For deep democracy, an economy of healing, and a livable future

By Dwight Hobbs | Apr 11, 2019

The Green New Deal has reentered the public imagination, thanks in large part to the public actions of young organizers who understand the appetite for a transformative set of programs to address structural problems that for too long have been dismissed by the ruling class and political elite.

The Green New Deal harkens back to a time of rapid mobilization of public investment and collective demand for socioeconomic uplift, while charting a bold future to address the needs of our present post-industrial economy. It reflects the working class of today, that of the social care and service work done disproportionately by women, particularly women of color, in addition to the storied but declining industrial sector.

An expansive suite of programs can ensure that the rapid transition to clean energy and decarbonization is created by public sector union jobs, not only in the building trades, but also in regenerative agriculture, so critical here in the predominantly rural state of Maine, and restoration of ecosystems like the fisheries of our coast. All options should be on the table to accomplish this rapid transition, and a mobilized infrastructure program can complement the use of worker-controlled technological advances and automation to reduce the work week and guarantee family leave and vacations.

Critics of the Green New Deal will point to its comprehensive and radical outline as a fatal flaw in its design. But that is actually its genius. The neo-liberal era has successfully atomized and made invisible the elements that make up the richness of our lives. Work is separate from home, which is separate from play. All of that is separate from nature, a sterile site of resource extraction for the benefit of our ever-growing economy and recreation that is largely only available to those fortunate enough to have the luxury of time and access.

The Green New Deal shows that atomization of our lives to be fatally misguided. None of these parts of life exists in a silo. Only by democratizing and decommodifying our society across the board can we meaningfully address a climate crisis that will affect the totality of human and nonhuman existence.

More than 30 years of market-driven climate policy have utterly failed to deliver the world from the worst effects of climate change, despite ample warnings. The most recent Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change report clearly shows the need for new, resilient systems to protect the most vulnerable among us from the coming volatility that will disrupt the world’s infrastructure and its agricultural, social and political systems.

The scale of the challenge can easily lead to a nihilism and helplessness that serves no one except the capitalist class, which will continue to wring every last dollar out of a dying system.

Even those savvy enough to pivot to the promise of profiting from new carbon-free technologies cannot be treated as saviors. They seek to benefit from continued unchecked growth, when instead, new technologies could be owned by the public for everyone’s benefit. Instead of engendering pessimism and paralysis, this enormous challenge is an opportunity to fundamentally reevaluate how we relate to each other, our communities, and the land on which we live and grow.

Respecting ecological limits means not only planning for a future of production for use instead of commodification and speculation, but engaging in a reparative process that regenerates ecosystems. This reparative process extends to indigenous communities such as Maine's Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Penobscot peoples who were at the front line of colonial violence, and who are intimately tied to this country’s socioeconomic development and the process of industrialization that kickstarted and has perpetuated the climate crisis. Respecting indigenous sovereignty is an essential step in deepening our democracy and moving toward an economy and society of healing.

The lie capitalism has taught us is that while scarcity and the profit motive cannot guarantee economic rights to all, the earth’s systems are an endless well from which to extract profit for the few. We can flip that notion on its head and continue to build a movement that guarantees economic freedom for all within ecological limits. Yes, the rich will have to live with less, but the rest of us can also thrive.

Only a transformative and comprehensive eco-socialist project is up to the task before us. The Green New Deal is still contested. We need to fight to ensure that it will serve the many and save all of us.

Decarbonize, decommodify, demilitarize, decolonize, democratize!

Comments (5)
Posted by: ROBERT W. KNAPP | Apr 13, 2019 11:08

Yes, we have climate and we have change. Thanks be to God who oversees the ebb and flow of his wonders-not politicians, activists and fear mongers.

 



Posted by: Domenic Ruccio | Apr 12, 2019 15:13

You do know, don't you, that the expression "reefer" went out of usage in about 1953?  You know that, right?  Because if you didn't know that it might be a fairly good indication that your entire thought process solidified about that year, which might go a long way toward explaining your closed mindedness about climate change.  No one who seriously advocates for addressing climate change advocates for the elimination of cows, airplanes, or the combustion engine overnight.  No one.  That they all are contributors to one degree or another to climate change is fairly undeniable; how to address that fact remains a challenge for people who care about this issue.



Posted by: Kevin Riley | Apr 12, 2019 13:19

"the elimination of air travel, the combustion engine, and the elimination of cattle to prevent flatulating"

 

Amazing June/Jan, everything you posted is a complete lie.



Posted by: JUNE DOLCATER | Apr 12, 2019 12:59

Take a deep drag on your 'reefer' and describe how the elimination of air travel, the combustion engine, and the elimination of cattle to prevent flatulating will benefit our economy and while you are thinking this over please tell me where your money tree can be found to fund this project

Jan Dolcater, Rockport



Posted by: Robert M Rosenberg | Apr 12, 2019 06:19

Excellent



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