n August 10-11, 2019 Green Party members in St. Louis joined others from across the state to hear from the leading contenders for the party’s nomination for President: Dennis Lambert, Dario Hunter, David Rolde, and Howie Hawkins. All had a very clear understanding that it would be futile to support a Democrat, because, even though they often use sweet-sounding words, once they are in office their actions have little, if any, difference from Republicans.
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Green New Deal
If nothing else, the last few months have heightened awareness of the desperately parlous predicament that now faces humanity, with an accelerating climate and ecological crisis. So attempts to design assertive policy proposals are very welcome. The Green New Deal is the one that currently is getting the most attention and perhaps traction. So I want to ask some critical questions that generally seem to be ignored in the infectious enthusiasm for the idea. In doing that I’ll also be rehearsing some insights from the degrowth perspective.
En permettant l'homme, la nature a commis beaucoup plus qu'une erreur de calcul: un attentat contre elle-même.
Among the encouraging political straws in the wind are the growing momentum in the United States and the United Kingdom, two leading carbon states, for something called the ‘Green New Deal’. I have some questions about it.These are questions from an interested and, to be clear, broadly sympathetic amateur. I'm not raising them in the spirit of 'dissing' the Green New Deal, so much as trying to feel out the limits of its scope. And, if there does happen to be a degree of magical thinking involved, and if it does come with 'national' blinkers, to suggest that we need the Green New Deal plus something else.
The Green New Deal narrative risks reproducing the hegemonic ideology of capitalist growth, which has created the problem of climate change in the first place.
The recent release of the proposed Green New Deal is a template, an outline identifying some of the most crucial issues facing the nation regarding climate change and a wish list of measures to address those issues.
But there are plenty of legitimate criticisms too, and progressives would be wise not to let their desire to see pro-environmental legislation enacted at last blind them to the very real problems with Ocasio-Cortez and a legislative blueprint that could very easily become as much of a giveaway to multinational corporations as the Affordable Care Act was to insurance companies.
There are a lot of things to like about the recent resolution for the Green New Deal. The commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the acknowledgment of the catastrophic events that will occur if the world does not act soon- these are all healthy signs. Like Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign which removed many stigmas about socialism, raising public consciousness about the structural changes needed to lessen the impacts of global warming are to be commended.
However, there are very serious problems with the language of the resolution, as well as the underlying assumptions, biases, and ideology which pervades the text.
Why “Green Growth” Is an Illusion
Wishful thinking and tinkering won’t cut it. Nothing short of a mass mobilization for deep de-carbonization across the global economy can avert the looming climate catastrophe.
Richard Seymour points out that “To me, it’s straightforward. Class is a social relationship that is structured by race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and a whole range of other determinations. Race is the modality in which millions of people inhabit their class experience. Their “identity politics” will often be the precise way in which they fight a class struggle.”
I think that Seymour is correct.