Some other principles of a socialist cllimate politics

Everyone, this is in response to Matthew Huber's "Five Principles of a Socialist Climate Politics." It's a good piece but it seems to be asking for a bit more. At any rate, the intro seems to mix up "socialism" with "democratic socialism," a nice phrase for "let's buy off the working class more effectively." (Sure, single-payer would be far better than what we have here in the US, which is a financially-constructed set of excuses not to provide effective medical care except at the prior cost of $1500 ambulance rides. It's not quite actual socialism though.) Here in my response I'd like to suggest a discussion of the real thing.

At any rate, we really need something stronger than the vast desert of alternatives that America has become. Far too much of America still wants to say, "worried about climate politics? Buy a Tesla and shut up. We like mass suicide just the way it is, and if we drag the kids into it it's none of your business." You'd hope that over 70,000 years of modern humanity we'd have gotten this far, from the harsh lives of the Stone Age people, through the agricultural empires with their god-kings, through capitalist domination and two world wars, to the Golden Age of Capitalism (1948-1971), to arrive at something more than that sort of petty crap. So I'm going to propose, here, five principles of a socialist climate politics that could add to the good things Huber has proposed.

1) Climate change is a problem of capital's rule. Huber's suggestion that we democratize production is a wonderful first start. Let's keep in mind, though, that unless we are actually in charge we can still be democratic slaves to capital. The other end of it is that fossil fuel reserves constitute "value" which capital is not going to renounce. So we have to renounce it for them, by nationalizing fossil fuel reserves.

2) Give everyone the means of decarbonizing. Make sure the working class turns in its fossil-burning cars of course, but give everyone electric cars running on solar panels. Have the government create a car company to make the cars. It can be run co-operatively.

3) Climate knowledge needs to be social knowledge as well. Staving off climate death means knowing how to create a better society.

4) Let's use eminent domain to save the planet. Tax the rich? Let's take their fossil fuel death contracts away from them.

5) Climate change requires planetary ethnogenesis. The history of "foreign policy" has shown that what really brings people together are the founding myths of their beginnings as "a people" -- what Kees van der Pijl calls "ethnogenesis." Well, we're the people of the world, and we identify with an Earth that is not Venus. That's a start.

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2) Rather than "give everyone electric cars running on solar panels", I think first expanding public transport is more and better, ecologically. Beyond cars... electric buses and trains? lol I had an e-bike but the lead acid batteries went dead, so I took the motor off and just pedal now. My boney fingers ache like hell, that's the system.

Look at the freeways in California, exchanging ICE (internal combustion engine) for electric doesn't get us very far, very fast. Where will the lithium be mined? NV doesn't have enough, but Afghanistan does. fuck that shit save carbon stay small stay home

Thanks for this essay, and the space to confront the future. Doesn't the Military use half of all oil produced? Stop these fucking wars. And another thing! Counting headlines are click bait, why stop at five principles of socialist climate politics? f_cksticks unite!

As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (now famously) said on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert,

Now! Just kill me now! /granny
lol so much for self-censorship. heh

opinion peace

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@eyo Why stop at 5, I would also like to see the over consumption of meat and its effect on the climate addressed, Especially the meat from factory farms and slaughter houses. There are enough studies and evidence out there that prove it is a significant contributor to climate change and destruction of the planet. Not to mention the way these animals are brutally slaughtered. I guess its much easier to give up a car than a steak for most people.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@eyo Or at least veggie oil cars. I can't use public transportation to mulch people's yards after ripping their lawns out, and I can't use public transportation to scoot my Mom to the hospital if she hits her head on something. The infrastructure isn't built for it, and if we were to build a new infrastructure to make the cars obsolete we'd need cars anyway. How about an electric or veggie oil car library, where you check them out and return them?

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"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can’t really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot

@Cassiodorus thanks, I used to dream how quiet the commute would be, if only we all drove electrics. Then people started getting run over because cars were "too quiet", and then the neighbor's Lexus started making some strange "futuristic" warning chime, in addition to the tires rolling. meh i say meh "As California goess... meh."

what ever happened to paying attention? lol don't answer /space musk

peace

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polkageist's picture

@Cassiodorus
I'm 82 and can remember when public transportation was ubiquitous. We used ambulances if we had to get to the hospital quickly - just like now. Detroit had a massive propaganda program to replace streetcars with busses. Towns councils and mayors were sold a bill of goods and most of them bought it. When you sit down and itemize what your car costs you to run, including insurance, you will find that you can buy lots of cab and bus rides for what you spend on a car and have money left over. Plus you won't have to worry about maintenance or breakdowns.

If you live in the country, you will need some sort of transport. We lived outside of town and I can remember my Mom and me trekking a half mile to the local bus stop to go to town. Private cars and trucks are needed in rural areas. In town we didn't need a car. I see no reason for private cars in cities once public transport is adequate.

We need to look back before we look ahead. Just because we haven't done something before or haven't done it for some time doesn't mean we can't do it. Trolleys, trains, and electric busses are so much better than private cars or gas engine busses for cost, stress reduction, and pollution control. Take a look at Europe or Asia to see what can be done. I detest having to take a car for every errand. The town I live in has cut back bus routes for economy at the same time it keeps "improving" its streets. We are not too bright and public transport is one of the areas in which we prove it.

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Greed is not a virtue.
Socialism: the radical idea of sharing.

Cassiodorus's picture

@polkageist @polkageist The City of Anytown, USA has awarded your collective a huge chunk of vacant land, to be replaced by environmentally-appropriate landscaping and a community garden which will feed residents of Anytown amidst high unemployment rates and high participation in the gig economy despite the general popularity of socialism among Anytown residents. Nobody in your collective has anything in the way of transportation besides a mass transit pass.

Are you all planning to jump on the trains with big bags of compost? When did you say you were going to finish this project? Or were you planning to see me, and borrow my veggie-oil-powered pickup truck?

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"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can’t really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot

@Cassiodorus I'm not polkageist but why would Anytown USA not make their own dirt using the permaculture approach, hypothetically speaking? Thanks.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@eyo Okay so what do you think that means?

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"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can’t really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot

Cassiodorus's picture

@eyo "environmentally-appropriate landscaping" in scare-quotes? Do you think that environmentally-appropriate landscaping is somehow opposed to permaculture?

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"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can’t really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot

@Cassiodorus sometimes I skip the big block quote for short phrases. I didn't mean to offend you, just asking the question. Where I live, we had to bring table scraps and stuff to make compost for the community garden, no external dirt allowed. They had a lot of rules based on permaculture concepts. The landscaping industry may have a couple few good eggs, but on the whole they are stupid evil, just like Big ag.. That's my observation.

Thanks, I like talking about the earth and how we are treating it.

peace

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Cassiodorus's picture

@eyo for "using vehicles in permaculture" revealed this website:

https://permacultureprinciples.com/post/electric-car-retrofit/

The idea behind the scenario was to encourage readers to look for a way to "retrofit" their existing communities to conform to a better version of urban reality over a time-frame in which we will all be screwed by climate change in rather short order.

So, yeah, we'll need vehicles, specifically pickup trucks. Urban landscaping has impoverished life in cities, and it would be nice if the cities victimized by this same urban landscaping could be made to produce food in rather short order. Doing this will in many instances mean bringing resources to places which don't have resources, not just "making do" with the imposed resource poverty of far too many urban landscapes.

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"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can’t really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot

polkageist's picture

@Cassiodorus
I have noticed that we generally have a habit of assuming we will go on doing things as they are now done. That view limits us.

It's really quite simple to arrange to hire a man with a truck who is in the business of small haulage. It could be you, Cassiodorus, and your veggie oil truck. If enough of the people who are participating in your hypothetical garden join in, the cost would be small per capita. What Americans seem to forget is that if not everyone owns a vehicle, then alternatives will present themselves just as they did when I was a boy. Generally those alternatives are cheaper overall for people and for the environment.

As I said, my views are based on my experience back in the forties and fifties. My Dad was a rigger and went into the heavy machinery moving business after the War when I was 11 or 12. I would go with him if there was no school and run the winch. Literally a man and a boy would move very large printing presses, machine tools, and sawmill equipment. On the weekends we would help neighbors with dump runs, etc., in the pickup. I would be happy to hire your veggie oil truck if we ever have the sense to dump automobiles.

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Greed is not a virtue.
Socialism: the radical idea of sharing.

Cassiodorus's picture

@polkageist

It's really quite simple to arrange to hire a man with a truck who is in the business of small haulage.

That would be private enterprise, which falls under:

assuming we will go on doing things as they are now done.

Imagination is good though!

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"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can’t really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot

lotlizard's picture

@polkageist  
to public transport between the region around Frankfurt am Main, formerly West Germany, where I used to live, and the region around Dresden in former East Germany, where I live now.

The one approach assumes that the people who count most are going to have cars.

The other approach still treats a car as a relative luxury that most people didn’t have before, and shouldn’t be forced to have now.

Of course the latter provides better and cheaper service, and more convenient timetables and routes.

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magiamma's picture

@eyo
No one knows for sure, but...

H. Patricia Hynes, a former professor of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health, now directs the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice. She has kindly given permission for Climate & Capitalism to repost these articles, which were originally published in Truthout in 2011.

Climate and Capitalism February 8, 2015

By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy … Yet, the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements … Any talk of climate change which does not include the military is nothing but hot air, according to Sara Flounders.

Just how much petroleum the Pentagon consumes is one of the best-kept secrets in government. More likely, observes Barry Sanders, no one in DoD knows precisely. His unremitting effort to ferret out the numbers is one of the most thorough to date. Sanders begins with figures given by the Defense Energy Support Center for annual oil procurement for all branches of the military. He then combines three other non-reported military oil consumption factors: an estimate of “free oil” supplied overseas (of which Kuwait was the largest supplier for the 2003 Iraq war), an estimate of oil used by private military contractors and military-leased vehicles and an estimate of the amount of bunker fuel used by naval vessels. By his calculation, the US military consumes as much as one million barrels of oil per day and contributes 5 percent of current global warming emissions. Keep in mind that the military has 1.4 million active duty people, or .0002 percent of the world’s population, generating 5 percent of climate pollution.

e.g.

The US Air Force (USAF) is the single largest consumer of jet fuel in the world. Fathom, if you can, the astronomical fuel usage of USAF fighter planes: the F-4 Phantom Fighter burns more than 1,600 gallons of jet fuel per hour and peaks at 14,400 gallons per hour at supersonic speeds. The B-52 Stratocruiser, with eight jet engines, guzzles 500 gallons per minute; ten minutes of flight uses as much fuel as the average driver does in one year of driving! A quarter of the world’s jet fuel feeds the USAF fleet of flying killing machines; in 2006, they consumed as much fuel as US planes did during the Second World War (1941-1945) — an astounding 2.6 billion gallons.

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation
http://hotair.magiamma.com/

Bisbonian's picture

@magiamma

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

system, to, as Willie Brown once said, get working people out of their cars and to their jobs combined with the option of short term leasing of electric personal vehicles. For that, NV might have enough lithium. Emergency vehicles, fire and ambulances, might still need to be powered with gasoline, but we don't need to organize the entire society and country around the internal combustion engine.

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Nastarana

In order to halt and reverse global warming the entire developed world needs to shrink it's footprint to be much smaller than even the best Euro countries. I've seen it done in remote villages, and their quality of life wasn't much different. Unfortunately we all want transportation, and "stuff". Could you live life within 25 miles? Spend a lot of time farming? People can't even give up personal transportation, or flying, or imported everything. Not very hopeful. Buying hemp tote bags won't achieve what we need to do. As I type I'm eating a bowl of ought, made with flank steak from an animal with 1/50th the carbon foot print of beef, yet I'm sure most progressives consider the efforts involved in procuring this meat something to end, better to eat tofu from soy grown on massive farms with petro produced fertilizer. Nope, I'm a climate cynic, I see no difference between factions in the US when it comes to carbon and global warming.

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Hawkfish's picture

I've seen this a few times and it seems to elide the problem of solar power density. (I'm now going to get pedantic and apologize if I misunderstood you but I've seen this assumption for real in other places.)

Where I live in Seattle, insolation averages at best 4.0kWH/m^2 per day. My 2012 Nissan Leaf consumes about 0.2 kWh/mile so I could get a range of 20 miles/day on a m^2 solar panel array running at 100% efficiency. The current world record in a lab is 46%, most mass produced panels are only 20% and the theoretical limit is about 86%.

So while giving everyone an ev would be plausible, expecting everyone to generate their own solar power in an urban environment is simply not feasible, so we need utility scale solar for cities. Utilities are a fine socialist opportunity for cities (Seattle City Light is an example) but just handing out solar panels is not the right approach.

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We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

Cassiodorus's picture

@Hawkfish should go a long ways, and the Mojave Desert nearly always has sunny days.

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"The Democratic Party is better than the Republican Party in the way that manslaughter is slightly better than murder: It might seem like a lesser crime, but the victim can’t really tell the difference." -- Michael Harriot

Bisbonian's picture

@Cassiodorus , in the Mojave desert? Square miles of solar panels, bulldozed flat and cleared of any vegetation, a state further ensured by applications of herbicide. Then the transmission towers and cables to get the power to the cities.... I live in a former copper mining community (former because the copper ran out, at least in economically viable amounts). All copper mining has moved to places with less environmental control than we have even here in the US, because copper mining is horribly destructive to the landscape, smelting and refining it is noxious to the atmosphere (in the mid 70's, our smelter was shut down because it was proven to be causing much of the "acid rain" problems in the western United States. Some of the activists involved still live here Smile .), and the wasteland left behind is pretty much toxic, forever. I live over a small mountain divide, away from town, so we can grow non-toxic food.

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

Hawkfish's picture

Seattle’s air quality index just hit 160 thanks to fires in BC and the cascades. Predictions are that it will be over 200 by tomorrow morning- which is high enough to cause problems for healthy people.

TL;DR: The whole North American West is either on fire or breathing the result.

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We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

Deja's picture

@Hawkfish

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"The gatekeepers must change."
Prince

Hawkfish's picture

@Deja

I'm worried about people like our friend with emphysema. Thankfully I work up and the AQI was only 88 but the forecast is not good. Basically most of BC is on fire. And the forecast for this afternoon is equally grim.

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We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away