Christine MacDonald – I Went to a Climate Change Denial Conference

Link to an article by Christine MacDonald:

“I Went to a Climate Change Denial Conference. It Made Even Less Sense Than You’d Think.”

 

This article was published on the magazine In These Times’ web site.  The publication is populist, meaning that it constantly strives to demonize its political opponents and construct an enemy.  Aside from that, what the article explains about climate change deniers is that they are engaged in what Jacques Lacan called “university discourse” in order to defend a particular social structureBruce Fink explained this concept of “university discourse” in his book The Lacanian Subject (1995):

“the university is an arm of capitalist production (or of the ‘military-industrial complex,’ as it was called . . . ), suggesting that the truth hidden behind the university discourse is, after all, the master signifier.  Knowledge here interrogates surplus value (the product of capitalist economies, which takes the form of a loss or subtraction of value from the worker) and rationalizes or justifies it.”  (p. 132).

 

“Working in the service of the master signifier, more or less any kind of argument will do, as long as it takes on the guise of reason and rationality.” (p. 133).

 

Populists generally avoid getting into these issues, because to do so would tend to reveal the large degree of agreement between them and the political far right.  But this article is still a good example of how the right doesn’t care about making “good” arguments as long as they serve their desired (if unstated) social arrangement.

John Molyneux – How Fast is the Climate Changing?

Link to an article by John Molyneux:

“How Fast is the Climate Changing?”

 

Bonus quote:

“That the capitalist class is most interested in protecting its power, position, wealth and way of life means that the struggle to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of global warming is a class struggle. It is a struggle for power — not a struggle over morality or individual consumer choices. The capitalist class holds out the promise of ‘more of the same’ because that is the way that it can continue to accumulate wealth while working people get the same raw deal of exploitation, racism and oppression that they have for centuries.”

Jodi Dean, “Climate Change Is Class War”

See also “Global Warming and U.S. National Security Diplomacy” and “The Discovery and Rediscovery of Metabolic Rift” and “Endangered Species Act: A Failure Worth Fighting For?”

Rob Urie – Toward an Eco-Socialist Revolution

Link to an article by Rob Urie:

“Toward an Eco-Socialist Revolution”

 

There are many reasons to question the proffered solution here, which would be unpopular and prone to the all the problems that have historically accompanied peasant societies (rigid social hierarchies, etc.).  Still, this article thinks seriously about real issues and the necessary scope of solutions, and actually ventures to offer a solution.

Scapegoating Mountain Bikers

There is a small but determined group of people claiming to protect wilderness by scapegoating mountain biking and mountain bikers.  Their normal tactic is to highlight one or two absolutely true—but nonetheless isolated—facts about how mountain bikers are a threat to wildlife in particular areas to suggest that mountain biking should be banned to protect wilderness/wildlife.  On the surface, this seems appealing.  But the problem is that once you scratch the surface this is a highly chauvinistic approach that involves absolving hikers/backpackers/horseback riders/etc. from their own threats to wilderness/wildlife.  This can be detected even in the language that these self-styled protectors of wilderness use.  The best is “backcountry”.  This is a term that denotes at least limited openness to hiking/camping/homesteading!  When deployed in conjunction with words like “protecting”, what we see is not a plea to protect wildlife and wilderness, but to protect certain human uses in certain sparsely populated areas from certain other human uses thus reserving those areas for selected uses.  Here is an article that sums up this phenomenon:  “Griz Expert Says Mountain Bikes Are a Threat To Montana’s Bears.”  (actually, the headline was changed in response to some of the negative feedback).  It is worth reading the comments because people absolutely nail the author’s anti-bike bias (which the author explicitly denies!) and cite countervailing evidence that the author ignores or actively minimizes.  This article is not isolated, though.  People like George Wuerthner write similarly—for instance, he deplores the self-identities that mountain bikers and ATV operators cultivate but excludes from his scorn the self-identities that hikers, etc. cultivate (he does note in passing that hikers can also harm wilderness, but minimizes those admissions and quickly returns to biker-bashing scapegoating).  This is basically typical political liberalism: policing the line between the community of the free (the “good” hikers/backpackers/etc.) and those unworthy of liberal freedoms (the “bad” mountain bikers).  What is pernicious is that this is “discourse of the university”, that is, the advancement of normative political/ideological positions in support of a disguised mode of social domination.

Geoffrey Dutton – Talking Trash

Link to an article by Geoffrey Dutton:

“Talking Trash: Recycling Inches Up, But Problems Remain”

 

Curiously absent from this otherwise excellent discussion of the present-day facts about recycling practices in the USA is why municipalities are expected to submit to a “market” rather than intervening directly in it or circumventing/modifying it (as governments often do).  Why shouldn’t municipalities create their own recycling entities and manufacturing facilities to bypass markets, or engage in more far-reaching bans (like banning all materials that are not provably and practically recyclable)?  The article simply tacitly accepts that municipal governments should look to private businesses and markets in significant ways, or simply treat private profitability as the uncrossable horizon of municipal politics, as if this is self-evident, which is precisely the goal of all political propaganda—“to annihilate an unnoticed possibility of the situation“.

Bonus links: “Recycling Crisis is Capitalist Business as Usual” and “It’s Time to Break Up Capitalism’s Love Affair With Plastic” and “Humanity Is Drowning in Plastic”