Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sorry Bill

Bill Mc Kibben is a dedicated, caring activist thrust into a role he probably would never have chosen so I always feel a twinge of guilt when criticizing him. But with that role comes a giant responsibility and certain crucial choices. (different from the meaningless consumption choices of my last post). As a recognized leader/spokesperson of the climate movement (such as it is), his choice of words, his analysis and proposals have tremendous weight and if he can't take the heat he should get out of the kitchen. He himself acknowledges that shit is getting serious. As Dylan put it: "let us not speak falsely now- the hour's getting late".

Bill published End of Nature in 1989 and started speaking to groups about climate change, even showing up here in Hamilton Mt in 2007. For 28 years he has been explaining the issue and proposing solutions without ever mentioning, or certainly never questioning the ideology of "democratic capitalism". In his latest piece urging people to go to the March on Washington, he uses a cryptic euphemism for our global system of production and exchange. He writes: these marches are "about the machine that has been driving the planet in a dangerous direction for decades, a machine that spans parties, ideologies and continents."

A "machine". An impersonal, mechanical force. This tells us less than nothing, and other than "rage against the machine", gives us nothing to direct our collective force at. Which helps explain why in 28 years the problem has only grown worse. In this article he identifies Trump as "the enemy" and in the past he has identified "the fossil fuel industry" as the enemy, easy enough targets in that simplistic, Hollywood "good guy/ bad guy" sort of way, but actually just smoke and mirrors, like the "greedy Wall Street banksters" or Bill O' Reilly.

He goes on to say the marches are also about a "hope" and a "vision" but who will articulate that vision and through what process was it determined? He says "the week of rallying is the logical extension of the climate justice movement" and that "all the battles currently under way will be on full display as we march...for solar panels,solar panels and more solar panels." Same as its ever been...through Clinton, Bush, Obama ad nauseum. I'm sure there will be plenty of indigenous leaders telling the gathering that NO DAPL carries on. There will be progressive Democrats urging folks to register and vote, even a "candidate training". Write your Congressperson, sign the petition, join the Resistance and Our Revolution, Indivisible, or Rise UP. They will talk about all the jobs and GDP growth we can expect from a greener, kinder gentler capitalism. Hope and Vision.

Even as he goes on in the article to admit that "the fight about the money and mostly lost." Perhaps because "the movement leaders" never had the courage to dig below the superficial layers of "money and power"? (Naomi Klein excepted) Bill confronts the elephant in the room by asking if "marches really matter?" since "Trump holds all the levers of power right now". Which is another simplistic misreading but even if it were true, wouldn't that put to question your plan to "train candidates" for a democracy that is essentially hollowed out?

Towards the end of the piece Bill starts to get real and one senses his frustration and even awareness that he has been flailing, seeing hope instead of the con. He condemns both Obama and Hillary who "followed a script, which was to express alarm but take small steps, a script which has slow-walked us to the edge of hell... winning slowly is the same as losing." Now he wants "action which is actually commensurate with the problem." But you have to first identify the problem to know how to confront it. Klein said the problem isn't carbon, it's capitalism. When will Bill get the message? And the courage to speak it.

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