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Regeneration: Rules for Revolutionaries

“Our common planet and governing system are fast approaching the point of no return. We must unite to protest and resist the out-of-control corporations and politicians that are degenerating our food, health, environment, climate, economy and politics. But we must also inspire and mobilize a new radical majority by focusing on positive solutions and alternatives in the marketplace and in the political arena—by building a multi-issue, multi-constituency power base in all 50 states, 3200 counties, and 39,000 cities and towns across the nation. The Regeneration Movement is a new grassroots-powered movement arising out of the organic food, natural health, fair trade and climate movements. Inspired by the Bernie Sanders insurgency, this new movement is dedicated to connecting the dots between all of our burning single issues, and to bringing together people and movements into a powerful revolutionary force. Our strategy is to mobilize a critical mass of Americans to oppose corporate crime and political corruption, through powerful public education, protests, consumer boycotts and political action. Over time we believe that our growing movement will gain the strength and power to bring out-of-control corporations to heel and, on the political front, to ‘throw the bums out,’ to replace the majority of the 500,000 elected public officials—from Main Street to Washington D.C.—who currently represent the interests of the corporate and economic elite (the ‘1 percent’), and replace these indentured bureaucrats with a new corps of insurgent public servants, willing to stand up and fight for the public interest. We are not talking about minor adjustments to our catastrophic ‘Business-as-Usual’ model. We are talking about a ‘Regeneration Revolution’.” – Ronnie Cummins, “Who We Are: Declaration of the New Nationwide Network called ‘Resist and Regenerate,’” April 22, 2017

Degeneration Nation

After eight years of failed promises, warmongering, and “business-as-usual, by-the-rich, for-the-rich” governance by the Obama administration and U.S. Congress, the Democratic Party Establishment and the mass media went on to sabotage the 2016 grassroots-powered campaign of radical insurgent Bernie Sanders. Instead, they nominated the hugely unpopular Hillary Clinton for President.

As a result, 92 million people stayed home on election day, 62 million voted for the neo-fascist billionaire Republican candidate Donald Trump, and 65 million voted for Clinton. Clinton “won” the popular vote but lost the Electoral College.

A hundred days into the Trump administration, what have we learned?

Number one: The Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress and Supreme Court, aided and abetted by Wall Street, fossil fuel companies, Big Pharma, Big Ag, and the military-industrial complex, as well as by collaborators in the Democratic Party Establishment and the “deep state” (FBI, CIA, and the military hierarchy), are the most corrupt and dangerous ruling elite in U.S. history.

Number two: A full 35-40 percent of the electorate (mainly older white people who live in the suburbs and small towns and rural areas outside major cities) are so bitter, nationalistic, greedy, brainwashed, racist, misogynist, homophobic and/or delusional that they continue to support Trump and his cronies no matter what they say or do. Climate change denial, xenophobia, racism, environmental pollution, cutbacks in health and social services, regulation rollbacks that let corporations pollute and poison at will, increased military spending, and tax cuts for the rich and big corporations are apparently no problem for Trump’s mass base, even as we rush headlong toward catastrophic global warming, economic meltdown and endless war.

The level of Trump support is now approximately the same as the Nazi Party (37 percent of the vote in the 1932 elections) enjoyed before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Given this mass support for what can only be described as 21st Century corporate fascism, the Trump resistance has no choice, at least for the moment, but to focus on mobilizing the “other 65 percent” of the electorate, especially the youth and racial minorities, who did not vote for Trump.

Grassroots mobilization and mass protest against the Trump junta have reached an all-time high. Yet our growing Anti-Trump resistance is still rather weak in terms of explaining exactly what it is we are fighting for. Are we talking about a return to Establishment Democratic Party rule, a slight revision of the status quo we experienced during the Obama and Clinton administrations? Or are we talking about a genuine grassroots “Political Revolution” as called for by Bernie Sanders, now the most popular politician in the U.S.?

We’ve protested against Trump’s corporate cronies and swamp cabinet; against dirty oil pipelines and fracking; against rollbacks of environmental, food safety, health and consumer protection regulations; against the slaughter of civilians in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq; against racist police and immigration policies; against laws designed to marginalize workers, poor people and minorities; and against anti-choice and homophobic cabinet and Supreme Court appointments and legislation.

Now, it’s time to work for something. It’s time to connect the dots between all of our burning issues, and unite our single-issue constituencies under a common vision and strategy for societal Regeneration—we cannot afford to return to the Democratic Party Establishment’s business-as-usual politics.

Resistance and Regeneration: Five Rules for Revolutionaries

It’s no secret that our current food, farming, health, climate and political crises pose a mortal threat, not just to our well-being, but to our very survival. The question is: What do we do about it?

Here are several organizing principles that we need to keep in mind, along with concrete action steps to begin to meet up and work with others in our local communities who are also ready for radical change.

Rule Number One: Talk about big change, not small change

We need to stop focusing exclusively on our favorite single issues or on the latest “protest du jour” against the Trump Administration. The reason Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently the most popular national politician is not because he’s talking about single-issue small-scale reforms, but rather because he’s talking about a multi-issue economic and political revolution. In times of radical crisis and dissatisfaction, people are looking for systemic change, not just minor reforms or empty rhetoric.

Rule Number Two: Describe the New Revolution in positive, solution-oriented terms, with a special emphasis on regenerative food, farming and land use

Regeneration: Formed or created again; spiritually reborn or converted; restored to a better, higher, or more worthy state.

The regeneration of the body politic requires that we disengage ourselves from business-as-usual activism and the standard gloom and doom conversation on climate, health, war, politics, economics, ethics, and peace.

“Sustaining” a dying planet or “mitigating” catastrophic climate change or political fascism is no longer an option. We must change the global conversation surrounding the climate crisis, global poverty, unemployment, low-paying jobs, endless war, and deteriorating public health from halfway measures of “mitigating” to “reversing” or “solving.”

As we must never tire of explaining, there are grounds for hope. In terms of our food, farming, health and climate crisis, there is an organic, world-changing, field-tested, shovel-ready climate-stabilizing solution at hand. It’s no further away than the knives and forks in our hands. It already exists, on our local farms, gardens, lawns, parks, rangelands, wetlands and forests.  The solution to Climate Armageddon and many of our other pressing problems (health, nutrition, rural poverty) lies literally in conserving, restoring and re-carbonizing the living soil beneath our feet. Regenerative food, farming and land use, scaled up globally over the next 25 years—whereby we draw down more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than we emit, and store this carbon in the soil, forests, and wetlands—can turn the tide of modern history from degeneration to Regeneration.

According to India activist and author Vandana Shiva, “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy."

Although Regeneration is used most commonly in reference to transformative food, farming and land-use practices, from the perspective of our new Movement, Regeneration principles can be constructively applied to every major problem of modern society, including national and international security, economics, unemployment, politics, health and ethics.

Even if the world manages to move to 100-percent renewable energy and zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as pledged by 200 nations at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, and manages to “sustain” or stabilize atmospheric CO2 at 450-500 ppm, this is not enough to get us back to the safe level of 280-350 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere. The only way we can safeguard the future of civilization is to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, but to also simultaneously scale up regenerative food, farming and land use so as to sequester enough carbon (200-250 billion tons) in our soils, forests and wetlands to reach the kind of “normal” atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases that we had several hundred years ago, before the industrial revolution.

If you are unfamiliar with the enormous impact of industrial food and farming and destructive deforestation and land use practices on global warming and the concept of natural carbon sequestration through regenerative land use, please visit the Regeneration International website.

If you’re unaware, as most of us are, that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions today come from not cars or industrial manufacturing and utilities, but rather from our out-of-control industrial food, farming and land-use practices, read this compelling article.

Rule Number Three: Connect the dots between single-issue movements and constituencies

None of our current single-issue movements are strong enough to change the degenerate dynamics in the marketplace or the political arena. We can’t go on having a food, anti-GMO and organic movement over here, a climate, environmental and anti-war movement over there, and scores of separate silos for environmental justice, health care, natural health, alternative energy, animal rights, LGBT rights, immigration rights, fair trade, Black Lives Matter, indigenous people’s rights, fair labor, women’s rights, family farmers’ rights, and students’ rights. We can’t go on having a segment of radicals and progressives who work on electoral politics but stay aloof from protests and issue-based campaigns, while those of us working on consumer, economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice or other issue-based campaigns ignore electoral politics.

Rule Number Four: Beyond online activism, build a massive on-the-ground Resist and Regenerate Movement 

We can’t rely on internet activism alone to get the job done. Yes, we must become even more effective in terms of using the internet and social media for public education and for putting pressure on corporations, regulatory bodies and politicians. But we also have to regularly step away from our laptops and phones, and trade Facebook time for face-to-face time. We need to communicate and meet up in person with our friends and neighbors, and our fellow activists in different movements, and begin to figure out how to exercise our collective consumer power, and political power, in numbers too big to be ignored. We need a new movement—one that empowers consumers and citizens to both resist the corporate takeover of our government, and also to propose solutions to regenerate our health, environment, economy and democracy.

All of our burning issues arise from the same degenerate “profit-at-any-cost” system, while all of the solutions we need are interconnected. Healthy soils, healthy people, healthy climate, healthy forests, clean water, healthy oceans, animal welfare, farmworker rights, peace, social justice, and rural/urban prosperity can go hand and hand if we move from our degenerative factory farm/junk food/industrial/globalized food, farming and land-use system to one based on organic and regenerative farming, animal husbandry, forestry and land use. A green economy based on renewable energy, regenerative farming, retrofitting the nation’s housing stock, mass transportation, commercial buildings, and infrastructure can provide jobs for all willing to work while we move toward zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050.

Reframing national and international security around the real threats we face: climate change, water scarcity, global poverty and environmental degradation, can provide our armed forces and the armed forces of all the nations of the world with something useful and meaningful to do, while providing a global basis for cooperation, rather than conflict.

Rule Number Five: Localize the Resist and Regenerate Movement

Through meetups and networking in our local communities, through connecting the dots between our single issues, we can resist the Degenerators and strengthen the Resist and Regeneration Movement. By reaching out to other activists working on food, farming, natural health, justice, climate, peace, and environmental issues we can bring about a revolution, not only in the marketplace, but in the political arena as well.

How do we start this process?

A few days ago we emailed this message to 500,000 organic consumers. Please read this call-to-action, and sign up to lead or participate in one of the hundreds of new Resist and Regenerate Meetup chapters that are forming across North America.

The time is late. The situation is dire. But we still have time to turn things around.

Venceremos. We shall overcome.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of the Regeneration International steering committee.