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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Two Stories...


Energy Bulletin published a couple of seemingly unrelated stories today. But I see a common thread:

Frank Rotering, in Environmentalism and political struggle states:

A year ago I produced a video that discussed the limits of today’s environmentalism. My main point was that the movement can be effective when it operates within capitalism’s rules, but that it is incapable of offering solutions that would break these rules. I concluded that environmentalism, in its current form, “...cannot lead us to a steady-state or contracting economy. ... And it cannot shift the economy to sharply lower production based on needs or tempered wants.”

He then cites Bay Area activist Saba Malik on the need for radical activism:

Malik, after citing statistics about global inequality and ecological decline, also referred to our economic system: “It's stunning to me how capitalism has become a sacred cow that no-one will attack in discourse.” She cited a “well-known environmentalist” who claimed that, because capitalism had decisively defeated socialism, the task at hand was to provide capitalism with an ethical framework. Malik’s terse comment was that, “A profit-based system can’t be ethical.” Rose rejected this combative stance: “... much of what needs to be happening is actually beginning to happen.” Malik’s response clearly exposed the difference between her and both Rose and Mander: “You say things are happening ... give me an example. Numerous organizations are doing lots of great work - permaculture, relocalization, etc. This is wonderful, and I’m involved in it. But everything measurable is going the wrong way. So whatever we’re doing is not working. ... Unless all this community work is linked with a broader political struggle, we’re not really going to get anywhere.”
...
“This perspective is growing in the movement. There are more and more people who feel like I do ... that political resistance is absolutely necessary if we’re going to have any future on this planet.”

Capitalism's. or rather, our society's rules are quite simple. Dissent is allowed as long as it is ineffective. We have the right to protest, as long as those protests change nothing. We must at all times play by the establishment's rules - be polite and quietly spoken, and never ever take direct, effective, action.

If we step outside those rules we will be shouted down, condemned as hysterical loonies, violent thugs or environmental terrorists, completely ignored, and demonised as "enemies of society and democracy".

Marc Roberts puts it succinctly:

The second article is a roundup of comment about the Wikileaks "cablegate" controversy, which starts with this quote from Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange:

“To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not. Firstly we must understand what aspect of government or neocorporatist behavior we wish to change or remove. Secondly we must develop a way of thinking about this behavior that is strong enough carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity. Finally must use these insights to inspire within us and others a course of ennobling, and effective action.”
Julian Assange, “State and Terrorist Conspiracies”

Assange restated that position in an online interview with Guardian readers last week:

“The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be “free" because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. In states like China, there is pervasive censorship, because speech still has power and power is scared of it. We should always look at censorship as an economic signal that reveals the potential power of speech in that jurisdiction. The attacks against us by the US point to a great hope, speech powerful enough to break the fiscal blockade."

See the connection?


Posted by Phil at 9:57 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 10:55 PM
Categories: Comment, Environment