Monday, April 4, 2016


When the Break Free PNW Coalition asked for volunteers for the Communications Working Group I jumped on board. Experience has taught that it is within such innocently named bodies where "messaging" is developed; the analysis and narrative and eventually conceptual language which will guide action. In other words, "there is a necessary relationship between conceptual apparatuses and political institutions." that's right, ideological power. I don't know whether the others in The Group would articulate it but I suspect they intuit it. So when the original draft of the Core Messaging Document came online I got my licks in early. I inserted language around Markets and market failure as essential roots to understanding the current crisis. Those who read the blog know to what I refer. And the language hung in there for quite some time. It survived a few edits and iterations, but as it came time to finalize the doc, my language around Markets turned into "the economic system" and "the fossil fuel economy". I'm pretty sure The Message had to pass muster with representatives of organized labor, and I suspect my seditious focus was found problematic. After all, "economic system" is the ultimate empty signifier, it explains nothing while pretending to explain everything. It can be used by anyone and everyone to mean whatever they want. "Market failure", on the other hand, is a little too specific. I didn't bother to argue or press my point. This Coalition is broad based and I knew that going in; there will be folks who read Naomi Klein's book as a call for revolution and some who saw a call for cheaper solar energy. So it goes. The labor folks are in bind and we can be sympathetic. But to deny much of it is their own doing is to condescend, to say they have no agency. They can claim to be "shocked" that their "fossil fuel economy" is bad for the planet, and claim special dispensation (a Just Transition)but I have been in enough of these Blue -Green Dialogues to know these guys are good at seeing trees and missing the forest. Though capitalism has tyrannical power over their consumptive lives, most cannot speak the word. tey'll blame hippies and commies and say "just let the market sort things out."

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