Day 332: Insufficient Interpellation

As it turns out, there does not seem to be a sufficient amount of capitalist indoctrination and propaganda present in the European education system. Read this article (“Europe’s Philosophy of Failure”) to find out why and what the consequences of this terrifying status quo are/may be in the future.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4095&page=0

BTW: I found the link to this article on the website of The Chronicle of Higher Education (some of you may appreciate the irony here).

I also quickly want to urge people who are interested in environmental issues and environmental policy to visit Climate Debate Daily, a relatively new and well-organized site (that is also “fair and balanced”–he, he). You can find the link to it listed in my blogroll.

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Day 212: Minimalism

 Today is a big writing day again. Hence, this post will be short, Hemingway-esque in style, even. Minimalism is good. Especially environmentally speaking. Below a nice ad campaign. BTW: you have been cool-hunted.

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Day 208: Global Warming, DeVito and Beer

After Hollywood has successfully turned an important discussion (global warming) that required actual radical political changes, which needed to be founded upon ideological changes, into a mere fad that will most likely not lead to permanent transformations but will be forgotten by most in about a year or two (“anti-global warming was sooo 2006/07”–maybe it will come back like the 1960s concern with peace and the social bond that was turned into the Love Parade and its connected fashion industry), I am still hopeful when I see that serious (grassroots) organizations/campaigns still fight the good fight and try to popularize the discussion in good, i.e. effective (i.e. smarter than DiCaprio’s latest sorry attempt), ways. Here a Sierra Club program that really spoke to me: picking “green beer:” http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=PfW6p91DWUdxQQf5-2tSAg

Oh, and the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelpha (which, I must admit, has been amusing me to no end–really a form of comedy I appreciate–sorry!) worked with the Sierra Club as well. Here the ad: http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/media/2007/alwayssunny.jpg

The link to the Sierra Club homepage can be found in my blogroll–they do a lot of really great stuff. Also: subscribe to the “Daily Ray of Hope” service. Good thing to wake up to.

Day 192: Global Warming Means More Naked People to Look at

This or something else seems to be the message of Spencer Tunick’s latest “installation,” in which 600 people stripped naked on the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland. The event was supported by Greenpeace and attempted to call attention to the drastic effects of global warming (as measured by the dramatic rate at which the glacier has been melting) and argue for the necessity of quick and significant political responses to this problem. While I certainly agree with the argument here, I am somewhat hesitant to classify this as art (there are some interesting nude “installations” Tunick has done before, yet this recent one, as so many other projects of his, does not quite fall into that category). I am simply not sure whether this fulfills the criteria of political art and would therefore categorize this more as part of a wave of opportunism that attaches itself to the global warming bandwagon, reducing much discourse about this problem to self-serving, empty gestures. So, while I have the feeling that this is not the real thing, it also makes me wonder what true political art addressing the global warming problem might look like. It’s still early in the day for me and I do not yet have a convincing idea. Maybe some coffee will help. Any ideas? The problem Tunick addresses is an important one: slow political change that is willing to make radical changes in order to counter the effects of global warming. Yet, I doubt that his recent project is a very persuasive argument, which, after all, is one of the main characteristics of political art. I am just rambling at this point and I’ll think more about it and maybe offer something of more substance (after all, there is still the question of what counts as truly progressive political art these days anyway and it is hard enough to find art that even displays the ability to imagine the future in any progressive way at all, let alone formulate a possible progressive political strategy–it seems as though the utopian impulse has died and the apocalyptic depiction of scary scenarios is the best we can do–but as we all know this does not count as true Hegelian negativity–it’s purely negative without a dialectical utopian impulse that generates progressive ideas for the future).

In any case, I’ll come back to this and in the meantime you can read more about Tunick’s recent work and see the glacier pictures/videos here.

Day 55: The Politics of Ecology

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As indicated in an earlier post, the debate about global warming is increasingly being reduced to a politikum. Today the first half of the United Nations’ Report on Global Warming was published. It paints an obviously bleak picture for our future, which no sane scientist honestly contradicts any more at this point (as the report indicates, there are no reports in any respected scientific journals that contradict the findings outlined in the report). But not only do we have to face a future in which we have to deal with the fact of global warming and the potential for rapid climate change, necessitating the debate about our possibilities for progressively “terraforming” our planet. We also witness the return of quite traditional political problems, such as a trend that has been referred to as “ecological colonialism,” describing the fact that the nations that are the major producers of greenhouse gases etc. are the nations that are the least affected by climate change. The nations bearing the brunt are those in South America and the nations in the equatorial region of Africa (those who ironically produce the least amount of greenhouse gases), the very nations that had to face the horrors of slave trade and colonialism.

However, we are finding ourselves in a political climate that makes it quite difficult to address these vital questions, indicating the degree to which Kim Stanley Robinson may be right when he suggests that making moves toward ecological responsibility is inextricably linked to issues of social justice. We are not merely facing the opposition of the conservative right as represented, e.g., by Christopher Horner. The argument of the right is that arguments for progressive ecological action are just camouflage suits that disguise lefty arguments calling for economic regulation (hence arguing that today’s ecologist is just yesterday’s communist in different clothing). Seemingly opposed to this we also face resistance from the left. Last weekend Alexander Cockburn (in an interview on C-SPAN) claimed that he is weary of the ecological argument, as he believes that it mainly operates within the context of the lobbying efforts for nuclear energy. In between all this (well, not really in between–more as the always scary mixture of both) we find the libertarians–the Ayn Randians of the Cato Institute etc. Last week’s NY Times Book Report contained the following section:

“Libertarianism has now arrived at an interesting juncture. The moment for its grandest ambitions seems to have passed. President Bush is no longer talking about privatizing Social Security, and his free-market approach to rebulding Iraq has proven disastrous. The libertarians at the  Cato Institute, meanwhile, are struggling to persuade people that global warming–the archetypal free-market failure–is a hoax. Yet in an irony worthy of Rand’s collective, the solution to climate change will probably have a libertarian tinge. The global-warming debate is coalescing around a “cap and trade” solution in which energy-efficient companies would be rewarded by the market. In fact, across a range of major issues–energy policy, health care, retirement savings–a hybrid form of laissez-faire capitalism and collectivism seems to be ascendant. The market will be allowed to work its efficient magic, but government will step in to correct the market’s failures. “Libertarian paternalism” is the name two University of Chicago professors, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, have devised for one version of this philosophy.”

The politically troubling tendency for me is here the limited choice we have: namely one between a dialogue that turns out to be paralyzing when it comes to actual action, and another discussion that is in itself logically colonized by capitalism, as it is hegemonically occupied by capitalist logic in its attempt to find answers to the problem. Once again, we are attempting to find answers to a problem capitalism has caused (see the ecological colonialism of African countries) within capitalism itself. This should at the very least suggest (to everyone with a small investment in logical thinking) that we are tragically limiting ourselves in our attempts to fix an important problem by remaining defiant when it comes to realizing that free-market capitalism is indeed proven empirically catastrophic when it comes to the one thing capitalist production needs as its basis: the reproduction of the conditions of production. It in fact has proven that it is unable to self-regulate the very destruction of these conditions of production, instead progressively robbing itself of its own basis: a functional, healthy, stable environment. How, then, can someone like Cockburn rightly slam Thomas Friedman’s utopist and out of touch with reality free-market arguments that even the most uninformed reader must recognize as ridiculously ignorant, while himself ignoring the connection between free-market ideology and ecological exploitation and destruction, instead reducing it to a localized argument about lobbying? What is it really that we can do to make a move toward progressively terraforming our earth? It cannot, as people suggest, begin with “sustainable development” (as this leaves the destructive free-market ideology intact). It must instead begin with changing our political climate–potentially, an ecological revolution will bring about the needed revolution moving toward social justice to which it is logically connected as suggested by Robinson. Can ecological political revolutions thus be a better way to logically mobilize people for political change, freeing progressive political action from the cobwebs of outdated and too often uninformed left orthodoxy and fragmenting dogmatism. Can we develop a progressive ecological left that does not have to carry the left’s historical stigma in the US, hence be appealing to a broader basis of the populace?