All posts by Squirrel

Ann K. Bulla: December 30, 1977 – April1, 2005

Sometimes those with the deepest understanding of the world around them are the most paralyzed about how to make use of that knowledge. At times Ann Bulla revealed a profound wisdom which ecstatically mixed eastern spirituality, anti-civilization thought, traveling drop-out culture and synchronistic intuition. Through this understanding, Ann led the people around her on adventures which changed and enriched our lives, while she often remained unaltered and unimpressed, still seeking an experience that was deeper and more intense.

Ann was a mystery to most who met her or saw her around — perhaps because she demanded that her few long term interpersonal relationships be so intense that they became a torturous journey to the heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair.

Ann explored a vast range of life styles. She spent time at Twin Oaks, East Wind and Ganas intentional communities, followed Rainbow Gatherings, and rambled with a band of spiritual freaks dedicated to traveling without money in search of God on a journey that led her across North America twice, including a stint living in a cave in the desert outside Moab, Utah. She bottom lined with East Bay Food Not Bombs, lived at S.P.A.Z. collective, sang with the Eastern-influenced experimental band “Co” and traveled to both Mexico and India because of dreams and premonitions of enlightenment, direction and healing.

In the end Ann was a mystery even to herself. She never quite knew if the jarring depersonalization, torturous anxiety, and deep depression which plagued her were caused by repressed memories of molestation, biochemical imbalances, energy problems in her chakras, black magic, or demonic possession — at times she hypothesized all of these.

The world could have destroyed Ann: she could have become a Prozac popping drone, a lobotomized prisoner of the state’s psyche wards, or a lost soul wandering the streets in an angry babbling daze. She saw these imminent possibilities and told me in the last couple months of her life that she just wanted to get out now, before things became a whole lot worse. Despite all the ideas that her friends and family inundated her with about how to become healthy again, it was the option of taking autonomous power over her own life and death which ultimately drew Ann most intensely. Perhaps she was in a muddled suicidal trance, or perhaps she saw more clearly than all the optimistic people who loved her so much that they couldn’t let go.

Ann’s final hours were her last great adventure: she stole a car, took it out into a wild area of fields and woods, hiked up into hills full of deer, turkey and butterflies, and lay down as the sun was setting and the stars coming out, to set off on her final, deepest and most intense experience of all.

Grow or Die: The Death of the Earth by Capitalism

Capitalism and a healthy environment cannot coexist together because of the economic theory behind capitalism and it is consistent need for new frontiers of exploitation.

Environmental damage has reached alarming proportions. Almost daily there are new upwardly revised estimates of the severity of global warming, ozone destruction, topsoil loss, oxygen depletion from the clearing of rainforests, acid rain, dioxins in our body, pesticides residues in our food and water, the accelerating extinction rate of natural species, and so on. Or, as Kirkpatrick Sales puts it, “the planet is on the road to and perhaps on the verge of global ecocide”.

So how have we reached this point of almost ecological disaster? Many anarchists view the ecological crisis as rooted in the psychology of domination that emerged with the rise of patriarchy. Over time as these institutions took form and social domination became commonplace, these ideals were carried over into humanity’s role with Nature. The patriarchal belief system places higher value on linear, mechanistic, analytical, and rational qualities. Under patriarchy the intuitive, emotional, anarchic, and earthy are negatively perceived as passive, weak and irrational within patriarchy. Within the realms of this definition, nature became increasingly regarded as a mere resource, an object exploited and ruthlessly enslaved.

Capitalism is the vehicle through which this psychology of domination finds its most ecologically destructive outlet. Capitalism causes the wasteful use of energy and material far beyond that needed for everyday living at a comfortable level. When one adds up all the raw materials and energy that go into the goods and services consumed over a lifetime, the toll on the environment is staggering. When this cost is multiplied out over the lifespan of families, cities and countries, the proportions are incredible.

An example of wasted natural resources are the 200 Billion cans, bottles, plastic cartons and paper cups, are thrown away each year in the “developed” world. Corporate production focuses on “disposable” items rather than on quality or reliability, products are made for a one-time use because it ensures greater profits.

Many eco-anarchists give the highest priority to dismantling capitalism. Bookchin states that capitalism “in its endless devouring of nature will reduce the entire biosphere to the fragile simplicity of our desert and arctic biomes. We will be reversing the process of organic evolution, which has differentiated flora and fauna into increasingly complex forms and relationships, thereby creating a simpler and less stable world of life. The consequences of this appalling regression are predictable enough in the long run — the biosphere will become so fragile that it will eventually collapse from the standpoint human survival needs and remove the organic preconditions for human life.”

Capitalism must be eliminated because it cannot reform itself to become “environmentally friendly”, despite what many green individuals believe. One might more easily persuade a green plant to desist from photosynthesis than to ask the bourgeois economy to desist from capital accumulation.

Industrial production has increased fifty fold since 1950. Since capitalist corporations must continuously grow and expand, it can only mean disastrous consequences in a finite environment. Therefore, it is not practical to look for a solution to the ecological dilemma within the workings of capitalism, because “grow or die” is inherent in its nature.

What is the principle of grow or die?

Capitalism is based on production for profit. In order to stay profitable, a firm must be able to produce goods and services cheaply enough to compete with other firms in the same industry. If one firm increases its productivity (as all firms must try to do), it will be able to produce more cheaply, thus undercutting its competition and gaining more market share, until eventually it forces less lucrative firms into bankruptcy. Moreover, as companies with higher productivity/profitability expand, they often realize economies of scale (e.g. getting bulk rates on larger quantities of raw materials), thus giving them even more of a competitive advantage over less productive/profitable enterprises. Hence, constantly increasing productivity is essential for capitalist survival.

There are two ways to increase productivity, either by increasing the exploitation of workers (e.g. longer hours and/or more intense work for the same amount of pay) or by introducing new technologies that reduce the amount of labor necessary to produce the same product or service. Due to the struggle of workers to prevent increases in the level of their exploitation, new technologies are the main way that productivity is increased under capitalism (though of course capitalists are always looking for ways to increase the exploitation of workers on a given technology by other means as well).

But new technologies are expensive, which means that in order to pay for continuous upgrades, a firm must continually sell more of what it produces, and so must keep expanding its capital (machinery, floor space, workers, etc.). Indeed, to stay in the same place under capitalism is to tempt crisis – thus a firm must always strive for more profits and thus must always expand and invest. In other words, in order to survive, a firm must constantly expand and upgrade its capital and production levels so it can sell enough to keep expanding and upgrading its capital — i.e. “grow or die,” or “production for the sake of production.”

Thus, it is impossible in principle for capitalism to solve the ecological crisis, because “grow or die” is inherent in its nature.

As long as capitalism exists, it will necessarily continue its “endless devouring of nature,” until it removes the “organic preconditions for human life.” We do not have to wait until after the revolution to save the earth. Saving the earth is the revolution.

Good Books to Read:

Morris, Brian. Ecology and Anarchism: , Images Publishing (Malvern) Ltd, Malvern Wells, 1996.

Bookchin, Murray, Toward an Ecological Society, Black Rose, Montreal, 1980.

The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy, Cheshire Books, Palo Alto, California, 1982.

Which Way for the Ecology Movement? AK Press, Edinburgh/San Francisco, 1994.

The Philosophy of Social Ecology, Black Rose Books, Montreal/New York, 1990.