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.

Why I continue to support Jill Stein?


For one, I’m a green. But that’s not really simply why I’m supporting Jill.

Many of us want a real “choice” in our elections. However, given the nature of our elections, their “winner-take-all” nature bears the risk of earning away votes from, perhaps, a tolerable major party candidate and possibly tipping the majority of votes in favor of the other, more craven, ruling party’s candidate. It makes people afraid to vote for what they want. It often leads people to vote against what they are most afraid of by giving away their votes to a “lesser evil”. Greens want to make democracy possible in the US and electoral reform is part of that (we advocate preference voting). We’re challenging bipartisan rule. You won’t find me apologetic about that. It’s not easy and we know there are consequences of challenging power. Challenging power always has consequences to discourage challenges to it. That’s true all over the world.

There’s more to it, for me, than simply offering another selection on the ballot. It’s really about politics and more precisely, independent politics. Politics that are not just about reform and maintaining existing systems no matter what but the kind of politics that allows us to consider fundamentally changing our systems to adapt our relationships to the environment, industrialism and one another that eradicates poverty once and for all.

Jill Stein embodies that vision of a better world. Her “plan” is the best plan to help us move beyond the old systems that are indebting our people and replacing that with program of economic security and dignity. Dr Stein wants to eradicate poverty, not to continue managing it as we have been doing. She wants both education and healthcare as a “right” and to abolish student debt. She wants to cut the kind of military spending that’s turning our nation into a bankrupt empire. She wants to empower the people by abolishing the “legal fiction” of corporate “personhood” and establish a constitutional right to vote to protect voting rights. I could go on and on but, for me, she’s the obvious choice and the direction independent and disaffected voters from major parties need to be aligning with.

This election, the democrats are offering Bernie Sanders as their 20 Century “New Deal” style liberal offering in their primaries (as an alternative to Hilary’s neoliberalism). He wants to restore the old social and economic order of regulated industrialism that made the “middle class” possible. I know he calls himself a “democratic socialist” but that shouldn’t really scare anybody as what he describes is, at best, a more ambitious form of “New Deal” liberalism or better known as Keynesian economics (aka: “Scandinavian Socialism”… which isn’t technically “socialism”).

However, I don’t believe restoring the old social and economic order of the 20th Century’s “New Deal” now addresses what is needed now. You shouldn’t either. It was never a perfect deal. It was a series of concessions that were a compromise forged in the ‘lens’ of it’s own time (necessary in many ways, to avoid revolution during the Great Depression). Bernie is probably one of the last of it’s credible defenders. Yet as a “plan”, recycling it for the 21st century is really just inadequate and nobody should fool themselves that it will ‘magically’ sort things out for us it was never designed to address.

I remain unmoved by the latest ‘spin’ by those that defend power use to characterize the greens. Some in the democratic party are promoting the language of green “idealists” (note: coming from a party bankrupt of any effective broad vision at all). Their suggestion smells of the idea that we should be ‘satisfied’ selecting from neoliberals from both ruling parties and not concern ourselves having a voice with practical aspirations that would actually address structural and systemic problems that negatively impact people’s lives. It’s not really our “idealism” but our “integrity” and persistence that has the spin artists hot under the collar. However, Greens are not putting off pursuing democracy and waiting to throw our “hat in the ring”. I expect that once we’re in the general election, the “spoiler” narrative will find it’s way back as well which I’ll respond as I have before:

“It’s not the job of the Greens to shore up the numbers of the democratic party candidates. They have vast numbers of voters already registered with their party they need to mobilize to get out to vote and their failure to do that does not give that party any entitlement to Green votes. The democrats spoil their own elections by their inability to mobilize their own base of supporters”

I think Mahatma Gandhi’s quote puts our struggle in perspective: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. Greens spent several electoral cycles where we were just simply ignored. Later we were defamed and blamed in hopes we’d just fold up and go away and people wouldn’t take us seriously. That didn’t happen. Now the democrats are actually fighting us. It’s a bit different this time as many folks who have decided to support Bernie are openly defecting in saying that “if he doesn’t win the primaries, they are supporting Jill!”. The democrats are worried that Bernie’s support won’t automatically translate directly into support for Hillary in the general election (like it had in the past with other “progressive’ish” candidates that washed out in the democratic primaries). From my point of view, the Greens are crossing new threshold and it’s quite an exciting time where Green politics will start impacting the national dialog and make our way into a broader discussion. However, no struggle is easy. They wouldn’t call it “struggle” if it were. So we continue, inch by inch, organizing better and building the green movement. #ItsInOurHands

Ferguson and Black Community Control of Police, One Green’s perspective…

WeNeedCommunityControlOfPoliceGreens may take many stances on the unjust laws that leave killer cops unaccountable for murdering black youth and the harsh occupation of black communities that often amount to enforcing poverty and deprivation. I think we can agree we must resist the logic of having local police departments acting as surrogate occupying armies defending ‘social order’ against popular demands for social justice. For the larger public, harsh conditions are commonly masked with the barbarous social Darwinist narrative of “opportunity” (indicating some “few” actually could have some “hope”… but the rest are doomed). However, that narrative fails to pacify a population who knows quite well most won’t be permitted to escape those conditions via so called scarce “opportunities”. We live in the kind of economy that suggests that we can work to provide for ourselves and stay out of poverty but operates within two realities regarding “work” that make that a ridiculous notion. One, there aren’t enough “jobs” to employ everybody out of poverty. Two, a growing number of available jobs fail to compensate people out of poverty… even if you can get one of those jobs at poverty wages (aka: the working poor).

It’s a trap, and people know it. So how do we change that? One may get seduced by the typical “liberal” stance to “reign in” the excesses of police brutality but maintain the premises of how it operates (poverty and occupation). Those are the types who are advocating a peaceful “occupation” (similar to the narratives Palestinians are subject to under the inhumane conditions of their occupation). Progressives have to reject that as we recognize poverty as a form of violence and occupation as a form of ‘structural violence’.

It’s easy to see where my moral compass points. Rather than making the injustice itself a little more bearable (aka: the “liberal” concession), we need to explore what a more “just” solution might look like. It was proposed, by Black leadership, that one solution would be Black Community Control of the Police. That’s a quite reasonable solution! For Greens, it’s easy to see how that is completely in-line with our Ten Key Values.

Let’s take a look at a two of those:

Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

Black Community Control makes the Police accountable to the community it should be ‘serving’. This directly expands the process of participatory democracy.

Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

– Black Community Control is decentralization in practice. This can work to start unwinding the occupation of these communities and allow these communities to operate in an increasingly self-determined manor.

It’s a start and a good one. It’s not the “end” as we remain confined by the political duopoly of the imperialist bipartisan neoliberal regime that manages poverty and resists progressive attempts for eradication of poverty and increasingly is criminalizing dissent as well as those subjected to the violence of poverty itself. It’s a rational response to the police state and I encourage all greens to support efforts, under black leadership, who seek redress of their grievances.


Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is the humane response to the dysfunctional “wages as a means to survival”… particularly dire now in this new era of hyper-austerity. It’s not a “new” idea but certainly one that is really resonating with folks from social democrats like Paul Krugman, from liberals like Martin Wolf, from conservatives like Richard Nixon; from people who consider themselves disciples of the free market to people who consider themselves on the far left. We need to ask ourselves a question whose answer is mistakenly taken for granted: “Why does everyone have to work?”. Think about it… don’t rush to parrot the ingrained response. Perhaps even read some thoughts on the subject

It makes sense. We don’t live in a world that everybody can hope to survive on wages as there are not jobs for everybody and many of those that have them can still hardly survive. Here’s 7 reasons to consider UBI and fight for it!