a Marxist critique of the Green New Deals and Extinction Rebellion

‘Selling Extinction is a short introduction to the capitalist notion of a “Green New Deal”, the NGOs that support it and the recent Extinction Rebellion protests in London.’

Given its length (24 mins) I’ve done a very rushed transcript of the first 7 mins or so, then some of what’s mentioned past the half-way mark, to perhaps entice you to watch in case videos of this length are as agonizing to sit through as they are to  me.  Dunno how many sessions it took me to finish…

“there is a great strangeness and tragedy in greeting our historical moment, and yet…it cannot be avoided. we are today living in the sixth mass extinction…and may lead to the end of the human species, moreover: t is urgent.  an oct. 2018 UN report that we have but twelve years left for preventing the situation to becoming irreversible. these are the end times.  the top 100 companies in the world produced over 70% of global emissions since 1988.”

[Not included per se is  amerika’s war, inc.™ which has the largest carbon footprint on the planet.]

“these facts indicate the reality: profits come first.  the destruction of our environment is entirely the result of capitalist imperialism.  that is: monopoly capitalism dominated by finance capital; it is structurally incapable of considering anything other than profit.this reality is clearly expressed by the ambitions of factions of the ruling class who believe it is possible to make a ‘Green Capitalism’.  whether motivated by ego or simple incomprehension, it cannot be said, but one thing is clear: with the human species being confronted by extinction…capitalists can only see opportunity. Down with capitalist New Deal.  In 2007 a largely british group of NGO and financial directors, along with the economic editor of the Guardian and the green party MP, caroline lucas, formed the green new deal group to argue for a restructuring of capitalism.  their first report published in 2008 by the new economics foundation outlined the fundamentals of a green new deal.”

[Neweconomics.org: Why ​‘net zero emissions by 2050’ needs a Green New Deal]

“in essence, the proposal seeks to restore profitability to the capitalist system by destroying the fossil fuel industry and opening up new investments in green jobs, as well as destroying masses of capital by the break-up of big banks.

in various iterations of the deal, this is complemented by what is known as ‘the payments for ecosystems services system’, which argues that this new round of investment by the valuation of natural assets.  that is: the privatization and financialization of the whole sphere of the globe.  whilst the report and the literature surrounding it correctly identify that neoliberal globalization is ended, its understanding of this phenomenon is profoundly incorrect.  throughout their writing, the green new deal group argue that what is required is a return to the economic thought of keyenesianism and roosevelt.   this…is a dead end.

roosevelt’s new deal did not restore profitability to the capitalist system, nor end the great depression.  profitable reinvestment was allowed during the post-war boom precisely because of the violent destruction of the over-accumulated capital across particularly europe and japan during the wars, and the depressed wages left in fascism’s wake.  with the return of the imperialist countries the crisis conditions in 1974, the ransacking of the state under  neoliberalism and the redivision of the world (among) competing imperial powers following the collapse of the soviet union in 1991.  the economic conditions that we face today are more akin to those that preceded the wars than those that followed them.
Down with great power competition.”

At about 12 mins, the film makers discuss the Extinction Rebellion, including the organizer’s plans, the class structure of the protests, its monetization including XR business as per a letter in the Times.  They also indict the organizers for leaving those arrested or harmed by the police as having been pretty much hung out to dry, and charging them with collaboration with the Metro police, all while noting that the activists themselves are right in their dreams of a new world.  Left out of all discussions is the fact that the UK green new deal admitted that aside from their mobilizations, only Cuba, a socialist nation, has policies makes it the only sustainable nation on the earth, although the reasons for that have been left out of the discussions.

For further reading:

‘Trees don’t grow on money – or why you don’t get to rebel against extinction’, timhayward.com, April 29, 2019
…in which he delves into XR’s two demands for ‘halting biodiversity loss and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and what they really mean…and don’t mean.

On XR business: ‘Green business leaders rally in support of Extinction Rebellion’, April 23, 2019-05-03 (I can’t get into Jeremy Leggett’s piece at the Times)

Green Anti-Capitalist Front, Climate Struggle Is Class Struggle, which includes their brief manifesto.

Climate Activism has been Madison Avenue Indigenized

infantilized, as Red Kahina had said, but I’d add: also future utopia ID politicized, as well as ‘Wise Indigenized’.  Remember that AOC’s Green New Dream extols Net-Zero emissions, public/private partnerships, appeals to ID politics, as well as market solutions like carbon credits, carbon offsets, and big business loves: carbon capture and storage.  But hey: ‘we had all the technology!’

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

23 responses to “a Marxist critique of the Green New Deals and Extinction Rebellion

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I’m Gail Bradbrook from Extinction Rebellion based in the UK. I have been supporting a group of people associated with the business sector to think about what Extinction Rebellion means to them. A similar process has happened for arts and culture, for academics, and for various other communities of interest. This independent group formed in a busy period without full involvement of Media and Messaging and wider teams.

    The entity, formerly known as ‘XR Business’, will now be more clearly communicated and branded: it is not part of Extinction Rebellion.

    It will obviously therefore no longer be called ‘XR Business’.

    It is essentially similar to ‘Culture Declares Emergency’ in format (also not part of Extinction Rebellion but closely related in ideas and vision), though challenging and educating business and finance, rather than culture in Extinction Rebellion demands and the reality of our global Emergency.

    PROLECULT slays XR Business!

    They rebrand.

    Where is the New World crapitalists are to hole up while the USSR slays Nazism? Methinks crapitalists have given up on crapitalism; neo-fascism is their solution.

    • purdy funny, there, comrade. ya got somethin’ against commodifying nature for profit? rebranding’s only a tool: in the same way big bill mckibben so became high about Green Capitalism, and of course avaaz lets you donate, sit back, and they do all the work for you! ‘The miracle recovery plan for our planet’, avaaz.org

      but let’s not forget miz ocasio’s green new dream:

      • $580 million in federal funding over two years to public and private energy development projects in Europe and Eurasia

        Holy crapitalist bullshit, err greenwash!

        Wonder if any mercs come with that package. Not green, not capitalism, same old deal. Well, at least she’s better looking than Pelosi ever was …

        • but hey; it’s only those paltry millions.but addtionall, i’d been sayig over yonder that i’d been emailing with john steppling over some of this ’emergency climate globalization “cience” (the rest doesn’t matter)
          but i’d had an easier time with this than than the one he’d recommended i might wanna read.

          still far past my ken as to the vast number multi-disciplinary thoughts he brings to bear, although i got some of it. enjoy; it may suit you:

          ‘Nature is Unnatural’

          • The collective stupidity of the research technicians is not simply an absence or regression of intellectual faculties, but a proliferation of the thinking faculty itself, which consumes thought with its own strength. The masochistic malice of young intellectuals springs from the malignance of their disease’.

            Antonio Damasio observes that the denigration of feeling and glorification of thinking is not only a prejudice resulting from ignorance of biology but also from repression (well, that’s my paraphrase). This is repression of others and collective self-repression of technocrats. In bourgeois society the concentration on gain through science and scheme lead to the suppression of feeling. Society is not consciously aware of it’s operation like you are not consciously aware of the operation of your body. The crapitalists managing society pretend they are the mind of, and have the natural right to command and control, society.

            But what feeling do they have of their society? When crisis comes, such thought collectives are prone to discard the bodies which brought their ascendancy. Is that natural, comrade?

            No, that’s some lunacy they’ve developed to go along with their bullshit theological materialism.

            “Second nature is unnatural.” Yes, but so is the crapitalist natural. We need a second nature that is more natural.

            • i’m glad you could grasp the nuggets you’ve named…and added to, X. his multi-disciplinary use of art, literature, quotes, psychology, philosophy so often leaves me in the dust., not having the necessary intellectual heft.

              how about this rubbish?

          • They think they are electing a new Overseer by the traditional method, and that is not wrong, but an outsider can see that the traditional method is set up so as to exclude systematically the poor, women, those without certain kinds of social connections. One might find it difficult to see this, if one simply adopted the concepts and point of view of the agents. It is difficult to evaluate what one cannot see.

            Yes. The blinding of those minds is, to the mind blinders, the best of all possible worlds. That belief is an oppression, as well, of a better second nature.

            • glad you enjoyed it. as a matter of fact, this recent iteration of our emailing was that i’d hoped he might contact jacob levitch to see if i might use more than fair use allows to bring one chapter of his new book on gates, over-population (erlich), eugenics and climate change.

              he said he would; turns out he must have forgotten; sigh.

          • Thanks for that essay.

  2. Crapitalists dumped Wallace, then they foiled Roosevelt’s plans for neo-crapitalism. The good crapitalists don’t rule profiteering.

    The Spanish compradors have a hankering for fascism:

  3. closing time for me. let’s hear from the late santee sioux AIM leader and alchemist john trudell, may he rest in power, not in peace. his wisdom and activism will be remembered…forever.

    Crazy Horse
    We Hear what you say

    One Earth, one Mother
    One does not sell the Earth
    The people walk upon
    We are the land
    How do we sell our Mother ?
    How do we sell the stars ?
    How do we sell the air ?

  4. advocates of the Green New Deal are not just deceptive but themselves duped. In their fever dreams of rosy futures, “The world of the Green New Deal is this world but better—this world but with zero emissions, universal health care, and free college.” For these green dreamers, reality will be a rude awakening: “The appeal is obvious but the combination impossible. We can’t remain in this world.” Nothing short of “completely reorganiz[ing] society” will do the trick.

    It’s not only the green new dealers who have dreams. Jasper too conjures “an emancipated society, in which no one can force another into work for reasons of property, could offer joy, meaning, freedom, satisfaction, and even a sort of abundance.” I have to be honest, this sounded pretty familiar; it is quite close to my own radical horizon. Okay — how do we get there? For Jasper, “We need a revolution.” But seriousness swiftly returns: “a revolution is not on the horizon.” […]

    How the new world is born out of the old is of course the vexed question of any project of radical transformation. What kinds of programmatic demands, organizational forms, and institutional designs can be proposed, mobilized, and assembled under present conditions but that would, once set into motion, violate the sanctity of growth, property or profit? What tactics of disruption are available to us? What nascent coalitions might weave solidarities across the dispersed supply chains of the energy transition? What financial crises might be on the horizon? What fractions of capital ascendent or descendent? Where are the cracks in hegemony? We are living in a moment of profound turbulence; predicting or foreclosing the future seems less analytically rigorous than actively intervening to shape it. Ruling out the possibility by fiat is avowedly realist but functionally conservative.

    The war-mongers are the decisive ones who’ve no qualm delegating sacrifice. And they have totally penetrated internal comms, giving them means to model and deceive. The potential of an educated working class has been their target long on. Their goal is to costume humans as zombies, so as to kill those confused by as well as those opposed to their hallucinations.

    The DSA/Jacobin crew around NYC have a circular admiration society that circle the wagons anytime someone goes after goes after them with serious arguments.

    They’ll never make it on this frontier.

    • please cite your sources x, i’ll ask again so i don’t have to waste time tracking them down. and please don’t use that block quote thingie; you know how to create italics yourself. but yeppers to jacobin being mainly DSAs. pfffft.

      on edit: in the end, it’s the lengthy italics my eyes have trouble with: just quotation marks would work better for me.

      nice song by willy dunn; hadn’t ever hear of him. wiki says: Mi’kmaq and Scottish/Irish background. a familiar voice, though; can’t think whose.

      whooosh: Mi’kmaq, though, pings anna mae aquash for me:

  5. An Open Letter to Extinction Rebellion:

    Take the planet off the stock market by restructuring the financial sector to make it transparent, democratized, and sustainable while discentivizing investment in extractive industries and subsidizing renewable energy programmes, ecological justice and regeneration programmes.

    Democratize the stock market, the crapitalist weapon? Okey Dokey.

    How many levels of fake can they make, comrade?

    • aside from that, it’s a good treatise from the ever-marginalized ID politicals, though. a hella lot better than XR’s ‘net-zero carbon’ and ‘net-zero loss of biodiversity’.

      i groaned at the coming ‘greta’ links, but i was sure relieved when they unanimously declared that their houses have always been on fire’.

  6. XR not only Keynesian frauds, they are innovative fascists:

    “They’re [the middle group] not interested in political effectiveness, they’re interested in things being perfect and good. This is not a personal judgment, but it won’t help.”

    The majority, to be herded like cats (GCCA/TckTckTck – Global Call for Climate Action) are “[T]he people who’re shitting themselves and want something to be done but aren’t highly political.”

    “Don’t have a Q & A. This allows the extreme people who want it to be one way to bring everyone else down.”

    “80% are normal people [and] 20% political absolutists. There to appropriate your energy.”

    “It’s not about climate change information, it’s about the emotional way that we say it – needs to create that emotional response, personal reactions are incredibly powerful.”

    It becomes clear that the “lethargy” of crapitalists was to delay until a shock doctrine/manufactured revolution could be applied.

  7. now see? you might have noted that the passage is from cory morningstar, at least iirc. but yeah, the subject got hot yesterday over er…little greta. wish i’d read more parts of that long series.

    but i keep trying to remind folks that aoc’s new dream and the UKs are both capitalist cons: net-zero carbon, and XRs is also net-zero biodiversity which foists it all onto poorer nations in the global south and indun reeservations in the US. an ues, i keep asking: why now? because all the capitalist non-solutions are in place?

    in 1990, buffy nailed it:

  8. arrrgh. i read today’s new epistle by elle provacateur instead of tendin’ to my knittin’, and she mentions the salaman woman. on my word doc (pages) i’d had this for further reading. guess in all the confusion trying cross-post tweets, i’d left it out.

    Last but not least, the psychology involved in: ‘How to create an emergency climate mobilization’, from Margaret Klein Salaman and friends, theclimatemobilization.org

    sorry, not a good source to leave out.

    this looks like a keeper if the subtweets are any indication; that site flips my laptop into psychotic wheezing.

  9. Nader now preaches the comprador rebellion:

    As long as we’re speaking of shame, what about those millions of middle and upper middle class informed, concerned bystanders. They’re all over America trading “tsk tsks” over coffee or other social encounters. They express dismay, disgust, and denunciations at each outrage from giant corporations’ abuses, to the White House and the Congress’ failings. They are particularly numerous in University towns. They know but they do not do. They are unorganized, know it, keep grumbling, and still fail to start the mobilization in Congressional Districts of likeminded citizens to hold their Senators and Representatives accountable.

    I thought crapitalism indurates to shame. Is a sensitive crapitalist now possible?

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