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A defense of Planet of the Humans

Larry Tallman

New Member
'Green' billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of 'Planet of the Humans' documentary | The Grayzone
This new article gave me the technical tools with which to judge the film more adequately. Moreover, by doing so, the central points of whether the focus on renewables is simply to maintain an economic system that needs to grow or if renewables can deliver on its promises without creating significant ecological damage, again get front and center staging.
These questions seem to me to be central to determining who our allies are, as well as indicating a clearer way forward.
It's a long read, but worth it.
Larry
 

Ted F

Admin
Hi Larry,
Many activists who are highly critical of the Green Establishment thought this was an awful film. There were no activists of color in the film, no ecosocialists, no one to counter the main propaganda theme that all talk of renewables is some kind of cover for a politics of growth. Blaming the film's bad reception on billionaires is utter nonsense. If I had a billion dollars, I could make a much better film that would actually encourage people to build an ecosocialist movement rather than end on a note of nihilistic grief and hopelessness. That said, I look forward to hearing more from you about what you think is a clear way forward whether revealed by this film or otherwise. We are all certainly struggling to find that path.
Ted
 

Larry Tallman

New Member
Hi Larry,
Many activists who are highly critical of the Green Establishment thought this was an awful film. There were no activists of color in the film, no ecosocialists, no one to counter the main propaganda theme that all talk of renewables is some kind of cover for a politics of growth. Blaming the film's bad reception on billionaires is utter nonsense. If I had a billion dollars, I could make a much better film that would actually encourage people to build an ecosocialist movement rather than end on a note of nihilistic grief and hopelessness. That said, I look forward to hearing more from you about what you think is a clear way forward whether revealed by this film or otherwise. We are all certainly struggling to find that path.
Ted
Hi Ted:
You make valid criticisms of the film. However... For several years a group of ecosocialists and I have been doing presentations on to unions, community groups, church groups, etc on the ecological crisis. We've been critical of a good deal of the science for not being integrated across specialties as well as making predictions without regard to tipping points (the IPCC justifies its methodology because "linear" science is the most rigorous). But we've also been critical of much of the green movement because it simply doesn't act as if the economy has anything to do with the environment (see Barbara Harriss-White's "Making the World a Better Place" in Socialist Register 2020, or see Extinction Rebellions reasons for not addressing the economy). Because we have encouraged discussion, I know that the two most common responses from the audience have been: a) how we could consume better and, connected b) how renewables are going to save the day. Because I live in a housing co-op with several members of the Green Party (British Columbia), because I was in a public-sector union that had a "green" policy (I've since retired), because a close friend of mine was a leader of Canada's Green Party, because in Canada we've had a LEAP Manifesto that predated the Green New Deal by several years, because I've been at all of their meetings, I know that system change is not in their cards - and is in fact specifically and obviously argued against. A small example: when these organizations hold meetings, they are orchestrated. The last Canadian Green New Deal (a continuation of the LEAP) meetings were set up all over Canada (over 100 of them). (By the way, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis are two of the organizers of both the LEAP and the Canadian Green New Deal.) Both of the ones I attended were full. After a brief intro, we were broken up into groups of 8-10 and given a small set of questions to address. No other questions nor discussion was allowed. No disagreements were permitted. A person took notes, handed them in at the end and that was it for our participation. We didn't even find out what our "betters" thought of our limited input. Like all of the social democrats I've ever met, they are afraid of the ideas and people from below. They want our support, but not our engagement.
And, needless to say, there is a belief that technology and renewables are indispensable to finding solutions.
Whether "billionaires" or not, we have a class struggle within the green movement. I do not find it credible, with my experience, that the people who strongly advocate for renewables (often as a single-issue campaign) are not also incapable of criticizing the role that capitalism plays in creating the mess we're in. Ecosocialism must mean much more than the Naomi Kleins' limited political perspectives.
 

Ted F

Admin
Larry,

What you say is very eloquent and troubling about LEAP, Canadian GND, and Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis. I believe we need to keep pushing Klein (I don't know Avi) hard because she speaks to a lot of people and does move greens to the left, and I don't think she is personally in favor of technofixes and endless growth. Oddly, I saw a very similar format for a recent GND Summit within DSA. I did not ascribe it entirely to bad intentions as I know the leaders personally. The format of a plenary (complete with slides) followed by breakout groups and go-rounds with a small set of limiting questions, followed by report backs from notetakers, is deadly to political debate. The leadership may have wanted the best ideas to percolate up but instead they wound up with a hodgepodge. The Summit provided no opportunity to raise serious questions about how well different proposed campaigns measured up against fairly well-articulated criteria for what makes a good campaign. Straw polls substituted for deliberation.

On the substance you raise, SCNCC folks are generally highly critical of Green Capitalism, the Democratic Party, the Big Green environmental groups, and so on. Have you read Richard Smith's articles on our website denouncing fantasies of endless growth? He has written a book entitled "Green Capitalism: the God That Failed" which is good reading.

Perhaps you'll consider writing an article for us?

Ted
 

Larry Tallman

New Member
Larry,

What you say is very eloquent and troubling about LEAP, Canadian GND, and Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis. I believe we need to keep pushing Klein (I don't know Avi) hard because she speaks to a lot of people and does move greens to the left, and I don't think she is personally in favor of technofixes and endless growth. Oddly, I saw a very similar format for a recent GND Summit within DSA. I did not ascribe it entirely to bad intentions as I know the leaders personally. The format of a plenary (complete with slides) followed by breakout groups and go-rounds with a small set of limiting questions, followed by report backs from notetakers, is deadly to political debate. The leadership may have wanted the best ideas to percolate up but instead they wound up with a hodgepodge. The Summit provided no opportunity to raise serious questions about how well different proposed campaigns measured up against fairly well-articulated criteria for what makes a good campaign. Straw polls substituted for deliberation.

On the substance you raise, SCNCC folks are generally highly critical of Green Capitalism, the Democratic Party, the Big Green environmental groups, and so on. Have you read Richard Smith's articles on our website denouncing fantasies of endless growth? He has written a book entitled "Green Capitalism: the God That Failed" which is good reading.

Perhaps you'll consider writing an article for us?

Ted
I'm glad we're on the road to a productive discussion here. A few points:
- Yes, I'm much impressed with Richard Smith's articles. I haven't read his book "Green Capitalism..." yet but I hope to. Most of my ecological analysis has come from Monthly Review with the data coming from a wide range of folk including James Hansen, Monbiot, Ian Angus, the IPCC, etc.
- I'd be interested in writing an article for you, but other than short pieces, I haven't written much. I also have health issues that take an inordinate amount of time, but I'll see what I can do. Do you have specifics in mind?
- Making judgements about people who espouse (roughly) social democratic goals (even if they sound radical) is fraught. Perhaps Naomi and Avi can be influenced to be more radical. (A note about Naomi's vision of possibilities: In "No Is Not Enough" she wrote that an increase in taxes on the rich and corporations would be sufficient to solve the climate crisis.) When I was active in the union, judging who might be an ally was a constant question. In general, I ask myself, aside from policies (which can be consistently applied from above or require so much knowledge that a specialist is required) whether they have a class consciousness and whether they would encourage engagement. So, it isn't so much "bad intentions" as a lack of faith in working class people's capacities. However, there's way too much similarity between bosses' lack of faith and social democrats' lack of faith for me to just assume the "good guys" are making a mistake. Feels too much the same to me.
- SCNCC, although I follow it, seems to have people from a wide range of politics. On the whole, much of the technical discussion is either over my head or coming from a sense that good policies can create change whereas my approach is that people make change. I know that both are required. The question is the dynamic.

My turn to make supper. Gotta go,
Larry
 
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