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Toward Climate-Catalyzed Social Transformation?

By: 
Diana Stuart and Ryan Gunderson

While the Green New Deal calls for net-zero emissions by 2050 and supports labor unions, worker cooperatives and community projects; it does not specifically call for reducing and eliminating the use of fossil fuels, its already “radical” emissions targets are not radical enough, and it does not challenge the economic growth paradigm. Yet, its public and political support indicates it could represent a gateway to more radical change.

The strategies of these climate change movements are creating conditions that are increasingly ripe for transformation. Wright predicted that climate change would necessitate the end of neoliberalism and would “open up more space for broader, socially directed state interventions.”

Moving forward, what might be the best way to achieve meaningful social change? We agree with Wright that a revolution that smashes and rebuilds the system is very unlikely today. The most viable transformative strategy would be a powerful symbiotic strategy that results in what Gorz called “non-reformist reforms.” These types of reforms can advance a radical transformation of society and may act as part of a transitional program out of capitalism. They are transformative in that they can reveal the irrationality of the current social order and result in recreating economic and social systems.