Trade Wars

Tribute to a “gentle and unassuming giant” of the environmental movement

The book, The case against “free trade” (1993), was designed, compiled and edited by the founder and director of Earth Island Press, Daniel Moses. He was well versed in critical analyzes of the WTO and trade treaties, thanks in part to conferences sponsored by the International Forum on Globalization, in San Francisco, which featured leading analysts such as Vandana Shiva and Lori Wallach, head of Global Trade Watch in Washington. , CC. Calling on several writer-activists he knew or knew, Daniel put together a collection of well-argued essays by Ralph Nader, Lori Wallach, Jerry Brown, Vandana Shiva, William Greider, Jorge Castañeda, Margaret Atwood, Jerry Mander, Martin Khor, Wendell Berry, Herman Daly, David Phillips and others. When the book came out in September 1993, NAFTA had been in the headlines for two years and was due to be signed into law by President Bill Clinton within months. The book could not have been more timely and provided the missing half to what passed for a national debate on the subject.

I was married to Daniel Moses for 33 years and I clearly remember the day he came home from Earth Island Press and told me, to our mutual amazement, that no newspaper or magazine in the whole country had chosen to review The case against “free trade”. He said: “The fix is ​​in place. If you’ve never seen a Big Fix, this is it.”

He was right: the corporate public relations machine – aided by the Republican Party and the neoliberal “New Democratic Leadership” takeover of the Democratic Party – had convinced the media and most Americans that the new trade deals would bring prosperity to everyone, that “a rising tide lifts all boats”, and that only marginalized opponents are against this great new future.

It took more than a decade for Lori Wallach, for example, to convince a few congressional Democrats that trade treaties gave flames transnational corporations to the detriment of workers, the environment and democratically established regulatory laws in host countries. Gradually, a bit more, then a lot more Democrats in Congress saw that what Wallach said was indeed reverberating in communities. Then, suddenly, many Republican politicians sprung up around 2015. By then, the lives of millions of working people had been hit hard by moving jobs out of the country.

The Big Fix regarding trade treaties was a chilling example of how the landlord class can get a global narrative fixed in the public sphere so that the most rational rebuttal based on the most clearly observable empirical facts cannot be heard. and does not register at all. .

Recently I read an essay in the New York Book Review in which a respected journalist praised a 2005 article by an economist who argued that long-distance supply chains are inherently insecure. What? You think that was a groundbreaking observation? Earth Island Press made this case in 1993!

Daniel ran Earth Island Press while on hiatus from his position as editor of Sierra Club Books, to which he returned in 1996. In this role for 23 years, he published many significant books in the fields of ecological thinking, such as nature and madness by Paul Shepard and The Dream of Earth by Thomas Berry; environmental protection, such as clear cut, edited by Bill Devall, The social and environmental effects of large dams, by Edward Goldsmith and Nicholas Hildyard; constructive models, such as Future alumni: learning from Ladakh, by Helena Norberg-Hodge; ecofeminism, as Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism edited by Irene Diamond and Gloria Orenstein; environmental justice, as In Search of Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution edited by Robert D. Bullard, and the rights of indigenous peoples such as Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Globalization edited by Jerry Mander and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

In addition to his publishing career in New York and then San Francisco, Daniel was an activist in the civil rights movement through Friends of SNCC (Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee); the Vietnam Anti-War Movement (an organizer of Publishers Against the War); the nuclear disarmament movement of the early 1980s; and numerous environmental and social justice campaigns. He was an inspirational presence in the Green Party USA and the Green Party of California.

The latter chose him to lead their first electoral ticket after gaining access to the polls: he was the Green Party’s candidate for the post of lieutenant governor of California in 1994. Towards the end of this campaign, Shockwaves emanated across the Northern California political landscape when the San Francisco Examiner, then flagship newspaper of the very conservative chain Hearst, supported Daniel Moses as lieutenant-governor to the detriment of the Republican and Democratic candidates! Like all candidates, he had been invited to meet with the editorial boards of major newspapers before they decided who to endorse. Evidently, Daniel spoke to them with compelling, Gandhian clarity about what needed to be done about the natural world – on which human life depends.

The informative commitment that ran through all of Daniel’s activism was a deep and broad understanding of nonviolence. In speeches, interviews and conversations, he was thoughtful and personable as well as deeply persuasive. As one of his former colleagues at Sierra Club Books told me after his death, “I will always greatly appreciate the kind, unassuming giant that Danny was.”

Daniel Moses passed away peacefully on September 12, 2021 at our home in Ojai, CA from three lung conditions caused by end-stage ankylosing spondylitis. He was 85 years old. I continue to hear from people who have worked with him in publishing or activism and cherish the lasting effects of his presence in their lives.