## Friday, December 28, 2007

### Colorado potato beetle: the American bug

See a working video here (click).

Translation

0:02
These clouds don't bring us any blessing: they are coming from the West. Using wind and clouds, the American imperialists sent the potato beetle to attack our republic.

0:20
A father with his son just saw something. They bend over and find something on the road. That's him: the American bug, the newest criminal gadget of the American barbarianism. This year, we found it even at places where it kind of naturally doesn't belong: on the wood instead of potato crops. We found it on the dumping ground. Another American bug climbs a wall.

0:46
A bug distributed by wind and aircraft from the Western and Southern borders, it is also brought here by the U.S. agents in small boxes and bottles. Those who sent the insatiable bug here expected it to find a path to our potato crops. They counted that it would unstoppably eat what was growing for us. They expected it to create thousands of eggs that would transform into red-orange larvae. What do the American imperialists want?

1:15
They want the most dangerous foe of potatoes to destroy our advanced potato industry in order to strangle our nutrition, food production, and the industry that uses potatoes as a resource. These larvae are the culture of the war-loving atomic packers.

1:34
However, the imperialist Sirs were writing a bill without a waiter. They were computing and they have miscomputed once again. Our government has established strict policies to protect us against a disgraceful attack by our enemies. Even those who live in the West should already know it: in our country, words and acts are close to each other.

1:55
All of us, and especially the youth and pioneers, are beginning to fight. We will find every single American bug and destroy it. Each place where they are found will be disinfected. Each place will be properly identified. Technology will help us to fight the intruder. [Tons of DDT are poured over the land.] We invest all of our strength to save the fruits of our work. This is our immediate defense against the attack by our enemies.

2:36
We won't let them become a pupa under the ground. Even in the depth of soil, we will find them and liquidate them. This is our answer to the hostile attackers. We have dealt with [executed] Horáková, Pecl, and their companions. We will deal with the Colorado potato beetle, the American bug, too. We will save and clean our fields and our harvest from the American epidemics. We don't want stuff of others: but we won't sacrifice ours.

This Czechoslovak communist propaganda video from the 1950s is a great example showing that the anti-American environmentally loaded propaganda is nothing new. The videoclip above is almost identical to the contemporary propagandistic movies and news about Americans causing global warming.

Because it's in Czech, let me explain some background (even though you will understand some parts of the video anyway).

The Colorado potato beetle (Czech: Mandelinka bramborová), a bug that eats potato crops, started to intensely propagate throughout Europe in the 1940s because of much improved potato transportation. The Nazi propaganda used it to argue that the U.S. Air Forces were distributing the bug by their aircraft. Amusingly enough, the communists adopted the very same thesis, regardless of the uniform nature of the expansion of the bug across Europe.
This is another article comparing communist and environmentalist propaganda.
Now you should look at the video and read the translation right beneath it.

Criticism

Now, what's wrong with the video? Why is it propaganda? Most obviously, the content of this video is not true. The bug was spreading due to natural reasons and as a by-product of technological progress, not due to the American imperialists. But let's imagine that the basic hypothesis could have been true and we were just uncertain. Note that virtually all of my criticism of the videoclip applies to the global warming propaganda, too.

Well, even if we didn't know that it was really untrue, the movie deliberately oversimplifies the story. It is inconvenient for them to say that the bug spreads because of many known reasons and some unknown reasons. They choose one convenient, anti-American explanation only and they have presented it repeatedly. Note that the basic idea - that it was the evil Americans who sent the bug - is repeated many times throughout the videoclip. They rely on Goebbels's thesis that a lie repeated many times becomes the truth.

Also, the Americans are deliberately connected with an emotional adjective - imperialist - that should gain a very negative connotation as a result of all this propaganda even though the economic system of "imperialism" would have clearly nothing to do with the bug even if it were deliberately propagated by the U.S. agents. Also, the bug is constantly connected with the adjective "American" in order to associate America with bad things. They seem to forget that not only the bug but also potatoes themselves came from the Americas.

The propaganda movie uses children and emotional scenes evoking the idea that the children would have no future because of the evil Americans: the purpose of this strategy is to change a possibly rational approach of people to these matters into an emotional one. This aspect of the ancient Stalinist videoclip is reproduced by An Inconvenient Truth and other contemporary propaganda pieces without any modification whatsoever.

Another subtlety is that these videoclips deliberately encourage people to believe in various convenient scientific myths, for example that clouds can carry a beetle (or its eggs) for hundreds of kilometers. In the same way, An Inconvenient Truth deliberately encourages people to think e.g. that the CO2-temperature relationship proves the influence of CO2 on temperature even though it is known very well - and arguably even to the producers of the movie - that the direction of the main causal link certainly goes in the opposite direction.

The videoclip presents the situation in a black-and-white fashion. Finally, it is emphasized by the movie that the whole nation is unified and it has switched from words to action. In reality, it is, of course, a complete nonsense because only a small portion of the nation would participate in the extermination of the bug. Also, an off-topic comment about the execution of Ms Horáková and Mr Pecl is incorporated in order to intimidate possible critics. The very same insights apply to a fight against global warming. Quite obviously, a vast majority of the world's population doesn't participate and cannot participate in overly ambitious projects to radically change the role of carbon in our lives. And many people disagree with these projects as long as they have the basic freedom to do so. But the movies associate the skeptics and critics with various unpopular and losing groups from the past.

The technical details of the anti-American propaganda keep on changing but their dirty tricks and dishonest nature survive without any change.

And that's the memo.

1. Maybe we are going about this thing all wrong -- trying to attack the many arms of the Climate Change problem instead of going for its eye.

On the face of it, Climate Change is a problem of excess CO2 emissions. But analyse deeper, and one finds that it's a problem of overconsumption by all of us, individuals, corporates, government.

Analyse still deeper, and one finds that overconsumption is triggered by and funded by CREDIT. There is an overabundance of bank credit -- far out of proportion to actual earnings and savings -- that gives people the power to overspend and overconsume.

So this is where the cancerous tumour, so to speak, can be clearly isolated from human flesh. This is where we can start cutting away surgically, methodically, without hurting too many people.

CONSUMER CREDIT -- loans extended by banks for purchase of new vehicles and consumer appliances -- is a major artery feeding this tumour. Easy loans warp our purchasing decisions, making our desires seem like needs.

Two calls from an aggressive marketer of car loans is all I need to make me feel that I NEED to step up from my family car to an SUV.

CREDIT CARDS make one feel really wealthy, by enabling your to securely carry large amounts equivalent to many months' earnings in your wallet.

And when you do that, you are potentially able to do all those wonderful, beautiful, generous things that you see in TV commercials like buying your wife a diamond solitaire, booking the Presidential suite for your wedding anniversary or surprising her with a couple of air-tickets to Paris.

Consumer credit and credit-cards are the hot air causing the great big Economic Growth balloon to go up... and up... and up.

Driven by this excessive consumer demand, a number of industries flourish, new corporates are created, and new factories get built, diversified, expanded, acquired... We aren't only borrowing economically, we are borrowing ecologically.

Suggested line of action: At an individual level, we should stop buying things with credit, and stop using our credit cards. It is worth cutting up our credit cards. Let us stop borrowing from the future.

And as a community of concerned citizens, let us lobby for a clampdown on consumer credit. Let us write to the government, to our Central Banks and to individual banks and bankers.

Let each person in the banking industry be targetted with this message: Cap and roll back. Let us ask for a freeze of consumer credit at current levels this year, and a 50% reduction in the amounts of credit given each year.

This would give the economy about three years to adjust to the changing scenario.

Three years is 36 months -- far more time than the economy and its stakeholders get for adjustment when the stock-markets crash. So why delay, postpone and vacillate?

Warmly,
Krishnaraj Rao
http://friendlyghost.rediffiland.com
http://globalwarming.rediffiland.com

2. An excellent, lucid analysis by 'friendly ghost'!