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The Green New Deal's Magical Realism

This is a thoughtful article by Sean Sweeney, that says in part:

"But the changes introduced do very little to blunt the GND’s radical edge. As noted in the Fall 2018 edition of this column, those who call for ending fossil fuel use and for “100% renewable energy” in barely a decade often appear unaware of the serious technical obstacles to either of these scenarios—obstacles that become Jupiter-sized when projected against such a stringent 10-year time frame."

The Green New Deal's Magical Realism | New Labor Forum

Ten years is an incredibly short period of time to change entire systems. Imagine scraping every gas and diesel powered new car and truck rolling off assembly lines today in the next ten years. We can no longer depend on just transforming industry and letting it trickle down. Every person must play an active role in the radical transformation that is necessary.

In ten years I imagine today's proposals for a Green New Deal will seem quite modest and reasonable. Our last chance for an orderly transition is now.

David J

It is fascinating how the latest IPCC report detailing the narrow window to reduce emissions forced such a big change in the conversation. The harshness of that ticking clock was a reality check that did even more than Klein's book to jolt the system. Every lost day changes the equation, making it that much more expensive and difficult to make the transition. Many more people understand that the "realistic" action needed to happen 20 years ago, now it is an emergency.

But it is also is forcing Capital to make certain "adjustments"; for instance Glen Corp. mining just put a cap on coal production at 150 million metric tons, making it sound "green" while assuring others in the sector (Caterpillar, etc..) continued profits are secure.

Everyone is pinning hopes on Bernie and AOC but I don't believe the US system is capable of moving far enough fast enough without disruption beyond the "political revolution".
I saw a tweet from Rep Ilham Omar congratulating the governor of Minnesota for pledging to go 100% renewable by 2050. Unfortunately, as you say, pledges for a 30 year timetable are 20 years too late. These schemes always seemed funny to me anyway. Who ever gets held accountable for what they pledged 30 years ago in politics? We'll be making big progress if we can hold politicians to what they pledged 30 weeks or even 30 days ago!

I saw billboards recently advertising how some SUV is bigger than ever! Advertising like this is going to warp the desires of an entire generation for decades to come. The fact that this change must happen in our lifetimes will require a deep cultural revolution.


Andrew, you wrote: "Advertising like this is going to warp the desires of an entire generation for decades to come." Of course you are correct. But it is the behavior of the affluent more than advertising -- buying huge cars, flights to Bali, 4,000 sq. ft. houses, etc. that shapes the aspirations of the rest of us. Money must be taken from the affluent. NOT through taxes but directly at the employer by cutting the work week, raising pay, raising the share of labor in total output and resetting our aspirations in line with the society we hope to create. The 32 hour week is achievable and the 15 hour week can soon follow.

David J

I agree Gene, the nature of work and the needed transformation in that sphere are largely missing in the discussion. Right now the Red/ Blue/ Green dialogue is struggling over the "just transition" language and the realization by labor that there world must change as well; fewer hours, more liesure, less stress and anxiety is the vision we must sell but workers steeped in the capitalist ideology will require patience and care.