This is one of those posts where I need to get my disclaimers in first. Buckle up.
* I do NOT believe that the kind of thinking and doing that got us into this mess is going to get us out. Asking our lords and masters to be wiser, kinder and greener has not worked these last twenty (well, forty) years, and there’s zero reason to think that will change.
* I have been on the march/protest/camp, bought the T-shirt AND the badly written newspaper. I’m no bystander.
* I do NOT just criticise and abuse. I offer constructive and implementable suggestions, and when in a position to do so, I implement those ideas. Some work, some don’t. I am trying to free myself from the smugosphere, and have a problem-solution ratio that actually makes sense.
Here endeth today’s disclaimers. Now, what the FUCK do Socialist Alternative/Alliance/Resistance (I’ve forgotten the difference, if I ever knew) think they are doing? They held a meeting (without encouraging people to meet – it was an ego-foddering) on Saturday ‘about’ (ha ha) the “Political Solutions to the Climate Crisis.” Except, of course, it wasn’t…
After one of the limpest introductions I’ve ever endured, we heard from a speaker who – well let’s start on the positive – he was at least able to point out that ignoring the ecological madness of the Soviet Union is a short cut to being laughed at.
But he – ironically – ascribed the phrase ‘metabolic rift’ to Marx (he never used the words). He asserted that half the food produced is wasted simply because of the profit motive (er, it’s a bit more complicated than that!) and made other factual howlers. (And he conflated capitalism and industrialism, but that’s a geek point). Mercifully, he stopped after about 35 minutes, and, to be fair to him, he listened to questions, answered succinctly-ish and wasn’t afraid to just simply disagree with people, which he did with far more politeness than I am in writing this…
BUT when I asked what advice he would give the liberals/anarchists/trotsykists of five years ago, he had nothing.
Merely pointing out that the ‘leadership’ of the ‘climate movement’ is happening in Bolivia is – when not tendentious – irrelevant. Faux-humility and waiting around for ‘authentic’ peasants to save everyone’s bacon is worse than bad faith, it’s embarrassing.
WHAT is the point of a movement intellectual, an ‘organic’ intellectual who describes the system’s evils and faults but has nothing to say about the nitty-gritty of movement building? Why go around repeating tales of woe available in the mainstream, more or less, if you’re not going to encourage the local yokels to reflect and analyse for themselves on why things are going so awry for the anti-anti-reflexives? Why bother?
Here are my constructive ideas
* If you’re sincere about working with indigenous people, actually do an acknowledgement to country. Heck, while you’re at it, do one that’s sincere (get folks to close their eyes and imagine what it’s like to have your land stolen out from under you).
* Better yet, get someone who’s indigenous to do a welcome to country.
*Point people to the latest indigenous thinking on land care etc. Give examples of best practice.
* Start with small group discussions, so people can mingle.
* If you’re REALLY adventurous, do a spectrum or two about what people know/think.
* Have a hand out, even if it’s only a few quotes and websites people can browse.
* Do NOT bait and switch; Actually get your speaker to talk to the issue – the meeting was billed as “Political Solutions to Climate Change”, not “25 minutes of the usual litany of problems with some cheer-leading for Cuba thrown in and a sentence ‘ecosocialism is the answer’ at the end (seriously).
* Get people focussing on what hasn’t been done that could be done what has gone well in the past, how it can be amplified, , and what has been going badly and should be stopped. (A “start, keep, stop”)
We KNOW the problems. We just sit around and whine about Murdoch and the capitalists and the sell-out NGOS. Ya basta!!
PS One of the questions was really interesting, from a woman whose activism goes back to a Radical Ecology conference in 1975 (in Tasmania, I think). Perhaps I should have stuck around and listened to here. But like the planet’s atmosphere, by this stage I had had more than enough… I law of two feeted it, as I should have done before I even showed up…