Some thoughts on Now Age Conversations with Paul Street

Because some of the costs and damages from environmental emissions are external to the power plant that generates them, they are not necessarily considered in utility planning and operations. In March 1994, 29 states and the District of Columbia required utilities to consider environmental externalities in planning new facilities.

For one, Now Age Conversations has again done another great interview, this time with Paul Street, that I expect will make a lot of folks uncomfortable. Paul’s analysis on one of my favorite news sites Black Agenda Report is very hard-hitting and carves through the convenient lies and depictions proselytized by the aptly described “second most enthusiastic capitalist parties“. You should read it “Race and the Democratic Primaries”.

Don’t get me wrong here. I still have plenty of affection for progressives I know who became seduced into becoming “Sandernistas” and are enthusiastically collaborating with that vicious party. I’ve seen it before and I expect I’ll see it again. I’ve often said as much on Bernie that some of those folks actually supporting Bernie right now are endorsing his “prescription”… which amounts to preserving capitalism but regulating it so providing for some human needs are possible within it… which was what the ruling class offered in the Great Depression as an alternative to socialism… but not to be confused with ‘socialism’ itself. Yet, it’s been quite successful particularly with the far left in convincing themselves they have a “champion” and the moderate left who have bought into that 20th century bargain to block systemic change in this country.

“folks actually supporting Bernie right now are endorsing his “prescription”… which amounts to preserving capitalism but regulating it so providing for some human needs are possible within it… which was what the ruling class offered in the Great Depression as an alternative to socialism… but not to be confused with ‘socialism’ itself”

There are a lot of problems with this… particularly from a Green perspective. Let’s talk about the last Climate Change conference to illustrate one of the show stoppers.

At the last climate change conference, environmentalists we not pleased. It was not a surprise that nations would give ‘lip service’ to the symptoms of the problem but refuse to budge on the “root” of the problem. Nations pushed back that any “adjustments” in economic behavior _not_ significantly impede the pursuit of growth. How much “growth”? Endless of course! Capitalism will collapse without growth. The open secret is that “growth” itself is the problem driving the exhaustion and collapse of ecosystems all over the planet whose consequences are becoming global as well (like global warming). We understand ecology much better that we did when capitalism was first cooked up as an alternative to aristocratic socioeconomic models. Rosa Clemente, our 2008 GPUS VP Candidate aptly described the urgency of our efforts.

“The Green Party is no longer the alternative, the Green Party is the imperative”

That’s something we all have to understand. Greens are calling for a “Green New Economy” with fundamental systemic changes to make the pursuit of sustainability possible by ending the pursuit of growth. Let’s keep that in mind while we talk about what the ruling parties are consumed with.

One might get the idea that self-described “progressives” like Bernie are responsibly arguing the better and preferred path to growth as opposed to the path of austerity and deprivation the neoliberals/conservatives are prescribing that are decimating the middle class. The discussion “dances” around the cannibalization of the middle class who are being forced into the working and unemployed poor “class” in the corporate pursuit of growth through global outsourcing for the lowest wages and the abandonment middle class american workers. Frankly, that’s a “symptom” of the problem and “reforms” focused on the symptoms of the illness aren’t going to “cure” the illness. Whether its “austerity” from the conservatives/neoliberals or “stimulus” like Bernie is prescribing, that pursuit of endless growth is an inevitable dead-end as long as we’re a terrestrial bound species..Denial of this common sense is not just some “alternative” to be dismissed but it is the imperative if we care about keeping our planet inhabitable in any condition we want to leave to future generations..

I certainly agree with Paul Street’s assertion that Marx’s writings on capitalism provide an invaluable critique of capitalism but were not prescriptive of what socialism would really look like. In many ways, notable experiments with socialism and even communism resulted in, what amounted to, state capitalism with the kind of industrialism that lead to driving the exhaustion and collapse of ecosystems similar to what liberal capitalism was practicing with its socioeconomic model. Despite any of that, I’m in agreement with modern socialists that we desperately need a new socioeconomic model and we have a lot of objective agreement on the values that could be based on. In fact, a new brand of socialism is emerging that provides a much greater intersection with green politics called Eco-socialism that shares our imperative for sustainability and an abandonment of the pursuit of economic growth.

At best, I can frame a few elements of a discussion that needs to be ongoing on the left that should be uniting us and I think Paul Street provides a great foundation worth building on. Check out his interview below. Let’s explore developing a common resistance and develop common understandings. The truth is that it’s already been going on for years. Many socialists have found a home in the Green party. We’re not a sectarian party. We’re all not going to have the same vision for what the new socioeconomic structure should look like “exactly” but united, we can build that broad movement that makes it possible.