Sunday, March 8, 2015

Quote for Day: Naomi Klein on Why We're Stuck with Climate Change — It's about the Economic Elite, Stranglehold, and the Fetish of Centrism

Naomi Klein is incisive — and powerful — as she explains why the human community is unable to address climate crisis that is now threatening the whole planet and therefore all of our existences:

We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and would benefit the vast majority – are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets. That problem might not have been insurmountable had it presented itself at another point in our history. But it is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when those elites were enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s.

And the liberals are not part of the solution but part of the problem here, because of their slavish fidelity to the "fetish of centrism" which loves to pretend that "both sides" have something to offer, and some truth on their side — and so deadlock:

That’s tough for a lot of people in important positions to accept, since it challenges something that might be even more powerful than capitalism, and that is the fetish of centrism – of reasonableness, seriousness, splitting the difference, and generally not getting overly excited about anything. This is the habit of thought that truly rules our era, far more among the liberals who concern themselves with matters of climate policy than among conservatives, many of whom simply deny the existence of the crisis. Climate change presents a profound challenge to this cautious centrism because half measures won’t cut it: “all of the above energy” program, as US president Barack Obama describes his approach, has about as much chance of success as an all-of-the-above diet, and the firm deadlines imposed by science require that we get very worked up indeed. 

Centrism is, in other words, a liberal rationale, an excuse, a justification for what Klein accurately names as the "strangelehold" that an elite minority maintains over our economy, our political process, and the mainstream media. And it appears increasingly likely that we, as a human community, will simply not be able to negotiate the climate crisis imperiling our very existence, because that stranglehold is so strong.

And because the so-called "liberals" whom many of us like to think of as a solution to the problem are, to the contrary, enablers of the problem, as they pretend that there's truth on "both sides" of arguments about climate change, unfettered capitalism, the worship of the free market, etc., and as they thereby freely permit the stranglehold of the 1%.

The graphic is a screenshot from the header of Klein's article at the Guardian website.

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