One More Left Turn

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My friend, Mitchel Cohen, has just published a new book, The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides, and once again, as he did three years ago, he asked me to participate in a Left Forum panel—as a magician. I put on my thinking cap, and this is what I came up with to provide some entertainment for the troops.

FYI: The messages on the index cards read:

Say No To GMOs

Ban Glyphosate

Build Community

Defeat Monsanto

Monsanto Midterm Madness

Pesticide-Spray-Agriculture-Farm-Farmer-Fertilizer-Field-715x403

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My friend Mitchel Cohen is writing a book called “The Politix of Pesticides: The Worldwide Fight Against Monsanto’s Glyphosate,” a book about pesticides, including Monsanto’s Round-Up brand of glyphosate, genetically modified food and seeds, and the general perfidy of that multinational monster, Monsanto. He asked some friends to come up with a humorous but accurate SAT-type quiz to help spice up the book. Here was my contribution. In case it is not obvious, the correct answer is always D.

1. Which is NOT a side effect of glyphosate?

A. Destroyed immune system
B. Destruction of the monarch butterfly population
C. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
D. Victory of the working people over the running dog capitalist bosses

2. Which one does not belong?

A. Charles Manson
B. John Wayne Gacy
C. Monsanto
D. Santa’s elves

3. Who sponsored a 2016 study that showed that Round-up was harmless?

A. International Agency for Research on Cancer
B. The World Health Organization
C. USA National Cancer Institute
D. Monsanto

4. Monsanto GM seeds led to massive crop failures in which of the following countries:

A: Argentina
B: Brazil
C: India
D. All of the above

5. When Bloomberg Business Week reported that Monsanto scientists were caught heavily involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts submitted by the outside experts of a 2016 study of Round Up, a Monsanto spokesperson responded:

A. “Whoops. My bad.”
B. #Resistance
C. “Look closely at the shiny object. You are getting sleepy…”
D. “We were only involved in copy-editing.”

6. Which of the following were former Monsanto officers or attorneys:

A. Earle H. Harbison Jr., Central Intelligence Agency Deputy Director
B. Michael A. Friedman, MD—FDA deputy commissioner.
C. Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice who wrote the majority opinion in J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. finding that “newly developed plant breeds are patentable under the general utility patent laws of the United States.”
D. All of the above

7. In a 2009 study by Covalence of the ethics of 581 corporations, which corporation was measured as the least ethical:

A. Big Bob’s Used Cars
B. Moe and Joe’s Hit Man Service
C. Kayaks R Us
D. Monsanto

8. Complete the Analogy.

Food is to GM food as:

A. Butter is to “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”
B. Boxing is to Wrestling
C. Pete Seeger is to Milli Vanilli
D. All of the above

9. The use of GMOs results in

A. Bisexuality
B. Trilateralism
C. Quadrophenia
D. Monoculture

10.. Which of the following is currently the lead article on Monsanto’s website:

A. “Workers of the World Unite”
B. “To Serve Man”
C. “You Can Take The People Out of Their Jeans, But You Can’t Take The Genes Out of the People”
D. “Driving Innovation in Modern Agriculture to Combat Climate Change”

Breaking the Frame

 

 

 

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After reading my friend Mitchel Cohen’s essay on factors affecting how people change their political views, I was reminded of the scene above from Chaplin’s Modern Times (I’m strange that way). Facts alone, Cohen says, are often not enough to change a person’s political views, because the person’s psychological reaction formation simply dismisses the new facts as false propaganda.

I’m a little less pessimistic concerning facts. Generally, I think that facts that challenge the framework of the conversation, or move the discussion to a wider context, some meta-level, can be very useful.

Well, this isn’t the place for that discussion (but see Mitchel Cohen’s excellent series of essays here: http://www.redballoonbooks.org/books/books.html for really deep imaginative thinking about how political change is effected and affected).

But what that conversation reminded me of was the roller skating scene from Modern Times, as well as reminding me of magic and the technology of deception. If you haven’t watched the video above yet, please take two minutes to watch it. Don’t watch the video link below though yet—it’s a spoiler.

Once you watch the first video, consider your feelings about the scene. Next click the link below.  I think you’ll enjoy it. Consider what happens to your mindset about the first video when the frame is broken.

Click here for the second video.

Thanks to YouTubers TheChaplinFilms and Petr Pechar