Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Contrarian thought and the true discourse

I was first struck by still more “studies” and “models” that suggest we’ve only begun to tap into the Earth’s reserves of finite resources, and all that remains is to find still more technologically innovative means of extracting them. As much as we talked about models on Tuesday, it was rather dismaying to read more comments of a “if you’d just believe my model” tint. The back and forth about who is “actually” being technocratic is no surprise, however. Computers and models are fine until they don’t show the desired outcome: then they must be attacked as unreliable, according to the thinking presented in the article.
As for the “natural limits” that the Marxists worried about, I fear that there is not sufficient motivation to most accurately predict those limits. I feel that certain “natural limits” will have to be broken, with disastrous consequences, for meaningful action to take place. This isn’t to say all thresholds will be crossed, but I think that most people in the US and the G77 need something tangible. I was intrigued by Bookchin’s distinction between LTG’s treatment of mutually exclusive natural and social scarcity. I couldn’t agree more that “the debilitating lifestyles that accompany a sedentary, congested, stressful, urbanized world” is an area that is largely ignored in the greater debate. The emergence of text-messaging as the preferred form of communication among young people will, I believe, lead to even more difficulty in establishing any type of meaningful consensus, as face-to-face debate and negotiation become “icky” or “scary”.

While it’s easy in hindsight to slam the Reagan/Thatcher agenda (and, please do, slam away), it is important to mention that Keynsian economics had slowed economic growth and opened the door for the first major energy crisis. That the second crisis, just last year, preceded current economic crisis is another example of the interconnectedness of these issues. While Americans screamed “yahoo!” at tumbling gas prices, they didn’t think twice that this was due to the fact that most people in the G77 were no longer able to buy it at all due to the screeching halt of their economies.

The idea that “Pat Robertson in the Christian Coalition started to view environmentalists at [sic] the evil priests of a new paganism” is not as surprising as it first sounds, given the green movement’s association (willing or not) with extreme-Leftism. Further, the assertion of anti-environmentalism as being steeped in racism lends support to this association with the extreme-Right. The notion that environmentalists are all wealthy, trust-fund babies with a hunger for granola and a zeal for saving seals ignores the fact that the people most often faced with REAL and TANGIBLE environmental problems in the PRESENT are poor and non-white. In all, the contrarian movement has had all the signs of a Right-wing movement: incredible focus, determination and the resources to back these up.

While it’s fine to say that environmentalism isn’t a “Right or Left” ideological battle, it sure sounds that way to most Americans. My hope is that the PETA vegans and the sportsmen groups can stop trashing each other long enough to realize that they share a LOT of goals.

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