The Earth vs The American Dream. At least one of them must go.

The End of The American Dream

My current vehicle has hit the end of the line. The clutch and throw out bearing expired in a puff of foul smoke. This is the 5th time I have had this happen. It’s a 1998 Subaru and needs other work as well. It served me will taking me up and down I95 and around central Fl. but it’s time to let it go. The replacement will be of a similar sort. Newer but not new. I do not require a brand new car as I do not drive that much, but do need to on occasion.

As the saying goes we are living in interesting times. What Morris Berman calls the Waning of the Modern Ages. Like The Waning of the Middle Ages described by Dutch historian Johan Huizinga and the collapse of the Roman Empire as explained by Joseph Tainter in his “The Collapse of Complex Societies” our modern capitalistic society is coming apart. And as Morris Berman says

….like our own age, not much fun to live through. One reason for this is that the world is literally perched over an abyss. What lies ahead is largely unknown, and to have to hover over an abyss for a long time is, to put it colloquially, a bit of a drag. The same thing was true at the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire as well, on the ruins of which the feudal system slowly arose.

The right knows this. The right knows that by admitting that our current free market capitalistic system is the direct cause of climate change and global warming is the death kneel of this system.

But the Right is not fooled: it sees Green as a Trojan horse for Red, the attempt “to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism.” It believes—correctly—that the politics of global warming is inevitably an attack on the American Dream, on the whole capitalist structure. Thus Larry Bell, in Climate of Corruption, argues that environmental politics is essentially about “transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth distribution”; and British writer James Delinpole notes that “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, [and] regulation.”

That’s right. That Green is the new Red and that the left is out to torpedo the American Dream and Free Market capitalism. And they are absolutely correct or should be because that is exactly what needs to happen.

But no…the left insists that we can have a kinder, gentler, more economically sound version of the American dream. All we need to do is to trade in our gas guzzling SUV for a Prius, replace those old incandescent bulbs with florescent or LEDs , install some solar panels and all will be fine.

IN A PIG’S EYE !

As Naomi Klein says in a piece from the November Issue of Nation:

Here is where the Heartlanders have good reason to be afraid: arriving at these new systems is going to require shredding the free-market ideology that has dominated the global economy for more than three decades. What follows is a quick-and-dirty look at what a serious climate agenda would mean in the following six arenas: public infrastructure, economic planning, corporate regulation, international trade, consumption and taxation. For hard-right ideologues like those gathered at the Heartland conference, the results are nothing short of intellectually cataclysmic.

Capitalism as we know it requires continued growth and expansion otherwise it collapses. And for the planet to survive this is what needs to happen. Klein lists 6 changes that need to be made and as Morris Berman says the end of capitalism itself.

And, I would add, the end of the arc of capitalism referred to earlier. It’s going to be (is) a colossal fight, not only because the powers that be want to hang on to their power, but because the arc and all its ramifications have given their class Meaning with a capital M for 500+ years. This is what the Occupy Wall Street protesters—if there are any left at this point; I’m not sure—need to tell the 1%: Your lives are a mistake. This is what “a new civilizational paradigm” finally means. It also has to be said that almost everyone in the United States, not just the upper 1%, buys into this.

This is the problem that we face. That as John Steinbeck observed years before, the poor and even not so poor see themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” and even the OWS movement and those that support it want to resurrect a more just and kind American Dream, which really cannot be.

This will not be easy, in fact it will be hard and messy and there likely will be sever fighting for as Berman observes this class system of free market ideals is the one and only thing that gives meaning to the lives of those on the right and more and a few on the left. But anything else will not suffice and likely be abused as well.

We know the answers already. The corporate quest for scarce resources will become more rapacious, more violent. Arable land in Africa will continue to be grabbed to provide food and fuel to wealthier nations. Drought and famine will continue to be used as a pretext to push genetically modified seeds, driving farmers further into debt. We will attempt to transcend peak oil and gas by using increasingly risky technologies to extract the last drops, turning ever larger swaths of our globe into sacrifice zones. We will fortress our borders and intervene in foreign conflicts over resources, or start those conflicts ourselves. “Free-market climate solutions,” as they are called, will be a magnet for speculation, fraud and crony capitalism, as we are already seeing with carbon trading and the use of forests as carbon offsets. And as climate change begins to affect not just the poor but the wealthy as well, we will increasingly look for techno-fixes to turn down the temperature, with massive and unknowable risks.

As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed. And it will only get colder, as theories of racial superiority, barely under the surface in parts of the denial movement, make a raging comeback. These theories are not optional: they are necessary to justify the hardening of hearts to the largely blameless victims of climate change in the global South, and in predominately African-American cities like New Orleans. – Naomi Klien

This is the fight we face and we MUST face it or condemn ourselves and those after to a world becoming increasingly uninhabitable.

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