14 August 2006


Here is a commentary I posted to Gristmill on Lieberman's loss to Lamont in the primary, titled "The US is still too predatory":
The US is still too predatory (at least at the Federal level) to be part of a global sustainable society. America appears to have put all its eggs in the basket of "let's conquer the world so we can have first dibs on its cheap oil, so we can keep our SUVs running." When the cheap oil runs out, maybe at about the time the US Dollar collapses and America's foreign creditors start demanding an immediate payback of the national debt, the defects of this US strategy will be plain to all.

Other countries must lead the way. Sujatha Fernandes, in an article in ZNet, suggests that genuine political change is promoted through a politics that puts community organizing at the center of things. The Zapatistas, in Mexico, offer her a political model of sorts:
The Other Campaign was launched in San Cristobal de Las Casas in January 1, 2006, a historic date on which the Zapatistas had occupied the city twelve years earlier. Alongside the campaign efforts of political candidates, the Zapatistas took to the road with marches, mobilizations, and mass meetings across the country.

The aim of the Other Campaign is not to tell people to abstain from voting, but rather to point to the limitations of an election where political parties share a consensus on most major issues, and participation is reduced to going to the ballots once every six years. It is to carry the campaign beyond the period of elections to everyday organizing. It is to raise debates over issues such as land reform, neoliberalism, indigenous rights, and free trade, which are not being addressed in the electoral arena.
Let me suggest that the issue of a global (ecologically) sustainable society is one of these same issues. It is not an issue that is being addressed in the US electoral arena. Both political parties, in this regard, appear to share a consensus: more occupation of Iraq, more support for war in Lebanon, more increased funding for the world's biggest single corporate fossil-fuel consumer (the US military), more capitalist development, more "free trade" sloganeering, and more corporate protectionism. And remember that unanimous 1997 Senate vote against the Kyoto Protocol?

"Mainstream environmentalism" is too thoroughly plugged into the "lesser of two evils" logic that lends support to the Democratic Party because it is "not as bad as" the Republican Party. As you can see above, all the "mainstream environmentalists" supported Lieberman. And Lieberman-politics, the politics of "bipartisanship," is not going to save the Earth. This situation, needless to say, does not do wonders for the credibility of "mainstream environmentalism." It certainly did little for Lieberman's credibility this week.

Working through "mainstream" political parties appears to be a completely inadequate means of facing the environmental challenges of the 21st century. They do this now, and are captured in the web of alliances of the Democratic Party. This web (for instance) required complete and ultra-conformist support for the agenda of John Kerry.

At the very least, a different approach will have to be taken by environmental organizations wishing to become credible. This approach must:

* divorce itself from both major political parties, ideally through a third party such as the Green Party (or elsewhere if necessary)
* rededicate itself to community organizing and
* stay in touch with the organized communities in order to make sure that the legitimate concerns of said communities are represented legitimately.

Only in such a way will the US be made less predatory. Lamont defeated Lieberman; hurray, but it still won't change very much, and neither will a Democrat victory in November.

Lieberman, BTW, is ahead in the polls in Connecticut. He is drawing a ton of Republican support. As if it mattered.


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