26 Jan 2010, 9:53am



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  • An Open Letter To Our Corporate Overlords

    January 25, 2010

    Dear Masters,

    Please excuse my presumption in writing to you directly. I don’t even know the correct term of address, and I fear “Dear Masters” does not express sufficient recognition of the vast differences in our status. My country’s Supreme Court has recently conferred upon You the powers You have sought for many years, and I congratulate You upon your victory in the Judicial Branch. I expect it will soon be followed by victories in other branches as well.

    Let me be frank. I fear You greatly. It is only my relative insignificance to Your grand plans that gives me the courage to speak out at all, for I am sure that if I were ever to inconvenience You in any way, I would be crushed. Even mentioning the possibility that I could inconvenience You is a presumption, I know, given the vast difference in our power and influence. I may speak of my Dignity and my Rights, but I know that the only reason I have that Dignity and those Rights is that You allow it. Forgive me. I do not wish to offend You, for You hold in your hands (metaphorically speaking, of course, since You have no hands) the future of everything I hold dear.

    I hold dear my family, my wife, my lovely and precocious five-year-old daughter. I hold dear my work; I am a teacher of song, and what more pleasant occupation could there be than sharing the music I love with those of like mind? I hold dear the beautiful woodlands near my house, for it calms my heart and slows my thoughts to walk through the tall trees. I hold dear the memories of my teachers and influences, and of those who’ve been my fellow travelers in this life. I hold dear the countless links in the human chain — how far we clever apes have come in just a few short tens of thousands of years!

    Most of all I hold dear the Web of Life of which I am a part. When I contemplate my Death, I am comforted by the knowledge that my body is made of EarthStuff and SunStuff, and will eventually be food for other Lives.

    What scares me about You, dear Masters, is that You cannot contemplate your Death, for You are immortal. And because You are not made of the same stuff as We, You have no bond of sympathy with Us.

    So I cannot appeal to Your better natures, for by the standards of Earthly life, You have none. I can only appeal to Your predatory natures; those, You have in abundance.

    In the past two centuries You have built economic systems that depend on Our willingness to turn Ourselves into trash; systems hinging on the requirement that We continue to consume at ever-increasing rates. Not to consume is to fail our duty to You, our Masters.

    But dear Masters, We have recently begun to notice that the power of Your economic systems is killing the planet on which we live. Countless species are dying every day; in the years and decades to come millions will disappear from Earth at a rate faster than at any time in our planet’s history (except, of course, for the day the Big Meteor hit). We have consumed our planet’s SunStuff avidly, as You order Us…but recently We’ve discovered that the burning SunStuff is making our atmosphere heat up.

    If it goes on, Dear Masters, there is a very good chance that all of Us will die.

    Not “die,” as in “human beings die every day,” or “his dog died last week,” but “die” as in “the Earth will no longer be able to support any form of life at all, because it will be too hot.”

    And then, Dear Masters, what would You do?

    Lacking physical substance, not made of EarthStuff and SunStuff as We are, You cannot stand upright on the surface of a baking planet, wondering where everyone’s gone. You may be immortal, but even immortals have to eat, and we feed you. Although You are not made of the same stuff as We, if We die, so too shall You, and Your Deaths will be lonely ones.

    I assume You don’t want that.

    And so, Dear Masters, I timidly plead my case.

    Adjust your Economic Systems just a tiny bit, so that You can maximize Your profits from Us in the long run rather than making a killing in the short. I will pay You what I earn and buy what I’m told to buy; in another decade I will show my little girl how to get her own credit card so She can enter Your service as well. I don’t mind if I continue to be Your indentured labor; I don’t mind if my daughter and her child and her children’s children to the hundredth generation remain in Your servitude.

    But You need to change things just a little, so that they can live. Otherwise nobody will get the chance, because the Earth will be dead and so will You.

    Dear Corporations, You alone have the power to redirect sufficient resources in this world to fix the problems You’ve caused. You are our Masters. It is in Your interest to keep the Earth a good place to live, so that You may continue to consume Us for thousands of years to come.

    If You do this, if You make these changes, then I can die well pleased, knowing that the links of our Human Chain will not end up as slag on the face of a Venusian landscape. And perhaps my hundred-times-great granddaughter and her fellow Humans can find a way to overcome Your Dominion and live freely and peacefully, without waste or war, on a good green and blue Earth filled with abundant Life. That’s all I want: just to know they’ll have a chance, a few centuries from now.

    Thank You for listening, if you are.

    Your most humble and abject subject,


    12 Aug 2012, 1:17pm
    by Susan Landy

    Hi Warren, it was great to meet you yesterday. This letter is actually pretty depressing to me as it reflects the difficulty of making the corporate masters do anything. I think I might rather be a guerilla than an abject servant, but, here I sit, paying utility bills. I even own a credit card. The letter has had the affect of making me want to work harder at recycling and also to write some letters. I am writing a story…it seems like it will be unavoidable to mention the state of the planet they’re living on. Of course my cultural training makes me heavily resistant to adopting the role of servant. But, your site places a high value on realism. Thanks for mentioning Daniel Quinn. I will check out Ishmael.

    2 Mar 2011, 9:52am
    by Tulsi Tawari

    Hi Warren… appreciate your interest in greater interactions. I have written a book on New Century Economy: CoW vs ToW (creation of wealth vs transfer of wealth). The essence of this work is: We are allowing intellectual corruption to destroy “Sanctity of Money”. Each individual plays six roles in economy: Two positive 1.value-creator, 2. managing created-value; Four Negative 3. Parasite, 4. Speculator, 5. Manipulator, 6. Wealth-Destroyer.

    If u like to read more, let us interact more through email… u know my id.. gake@rediffmail.com

    And, surely, I look forward to meeting you when you visit Mumbai next, over a lunch.

    Tulsi Tawari

    Tulsi – thanks for your kind words on my “open letter,” which was written just after the catastrophic “Citizens United” decision by the US Supreme Court. I expect to be in Mumbai later this year; perhaps we shall meet then. The convergence of the climate crisis and the less corporeal but equally disturbing ones in economics and education has me very worried indeed. The world our children are going to inherit will be radically different from the one we grew up in, and I’m not talking about computers and the internet — rather, things like the cyclone currently heading for Queensland. By all means, let’s talk more.

    Hello Warren…

    So beautifully summed-up, like music only.

    Your remarkable piece on Bhimsen Joshi got me to your blog.

    Greetings from Mumbai!

    Would love to exchange thoughts on economy & education. How Indians and Americans of ‘your kind’ connect with each other… will make better things to happen, hopefully.

    6 Nov 2010, 8:17am
    by nick pearson

    Warren, you are speaking for many of us here. Perfectly put!

    20 Oct 2010, 6:24pm


    Goodness! Are you actually insane?

    4 Apr 2010, 11:23am
    by Larry Baron

    Their is a way to combat environmental pollution and get us out of this mess—send all and give all the environmental waste to the environmentalists the ” Hot” air from their vegetarian bodies and ego will cause the pullution to rise upward and be burned by the sun. Thank You for reading, Namasty


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