordained a Catholic priest in the Carmelite Order in 1971, serving for 13 years in Arizona where he was a parish priest, hospital chaplain, youth minister, and a golf coach and teacher of journalism at Salpointe High School in Tucson, Arizona. His interests and passion led to his teaching of photography, photojournalism, and advising the school yearbook.
Regis later married and raised three children in Phoenix, Arizona before returning to his home state in 2004. It was after returning to Maine that he focused his time and efforts on citizen journalism covering issues and events ignored by the mainstream media. To that end, he began focusing on environmental issues documenting the assault on Maine’s natural resources by oil, mining, and investment corporations.
He later documented the Occupy Movement in Portland, Augusta, and Brunswick, Maine and created the Occupy Maine TV show on community access stations. That led to the creation of another show focusing on political and social issues ignored by the mainstream media.
In 2012, Regis went to Jeju Island in South Korea to document a 6 year continuous protest against the construction of a massive naval base to accommodate America’s “pivot to Asia.” What he learned there about America’s complicity in horrendous massacres before and during the Korean conflict motivated him to make The Ghosts of Jeju, a very troubling, but inspiring film about indigenous people fighting for survival, the protection of the environment, and for a free and transparent democracy.
Without any significant financial backing, the film has been screened in more than a dozen countries and across the U.S. The trailer can be seen and the film ordered at: www.theghostsofjeju.net
© Regis Tremblay