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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Who Cares Why the Democrats Lost

I subscribe to several progressive list-serves, so recently I have received many blogs about why the Democratic Party did so poorly in the last election. The most frequently expressed position is that the party lost contact with its roots. It ran away from populist issues like raising the minimum wage, real immigration and health care reform, and instead, promoted a “Republican light” agenda. Multiple authors urge Democrats to reverse this trend in order to recapture their mojo.

While that analysis is accurate as far as it goes, it misses the basic problem: the leadership of the Democratic Party is, like that of the Republic Party, owned by the corporate elite, the military industrial complex, and Wall Street. The 1%, if you will. In old-fashioned language, both parties function as creatures of the ruling class. They may disagree about how to manage our world-spanning empire, but both support it.

One party may wish to browbeat Iran at the negotiating table, while the other would consider attacking it militarily, but neither would dispute our right to intervene anywhere to protect our “national interests.” One may vote to extend unemployment insurance, but both will choose Wall street over Main Street every time. One might try to make capitalism it a bit greener, while the other might argue there are no environmental problems, but neither will support carbon emission cuts if they undermine the current order.

The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats reminds me of my college student days at the University of Michigan. When I transferred there as a junior in 1967, Harlan Hatcher was the University President. As an old-school authoritarian, Hatcher would immediately call the cops and support their violent attacks on peaceful student protesters. These heavy-handed tactics inflamed the student body and led to bigger demonstrations. The Board of Trustees replaced him with Robbin Fleming. He was a “liberal” negotiator, who for a time kept the lid on with sweet talk and cosmetic accommodations. But when the shit hit the fan in the spring of 1970, Fleming called in the National Guard.

Like Hatcher and Fleming, the Republicans and Democrats have different styles, but they both serve the established order. The Republicans may represent the old boy network and xenophobic white racism, while the Democrats are willing to let properly trained and vetted women and minorities enter the ranks of the rulers, but that is the extent of their differences.

The Democratic Party will cater to its “populist roots” (did it really ever have any?) only when it is necessary to prevent capitalism’s total meltdown. While what’s left of its populist wing elects a few good people, their influence is marginal. So I don’t care why the Democrats lost because I believe that even if they won they wouldn’t tackle the problems that must be solved in order to save the vast majority of plants and animals, including people, from extinction.

I doubt many of my readers have much more faith in the Democrats than I do, but some may still resist voting for a green alternative because they don’t wish to cast a purely symbolic vote. I agree that rather than getting mired in futile electoral politics, we should concentrate instead on grassroots organizing or work to build more viable third parties. However, I find it disturbing that progressive people would, in essence, argue that they won’t vote for what they want until a lot of other people do. That doesn’t sound progressive and feels too much like acceptance of the unacceptable status quo.  Read More 
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Strange Thanks

I’ve written about 50 blogs since retiring as RFC Executive Director, but the one I published last Thanksgiving is my favorite. I’m revisiting it here for that reason and because Strange Fruit has been even more culturally present during the last twelve months. Not only did Audra McDonald sing it almost daily on Broadway for most of 2014 in her Tony Award winning Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Annie Lennox cover it this fall in her new hit album, Nostalgia, but it has, among other things, become a popular hook for commentaries about racism worldwide.

Strange Thanks

November 27, 2013

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for Strange Fruit.

My adoptive father, Abel Meeropol, wrote the words and music to Billie Holiday’s signature song, Strange Fruit. Abel, a high school English teacher with a passion for writing, reacted to a gruesome photograph of a lynching in late 1936, with a poem entitled “Bitter Fruit.” In 1937 or 1938 he set the poem to music and changed the title. Billie Holiday did not perform it until 1939. Strange Fruit was the composition my father was most proud of, but one that he never lived with easily. In 1940, Abel was called before New York State’s Rapp-Coudert Committee, a legislative commission attempting to root out communist teachers, and asked if the Communist Party ordered him to write the song.

Later, Billie Holiday claimed in her ghost-written autobiography that she set Abel’s poem to music. To this day you can find online references to Strange Fruit that attribute its words to Abel Meeropol and music to Billie Holiday. Growing up in the Meeropol household I witnessed Abel’s frustration at his inability to correct this misperception.

But Abel was even more troubled by the song’s eclipse. It was widely recognized in the 1940’s, but in the great red scare of the 1950’s, it almost disappeared from the public arena. In fact, by the time Abel died in 1986 the song had faded into relative obscurity. This was one of Abel’s biggest regrets.

But the strange fruit allusion - lynched bodies hanging from trees – was one of genius. It had gotten under our culture’s skin, and as time went on, it seeped out of its pores.

The song’s rebirth was slow at first, recorded out of the country or at the edges of acceptability. The Jamaican group UB40 taped it in 1980. Sting performed it on an album celebrating Amnesty International’s 25th anniversary in 1986, and the punk group, Siouxsie and the Banshees, followed suit in 1987. Cassandra Wilson introduced Strange Fruit to a new generation in her widely acclaimed debut album in 1995. In 2000, Time Magazine named it the “song of the century” and Daivd Margolick’s book, Strange Fruit, Billie Holiday, Café Society and an Early Cry for Civil Rights, sold well. That was followed by Joel Katz’s film documentary about the song, in 2002.

David Margolick wrote that although Abel wrote Strange Fruit, he was best known for adopting my brother and me. I don’t know if that was ever the case, but it certainly has not been so for the last decade. Nowadays there are more online references to Abel Meeropol as the author of Strange Fruit, who “by the way,” also adopted the son’s of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, than to any other member of our family.

2013 has seen the Strange Fruit concept, explode. Kanye West’s sampling of Nina Simone’s version in his Yeezus CD made it an internet sensation. Almost every week I hear about new recordings, concert performances, musicals, dances and even art exhibits inspired by the song. The November 20th episode of the TV series Criminal Minds, which ironically features heroic FBI agents, was entitled “Strange Fruit.” It has even been used as a verb. To “strange fruit” someone, is to do what George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin.

Close to 80 years after Abel wrote those 97 potent words (that’s right, the entire song contains less than 100 words), the pot is in full boil. I am so thankful for Abel’s brilliant creation because Strange Fruit’s growing power gives me hope. The pen just could be mightier than the sword after all.  Read More 
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“It's not easy being green.” - Kermit the frog

Elli and I have been reading and discussing Naomi Klein’s new book, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. Elli said she didn’t realize how serious the predictions were when scientists first voiced dire warnings in the late 1980’s. I countered that I knew.

“Okay.” she said. “If you knew, why didn’t you talk to me about it? Why didn’t you do anything?”

I rummaged through memories to figure out what I understood 25 years ago. Fortunately, while I have trouble remembering why I entered a room, where I left my phone, or what appointments I’ve scheduled this week, my long-term memory remains sharp.

I left the private practice of law at the end of 1988 and founded the RFC in late 1990. It was a tumultuous period for me; it began with me clueless about where I was headed and ended with me on a clearly defined path that would become my life’s work. I spent the first few months exploring several courses of action. In one, my lifelong passion for weather and climate led me to consider writing and teaching about ecological concerns. I read several books about the growing threat of climate change and the deteriorating environment. In particular I remember reading the 1989 edition of The World Watch Institute’s THE STATE OF THE WORLD. The authors warned clearly that time was short, we were headed in the wrong direction, and significant policy changes were required to avoid disaster.

So, I did know about those dire predictions 25 years ago, but Elli was right about something more important. I didn’t talk with her about my fears and I didn’t do anything about it.

Why did I say and do nothing? I could rationalize about not finding the right group to work with, but how could that explain not talking about it with Elli? I think that the predictions were too awful, too overwhelming, too depressing to talk about. I couldn’t even begin to figure out what to do and how to go about doing it. And later that spring, the concept of the RFC popped into my head. I had something really good and positive and exciting to sink my teeth into. I have no regrets about the course I choose.

I’ve kept up with environmental issues. I read much of the literature and championed the RFC’s support of targeted environmental activists. But it was the RFC, rather than preventing climate change, that consumed me. It wasn’t until my first grandchild was born in 2008 that climate justice issues became central to my politics. Now I’m committed to reversing global warming (the cause) and climate change (the effect). However I’m still wrestling with the same issues that caused my silence and inaction a quarter of a century ago: What to do and how to talk about this stuff?

I want to talk about it with family, friends and acquaintances, but don’t know how to do it without being a total downer, sounding alarmist, holier than thou, a know-it-all, or manipulatively sugar-coating what I say. And once I’ve engaged with folks, how can I address the half-baked or wishful-thinking driven “solutions” that all reading and experience screams will be counter-productive distractions. I try to keep in mind that our need to involve huge numbers requires accepting a range of positions and levels of involvement, not gathering a small band of purists.

Naomi Klein’s book is helpful in this process because it provides important historical information, as well as the political and economic context in which the proponents and opponents of environmental movements have operated. It also canvasses the burgeoning global resistance to the rape of the planet, which is a great boon to those of us who are trying to figure out how to engage in the struggle.

But Klein’s book raises as many questions as it answers. Klein says this changes everything, that the solutions require systemic change, but the solutions she highlights are incremental. She writes in the introduction that we must make such basic changes in our economy AND our way of thinking that we must change “even the stories we tell about our place on earth,” but we read precious little about the latter in the rest of the book. Clearly, this brilliant author is grappling with some of the same questions as the rest of us.

That said, I’ve read nothing that does a better job of reporting the most effective work out there, of highlighting the actions we should join and/or support. And I’m encouraged that despite our questions, so many of us are finally entering the fray.  Read More 
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Moralism, mysticism or strategy

I was raised in a materialist tradition, and so have been deeply suspicious of mystical or spiritual explanations of reality. I was also taught to ground political actions in strategy rather than morality, that is, based upon their impact rather than upon bearing personal witness. Recently, however, I’ve been told I’m taking moralistic political stances and grounding my activism on a spiritual, even mystical, embrace of our planet’s biosphere. I’m only slightly guilty as charged.

I’ve been charged with demanding purity for refusing to vote for “lesser-evil democrats.” I voted for the Green Party candidate in 2012, not because Obama was already guaranteed Massachusetts’ electoral votes, but because his support of increased fossil fuel extraction and the military industrial complex was pushing us to the brink of ecological disaster. I was told that because Mitt Romney’s policies were worse, it was “moralistic” to advocate voting for the Green Party, even in hotly contested Ohio.

I reject this claim. While my position is fueled in part by moral outrage, its primary basis was and is strategic. Both major political parties’ policies increase the likelihood of environmental catastrophe; therefore we must not vote their standard bearers into office. We should not waste our time, energy and money, on electing candidates who are more likely to impede rather than aid our efforts to save life on our planet.

It will not be easy, and it isn’t even certain that it is possible, but the only way to save ourselves is to build a mass movement outside of both major political parties. You may disagree with me, but my position is strategically based.

And I haven’t become a mystic either, but it is true that I believe now that the needs of the biosphere trump the needs of humanity. This puts me at odds with those who espouse a green socialist distribution of resources while placing human beings at the center of the ecosystem (even though I do believe such a redistribution is a giant step in the right direction). I fear that our species, both self-aware and uniquely capable of environmental manipulation, retains an almost adolescent sense of self-importance, leading even green socialist solutions to maximize our biospheric footprint at the expense of other species. I doubt our ability to manage in a truly sustainable manner earth’s awesome web of animals, plants and minerals as long as the ultimate aim of such management is to meet human needs. If we fail to understand that people are not the pinnacle of evolution, that we are not more deserving or better than other species, we will revert to exploiting our planet unsustainably.

There may be a spiritual component to my gut-felt sense that our species must come to accept a humbler place in a greater whole. However, I also see this as strategically necessary to prevent us from distorting the biosphere in a manner that could destroy it. You may disagree with me, but my position also has a material basis.

Perhaps at this point in our struggle it is premature to focus on the issue of understanding our place in the biosphere. Maybe, but I can’t figure out a good strategic route until I know the destination. Read More 
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Hybrid Hatred

According to the Automobile Page of my local paper, many U.S. car owners resent people who drive hybrids. The article quoted one woman who associated owning a Prius with “self-righteousness and frivolity,” and that she has the same feeling of disgust for a Prius that she does for a Hummer.

Putting aside for the moment that the pollution caused in the manufacture of hybrid batteries negates a large part of any environmental gain, what does such widespread resentment teach us about building a mass movement to stop global warming/climate change? If the slogan from last month’s amazing demonstration in Manhattan – “It takes everyone to change everything” – is correct, then such attitudes can’t be dismissed.

Public manifestations of individual behavior modifications spark the “culture wars” of our nation. Owning a hybrid is a metaphorical attack on the Madison Avenue “need” embedded in the psyche of the automobile market. The hybrid owner spent more money to buy a slower, smaller car, in order to reduce its carbon footprint. It isn’t just SUV drivers who take this as a personal affront; any driver of a big car may feel judged by the hybrid-owner’s decision. Moreover, the hybrid choice undermines the sense of freedom and power drivers get from what is advertised as the public expression of their self-worth.

My point is not that we must find a way to get these people to accept and ultimately drive hybrids. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the hybridization of American driving habits will not significantly slow, let alone halt, climate change.

A close look at the way car companies advertise their high-mileage models, when added to the big carbon footprint of their batteries, explains why this is the case. Toyota urges you to go more places. The current Volkswagen hybrid commercial boasts that you can go farther, almost 600 miles, on just one tank of gas. The message is hammered home that better mileage enables you to drive more, for less.

Unfortunately, the advertising works; do the numbers. If you get 50mpg instead of 25mpg, but drive twice as far, you use just as much gas. I’m not claiming the average hybrid owner does drive twice as far, but the allure of the “greater freedom” to go farther and the reduced cost of doing so, are real selling points. Enough people will take advantage of this to significantly reduce any environmental benefit these vehicles provide. Since our system is based on selling more, and so many have been convinced that our happiness depends on acquiring more, efficiency gains will have relatively little effect.

As I’ve written in previous essays, I believe that individuals opting for increased efficiency in consumer products won’t solve our environmental crisis. Only replacing our current economic system with a no-growth, nonprofit-oriented model can accomplish that. But the article in my local paper reminded me that systemic and attitudinal change must go hand-in-hand to demonstrate capitalism’s destructiveness and consumerism’s emptiness. This is a tall order, but either one without the other won’t work. Read More 
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David Greenglass is Dead

My brother called me in early July to tell me David Greenglass had died. I think Michael heard this from his daughter, Ivy, but I’m not sure how she found out. We’d known that Greenglass was ill, suffering from dementia in a nursing home, so we weren’t surprised.

We expected the press to ask us to comment, so we composed a statement, but did not release it. No obituary had appeared, and since his immediate family did not publicize his passing, we decided to follow their lead. We didn’t know his family, but we had nothing against them, and did not want to cause them any trouble.

As the weeks passed the lack of mention of Greenglass’s passing in the New York Times perplexed us. I wasn’t talking about it, but I heard the news through others, so by Labor Day it was hardly a secret.

In late September, I learned that Random House was about to publish a second edition of Sam Roberts’ book, The Brother, about David Greenglass. Sam is the New York Times reporter who covered news related to my parents’ case for decades. He had the financial misfortune of publishing the first edition in September 2001, when almost no one, particularly in the New York City area, was buying books.

Ah ha, I thought. That explains it. The Times will publish the Greenglass obit just after the new edition comes out, generating lots of free publicity for Sam Roberts. That is what happened, but Sam Roberts wrote in a blog in the Huffington Post that he didn’t know about Greenglass’ death in July. He explained that he occasionally monitored Greenglass’s status by calling the nursing home that housed him. He said when he called in September and learned Greenglass was no longer in residence, he realized David Greenglass had died.

Perhaps that’s true. You can decide which explanation is more likely.

My brother and I released our statement and a number of news outlets quoted from it. I received supportive notes from people who expressed the hope that I gotten some closure from Greenglass’s death. I think that concept is overused, especially when it comes to the death penalty. Prosecutors tell victims’ family members that an execution will give them closure.

But closure is a static concept, the antithesis of the dynamic process that is life. When applied to a death, closure for those still alive is an illusion. David Greenglass’s death gave me no sense of closure. I’ve lived with my parents’ case all my conscious life. I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve come to terms with it and I’ve done my best to make something good come out of it. But for me their case is never closed. Read More 
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Edward Snowdon & Julius Rosenberg Discuss Patriotism

Following up on last weeks’ blog about the difference between my father’s actions and those of Edward Snowdon, I just read “a sneak peak” at an interview The Nation’s editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and her husband, Stephen F. Cohen, conducted with Edward Snowdon in Moscow.

Here’s how Snowdon defined patriotism in that interview:

“[W]hat defines patriotism, for me, is the idea that one elevates - or they act to benefit - the country, right? That’s distinct from acting to benefit the government, and that distinction, that’s increasingly lost today. You’re not patriotic, just because you back whoever is in power today. You’re not patriotic because you back their policies. You’re patriotic when you work to improve the lives of the people in your country, in your community, in your family, those around you.”

This reminded me of what I wrote about my parents’ beliefs in, An Execution in the Family.

“I grew up believing that the most patriotic acts are those taken to improve the quality of life for all our nation’s inhabitants. Abel Meeropol concluded his patriotic song “The House I Live In,” “but especially the people, that’s America to me.” Ethel and Julius Rosenberg identified with poor and oppressed people in the United States and around the world rather than a government that they believed served the will of a privileged few. Ethel and Julius believed that defeating fascism would help Americans and the world…. Based on this understanding of patriotism, I believe that my parents acted patriotically.”

These remarkably similar perspectives, the essence of which is that both Julius Rosenberg and Edward Snowdon believed they were acting in the best interests of the people of their country. Both felt that they were also benefiting the world’s inhabitants.

This got me thinking that placing patriotism within a national context has become obsolete. The world faces destruction on two fronts: either nuclear Armageddon or global warming could render much of our planet marginally habitable. So far we’ve succeeded in preventing the former, but the latter seems almost inevitable unless the entire world cooperates in a massive shift in direction. In both cases all the planet’s people are in the same boat. While either global catastrophe will disproportionately impact the poor, no one will escape its impact.

Under such circumstances it becomes increasingly difficult to benefit the people of one country without acting in cooperation with and aiding people everywhere. Conversely, nations that jockey for their own advantage will end up hurting the people of all countries, including their own.

Paradoxically, the idea of patriotism will have lost its core meaning of being loyal to a particular nation state, if in order to be patriotic you must help people all over the world. Another way of looking at it is that no single nation can be secure, unless people all over the world are.

Perhaps that means that the concept of patriotism has outlived its usefulness. Read More 
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Rosenberg and Snowdon

Tuesday evening, Elli and I attended the opening of an exhibition at Boston University titled LOVE-CONSCIENCE-CONVICTION: THE ROSENBERG CASE, featuring my parents’ prison correspondence. These are the original physical letters, which my brother and I donated to B.U.’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center last year. The archive has established a website and visitors can view high-resolution digital images of over 500 of these letters at www.bu.edu/rosenbergarchive

To mark the occasion, my brother and I joined a panel entitled Rosenberg & Snowdon. It also included journalists, authors, a professor of communications and two international relations professors, one of whom spent 30 years at the CIA.

I was surprised that several of the panelists including the CIA alum seemed more sympathetic to my parents than they did to Edward Snowdon. I thought the opposite would be the case. Although my father did not facilitate the theft of valuable atomic secrets, he did commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. It was mostly during World War II, but if Morton Sobell is to be believed, also as late as 1948. Snowdon, on the other hand, gave classified information to the press so that the public could learn what the NSA was up to.

While I sympathize with my father’s desire to help the Soviet Union defeat the Nazis, I find Snowdon’s actions even less problematic. In fact, I consider Snowdon’s releases a gift to the people of the world. But as disparaging remarks indicated (e.g. “Unlike Snowdon, the Rosenbergs didn’t hide in Russia.”) other panelists did not share my sentiments. Why was that?

Perhaps it was because the experts on the panel saw my father as playing by the rules. Partisans of the United States might claim that my father spied for the wrong side, but his actions did not call into question the validity of the concept of secrecy. Ultimately Snowdon’s actions are potentially more damaging to our burgeoning secrecy apparatus; publicizing these agencies’ activities threatens their existence. He raised the radical and dangerously popular idea that the people have the right to know what the government is doing in their name.

I don’t wish to credit Snowdon with motives he may not have. He has stated in interviews that he left “bread crumbs” for the NSA to help them to figure out which documents he took in order to give the government time to prepare for future leaks, change code words, and make other moves to mitigate whatever damage the release of this material might cause. In other words he blew the whistle to alert the public to the NSA’s abuses, but he was not out to destroy the system.

Some of my fellow panelists Tuesday evening appeared to believe in the necessity of governmental secrecy. They say that for our safety the public must trust the government. However, Snowdon provided irrefutable proof that the government is unworthy of such trust. Perhaps they have no choice but to disparage him, since his actions have made their position untenable. Read More 
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Where do we stand? Where are we going? How long do we have? What must we do?

In my last two blog posts I articulated four basic principles to aid us in formulating effective strategies to combat global warming. In this final blog of the series I will try to succinctly answer the four posed above and offer a few suggested positions and actions consistent with those principles.

Where do we stand: We’ve gained a degree Celius and it is increasingly likely that we’ll surpass two degrees by 2040. That’s because it takes approximately 30 years to feel all the climatic impact of greenhouse gas emissions. Today we are experiencing the full effect of emissions we generated prior to 1985, and we will not feel all the results of those we’ve produced since until 2044. Moreover, we’ve drastically increased such emissions since 1985.

Where are we going: The science says we can’t avoid positive feedback mechanisms once we reach three degrees increase, possibly as low as just over two degrees. In any event, if we continue on our current course, it is likely we will approach three degrees by 2050 and trigger the positive feedback loops. If we allow that to occur, the positive feedback mechanisms will become unstoppable, and by 2100 trigger an additional three degrees of global temperature rise. It is doubtful that civilization as we know it would survive if we reach that point, and such an increase would compromise the habitability of our planet.

How long do we have: I am wary of those who categorically state that it is not too late to avoid this nightmare scenario. I think such statements are both wishful thinking and manipulative. Better to say it MAY not be too late, and act as if it were not too late, because we have no choice. Two things are almost certain: We must act quickly and we must make basic structural changes to maximize our chances of avoiding catastrophe. If we have not shifted course significantly by 2020 we will have less than a 10% chance of avoiding the positive feedback mechanisms. That means we do not have time to take ineffective action.

What must we do: To be effective, our positions/actions must address the root causes of the problem. Economic growth and the huge increase in consumption and population that have accompanied that growth are the primary causes. Capitalism, which requires constant growth and increased consumption is the engine driving this growth.

Here are suggested positions/actions I believe anti-global warming activists should take.

1. Bring green and anti-war forces together. Attack military activity on environmental grounds. For example, we should demand to know the carbon footprint of the new war against ISIS.

2. Because poor people are more vulnerable to the disruptions caused by climate change, and people of color comprise a disproportionate percentage of the poor, bring green, poor people’s and anti-racist movements together.

3. Call for the reversal of all international trade agreements that undermine development of sustainable technology and the public subsidization of localized economic activity.

4. Couple a call to double the minimum wage with a maximum 30-hour work-week. Our objective should be to put people back to work without increasing total economic activity.

5. Support divestment from fossil fuel companies, eliminate the oil depletion allowance, tax fossil fuel income and forbid the export of fossil fuel.

6. Educate people about the carbon consequences of their activities and consumption.

7. Support indigenous people’s efforts to protect the environment.

8. Explore and develop “degrowth” concepts to manage the transition to decreased economic activity, localization of economic activity, reduction in population, and reduced travel. Read More 
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Maybe We Can Do It

I can’t overstate how exciting, energizing and encouraging it was last weekend to join over 400,000 people in New York City marching to confront global warming. It was also a lot of fun to march with three generations of my family.

I was particularly pleased to see so many anti-capitalist signs, even though I’m sure a significant number of marchers believe in “green business” solutions. Although a bit hyperbolic, the march’s slogan “to change everything it takes everybody” embodies this contradiction. It will take a massive coalition to force those in power to make the necessary changes, but as with all coalitions, the movement to reverse global warming will be prone to political splits and co-optation.

We must not get sidetracked by initiatives that don’t address the root causes of the problem: economic growth and the resulting huge increases in consumption and population. Capitalism, which requires constant expansion and increased consumption, is the engine that drives this growth.

In my last blog I offered two basic principles for the movement:
1. The needs of the environment trump the needs of the economy; in other words capitalism has got to go.
2. The needs of the biosphere trump the needs of humanity.

Today I have two more to add:
3. Working and/or voting for elected officials who support the military industrial complex is more likely to impede, rather than aid, efforts to reverse global warming. We cannot maintain a “green” empire. This is because the military industrial complex and the empire it serves are, in combination, among the worst environmental offenders on the planet, and the never-ending wars our empire requires are massive environmental disasters. For instance, today we should be asking: “What is the carbon footprint of the war against ISIS?”

4. Radical economic transformations trump individual lifestyle changes. Curbing individual consumption in the developed world is essential to solving the problem, but it is secondary to making basic structural changes and dismantling our empire. “Green” initiatives that focus on individual behavioral changes to the exclusion of structural ones will act as a bait and switch and siphon critical energy from essential work.

This may seem like pie in the sky. How can we dismantle our empire when we have so little time? But we face an unprecedented situation and this movement could surprise us all with its explosive growth and passionate ferocity. If someone told me a year ago that over 400,000 would march in New York City to fight global warming, I would have said that was impossible too. Read More 
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