When it comes to providing relief to those affected by recent floods, our government’s best shot boils down to calling a conference of international donors where it could beg for assistance. The Finance Minister has instructed the Economic Affairs Division and the Foreign Office to organize such a conference and to work with the World Bank, ADB and UNDP to prepare assessments of the damage and money needed for recovery. And so the love affair between those in charge of our destiny and a villainous greedy empire continues.

Their mouths watering just thinking of the multi-million dollar commitments and contracts, our rulers and their partners in the humanitarian assistance industry couldn’t care less about the poor people they’re out to help or the environment that sustains them. These are tokens that provide them the reason to peddle some more money and influence, all the while positioning themselves as modern-day messiahs with a heart beating for the hapless humanity.

No matter what they say, those running our world are essentially anti-people and anti-environment. It’s not so much about making considered choices every day. The mighty movers and shakers live in a world insulated from people and nature. To get to where they are, they must wear the imperial attitude like a thick skin and speak the language that is understood in plush conference halls resounding with faceless statistical figures and a soulless jargon. The good thing is that the illusions they spin around their odious enterprise are being shattered everyday by courageous people around the globe.

For instance, Naomi Klein has written another book. It’s called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs Climate. I can’t say much about a book that I haven’t read but the reviews and interviews confirm that the book has connected two important dots for millions. She sets out to show how predatory capitalism being shoved by the empire down everyone’s throat is a threat to our environment, a threat that won’t go away by the green tokenism of corporations, governments and the co-opted and corporate-funded green groups. What is required is a radical reorientation of how we see our world and how we set about to fix it.

For a long time, I’ve argued with my friends from the Left that to be Red in this day and age, one has to be Green. That it’s not about introducing comprehensive chapters on environmental protection in their Marxist manifestos. It’s about building a politics that recognizes the primacy of environmental concerns as a means of creating a better world for all of us; a world that takes care of those less-privileged. The fight for the protection of the poor and the environment are inseparable. They are both under attack by the same ruthless empire.

For instance, the agri-business being pushed by corporations with their poisonous fertilizers, pesticides and GMO seeds, is a grave threat not only to the ecosystem but also to small farmers. As it kills the birds, the bees and the earth, it also enslaves small farmers within the global market. From being able to meet their basic needs without depending on anyone, the farmers are lured by the promise of higher yields into a situation where they are entirely dependent on cash for surviving; cash over which they have no control.

Farmers trapped within the global market of agri-business have no control over how much they spend for the inputs and how much they get for their yield. They must buy seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from agri-business mafias with cash and sell their produce to middlemen of unethical cartels for cash. They are helpless victims in a world where prices of basic necessities are controlled by heartless profiteers, where even the value of their currency notes is a plaything for a small number of super-rich men. Their life-giving farming practices that sustain them and the natural environment are transformed into a hazardous occupation that keeps them perpetually insecure and kills the earth that feeds them.

As the agri-business poisons our water and our food, it also fosters an economy where the hard labor of poor farmers only earns them a suicide in the end. The agri-business creates poverty on the pretext of eliminating it just like the empire bombs people to save them. The corporations pushing poor people off their lands are also ravaging our planet with an evil relish. Their oil spills and giant fishing trawlers are not only endangering marine life but also the livelihood of fishing communities. Their fracking is cracking up the core of our earth and their uncaring industrial activities are creating natural disasters that always affect the poorest the most.

Instead of starting from the ground made fertile by the flood and helping poor people build lives and livelihoods in a self-reliant sustainable manner, the government and its imperial masters are all set to trap the victims of the flood within relations of dependence; micro-credits, fertilizers, shady seeds and habitats that are planned without inputs from those who are to inhabit them like kennels for dogs. The over-priced rehabilitation initiatives of the humanitarian enterprise are designed to profit governmental and non-governmental bureaucracies and corrupt contractors. The idea is not to grab this opportunity to build a better future for the flood-victims but to ensure that they are put in the same poor place where they came from. If anything, the relief expected to flow from the conference of international donors is likely to make the victims of floods more insecure and dependent, imprisoned within the framework of an economy built on cash with no real value. The small mercies of our dubious modern-day messiahs are designed to cast their curse-like shadows on the lives of the poor.

The radical reorientation we need must go deeper than being sensitive to our natural environment and people less privileged than us. For these concerns are easily championed with tokenism and rhetoric within any ideological framework, be it neo-liberal, socialist or Islamist. What is needed is a perspective that recognizes the primacy of environmental concerns and constructs the better new world on that foundation.

The writer is a freelance columnist.

hazirjalees@hotmail.com