Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Climate Change, Capitalism, and Easy Answers

This is a good essay from commondreams.org: "No, Capitalism Will Not Save the Climate" by Karin Nansen.

We are facing deep-rooted climate, social, and environmental crises. The current dominant economic system cannot provide solutions. It is time for system change.
For Friends of the Earth International this means creating societies based on peoples’ sovereignty and environmental, social, economic, and gender justice. We must question and deconstruct the capitalist logic of accumulation.
The climate catastrophe is interwoven with many social and environmental crises, including oppression, corporate power, hunger, water depletion, biodiversity loss and deforestation.

She really cuts to the chase:

We must tackle climate change and the associated social and environmental crises by taking rapid and bold action to address the common root causes; privatization, financialization and commodification of nature and societies, and unsustainable production and consumption systems.
The magnitude of the crises we face demands system change.

And so on and such forth:

System change must address people’s individual and collective needs and promote reciprocity, redistribution, and sharing.
Solutions include public services achieved through tax justice, social ownership and co-operativism, local markets and fair trade, community forest management, and valuing the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Go over and give the whole thing a read.

But my question is (as always): How are we to achieve the very good things that Nansen is calling for? Our political-economic system is dominated by pro-capitalism, pro-corporate, neo-liberal parties that serve authoritarian oligarchs. Our media system is dominated by neo-liberal, corporate propagandists and "public relations" brain-washers. One-quarter of the voting population in the industrialized countries consists of stupid, ignorant, racist, patriarchal, authoritarian, brainwashed, right-wing chumps. Another one-quarter consists of partisan liberal shills and hypocrites who will turn a blind eye to the most blatant betrayals of their principles if the politician doing the betraying is nominally from their team.

Why do our politicians do the things they do? With some of them, like Donald Trump, the Ford Brothers, or Paul Calandra, ... it's because they're hollowed-out morons. They have neither the ability to empathize with others nor are they possessed of the intellectual weight to be able to discern right from wrong. Calandra has literally defrauded his dying mother. Rob Ford railed against "drugs and gangs" and then smoked drugs with gangsters. Doug Ford is just a stupid bully. A rich man's son who was a high school drug dealer and who used his brother's populist appeal to build his own political career which is all about his personal benefit and the implementation of his own personal belief system of self-serving bigotry and greed. Donald Trump is a serial con-artist, psychopath, rapist and hypocrite. A moral degenerate who could barely restrain his sexual desire for his own daughter. What sort of man would strike his own son in the face for not wearing a collared-shirt and a tie to a sporting event?

It's obvious why scum like this do the things that they do. But what about the liberals?

Not enough has been said about Barack Obama pardoning Chelsea Manning in the closing days of his presidency. I don't see that this action exonerates Obama for his numerous crimes. But considering who Chelsea Manning was and what she did, I find it remarkable. How many other presidents have thrown people like Mumia Abul-Jamal or Leonard Peltier into prison and then left them there to rot?

Obama's pardoning of Manning shows that he often knows what the right thing is, but he chose not to do it. One has to remember that Obama (like most politicians) is something of a psychopath. He did everything necessary to be the first Black US President. His chameleon ability to affect the mannerisms of whoever he's speaking to are well noted. His self-control is extraordinary. As was his brazen duplicity (telling voters he'd go after Wall Street criminals at the same time that he was filling his Cabinet with them). Becoming the first Black President (and not getting assassinated for it) was a difficult achievement. But he hardly tried when it came to climate change. Because that would have meant trouble. It would have meant stirring-up powerful adversaries. For Obama, NOT doing what imbeciles like Bush II did, or maniacs like Hillary Clinton wanted to do, was the extent of his efforts.

I see I've written much more than planned and haven't really said anything. I'll post this now and pick it up later.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The World Doesn't Owe Us a Living

This is one of the most pervasive assaults on left-wing calls for social justice; that we expect that the world owes us (and everyone else) a living, simply by virtue of our having arrived on the planet. It is at this point that those who champion an economic system of unlimited growth on a finite planet begin to shriek about "scarce resources" and how we can't just give people riches without their having to work for them.

But the criticism resonates with ordinary people because resources are scarce. There has never been a time or place where everyone could consume without having to work. (Although some hunter-gatherer societies have, at times, enjoyed periods of considerable leisure.) Ordinary people imagine that leftists are calling out for endless benefits for lazy people (such as leftists) and that they will pay for these benefits by taxing productive people.

This gross oversimplification and outright distortion is mainly the product of a propaganda system that benefits the rich. Certainly there are small groups of people who would like to do nothing and live off of other people via public assistance. Such individuals exist at all times in most large-scale societies. But the numbers of people on welfare have always been small. And the vast majority of this small group of people are using these programs for less than a year. The problem/danger that has been conjured up to frighten people from social justice is imaginary. It doesn't exist.

But there IS a small group of long-term layabouts who consume vast amounts of resources for almost their entire lives. The wealthy heirs of great fortunes! The idle rich who "earn" money from "investments" that other people gave them and which (for the most part) other people manage for them. For instance, those asshole Koch brothers, ... one of them has a son.

Or, Paris Hilton. Or Kim Kardashian. Or Paul Godfrey.

We've gotten to the point where there is more than enough productive capacity to ensure that everyone has a roof over the head and food in their belly. This is PARTLY the result of the release of creative forces through capitalism that Karl Marx spoke about in the 19th Century. But it is this same political-economic system that seems compelled to degrade and humiliate people who might want a roof over the head and food in their bellies and who need public assistance for this because that same political-economic system made them redundant.

Capitalism is dependent on the impossible premise of endless growth on a finite planet, with this growth being achieved by ever-increasing consumption (by those with "effective demand") of more and more resources.

Social justice and other "leftard" values such as environmentalism, democracy, human rights and dignity, are all dedicated to creating a sustainable society based upon the real limits of the planet's productive capacity. It is the "hard-nosed" anti-welfare "realists" who have their heads up their asses.

Edited To Add:

Apparently it was the Disney cartoon and not the Warner Brothers' Porky Pig cartoon that had the song I was looking for.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Good Essay From "CounterPunch"

This piece -  "Workers' Power vs. Climate Destroyers: What It Will Take to Save the Planet," by Bruce Lesnick, is the kind of thing I'm talking about here:
Asking those few with wealth and power to please do the right thing is not a very effective strategy and it hasn’t gotten us very far up to now. A much better approach would be to take the power and wealth into our own hands – into the hands of the majority – and use that power to directly address the problems we face. This would shift us away from the defensive posture of beseeching those in power to kindly consider the greater good, even if it meant acting against their own interests. Instead, we must adopt the much stronger, more democratic position of giving the orders rather than continuing to accept the crumbs offered from the unelected minority that has been running the show for generations.
To break the logjam and implement a rational energy policy, the energy industry must be converted to public ownership. As with the other demands described above, taking the energy industry out of private hands is not a luxury we might shoot for in the expectation of settling for less. On the contrary, we will either nationalize the energy industry under workers and community control or we will not be able to stop runaway climate change. This is a battle we cannot lose if we hope to win the overall climate war.

Personally, I'm not sure we'd necessarily have to nationalize the energy sector under "Workers as Citizens" but I'm not very opposed to the idea.