We oppose the shopping culture, and so we must deal with the unseeable part of the sale.
With Consumerism the system, there are always levels of secrecy behind the flash. When Steve Jobs gets up on the stage he is our modern magician, but he conceals a vast sweatshop empire that is kept out of sight – until last month when the 12th suicide this year at one Chinese facility finally stopped his iPad cold. He was forced to insist that the iPad is not made in sweatshops, and began to define the term absurdly, comparing his factories with California high schools. OUR FACTORIES ARE NOT SWEATSHOPS, he said, and as weird as his explanation was – his “sweatshop” seemed an objectively defined entity with a panel of experts to absolve him.
“Facts” are Consumerism’s best cover-up. A really misleading ad campaign always has, somewhere nearby, its logical apologist: the Expert. It’s the magician’s razzle-dazzle that hides the rabbit under the table. The facts as processed by corporations have night-vision for our intuition, our common sense, our love of chance and mystery – these old-fashioned practices that leave us purchasing products too slowly, maybe even thoughtfully, maybe not at all.
It is “facts” that tilt and spin and somersault all the way to climate change denial. We say No! But we are defenseless if scientific studies are our only defense. Lobbyists and experts working for CO-2 emitting energy, like Big Coal, insist that the facts are incomplete, more facts are needed. What? Something in our indigenous past stirs in us – can this be the time to sit on our hands? Isn’t the Earth speaking directly to us in a language more alive than “facts?”
America has enjoyed for so long what it saw as an obedient Earth. That is, the Earth was made unseeable behind a wall of facts which we manipulate like Steve Jobs’ suicide math. Our “western frontier,” our “American freedom” – are spaces curved by facts for our gullible consumption. Now we are watching the tsunamis and tornadoes and ash clouds and oil spills and rising seas – escaping through the wall of facts. The Earth is surfacing, the sky and soil touching again. The Earth is breaking through and taking a deep breath.
Some of us are waiting for a signal that there will be a post-consumption future. We would like to cooperate with this greater force, the life of the Earth. We are hearing such a signal from the Appalachian Mountains, the oldest mountains in this hemisphere, some 280 million years old. About 500 of these mountains have been blown up in the coal-mining process called Mountaintop Removal, or “MTR.”
The biggest financier of MTR is currently the Swiss bank UBS, which is a famous practitioner of secrecy and spinning facts. UBS is the perfect final magician of Consumerism, in a showdown with the oldest mountains. The bank plans to blow up the mountains invisibly. We won’t notice. The marketers will make MTR a war movie for American’s freedom from Arab oil, with experts firing “facts” at the activists. The Earth, however, has seen Mountaintop Removal. The Earth sees the whole thing.