Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

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First Environmentalism—Then Socialism!

1/27/2012 4:55:00 PM

Tags: climate change, capitalism, environmentalism, socialism, communism, fascism, environment, Naomi Klein, The Nation, Reason, Keith Goetzman

Capitalist Hummer 

To the power brokers of America’s right, climate change poses a dire threat to business as usual. Environmentalism, in fact, is seen by many of them as a stalking horse for an even more sinister force: socialism. Progressive thinker Naomi Klein expertly dissects this dynamic in her Nation article “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” explaining why the average modern conservative is terrified silly by the prospect of confronting human-caused climate change:

Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process. That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as “people” under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative. …

Climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. There is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis.

Klein’s essay is well worth reading for anyone with an environmental consciousness who’s trying to understand why saving the planet sounds so damn scary to some people. I would say it undermines everything they believe in, but as Klein makes abundantly clear, they don’t believe in much of anything except preserving their own privileged, comfortable lifestyles.

After reading Klein’s piece, I didn’t have to go far to find someone willing to buttress her argument from the other side of the spectrum. James Delingpole, the London Telegraph reporter who set off the whole ridiculous “Climategate” imbroglio that allegedly exposed the climate hoax—but in fact did nothing of the sort—is now trotting out a book, Watermelons, apparently meant to capitalize on his hero status to climate-change deniers. He tells the libertarian magazine Reason, apparently without a trace of irony:

I call the book Watermelons because they’re green on the outside but red on the inside. After the Berlin Wall came down, the communist movement, the global leftist movement, was left in a bit of a quandary. They pretty much lost the economic argument. They needed somewhere else to go, and global warming has become the great proxy issue. It enables them to achieve many of the same aims as before but under a cloak of green righteousness. This book, although it is about global warming, is about something in fact much, much bigger than that. It is about a global takeover by fascism, communism, call it what you will; their aims are much the same. It is about control.

So, let’s review. If you’re concerned about the future of humanity and the natural world, and you accept the scientific experts’ consensus that we’re rapidly degrading the planet, and you believe we need to take immediate corrective steps, you’re basically a control freak trying to resurrect communism. Wow. I’m going to go for a walk in the woods and try to wrap my head around this one. Care to join me, comrade?

Sources: The Nation, Reason 

Image by scottfeldstein, licensed under Creative Commons. 



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Post a comment below.

 

R CREE
2/1/2012 3:15:08 PM
Yes, global warming should scare the hell out of the rich and their corporations. Those select individuals and their corporation have been getting a proverbial free lunch. They have been able to eternalize the cost of capitalism onto the individual, society and the world. Time to pay up and internalize those costs--global warming is just the tip of the externalization iceberg of capitalism. Yes, capitalism creates pollution that has to be internalized---but all the economists want to ignore it for the good of their masters---the rich and their corporations. But just like the people demanded air and water pollution costs be internalized by the corporations who created the pollution in the 1970's and 1980's--so should the rich and their corporations be required to internalize the costs of the damage of their economic system on individuals, society and the world. After seeing how the unfocused rabble of the Occupy Movements changed the dialogue in a few months, I think that if we keep the message simple---Internalize The Cost of Your Pollution Economic System---the the masters of this place will be screwed because all the economists and all the reporters for the rich can't buy the truth once it has been accepted by the great majority of people.

david blum
1/29/2012 2:01:08 AM
There's a small but discernible distinction between the tyranny of communism and environmentalism, where the former does not require your consent and the later does. When that changes the distinction will be erased.



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