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One, Two, … Many Green New Deals: An Ecosocialist Roundtable

Brad H

The following is a just published "roundtable discussion" by a number of ecosocialists active with SCNCC on the Green New Deal. Would appreciate any reaction to the article in your comments below....

One, Two, … Many Green New Deals: An Ecosocialist Roundtable

There was a saying in the Green Party – perhaps I made it up: “Two Greens, three opinions.” Ecosocialists, perhaps, tend to be slightly more in agreement with a few basic principles, or “Points of Unity.” Yet there are a number of ecosocialist responses to the Green New Deal, converging for the most part around the recognition that though it is not the Green New Deal most of us would prefer, it is the opportunity to move the paralysis of the climate change movement very far in the right – left – direction that our times so desperately need.

This is an essay in six voices, from long-time activists who participate in the North American ecosocialist network System Change Not Climate Change. Each challenged to make their point in 500 words or less, we intend this as a constructive contribution to the wonderful storm of discussion that the Green New Deal has opened up, and we welcome your comments on the essay below, as well as in the discussion space of SCNCC!

read full article: One, Two, … Many Green New Deals: An Ecosocialist Roundtable

Bill Henderson

New Member
I was going to comment while posting this article from rabble:

How would a Canadian Green New Deal work?
Hannah Muhajarine | The idea of a Green New Deal is championed by grassroots movements on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border. Much of the policy framework has already been outlined. All we need is political will.

And I was thinking about how to talk about ideologies on both the left and right getting in the way of urgently needed mitigation.

There is no question that the foremost impediment to effective mitigation over the past at least three decades has been ideology from the right, from neolibs who insist that mitigation must not negatively impact the economy, that mitigation must be market-based using only instruments like carbon pricing or offsets that work in markets. For at least three decades this ideology and it's supporters have hamstrung any attempts to reduce emissions and it is abundantly clear - if you aren't an ideologue, in society-wide denial or braindead - that this allowed slow transition from a fossil economy to a post-carbon economy is far too slow and will not happen in time to even withstand linear climate change let alone Hothouse Earth.

In fact, if you know the science and take climate seriously, it is ridiculously absurd at this late hour to continue to argue for carbon price aided decarbonization as still advocated by Trudeau or Obama or Merkle etc. Climate is now an existential emergency; it is life and death, an emergency and yet governmental action of a scale and intervention needed is not even allowed to be debated. How stuck in ideology is this!!!

Conversely the Green New Deal is a very hopeful development - this planning recognizes the need for government intervention, for a grand legislative agenda that rejects trying to shoehorn climate mitigation into smaller government, markets and the economy BAU

But as I've tried to point out initial GND formulations have stayed stuck in partisan politics which greatly limit effectiveness and within the neolib fabricated conception of decarbonization as just building renewable capacity. I'm also worried that ideologues on the left are perversely more concerned with social justice than with climate change and that the war they grew up in against 'capitalism' blinds them to what is needed to effectively mitigate climate at this late hour. I see the system change needed as far more than just building new renewable capacity: the neolib ideology and the inequality and undemocratic capture of government must be rolled back along with the progression of a global 'stuff' economy. The post-carbon economy created by successfully regulating fossil fuels so as to get to zero emissions isn't just the present economy run on green fuel. IMHO. And any grand legislative agenda - whether GND or wartime-style mobilization - can and should roll back inequality and open up opportunity as part of this much faster transition.

But it is equally absurd to stay within a leftist ideology if climate is this existential emergency, if climate is life or death, and your ideology keeps you focused upon social justice so that you don't recognize that fully functioning markets are integral to effective mitigation.

Ms. Muhajarine's op-ed is IMHO too much the left ideology and not nearly enough the pragmatic concern with effective mitigation. But Brad, John, et al - and esp Carol Dansereau - in their op-ed give me hope. The left isn't monolithic and to their great credit they have faith in deliberation and 'intellectual movement'. This article itself represents a deep and thoughtful debate as a way of trying to get to that GND that could be effective mitigation in the country that must lead or there is no hope.

I can quote Ms. Dansereau:

This is it. Either we demand what we actually need and build an in-the-streets movement to win that, or we kiss our future goodbye. The Green New Deal will be either our final illusion or a gateway to survival.

What we actually need. Certain things need to happen asap:

  1. Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. Nothing else matters if we don’t turn the spigot off.
  2. We must implement a comprehensive plan including:

  • Vast deployment of renewables
  • Huge reductions in military activities
  • A radical revamp of agriculture
  • Ending the production of unneeded products and our reliance on the growth of these as a measure of economic health
From my perspective I couldn't say it better. I don't agree with her about nationalizing industries, etc but hopefully in further articulations proponents will realize that when we have a regulated managed decline of fossil production we will need a fully functioning market with movers and shakers making money to build renewable capacity fast enough to keep from collapse. At least we have people out of denial enough to see the serious degree of climate danger and the need for government to plan and mobilize a solution. Now if we could just get bi-partisan agreement that climate is an emergency requiring urgent action.