"The Green New Deal or the greenwashing of capitalism"

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jk1921
"The Green New Deal or the greenwashing of capitalism"
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The article is right to denoune the Green New Deal as the political sham it is, caught between two contradictory needs in modern bourgeois leftism to on the one hand speak to those concerned about the moral and cultural issues of constructing a better humanity and on the other those defending their material conditions of life right now. The article is right to link this dilemna to the Yellow Vest movement and other expressions of "anti-envrionmental social movements." The idea that there can be a state capitalist program that both protects the natural environment, while at the same time promoting the economic growth and development necesarry to sustain a certain standard of living is indeed either a deliberate ideological manipulation or a fantastical illusion borne of the magical thinking that comes from theories like MMT (debt doesn't really matter).

Still, I am not sure the article gets past the central problematic: is the irreconcilability of these two things a problem borne from the profit motive of capitalism alone or is it a reflection of a civilizational impasse of modernity in which the standard of living achieved by the Western working class under post-war Fordism-Keynsianism cannot be sustained as a technical matter without endangering the bioshphere that sustains human life. In other words, regardless of the underlying economic system, saving the planet requires either austerity against the global proletariat or a radical refashioning of social life such that the "good life" is measured in other ways than consumerized material abundance (but is that just austerity with another name?). In any event, the ideology of the Green New Deal proves attractive today precisely because it doesn't have to deal with that problem. It wishes it away with funny money.

One other note: I think the metaphor of the "destruction of nature," is problematic. Perhaps there is some polemical value in the construction, but as a philosophical or scientific matter (not sure which), I don't think nature can be destroyed--it can only be changed.

Alf
private property

From the 1844 Manuscripts

“Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it – when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed, eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc., – in short, when it is used by us. Although private property itself again conceives all these direct realizations of possession only as means of life, and the life which they serve as means is the life of private property – labour and conversion into capital. In the place of all physical and mental senses there has therefore come the sheer estrangement of all these senses, the sense of having. The human being had to be reduced to this absolute poverty in order that he might yield his inner wealth to the outer world"

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Private property does not begin with capitalism but capitalism is surely the final triumph of privatisation, of this loss of inner wealth. So I would say that while "the civilisational impasse of modernity" is the end point of a very long historical process, capitalism ("modern" society) represents a qualitative step in this urge to pile up wealth, state, corporate and personal.

 

I was reminded that this passage describing the high point (or depth) of alienation is then followed by the negation of the negation: the emancipation of the senses in communism. 

"The abolition of private property is therefore the complete emancipation of all human senses and qualities, but it is this emancipation precisely because these senses and attributes have become, subjectively and objectively, human. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object – an object made by man for man. The senses have therefore become directly in their practice theoreticians. They relate themselves to the thing for the sake of the thing, but the thing itself is an objective human relation to itself and to man, and vice versa. Need or enjoyment have consequently lost its egotistical nature, and nature has lost its mere utility by use becoming human use.”

Alf
Destroying nature

In bourgeois ideology, matter is dead stuff. So capital has killed the entire universe in its mind. But planetary capitalism is still too puny to really destroy the entire universe. However, it's enough for us that it can make this planet uninhabitable for our species, and perhaps for all biological forms. So I think "the destruction of nature", seen as a process not a final event, is a valid term.