Assorted Articles VI

I’m continuing to sift through political articles to find gems. I have some older ones, but there’s an article from last week that I think is important.

I’m continuing to sift through political articles to find gems. I have some older ones, but there’s an article from last week that I think is important.

A lot of recent environmental talk has been laden with the wrong-headed notion that environmental protection should be apolitical. This is dangerous because there is no viable solution to the climate crisis that does not also oppose capitalism. There are a growing number of ecofascists who are buying in to anti-immigrant, racist, pro-capitalist ideas that will be ruinous and cost lives if allowed to continue. In “Extinction Rebellion Has a Politics Problem“, Erica X Eisen presents a compelling argument for the need for XR (and by extension environmental movements more broadly) to embrace a decidedly leftist approach.

There simply is no such thing as “beyond politics.” XR itself does not currently behave in a manner congruent with its stated “beyond politics,” and a climate movement that does not advocate radical economic and political change cannot possibly hope to grapple with the magnitude of the crisis that is now bearing down upon us. I don’t doubt that there are many—even a majority—of XR affiliates who align themselves with the left and who profess more radical beliefs than the organization itself. But the fact that such a major force in climate discourse today can stay mum about the relationship between capitalism and climate destruction smacks of denialism of another kind. XR has an unprecedented platform—and with that comes the responsibility to use it.

Extinction Rebellion Has a Politics Problem” by Erica X Eisen

The Guardian is by no means a friendly publication to the left, but it does sometimes have articles that spotlight ideas churning among socialists, communists and anarchists. It even had a feature on “Fully Automated Luxury Communism” that presents the movement fairly generously. The way luxury is defined needs work, and highlighting the value of freeing people up to do work that doesn’t get done today should be done, but it’s something at least.

Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.

“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.

[…]

You get these music videos the kids love, where it’s completely outlandish, luxury everywhere. The story of capitalism is that if you work hard and play by the rules you can get this, which is obviously bullshit.

“But if you say, well look, if you want this, what you need to do is seize the means of production. We need to get automation and make it subordinate to human needs, not the profit motive. It’s about seizing the bakery rather than stealing the bread.” With robots presumably kneading the dough.

The Occupy movement has faded from attention, but it was part an important shift. In “We are (still) the 99 percent” Emily Stewart lays out the contributions to discussions on the left that the movement made and its lasting legacy.

More anarchist than socialist, Occupy Wall Street was a nominally leaderless movement that refused to lay out specific demands. That’s what made Occupy unique — and part of what ultimately led to its demise. As journalist Nathan Schneider, who covered Occupy for outlets such as the Nation and Harpers and later wrote a book on the movement, put it, Occupy “subverted itself and imploded according to its own logic.”

[…]

“Occupy Wall Street created a bunch of movement infrastructure in the form of new associations, new organizations, new models for thinking about social movements, new communications strategies, new movement spaces, and in that way, it left more than was there before it started. And the more that it left there has been useful to subsequent movements,” said Jesse Myerson, a former occupier who most recently spent two years in Indiana with the Indiana-based community group Hoosier Action.

[…]

It’s much too early to figure out exactly how much of a lasting impact Occupy had — and perhaps even more so how much of an effect this current rise of socialism in the US will have overall. But speaking with former Occupiers, there was a sense that they thought of the journey of as much of a personal one as they did political.

“Occupy changed me, and it changed lots of other people, and it made us do the work of activism and the work of organizing better, and we took that to so many different and varied things,” Goldstein said. “And that is invaluable.”

We are (still) the 99 percent” by Emily Stewart

Wealth inequality is, along with the climate crisis it drives, the single biggest concern we should have. Felix Salmon wrote in “Oxfam’s excellent inequality report” about the tangible fact that had the 2000 richest people in the world gained no more wealth in 2017 and instead that money was put to use ending poverty, extreme poverty could have been eradicated. The benefits of ending extreme wealth inequality are endless, and sometimes just putting the data out there helps.

Specifically, the world’s billionaires – the richest 2,000 people on the planet – saw their wealth increase by a staggering $762 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $381 million apiece. If those billionaires had simply been content with staying at their 2016 wealth, and had given their one-year gains to the world’s poorest people instead, then extreme poverty would have been eradicated. Hell, they could have eradicated extreme poverty, at least in theory, by giving up just one seventh of their annual gains.

Oxfam is absolutely right, then, to shine a light on the extreme inequality of the world in 2017. Wealth creation is all well and good, but giving new wealth primarily to the world’s billionaires is literally the worst possible way to distribute it. Oxfam’s longstanding proposal for a wealth tax on billionaires makes perfect sense. They don’t need the money; the world’s poorest do. What’s more, as the Oxfam report details, the top 1% too often make their money by exploiting the very poor. Nothing about this is just, especially when a good 35% of billionaire wealth was simply inherited.

Oxfam’s excellent inequality report” by Felix Salmon

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: