The Age ~ Stephanie Hiller

Stephanie Hiller


Is this the Brave New World?

Posted on February 28, 2021 by Stephanie Hiller

Suddenly, the man who spent his time in the White House watching television, bellowing in the elegant carpeted hallways and salons, firing off volleys of tweets, and, need we add, inciting thugs to riot, is off the stage; and the world breathes a sigh of relief.

Will he make a dastardly comeback bigger and flashier than the last? Let us not think on it. I did hear on KPFA that the Proud Boys and their like are making plans for another event, announcing their intent: to blow up the Capitol.

Meanwhile, another great architect of the Insurrection has died. The man who declared repeatedly and vociferously, not only that climate change and the pandemic were a hoax, but tobacco was not bad for your health. Rush Limbaugh died of lung cancer. 

I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.

What unseen hand is writing the script for what might well be called the Modern Mishap? Certainly one of great intelligence and unparalleled imagination! In this script the law of Karma rules amidst the debris of a decaying civilization that may yet be reforming itself as a radiant and brave new order. Trump was its emissary, a divine wrecking ball whose mission was to tear apart old shibboleths, corruption, and lies, by embodying them.

Now its improbable instrument is President Joe Biden, the man of the Time. A man too busy for tweets, Biden is busily writing executive orders and new laws from the dust bin in which they had been hiding, attempting to address, in ways potentially acceptable to one or two Republicans, issues abhorrent to his predecessor but that never would have come to light without his belligerent reign. Abortion. The climate emergency. Immigrations. The Keystone Pipeline. To name a few. And he’s doing them during the first 100 days of his administration.

Or trying. We are already seeing opposition to Biden’s proposed pandemic aid bill because for some obscure reason he included in it a proposal to raise the minimum wage.

Biden’s rule of thumb is to meet the opposition halfway; but like Obama he may discover that there is no meeting ground, there are only deals, like the deal Obama was pressured to make by then-Senator Jon Kyl (AZ) to start a massive nuclear modernization plan in exchange for enough votes to approve the New Start. Democracy at work.

Speaking of democracy, we should not be surprised by Biden’s sudden attack on Syria. 

“It’s like the Biden administration is actively trying to vindicate everyone who spent the last four years saying that as far as policy decisions are concerned, there’s nothing unusual about the Trump administration,” writes Caitlin Johnstone in her blog. 

Biden is also supporting Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, apparently condoning the awful murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi for which MBS is considered responsible. 

All this must be perplexing to folks in our provincial valley if we weren’t so busy making preparations for the re-opening of restaurants and wineries to embrace the flood of tourists who will likely be heading our way this summer.

We are hanging our lot on the success of the vaccine.

Despite organizational stumbles in the rescue rollout, the first wave of innoculees is getting on toward the second dose. 

May we all survive the vaccine! Then we can get on with our lives. Sunday traffic on West Napa already heralds the coming of spring and the expected liberation from stuffy houses. But we daren’t discuss what the future will bring. We are simply hoping that we have preserved the fundamental functioning of our society during the Long Isolation by our diligent use of zoom.

Members of Praxis Peace meanwhile, continuing its series on the “Planetary Pause,” are contemplating that future, boldly, but with a mixture of confidence and dismay. Confidence in the visioning that has been going on since the 80s of a different kind of society, one which does not devour nature in order to meet the bottom line; and dismay at lingering gloomy prospects.

This month Praxis hosted two speakers with very different approaches to the madcap moment we are in.

Andrew Kimbrell is an environmental lawyer who has launched many lawsuits against corporations for their crimes against nature, which he calls ecocide. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. He fights for something I hope we all embrace, regenerative farming. Georgia Kelly, Executive Director of Sonoma-based Praxis Peace, , calls him a “renaissance man” in recognition of his diverse interests.

Kimbrell is highly articulate about the world he wants to see, but less explicit about how we are going to overcome existing barriers to achieving it; like other prophets of the better new age, he appears to rely on the inevitable collapse of our society (already in progress) and an end to capitalism. Capitalism in all its facets is the “Cold Evil” that is eating away at our world. It is “pathological” because it drives a rapacious machine that consumes more natural resources than nature can regenerate. Laws of supply and demand, which rule the market, do not apply here – that is, if we eat more tuna, the fish cannot respond by reproducing faster to enhance the supply.

Kimbrell’s new world order will indeed be global. Humans will at last acknowledge our interdependency with nature and become citizens of the world; nation-states will slowly fade. Crimes against nature will be codified, prohibited, and presumably punished.

I’m sure there is more to his vision of the world he’d like to see. Much of it may be familiar to progressive Sonomans and environmentalists who have read recent articles on local economies, cooperatives, collaborative governments, healthy soils and so forth, all ideas I value. His talk was received with great enthusiasm by attendees.

But he didn’t really tell us how to make it happen when we haven’t even succeeded in getting gas-burning vehicles off the road.

It all seems to depend on the unraveling. 

Ellie Cohen, Executive Director of The Climate Center, a powerful local environmental organization she founded with Ann Hancock, is taking quite a different approach to the crisis in our world.

Focused on climate, the center has taken the position that California can meet the necessary reduction in emissions by 2030 if we act quickly and cohesively – and become a beacon to inspire the rest of the country and the world.

It is running a campaign endorsed by numerous organizations and individuals called Climate-Safe California which you can read about and endorse at the Center’s crisp information-packed website,  

There’s no time to waste! Needless to say, Climate-Safe California relies on the existing, capitalist economy for the 12 to 20 billion dollars a year its proposal will require, which is actually less expensive than allowing climate change to progress, according to the report, The Costs of Delay.

Speaking of money, where are the ones who have it, the ultra-rich? Have they finally awakened to the reality that climate change will affect them too? And the answer is, they have. The World Economic Forum has been busy making plans for what they call a Global ReSet, which they intend to present at a June conference; lots of information may be found on their website,

The sad thing is that the climate pioneers, like Kimbrell, the Bioneers, and so many others, are not talking to the WEF. 




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