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Monday, April 02, 2007

The Failure of Gore's Environmentalism

This is the text of a Phoenix Insurgent flier distributed today at Al Gore's ASU appearance to show his popular film, "An Inconvenient Truth".

If you've seen Gore's movie, you already know the state of the planet. The environment is not just on the verge of collapse - it is collapsing! Things are bad and they're going to get worse. Unfortunately, Al Gore's limited political imagination cannot conceive of the kinds of solutions this crisis demands.

Watching his movie, it’s obvious that the picture he paints, bleak indeed, does not match up with his wishy-washy prescription. The world is going to hell, he tells us: call congress, recycle more, buy electric cars. But who is really responsible for the state of the environment? The capitalists and their government protectors are the ones who have made this world how it is, not us. Further, billions on the planet most affected by the crisis subsist on a few dollars or less a day – their environmental problem is not one out of which they can ethically consume themselves.

Despite his dire predictions, Gore has not supported people who have actually taken direct action against this destruction, like the Green Scare prisoners and Earth Liberation Front. Why? The answer is obvious, of course. How could he advocate action outside the political system from which he benefits? Gore doesn't want us political and empowered. He wants a very narrow kind of political action that leaves us blaming ourselves and looking to leaders and government for help.

Nevertheless, direct action and a rapid, radical shift away from industrial capitalism is the only solution to our problem. Every other option either makes things worse or further empowers the very same scientists, bureaucrats, politicians, experts and capitalists who made this mess to begin with. Solving this problem requires a movement that does not recognize the pathetically limited political space that elites like Gore have designated for us. It requires a direct action movement that recognizes the state and capitalism for what they are, causes of and not solutions to the crisis we face.

Concerned liberals, progressives and right-wingers alike claim that calling congresswomen, conscious consuming, voting and peaceful sign-holding are the only paths open to us if we want change. And the politicians they support tell us likewise, as do their capitalist bosses. But, they tell us this precisely because they own the very political system in which they want us to funnel our energies - a system that exists to protect the wealth and power of a tiny but terribly destructive minority. As long as we stay within their system, there is no way we can win; the privileged positions of rich people like Gore will not be threatened and the destruction of the Earth will continue.

Speaking historically, do we now look back with disdain on the Abolitionists and slave insurrectionists that physically fought against slavery? Do we now evaluate their struggle and advise them, posthumously, that they should not have attacked that murderous system through direct action? Do we really think that the slavocrats or their political lackeys should have been left to decide when and how to abolish slavery – and what to replace it with? That kind of thinking is ahistorical and dangerous because it denies the agency of regular people in overturning oppressive or destructive systems. It is the people themselves that force change on the system. Politicians only seek to obstruct it or make it safe for the rich and powerful.

The fact is, we have already tried the solutions Gore proposes. And they have failed, not because we have not voted or shopped responsibly, but precisely because the system is not capable of delivering them. Now we are out of time. The only solution is direct action against the system of industrial production that is killing the planet. At the heart of capitalism is the destruction of the Earth; there is no such thing as an ethical or environmental capitalism. And we cannot allow the same elites who drove the planet to collapse to decide how or what to do about it now. Until we challenge this system, we cannot talk about saving the environment, much less ourselves. Capitalism and Industrialism must be dismantled immediately and we cannot trust politicians and capitalists to do it.

3 Comments:

Anonymous H. Bosch said...

Quick, comrades! The guards are asleep at the winter palace! They've been carousing with the babushkas and now they are sated and drowsy! We must strike! For the workers!

Stop reading Marx and enter the 21st century. Has it occurred to you that your calls for revolution sound like the indignant bleats of a calf in the bowels of a massive corporate feedlot? Has it occurred to you that globalization and the mass (capitalist) media have so covered the planet and accustomed people's minds to capitalism that Marxist anarchism is more irrelevant than phrenology at this point? Has it occurred to you that the mainstream will never listen to extreme environmentalists no matter how correct they are? And has it occurred to you that the mainstream public will accept and digest the ideas of someone palatable like Al Gore when he's armed with logic and the backing of the scientific community? And why should it matter if he's complicit in the system anyway? What he's saying is logical and supported by science, and that should be enough.

And I LIKE Guy Debord.

Mon Apr 02, 10:25:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Phoenix Insurgent said...

The system has a tremendously powerful propaganda system, no doubt. That notwithstanding, I don't see where you propose anything new at all in your screed, except perhaps to concede my point.

Sure, getting people's attention is hard in the era of mass media, spectacle and recuperation. But is it surprising that many middle and upper class first worlders are persuaded by Gore? Of course not. However, if that's what passes for insight, I'm saddened.

As for your point about "Marxist anarchism," I humbly suggest you investigate this site further. And as for Debord, I have always preferred Cohn-Bendit in his prime ("Obsolete Communism"). Debord is generally unreadable, in my opinion.

Mon Apr 02, 11:32:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI: Finnish translation of this text

Wed Apr 04, 10:03:00 AM 2007  

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