Every so often we watch Bill Maher do his liberal rants and last night he was all set to confront a Senator from Nebraska who supports Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Accord. So this slick, handsome Harvard grad Senator starts in on a "cost-benefit" analysis, saying we won't get enough cooling for all the lost economic growth. And Maher buys right into the argument, claiming green growth is the next great stage of capitalism and the smart money should get on board.
This was exactly Naomi Klein's point when she wrote : "the Right is right". These conservatives understand that keeping us below 3C degrees of warming means the end of GDP growth. It's the deluded liberals who insist renewable energy and "retrofitting" can keep it all humming along as usual. Maher should instead have agreed with the corporate lackey that there was not enough force in the agreement to really make the changes we need. He should have insisted the Accord be strengthened and fuck the "cost"; what is the "cost" of sea level rise? How many US jobs do we trade for the coral reefs or endangered species or civilizational break-down? Do you want to attach a dollar figure to our children's future?
Neoliberalism has reduced every human interaction to a "cost-benefit" calculation.It is, to quote Wendy Brown from her book Undoing the Demos, "the undermining of democracy through the normative economization of political life and usurpation of homo politicus by homo economicus." Unfortunately, liberals are just as complicit in this project as conservatives, they just believe, wrongly, despite all the mountains of evidence, that we can have "capitalism with a human face".