20 Feb 2009

Heathrow demo report back


A message from Jean Lambert who spoke at the Heathrow demo last night -
Derek also spoke later and included an appeal for Amicus members to vote for
Jerry Hicks. It was mainly GL people who were on the demo. The counter demo,
which consisted of about 30 people, later walked in front of our demo
carrying placards with Revolutionary Communist Party written at the base.
This, of course, encouraged some of the spokespersons from Campaign Against
Climate Change to have a go at 'strange Marxists'.

One Greenpeace speaker who went to challenge the counter demo said that he
was saddened to see that they were mainly young people. When he had
challenged them on the science of climate change, one of them had replied:
"We will not be dictated to by scientists." This gives you an idea of the
level of intellectual debate behind their group.

Congrats to Romayne et al for organising a strong presence.

Joseph

Nice to see Romayne's photo in the Daily Star!

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/latestnews/view/70200/Downing-Street-demo-over-ru
nway/



A good and enthusiastic Green Party presence. Thank you to all involved
in doing the banners etc.

Jean

The counter demonstators were from a group that evolved from the Revolutionary Communist Party, who went from being a splinter from the RCG to a virulently pro-free market libertarian group...an odd evolution indeed.

58 comments:

Sarah Boyes said...

Derek, thanks for your interest in Modern Movement.

Though, the people with the placards with 'Revolutionary Communist Party' at the base were not from Modern Movement - a grassroots campaign founded by a group of students and young professionals - but were in fact Green campaigners (we think) who had specially made the signs in order to discredit our demo. With a dedication to freedom of speech and protest, we didn't complain about this.

I would point out we were all in nappies when the RCP disbanded. What is saddening is not that we're young and interested in politics (far from it!), but that 'accusations' of 'marxism', 'free market libertarianism' and 'shady RCP underground' get in the way of being able to have an open discussion about transport in the 21st century, and in a context not taken from the 1980s!

Our main point is demanding better transport and defending freedom to travel for everybody. We're in favour of equality, and convenience. To point out that there's better ways of dealing with the problems we face as a society, that don't involve further restrictions and rationing.

We are having a post-demo discussion on Wednesday - if you're interested in coming along and finding out what we're really about, come along. Details are on our webpages.

Thanks,

Sarah Boyes

Co-Founder, Modern Movement
www.modernmovement.org.uk

Derek Wall said...

thanks for your informative reply

Intellectual said...

Derek, you said that:

'"We will not be dictated to by scientists." This gives you an idea of the level of intellectual debate behind their group."'

Given that these placards didn't bear the slogans of Modern Movement, what does it say about the 'level of intellectual debate behind' the protestors you are seemingly on side with?

Would you distance yourself from them, and the implication that their slogan is 'we will be dictated to by scientists'?

What would that mean about your statements on this blog, and elsewhere that 'the science' is conclusive with respect to the need to act on climate change? Wouldn't that mean that you have effectively deferred any 'intellectual' engagement with the debate to 'science'?

Sarah Boyes said...

You're Welcome.

Having further looked around your blog, I'm wondering how you can advocate less consumption and greener living as some sort of progressive anti-capitalism.

Recycling, ecotourism, carbon-offsetting - all of these are growth industries, niche markets that make the 'consumer' pay MORE - you're essentially supporting new markets and new profits, advocating making people feel better about themselves through changing their consumption habits - not challenging capitalism and especially not challenging the market mechanism as far as I can see.

In demanding more for everybody, and calling for cheaper prices, MM is arguing for making the freedoms and things that we currently have equally available to everybody, and not just a select few. It sometimes seems that if Greens got their way, carbon offsetting, paying more for organic and 'green' goods would militate against the less well off being able to enjoy the benefits we already have as a society. The rich can afford to offset and so can fly; the poor can't afford to offset so can't fly. What's so progressive and anti-capitalist about that?

And as for your poll on finite resources - what a catastrophe narrative! - the only finite resource is people and their time. Would you rather spend precious hours sorting out your waste and growing turnips in your back garden or have your time freed up for more interesting and important things by being able to live more conveniently?!

Come On!! - I'm all up for more sharing, but all of this and above is by the by. Modern Movement is after more freedom, and more equality. More travel to see the world, learn about it and meet other people - for everybody, whether they're Green or into protecting 'indigenous' people or not.

We're not saying there's not something wrong with all-and-out consumerism, but that we embrace modernity and want its benefits for all.

Derek Wall said...

http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=1645

may be of interest to you, who knows.

I agree 'ecology' can be commodified, I am critical of this but ideas and culture can be a source of economic accumulation.

The hey folks lets ignore environmental problems is not though a perspective I adhere to.

keep reading my stuff, I have a couple of other blogs, 1600 posts here and a couple of books....certainly spend more time writing than recycling...I can't like the garden though...

Derek Wall said...

I quite like the garden I mean, the worm bin is a source of entertainment rather than oppression and I like fresh food from the garden...I do agree environmental concern should be made easy and a source of enjoyment...the eco puritans can feck off.

ManchesterClimateAction said...

Sarah, firstly see that you use the words "freedom" and "grassroot" in your statement. Can you explain what you mean by these definitions? How does your group organise?

Secondly, do you propose unfettered airport expansion? How can this work? Lets take Heathrow as an example. Its not just the GHG that are the problem(although it is my priority). Nitrous Oxide levels are already breaching EU regulations. We have the noise implications and what about the rights of the people who will loose their homes.

What is the 'Modern movements' take on their rights? Do the think that the rights of the students and young professionals to fly supersedes the rights of people living around airports? Air quality levels are awful around airports between planes and traffic.Poor air quality leads to helath problems as we know.
Surely individual rights must be balanced with the freedom of others to live a healthy happy life? And all this before we even get into the bigger discussion about who pays for Climate Change!

Green Gordon said...

People and time are the only finite resource?

Where is this cornucopia of infinite resources? I could really use it.

Sarah Boyes said...

What I'm driving at is, I think human liberation is key. What we want for ourselves - what we want to make for us as people, how we want to make our lives - that sort of aspiration should be the first concern, and securing it for everybody. That puts Green Thinking (which has only become publically fashionable in the last ten years or so) at least a second (though probably about ten in my book!). We're not saying don't respond to problems, but taking a look at what's really going on.

It's unfortunate that people have to move house from near Heathrow for the expansion, and we're for a more rational way of building. I don't see it necessarily just as an issue of balancing people's rights one against the other though, but one about what society wants - and about what will make life better more generally.

People should of course have a say about whether they get to keep their homes or whether they allow themselves to be housed elsewhere to let development take place, but I don't want to fetishise that as being the only way that people can defend themselves and what they want.

Partly, I think it's because the runway is seen as something 'business' is doing, rather than something there's genuinely good reasons to build, that it's easy to make a backlash to it. But opposing expansion (to be quite polemical in response) is like saying to your kids that they can't go on holiday this year because there's no flights, or you can only go abroad somewhere once in your life because protecting polar bears and preserving ice floes is more important, that your son can't take a gap year or study abroad because his 'carbon footprint' might get too big. It's to simply deny people opportunities they want - and there's a genuine want to travel and move freely. We reject the distinction between necessary and unnecessary flights.

Further, it's not as if MM are the only people supporting the building - we're trying to articulate in words what people are doing when they vote with their feet. Traveling more, flying more, and wanting to pay less. Green campaigners are flying all over the place, all the time...

I don't have a problem if people enjoy gardening, or want to buy organic and so on - I have a problem with the imposition of that way of thinking on everybody else as morally superior way of living.

Why not develop new resources, find new sources of energy - we're all for scientific innovation - but the dominant attitude seems to be one of retreat and defeatism.

Physics said...

Where is this cornucopia of infinite resources? I could really use it.

It's called the universe. It may not be infinite (but equally, it might be), but it's pretty big. And it's stuffed full of energy. Our ability to take advantage of it is limited only by the constraints we put on our own progress.

ManchesterClimateAction said...

Sarah, you speak of liberation but what you’re describing is almost an ethical hedonism or a mal functioning utilitarianism. I may only want to eat chocolate but if I did it would make me very ill. We may all want to drive cars but if everyone did the roads would be gridlocked and the air would be unbreathable; would this make us happy?

What good is having the freedom to fly around the world if it ultimately harms your quality of life/the air you breathe and the planet you live on?

Also, what about the people who are and will continue to pay the price for you’re so called liberation. People in the developing countries will/are paying a disproportionate price for the pleasure some may get from leisure flights. Their infrastructure cannot adapt to the global temperature increases as easily as we can in the west.

Finally(ish),you are misrepresenting the message of Anti-Airport Expansion Campaigners. We are not primitivists as you describe. Even Plane Stupid is not asking for an end to all flying. We recognise the difference between necessary flight and unnecessary. Hence the focus on domestic and shorthall flights. Check out their website or ask them?

There are so many other points I want to raise .e.g. how do you expand an airport in the middle of a residential area in a more ‘rational way’? How can you call yourselves ‘modern’ when you ignore modern science and economics...etc etc

John Stuart Mill said...

How can MCA accuse Sarah of 'utilitarianism' while making 'quality of life' central to his/her own argument?

gareth dale said...

The Sarah Boyes comment is disingenuous. When I checked out the Modern Movement website, there were several RCP old-timers listed -- and they're only the ones recognized by me, who has no interest in that organisation. (They've now been removed, it seems.) Plus, the weblinks are to Spiked -- the heir of the RCP tradition. There's therefore an obvious dishonesty in her comment; not trustworthy at all. Your post, Derek, was spot on.

bill j said...

The RCP/Spiked/Modern Movement are a bizarre neo-conservative sect who supported ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.
Don't waste your

bill j said...

breath...time...pick your own...

Civil Society said...

Can anyone tell me what the problem is, in principle, with the alleged links between LM Magazine, Spiked, Modern Movement, and so on.

'Cos it's not as if comrade Wall ain't no socialist utopian. And it ain't as if he, and the Heathrow protestors aren't connected through various protest movements, pressure groups, and NGOs, to some uber-weathly business interests and landed gentry - many of whom are high-profile activists.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

X-Ray-Spex said...

"...neo-conservative sect who supported ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

Gosh, there must be some compelling evidence that this is true. I can't wait to see it.

It ought to be very easy to find an article proving conclusively that these guys are 'neo-conservatives'. There must be a smoking gun... somewhere.

And it should be so easy to show that they 'supported ethnic cleansing'. All it would take it just one piece of evidence.

... if only such evidence could be produced.

Oh well. Looks like bullshit... Smells like bullshit... It is bullshit.

Sweet Irony said...

"The RCP/Spiked/Modern Movement are a bizarre neo-conservative sect who supported ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

Would that be the same 'ethnic cleansing in Bosnia' that Radovan Karadzic - leader of the Yugslavian Green Party 1989 - is accused of being involved with?

Ethnic cleansing is one way to reduce your country's carbon footprint, I guess.

greenman said...

Such a shoal of red herrings from the MM/LM lot who have descended on Derek's comment page.
I, as a techno-progressive green would like to think that I could engage in constructive dialogue with other people who have a techno-progressive approach, but unfortunately we find that the LM offshoots seem more interested in yah boo politics of talking about toff greens, eco-capitalists making the poor pay, or hair shirts (which do exist, but are hardly relevant when you are debating with ecosocialists)
Why are the LMers so aggressive? Why did the whole of the rest of the left despise them when they were the RCP? Could it be because their political approach entailed sophistical twisting, dishonesty, deliberate provocation and ellision of anything they disapproved of with conservativism or regression. If we want to trade insults, yes there are right greens, but noone in Green Left actually *takes money* from rapacious corporate interests to put on propaganda exercises (sorry, "debates") as the "IOI" et al do.
Some of you seem to be living in a Ken MacLeod novel rather than the real world. I mean - someone reasonably raises resource scarcity in response to a cornocopianist utopian comment and the response is we have all the universe to exploit! Phasers on stun, captain!
I speak as a fan of MacLeod who would like to see space colonisation as a great human adventure and the most likely way of preserving the life forms that have evolved on this sitting duck planet - but the fact is that unless we act NOW to safeguard ecosystemic integrity and stability and overcome the massively wasteful system of capitalism we will not have the *time* to develop the platforms, resources etc for space colonisation before our civilisation collapses in ecosystemic, economic, climate and resource catastrophe.
Also, will a hedonic society such as the MM appears to favour have the guts, drive and unity, will to sacrifice and collective vision to become spacefaring, or will it encourage individualistic indulgence until the inevitable fighting over the last scraps of resources, clean water and land?
Yes we must have a society which values scientific and technological progress, that seeks to meet the needs of all and that appreciates aesthetic quality.
This does not have to mean a society where people are valued on the basis of how much they are worth, how much they can accumulate and general one-upmanship. Better does not always mean MORE.

On Balance said...

Greenman said:

unfortunately we find that the LM offshoots seem more interested in yah boo politics of talking about toff greens, eco-capitalists ...
Why are the LMers so aggressive?


But Bill J said:

The RCP/Spiked/Modern Movement are a bizarre neo-conservative sect who supported ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

Perhaps Greenman's green spectacles only allow him to see things one way.

Sarah Boyes said:

if you're interested in coming along and finding out what we're really about, come along.

But Greenman appears to have ruled it out already. He can't have looked so hard.

Physics said...

I mean - someone reasonably raises resource scarcity in response to a cornocopianist utopian comment and the response is we have all the universe to exploit!

Yeah. That was me. What was your objection? What are the limits to what we can exploit?

greenman said...

It is all about timescales and practicalities, Physics. I agree with you that the future of the species and any chance of Terran origin lifeforms surviving is if we break out of the gravity well, etc. However, in reality, *in the here and now* do you seriously think that the current capitalist system (currently either sinking back towards its natural state of national/civil warfare over markets and resources or preparing a globalised fascism depending on your view of likely developments) is up to the task? Even if it were up to the task, to concentrate on that at the expense of the necessary repairs and maintenance that are required ecosystem and climate wise in the short term would be to condemn the vast majority of species and probably the vast majority of humanity to destruction whilst a tiny element of the international bourgeoisie and their hangers on make their escape. Of course if you are a social Darwinist/right "libertarian" this is perfectly OK, for most of us it appears as selfishness taken to genocidal extremes.

greenman said...

"On Balance" - I am not responsible for the comments of others on this thread, fortunately.
IMO though, pointing out the ideological origins and modus operandi of the Furedi-ites is not yah boo politics but perfectly legitimate, and possibly even a service to those honest and truth seeking techno-progressives that might have stumbled, unawares, into one of their many dishonest fronts.
In Green Left we explicitly distance ourselves from eco-capitalism, primitivism, neo-Malthusianism and the rest of the ideological dross cluttering up the green movement. Do Modern Movement distance themselves from and condemn the underhand, sensationalist, class collaborationist, corporate fundseeking "useful idiots" of the Furedi/RCP/Spiked/IOI etc etc heritiage? I think we should know.

On Balance said...

pointing out the ideological origins and modus operandi of the Furedi-ites is not yah boo politics but perfectly legitimate, and possibly even a service to those honest and truth seeking techno-progressives that might have stumbled, unawares, into one of their many dishonest fronts.

What are the (i)'ideological origins' and (ii)'modus operandi' of the 'Furedi-ites'? What are their (iii)'many dishonest fronts'?

Lots of accusations seem to be being made about this group, but not much substance. Just recycled Monbiot muck from 1998.

we explicitly distance ourselves from eco-capitalism, primitivism, neo-Malthusianism and the rest of the ideological dross cluttering up the green movement.

Except you don't. You go on marches with them. You talk of imminent doom in the media. You vote Green for them. You are the eco-capitalists useful idiots.

greenman said...

Here is a comment from elsewhere from an ex-member of the RCP who obviously is still sympthetic to the Furedi-ites viewpoint, but nevertheless exposes their modus operandi -

http://bagrec.livejournal.com/tag/frank+furedi

And IMO Monbiot's expose was largely correct, which is why it annoyed Furedi-ites so much. One does not have to be a supporter of Monbiot (and I disagree with him on many things) to agree with his analysis of the Furedi-ites.

A far as the rest of your comment is concerned, that exposes the political position you favour then - puritanical and sectarian isolation where you just condemn others from on high and never actually engage them in argument or get involved in any struggle which has "impure" elements. You just set up your own purist little front organisations. (Which is the historically typical position of the current you are defending.)

Yes we act on important ecological issues and this may put us into contact with currents we oppose - this is called politics! (as opposed to irrelevant pontificating)

Yes we intervene in working class struggles which brings us into contact with unions and workers who may have all kinds of backward, national chauvinist or religious ideologies - this is called class solidarity and ideological struggle (as opposed to sucking up to the predominant corporatist powers and arguing that their version of what working people need/want is more "progressive")

We do not talk of "imminent doom" (ironic that you should use emotive language to accuse others of being emotive) - we stick closely to the defensible facts, theories and projections of the vast majority of peer reviewed scientists on climate change. And these indicate that action is needed NOW.

We engage in the Green Party in England and Wales because, quite frankly, at the moment, what is the alternative on the left, electorally? (And work within the Green Party allows us to ideologically confront and combat neo-Malthusian, Deep Ecologist and eco-capitalist currents in a democratic setting.)

Things may change - if a mass worker's party with an ecological understanding was functioning in Britain then I suspect that might be our field of struggle. But at the moment there is not.

The difference is that some of us know things in oppositional politics are not perfect but still prefer to struggle from the bottom up, whilst others (and this is where Furedi-ites are similar to eco-capitalists) appear to have decided that the best way to progress things is to echo and bolster corporate propaganda and hob-nob with the establishment.

greenman said...

A full list of Furedi-ite fronts can be found, along with lots of their history here -
http://www.lobbywatch.org/lm_watch.html

On Balance said...

...but nevertheless exposes their modus operandi...

It doesn't 'expose' anything. Radical politics in the '70s and '80s were necessarily different to what followed in the next decades. The cold war, Thatcher &c... Domestic and global politics were very different. The response to them was also.

The M/O of the RCP wouldn't have been so different from so many other Left groups in organisational terms. I can't qualify this first hand, as I wasn't involved - I'm too young to have been, though my parents were involved in other Trot/Marx organisations, and its MO seems pretty standard from what I learn from them and the blog you’ve linked to. To criticise MM for what the RCP did in the 1970s/80s would be like criticising any project Tariq Ali is involved with today, on the basis that he was involved with the IMG and 4thI. Should we therefore exclude anyone involved with radical politics prior to 1990?

Furthermore, the emphasis you place on the RCP legacy movements - if that is what they are, and I haven't seen a convincing argument that they are - implies that there is a doctrine of Furedi's, that anyone who reads/writes Spiked, attends IOI events, or agrees with MM is subscribed to, and doesn't deviate from. No such doctrine exists. You can see that in the range of arguments that appear on Spiked, and are featured at IOI debates. The argument implies that people aren’t capable of having their own ideas, or organising themselves spontaneously. No references to Monbiot articles could ever substantiate the claim that Furedi somehow directs all the allegedly ‘front organisations’ and edits all the copy of their output. Monbiot’s criticism is nothing more than slur. What’s more, his claims such as the one above that the group ‘denied genocide’ or ‘supported ethnic cleansing’ had absolutely no basis in fact. I am surprised that you’d defend the casual use of these highly charged terms in what was little more than point-scoring exercise on Monbiot’s behalf. I challenge you to show that a word of what he has written is more that trivially true, at best.

A far as the rest of your comment is concerned, that exposes the political position you favour then - puritanical and sectarian isolation where you just condemn others from on high and never actually engage them in argument

That argument is clearly redundant. Here you are, engaged in argument, with me, apparently a Furedi-ite. Above, Sarah – alledgely a Furedi-ite - invites Wall to the MM meeting. And wasn’t it you, who, just a few posts ago said:

I, as a techno-progressive green would like to think that I could engage in constructive dialogue with other people who have a techno-progressive approach, but unfortunately we find that the LM offshoots seem more interested in yah boo politics

Would that be the ‘yah-boo politics where you (via Monbiot) call people genocide deniers and supporters of ethnic cleansing, and say that you won’t talk to group X, because X-ers are just snobs who don’t talk to people? Or is there another category of ‘yah-boo’ politics that’s much more significant?

…or get involved in any struggle which has "impure" elements.

You mean… get involved with struggles which are perceived as ill-conceived? Why would any one do that?

Yes we intervene in working class struggles which brings us into contact with unions and workers

… And landed aristocrat ‘protesters’… and corporate business interests… and the Tory party.

sucking up to the predominant corporatist powers and arguing that their version of what working people need/want is more "progressive"

Straight back at you. It’s easy chucking these insults.

We do not talk of "imminent doom"

If, by ‘we’ you mean eco-socialists, and http://ecosocialists.blogspot.com/ is representative, then you do:

Ecosocialists believe that the driving force of the ecological crisis is the ruthless pressure of the capitalist system to expand, in a process which destroys not only the integrity of nature but also the ecological basis of human survival. They therefore reject pseudo-solutions that only adjust the system, and seek basic changes in society and its relationship to nature.

This isn’t a critique of capitalism in terms of social relations. It is a naturalised form of socialism. It might as well be biological determinism. Without the doom, the entire premise is redundant.

we stick closely to the defensible facts, theories and projections of the vast majority of peer reviewed scientists

There is nothing produced by anything resembling ‘the vast majority of peer reviewed scientists’ to the effect that there is an ‘ecological crisis’, nor is there a robust scientific description of what the ‘ecological basis of human survival’ consists of. You confuse climate science with ecological science and your ideology. There may exist something resembling a ‘consensus’ within climate science that industry has modified the climate, and that it may continue to do so, and that it may be problematic. But the leap between this consensus and the possibility of ‘ecological crisis’ is weaker, necessarily, by virtue of it being a far more subjective and more contingent area of study. The third claim that human survival rests on the ecological stasis is weaker still, again, resting on many more contingent and social factors. The fourth claim, dependent on the previous three – that eco-socialism is the only solution to these problems – is clearly bunk, by virtue of the weight of contingent factors that exist between what emerges from climate science and eco-socialism.

what is the alternative on the left, electorally?

One might equally ask ‘what is the Left’, if There Is No (Left) Alternative to the party of Neo-Malthusianism, Deep-Ecology, and Eco-capitalism? You seem confused about whether Spiked/IOI/MM are representative of a Left or Right movement, and criticise them for their apparent Right-wardness, yet seem to have allied yourself to some highly reactionary ideas. But you want to change them, you say. I think you may need to check your argument for some double standards.

echo and bolster corporate propaganda and hob-nob with the establishment.

Right back at you. After all, what is the alternative?

Lobbywatch

Why should we find Lobbywatch – an anti-GM outfit – convincing? It just reprints Mobiot.

Physics said...

It is all about timescales and practicalities, Physics.

So the only finite resources are time and people, as Sarah suggested.

in reality, *in the here and now* do you seriously think that the current capitalist system ...

So if we're only talking about what is possible within 'the current capitalist system' then renewable energy and ecosocialism are not possible.

greenman said...

Good grief! A whole fishmarket of red herrings, misunderstandings and distortions. Apparently the old "On Balance" mum and dad were 70s and 80s Trots. Does it run in the genes, then? Or is it nurture? (If not the ideology, the shouty attitude)

I was an anarcho-syndicalist back then and you soon learnt that you could argue the best case you had, have all the evidence in the world about Kronstadt, Spain '36 and whatever and *some* of your 70s/80s Trots - particularly the RCP, would just dismiss it as lies and you as a "useful idiot". On the other hand, plenty of them were prepared to lie and talk nonsense. Us naively honest types! We just didn't get it until we understood where they were coming from. Basically their way of arguing and operating was completely without principle - ends over means stuff - like Nechaev's Catechism of the revolutionary that suckered Bakunin for a while. Underlying it was a belief that any tactics, however scummy, low and dishonest were justifiable in the cause of the Party. It was even rumoured that the RCP engaged in "horizontal recruitment".

A different decade does not alter the fact that this was a despicable and dishonest way of operating. In my encountering of them they were certainly amongst the worst, most-up-their-own-ass, most middle class and egotistical Trots in the country. (Even compared to the WRP - they of the disgusting old pervert Healy and denouncing Middle Eastern Socialists to their intelligence agencies infamy!)

Of course Furedi is not some grand illuminati, pulling levers! Who said he was? - The labelling of many of these legacy groups' apologists as Furedi-ites is not due to him controlling them, but due to the monoculture of ideas - right libertarianism with an anti-imperialist and workerist gloss - and shrill mode of arguing amongst the legacy movements, and the leading role in these movements of "legacy" ex-RCP members who still treat the twisted old fraud as a guru. If you can't see it, most dispassionate observers, left and right, can.

A range of arguments at the IOI, eh? These usually range from the Party line (delivered by an ex Party hack) through some naive liberal to some rightist "useful idiots" of your own as "balance" - with your real opponents (i.e. the real left and/or the greens, usually absent) presented as straw men/ogres. All served up with sponsorship from establishment or corporate interests.

Monbiot can defend himself.
The facts are that LM got itself into bother libelling journalists and were found guilty.

And "Trivially true" - a fine phrase that, worthy of an 80's RCPer - you were born 30 years too late!


Ho hum...You see the usual response to people playing insults and yah boo politics is to join in and you have got me doing it too. This is what I mean about the modus operandi - decades pass, personnel change, but the same supercilious middle class attitudes prevail. Your mode of argument is not to discuss the topic of climate change or technological development or social justice, but just to chuck insults and play word games.

"You seem confused about whether Spiked/IOI/MM are representative of a Left or Right movement" I have to say, that is not just me, but just about anyone who comes across them/you - why do you think that is? You might say it is because you are bold, misunderstood visionaries unafraid to take ideas from all points of the political compass. Alternatively some might say it is because you are shameless contrarian sensationalists for whom politics is more about careerism, ego and self aggrandisement than principle. Me, I'll reserve judgement.

Your comments on the quote from the ecosocialist site are just pathetic. It is easy to take things out of context. The statement does not explicitly talk about social relations because it is talking, at that point, about ecosystemic crisis. It is obvious that this does not mean that ecosocialists do not have an understanding of social relations, or that we would not be ecosocialists if there were not so severe an ecological crisis, or that we have nothing to say on social relations, or that we do not see them as being at the basis of the ecosystemic and other crises, or that we do not have a classic socialist understanding of the nature of class society and capitalism!

Your sophistry around salami slicing the ecosocialist case is wasted I am afraid. Are you saying that there is no problem with the environment, that climate change and pollution will not cause and are not causing mass extinctions of species?

As for your dreaming that human survival, at least for the majority of humans in the forseeable future, rather than in a sci-fi novel, is not "contingent on" a viable terrestrial ecosystem......you are not a transhumanist by any chance?

Of course the Green Party in England is not "the Party of Neo-Malthusianism, Deep-Ecology, and Eco-capitalism" - it is a left of centre party that offers a more radical challenge to capitalism than any of the other nationally organised parties of greater electoral strength. We combat these (minor) currents to stop them gaining a foothold, not as a minority like the left in the labour party fighting the neo-liberal consensus at the top of that party, but as the one of the most influential currents in the Green Party seeking to move the party further to the left.

The alternative to getting into bed with the establishment is to organise at the grass roots and work for socialism, democratically - is that so difficult a concept? Of course it does not pay that well, and could negatively affect the career prospects of "Students and Young Professionals"......

But keep on with the guilt by association accusation of ecosocialists for their crime of identifying and addressing the same problems as more right wing and establishment forces (but with very different analyses and solutions) if it makes you feel better - the old "Hitler was a vegetarian" argument lives I see.

After all it is probably easier than fessing up to the fact that your own current not only addresses the same issues as some of the corporate establishment, but have the *same solutions* and seek sponsorship and gainful employment on that basis....

On Balance said...

Maybe Greenman carries some bitterness from his 70s and 80s experience that he can't shake off.

He certainly struggles to explain what his objections to the RCP were, and how later organisations are related to them.

"But keep on with the guilt by association...", he says.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Greenman, what you need is a mirror.

Word Counter said...

I am pleased to read that Greenman is against insults and yah boo politics.

red herrings, misunderstandings and distortions.
the shouty attitude
just dismiss it as lies and you as a "useful idiot".
lie and talk nonsense
completely without principle
any tactics, however scummy, low and dishonest were justifiable
the RCP engaged in "horizontal recruitment".
a despicable and dishonest way of operating
the worst, most-up-their-own-ass, most middle class and egotistical
the disgusting old pervert
the monoculture of ideas
right libertarianism with an anti-imperialist and workerist gloss - and shrill mode of arguing
the twisted old fraud
the Party line (delivered by an ex Party hack)
naive liberal to some rightist "useful idiots" of your own as "balance"
straw men/ogres.
sponsorship from establishment or corporate interests.
people playing insults and yah boo politics
supercilious middle class attitudes
chuck insults and play word games
shameless contrarian sensationalists for whom politics is more about careerism, ego and self aggrandisement than principle.
just pathetic
sophistry around salami slicing
guilt by association accusation
right wing and establishment forces
"Hitler was a vegetarian"
same issues as some of the corporate establishment

Heavy Irony said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Did he say "shrill mode of arguing"?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

greenman said...

Yes it is all very territorial and primate isn't it. Just typical of us primitive greens. Unlike you brave new world "modernists".
You come on a green blog and take big steaming dumps, greens defend themselves by throwing similar steaming shit back at you and then you laugh at the "emotional greens". Ha ha. Very funny.
Now just what could have made me so angry and bitter do you think?
As for mirrors dear boy/girl - I did mention in my response that I was mirroring your approach, so I am quite aware thank you - take your own advice though.

On Balance said...

You come on a green blog and take big steaming dumps,

that's hardly fair now, is it? Sarah responded to Derek's version of the protest:

The counter demo, which consisted of about 30 people, later walked in front of our demo
carrying placards with Revolutionary Communist Party written at the base. This, of course, encouraged some of the spokespersons from Campaign Against
Climate Change to have a go at 'strange Marxists'.

One Greenpeace speaker who went to challenge the counter demo said that he was saddened to see that they were mainly young people. When he had challenged them on the science of climate change, one of them had replied: "We will not be dictated to by scientists." This gives you an idea of the level of intellectual debate behind their group.


Sarah was quite civil, wasn't she?

Things were fairly pleasant until Bill J commented that

The RCP/Spiked/Modern Movement are a bizarre neo-conservative sect who supported ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

Then you turned up.

greens defend themselves by throwing similar steaming shit back at you and then you laugh at the "emotional greens".

Well it is pretty easy to laugh at someone who can't take responsibility for loosing his cool in a debate. The steaming shit is mainly one way. Maybe you aren't able to tell the difference between baseless insult and an attempt to engage in discussion.

You obviously take criticism very personally. The problem is, you're not above criticism.

greenman said...

Baseless insults?
Most of my spiky comments were based on personal experience and years of suffering the baseless insults of the Furedi-ites.
And I was not referring to Sarah, I was referring to YOU.
Who lost their cool? This is the normal level of primate behaviour on most of the web. You have a slag off, I have a slag off, no-one learns very much. Get used to it.
It is not my normal mode of communication. What I do know is that it is very difficult for most of us not to respond to provocation. I dislike the style because I know I can rarely resist the temptation to get drawn in - as I suspect, despite the protestations, is also the case with you, and even the smart alecs who posted after my overnight thread.
With the Furedi-ites it has long been their standard mode of communication - just read any column by Hulme, O'Neill, Fox, etc etc.
Perhaps we need a more scientific and rational method of conversation - we could go through each other's statements and rate them on a "MOLD" scale - that means
Misunderstanding (Possibly innocent)
Outright Lie (Deliberate)
Distortion (Twisting what someone is saying for political advantage
)
Now their might be some Ms in my statements on here, even possibly some Ds in the heat of the moment and all, sorry about that. See, I can even self criticise, can you?

Taking your statements of 1.48pm though, I get two possible Ms, two possible Ds, Six straight Ds and six OLs. Well done!

On Balance said...

It's interesting that you say that you 'spiky comments were based on personal experience and years of suffering the baseless insults of the Furedi-ites'.

When it was pointed out to you that the claims made about 'the LM group' were fictitious - e.g. genocide denial, supporting ethnic cleansing, and the other nonsense - you said that Monbiot speaks for himself and you couldn't be held responsible for the words of Bill J.

On the same basis, I wasn't anywhere near you during the discussions you claim you had with RCP members during the '70s and '80s, I wasn't in the RCP, I'm not a member of the IOI, nor of MM, nor any other organisation. Yet having just sympathy with some of their arguments is sufficient for you to get all angry, hurl insults, and refuse to explain your position. I'm an 'RCP type', so you don't have to.

That reflects badly on you, not me, and not the 'LM group'. So too do the lies about genocide denial and ethnic cleansing, when you point people there to sourcewatch to ‘learn’ about the ‘LM group’.

You continue, 'What I do know is that it is very difficult for most of us not to respond to provocation.' Again, I think you confuse criticism of your political ideas with insult. You seem to take it personally. If there is an ‘RCP type’ at all, it exists in contrast to a ‘Green type’, who fails to make a distinction between not fully subscribing to the doctrine of climate change politics, and a ‘denial’ of all climate science concomitant with being a free-market/Neo-conservative Bush-ite.

Is it just the blogosphere? Hardly. E.g.. Monbiot. Lynas. Lucas. And many members of the British and American scientific and political establishment make the same claims about ‘denial’ and ‘scepticism’ more generally. This form of unsophisticated rhetoric demands criticism. You ask who has lost their cool. I would argue that it is anyone who thinks the world can be seen purely through the prism of climate change. Eco-socialists, as I’ve described them, for example. (Why couldn’t ‘normal’ socialism deal with climate problems? Why does it need a prefix? Doesn’t socialism stand up on its own? )

It’s good that you can self criticise. Well done. And yes, I can too. But I don’t see anything I need to apologise for. We can chuck Ms, Os, Ls, and Ds at each other for ever, but you won’t make your position any clearer. You need to explain your objection before you can claim that an argument was made with the intention of lying to deliberately distort the debate. For what it’s worth, I don’t see anything you’ve written that’s not OL or D. But, just stating it doesn’t make you any the wiser, does it?

matt_stuff said...

Can we start again? This row hasn't told me anything much about the Modern Movement. Could someone from the MM summarise their position on climate change and fill out their search for better solutions with specific technologies that could allow us all lots of cheap flights without destroying the livelihoods of working people everywhere?
Ta.

Derek Wall said...

Sarah,

any chance of an answer, I will post it up and we can debate, the social, environmental, economic, etc implications.

Anonymous said...

yes please! some of these comments are longer than dereks posts and contain eqaully baffling language/

Adlai G said...

I am not a spokesman for the Modern Movement. I therefore can not speak on their behalf. However, I guess I should declare an interest from the start. I am signed-up on Modern Movement’s Facebook group (for whatever that means), though I’ve flown only a handful of times in my 43 years to date (very ‘carbon neutral’ I guess my life is. I’d prefer to say I’m dirt poor and not proud of it! Call it hedonism if you want. I call it the aspiration for positive Progress).

To think about the title for a while just in terms of travel (not to mention the important issue surrounding immigration which figures no less for me (for what it is worth, open all the boarder and let them all in. The More The Merrier)), a movement based around Modern Movement is (in my opinion) an intriguing idea to say the least at this disjuncture in history and in the present climate which can only seem to prescribe a dead end ‘culture of limits’ on almost anything that might sound like any real Progress. Perhaps it is important precisely because no-one is really making a case against limits (quite the opposite, you can’t move for them) and people seem to have given up on future oriented historical change (one recalls Fukuyama’s End of History).

And so it is with the Orthodoxy of Environmentalism and Sustainability - from the top of society down. Anyone who raises there head above the parapet of the ‘culture of limits’ in polite society will not be thanked for doing so (excuse my ‘cheap’ shot but I’m going to make it anyway). As Monbiot rightly observes in this case - wrongly in his - on his website: “Tell people something they know and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it” (I’m not suggesting this applies to you, only to the ranting of some of the posts on this site and Monbiot etal). Though I think on a positive note that, thankfully, the majority of people (those who enjoy the positive contributions and life affirming feelings of movement) will not tend to hate you for stating the case for modern movement as they are, almost by ‘instinct’, (whether we like it or not) doing it anyway (and where they are dictated to or stopped they kick-up a stink: think over 1 million or so Downing Street e-petition against the London congestion charge. Overwhelming rejection of Manchester’s congestion charging and elsewhere. Protest in the north where they refused to pay to use the trains due to overcrowding and appalling conditions). Perhaps movement is something, quite rightly, the public have come to almost take for granted like running water, electricity, power shower and central heating etc (in my opinion, good for them. Let’s do even more of it for more people and with some substance and style). Though you would be a fool to think the case is anywhere near a done deal (the public are not in power after all) in so far as a truly Modern Movement fit for the 21st C. I guess that is just the Utopian. speaking. You always demand more from the ‘world’, not less.

I live in Sheffield and sometimes travel down to one of the three global world cities, London. As I’ve said, I’m dirt poor so travel on the National Express as I need the money for other just as important essentials. I’d take the train but it is too expensive. Though on neither am I a satisfied ‘customer’ (too slow, too cramped, no real comfort, no real conveniences: not efficient or modern - ‘not fit for [21st C] purpose’ as the Home Secretary once said). The first being worst than the second. But the second is nothing to shout about as some people like to lay case to. Me I won’t settle for less than the Maglev (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maglev_train), covering the whole country and even spanning the entire globe if need been . In addition I can’t believe how expensive and grotty the London Underground is! What is true for the road and rail system is also true for planes and the inadequate infrastructure to deal with existing and future demand. Unlike the ‘luxury’ of London with its several airport, there is no airport in my city. When I can afford to travel by plane I have to first make a journey of 40 to 50 (80 to 100 mile round trip). It cost me nearly as much as the plane fare itself just to get to an airport and back! Never mind the waste on my time and inconvenience this causes. I don’t know about you but my time, though it may be cheaply bought by my employer, is a priceless commodity to me. Given the hopes, dream and images I was fed as a child in the 70’s about what the 21st C was going to be like, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am now I’m here - I’d like to think the Modern Movement shares my frustration and disappointment at least on this matter. ‘The world is not fit for people to live in it’. Not the other way round as is usually presented to be the case.

So, Sarah says:

“What I'm driving at is, I think human liberation is key. What we want for ourselves - what we want to make for us as people, how we want to make our lives - that sort of aspiration should be the first concern, and securing it for everybody”.

On first consideration one might think that this liberation is a somehow rather grand word to explain a need for real modern movement. But wasn’t it not the movement our early migrations out of africa to all the corners of the world that made us the marvel we are today (despite living in a ‘culture of limits’). It is no less the case today - even ‘if’ it’s a short haul flight out of dreary Blighty. That surely was some powerful driving force to move beyond our primitive back yard in the birth cradle of Africa. Sod all to do with business interests. But perhaps a very ‘primitive’ urge to explore the world and humanity in all its fecundity and go beyond the horizon. And it is no less today. Whether it’s someone getting pissed in Prague, a granny visiting relatives abroad... even Al Gore and his new globe trotting ‘international global elite’ on their mission to proselytize doom and gloom and damnation to humanity. People wish to explore and seek and feel some sort of change (even more so in a culture with little to offer in the way of change. Any change no matter how trivial you may perceive it to be) for the better. No matter how much business may profit from our ‘instinctual’ urges for change, movement and the transformation of ourselves and the world and all its dynamic relations in the process.

But the whole notion of anti-progress and fear of change in Environmentalism and the Sustainability agenda is that it holds ‘man’ captive to the account of the Objective (hence ‘your’ commonly used phrase ‘The (a definite article) Science says’, as oppose to just Science) forces of Nature over and above humanity: the agent and subjective barer of change that in actively acting on nature both transforms not only nature but also transform ‘his’ biology and subjectivity into the bargain. What I find attractive about the Modern Movement is it isn’t timid in demanding a very optimistic, positive future oriented understanding of the human potential to change their circumstances and their environment. They appear not to be overtly risk-averse in this ‘risk society’ and are clearly prepared to embrace wholehearted positive human change for the better. Movement is surely the start, but a very much needed and important start at that. This runs counter to the dominant ideology of society stated above. We have the notion of the ‘risk society’ and the precautionary principle which is ensconced by societies’ major institutions that actively militates against any real positive change and experimentation at the cutting edge where lives are transformed. Though that is not to say no change is happening, only that any positive changes there are are dealt with through the prism of fear and risk-aversion and precaution which only aids to hold progress back and to be fearful of change which only serves to push the future further out of reach and from its realization in the here and now e.g. any major building projects and transport infrastructure.

matt_stuff said...

Thanks Adlai for the commitment of time there, but you haven't answered my questions. Can you describe how you see the problem of climate change, and can you suggest specific ideas which would allow us all lots of cheap flights without causing people harm?

On Balance said...

I can’t speak for MM either. But I wonder about the question Matt has asked.

Is it right to divide the problem as one defined by workers and flyers? Workers also work at airports, and opportunities in other sectors are made possible by travel and flight. Do workers actually have interests in there being no cheap flights? What if all workers were able to afford to fly – would that resolve the problem? Why not aim for that?

I guess Matt could say that the environmental problem still exists. I can agree that it does without necessarily agreeing that it represents the end-of-the-world scenario, which we are all familiar with. I guess that would reduce the problem to ‘what is the best way to approach environmental problems’. So what kind of solidarity with workers are we demonstrating when we say ‘no cheap flights’? To me it looks like a hollow promise to make the weather less bad, diverting our attention from the real issue of inequality. If there was less inequality, there would be fewer environmental problems.

Adlai G said...

I think On Balance has it right: it's a question of inequalities. And both at home and globally you are in a better position to deal with the 'problem' of weather in a society if there is a higher level of general distribution of wealth and development and relatively less social inequalities.

Some people seem to want to stigmatize flying - just like they do with smoking, eating 'fast food', drinking alcohol, shopping - consumption generally - and the 'consumers' that fly. But they forget at their peril that those very 'consumers' are workers that work to bring you those consumable luxuries - perhaps you ought to be mindful of biting the hand that feeds you at their expense.

Matt, I'm not so sure who hasn't been answering who's questions on this blog! But I know the ones I favor as a more constructive and rounded explanation of "the problem". How about you addressing my all too perceived or real problems - if it doesn't compromise your position too much - as I made a 'commitment of time' to air some. And please, without reaching for a sermon at the mount of 'The Science says'. You can no less argue with God than you can Nature.

If the first paragraph hasn't answered your question and it's not too 'glib'. If I have a "problem" with the weather or feel any 'harm' from it I put a coat on, if it snows I put on my hat and gloves and get out the snow shovel and salt. In contrast to the new globe trotting 'international global elite' who feel no constraints and have all the luxury of wealth, time and freedom of 'modern movement' and plane flight to proselytize their doom and gloom and damnation of Humanity.

Green Gordon said...

And what do you do when the creation of climate-refugees from newly uninhabitableleads to even more difficulties in terms of inequalities and redistribution of wealth. If you think this is a case of shovelling snow you vastly underestimate the potential calamity that could occur. Science (as a general mass) is naturally a bit wooly but it's very worrying how measurements keep seeming to outdo the most radical predictions, it's hard to understand how we can be complacent about this, supposedly, in the name of equality...

matt_stuff said...

I guess with my questions I'm trying to get a sense of whether we're addressing the same problem when we talk about climate change. I imagine a conversation with Bono about global inequality. He and I might be using the same vocabulary, but essentially we'd be addressing completely different problems - he's trying to tinker with the system to produce less inhumane outcomes, whereas I think the problems with the system are so vast and fundamental that the system needs to be abandoned and replaced, because it is the problem.

I've had these sorts of conversations before on climate change too. My understanding of it is that it is also a problem with far-reaching consequences which raises questions about the very nature of progress as defined in the past half millenium.

These kinds of conversations can go in various directions, but usually end up in shouting matches which don't shed any light at all, precisely because of the frustration of appearing to want to address the same problems (e.g. inequality) whilst actually using the vocabulary of climate change to talk about a completely different problem.

I spent three years reading almost nothing but climate sience and politics in my spare time. This was a result of my uncle quite rightly pointing out that I didn't know what I was talking about on the topic of climate change. I think I now have a good grasp of the full range of perspectives there are out there, and which ones can broadly claim to be based on science and which can't. I'm also very aware that everyone, myself included, is motivated by ideologies/values to take a particular position on the topic - something of which we greenies often accuse the so-called "deniers", but which we rarely acknowledge to be true of ourselves.

However, climate is much more fundamental than weather. In the case of global warming when we speak about climate we are really talking about the addition of vast quantities of heat energy to the whole system. This affects weather. It also affects the reliability of water supply, the quantity of land available to grow food, the abundance of wild food supplies (e.g. fish), the stability of land for housing and infrastructure, and human health. In each case, a relatively small change to the climate could trigger a disproportionately large change to human conditions.

My motivation for concern about this is that in all scenarios, the most vulnerable people to these changes are the poorest who have come off worst from our current economic system. In the more extreme scenarios - which are increasingly likely - it will also be the rest of us who suffer the effects of decades-long recession, loss of homes and land, and possibly widespread warfare for increasingly limited resources.

Perhaps I could ask you MMers how much of this description you agree with? Or, alternatively, can you describe in a similar kind of way how you see the problem of climate change. What kinds of scenarios do you envisage? Then we'll know if we're talking about the same thing.

Adlai G said...

Green Gordon

Does not your fatalism and problematizing of humanity know no bounds. I fear not for you then, the extention of the brotherhood of man. Or the courteousness of the milk of human kindness and sharing your wealth out with others. Though that shouldn't every in any way preclude us all getting together and demanding more eauality for all. It's curious to see that the immigrants appear to play a new role, though no less the very old rascist form raises its ugly head where the immigrants have now become the new 'Pakies' (Enoch would be proud), predicated on the grounds of 'the Liberal Left' and 'radical environmentalism' in the guise of the 21st Century culture of limits.

Green Gordon said...

What on earth are you talking about? I'm not a fatalist or someone who problematises (is that a word?) humanity. But I am precautionary, sorry, I have a scientific background, not a super-humanist philosophical one. Humanity may have infitinite potential but possibly not in the time scale required. Please give more concrete examples and fewer optimistic adjectives with regards to how best to deal with the problems of run-away climate change which is agreed by the scientfic concensus.

Incidentally, I'm a first generation immigrant myself, so I'm not really sure what you're getting at. I've got no philosphical problem with open-borders, but there's going to be a lot of political ramifications from the possibility of climate-asylum seekers moving out of inhabitable areas. The idea isn't pleasant for anyone, least of all the asylum seekers who may be largely blameless. I guess this is a circular argument though, being as we are both convinced. Cheers anyway, Gordon.

Adlai G said...

Green Gordon

You often find that the first generation immigrants can be amongst the more fervent in their support for restrictions on immigration. It doesn't follow that just because you may have once been an immigrant (or that your family was descendent from), that you now support open boarders and unlimited access and freedom. But all of this is a long way (though no less an important issue surround movement - but nonetheless a side issue) from discussing the need for, and the virtues of (and why your group/blog is against), modern movement in the 21st C.

Adlai G said...

"An entreaty to nature is a retreat from reason. It is a foreclosing of a political arguement" (emphasis added)

Adlai G said...

Green Gordon

It sounds like you have a strange sort of 'scientific background' to me!

One only has to think of the life and work of the scientist Marie Curie, and her subequent death from the radiation she worked with, to know that the scientific enterprise is far from a risk free activity; indeed, the phrase (a risk free activity) is not worthy of real scientific enterprise or the title of being exploration for that matter. The pursuit of exploration in any area of life, by its very nature, suggests one has an open, thorough and healthy working relationship to risk; indeed, one may be attracted to, or may well take up the call to discover or explore precisely because one may want to feel the frisson of risk.

The 'precautionary principle' is not a category or principle of science. It is a sociological category that has evolved out of the emergence of the Risk Society.

On Balance said...

Matt – again I’m not an MMer – but I know we can agree on one thing: Bono isn’t really interested in inequality. Perhaps I’d put it much more strongly.

What we might not agree about is how ‘extra’ heat will turn into human problems. It is one thing to say that this heating will change weather systems. It is another to say that it is problematic. It is another again to say that it will be catastrophic. And it is another thing entirely to say that it creates the need to prefix political ideas with ‘eco-‘.

We’re all familiar with the claims that the science is conclusive. But many of the statements made on behalf of science by environmentalists don’t in fact come from science. Of course they may be plausible, and therefore demonstrate some finite risk. But plausibility is not fact, and risk is a highly emotive tool.

For instance, you rightly raise issues that relate humans to environmental conditions, but if we remember to factor in development, you cannot be so confident when you say that small climate changes can produce a disproportionate human cost. Development mediates the effect of climate change. Civil planning allows for contingencies, and so on. To what extent then are there ‘natural disasters’ if the reason for the scale of their human cost is lack of development? To naturalise these human, developmental and social problems lets us in the richer world off the hook and deprives us of the political language to understand why things like this happen. How dare we call the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami a ‘natural disaster’, when the same scale of event in any industrialised nation – who have sea defences – would have not caused many deaths at all? In short, I’m suggesting that prefixing things with ‘eco’ is antithetical to human solidarity. Climate kills people, whether it is changing or not.

Another example would be Green Gordon’s concern about the ‘creation of climate refugees’. I really wonder what kind of politics that argument is useful to- As Adlai G has outlined. There are already millions of people who, if we naturalise the problem of inequality, already qualify as ‘climate refugees’. People have experienced these conditions throughout history before ‘climate change’ ever came along to explain poverty. Guess what… political conflict and social inequality make the climate more hostile. That’s not because it changes the weather. It’s because it makes it impossible to farm, to develop infrastructure and productive social relations. Yes the experience is ‘environmental’, but the causes are social, political and economic. So what about these ‘climate refugees’? Assuming it ever happens - let them in here! I’m not afraid of a ‘flood’ of immigrants, and I’m not afraid of being ‘swamped’ by them, either. On the other hand, recognising that it’s unpleasant to be moved by climate, how about we find ways of speeding up development elsewhere by helping with the development of the kind of infrastructure that makes people less prone to climate problems?

Sarah Boyes said...

Hallo again,

As for Modern Movement, you can see our statement - calling for cheaper, better, faster transport on our website - www.modernmovement.org.uk.

On the idea of climate change, though, there seems a lot more going on than at first blush. The climate has always been changing, but 'climate change' as a phenomenon is quite a recent. I think there's a variety of reasons for that, and not all of them have to do with what scientists have been predicting recently; but are bound up with deeper trends in society.

The idea of 'not being dictated to by science' is a rallying cry against people who would invoke scientific authority and expertise to veto public and political debate. The idea of building a future based on a fearful reaction to what's often presented as inevitable global catastrophe or a terrible present is something I have a problem with. If other people and publications have a problem with that then good - because I think it's a problem.

I'm quite happy to rely on scientific expertise and for scientists to write reports telling the rest of us what's going on. But firstly, it's not as if 'science' develops along lines abstracted from what's going on in the rest of society, or that funding of scientific research isn't tied to often political and institutional agendas. That's not a conspiracy theory about science, but pointing out it's ultimately based in society. Neither is it 'denying climate change'. But secondly, there's a world of difference between knowing what's going on, and then deciding how to deal with it, coming up with solutions that are both progressive and suit what people want and can take us forward.

It's not that I think 'Greens' are an homogeneous group bent on stopping everybody from flying. But the idea that we can't both deal with what's going with the climate and also keep on traveling and moving around even more than we do is ridiculous. If that is enough to make me a 'free market libertarian' then I suppose I'll have to swallow the moniker and get on with it. Though neither am I the one calling myself a 'socialist' - or anything else for that matter. It's much more important - I think - to look at what people want to do and stand up for something positive, good, fun, exciting and progressive. I'm not apologising for being idealistic, though. Or wanting to fly abroad as much as I want to for little cost.

Green Gordon said...

Adlai G, do you need to start every reply with an ad hominem, it's not really necessary if your arguments are strong enough. Do you think pointing out one example of risky science shows a trend that all science should involve risk or a non-risky endeavour is not worth undertaking? Do you think the risk to one scientist as a result of their experiments is analogous to the risk to millions of people as a result of of irresponsible industry (i.e. where the polluter doesn't pay?) I won't be replying any more until you answer the questions of what technologies you think can deal with the effects of runaway climate change in the short term, what evidence you have that we don't need to worry about it, how development will help people that it's failed to help already. I'm not particularly interested in discussions about my academic qualifications, or whether I'm a fatalist who 'problematises' humanity. If you show me a workble solution or reason I shouldn't be worried, I'll happily chnge my mind.

matt_stuff said...

Thanks Sarah

Aviation, for me, is the single most difficult issue where tackling climate change is concerned. I'm not the only one. It is one of the issues which has made it difficult for NGOs to agree campaigning asks - the Aid agencies rely on lots of flights.

The reason it is such a problem is because it has brought so many benefits to so many people, and because (unlike with e.g. road transport) there is no "green" solution. It remains the most carbon intensive activity that many people engage in, and it is a growing industry.

For now most of those concerned with climate change are trying to prevent the planned huge expanion in aviation and target private jets.

For my money there are only really three options: reducing air travel, geoengineering, and business as usual. All represent a serious curtailment of freedoms.

The worst is business as usual, because it will probably lead to a much greater narrowing of freedoms than the others. I went to a genuinely terrifying talk this week by Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre, outlining the state of current understanding of what is happening to the climate system (which is quite fairly represented in this week's New Scientist article about 4 degrees of warming).

Geoengineering is probably going to happen, simply because we have failed to tackle the problem so far and will be forced into desperate measures. The Royal Society are currently promoting its consideration, and New Scientist magazine this week is backing them. Interestingly, though, NS points out that the favoured option - an "atmospheric mirror" made of sulphates - still requires carbon reductions to be made urgently. NS also raises, but does not address, the political freedoms questions: who decides it is in everyone else's interests to do this? Who is responsible for damaging effects on some regions? There remain huge technical problems with all geoengineering "solutions", and the risks are unprecedented. This, however, is the really "Modern" option.

That leaves cutting the number of flights (as well as efficiency measures, which could save up to 30% of current emissions/km).
I don't like it. I can't imagine why anyone would like it. But I've yet to hear a good alternative. Suggestions welcome.

Adlai G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adlai G said...

"Increasingly, environmentalism is less about managing nature than pursuing a moral crusade to manage, and alter, human behaviour."

Adlai G said...

Green Gordon

Ad Hominem! Not so sure who is guilty of that.

Neither was I interested about your 'academic qualifications', but was mealy making a far more substantial point about the Risk Society in response to your inference that the reason you used the word 'precautionary' was because you had a 'scientific background'. Lots of scientist express fear/worry about societies trajection, however their comments are not based on their scientific work but is part and parcel of a general worry that is symptomatic of a free float fear in a culture of fear.

I wasn't aware that the academy of natural sciences was divide between on the left, good/safe/risk-averse science and on the right, bad/unsafe/risky science.

In my book the polluter pays = the public/consumer pays. Industry just pass the on the buck. Mind you this assumes the rather fatalistic asumption that all industry is mendaciously out to screw up the environment. So, you want to pay more for whatever consumer services and goods you consume? So given we are supposed to be talking about Modern Movement's proposal for more cheap travel, your answer is no. You would prefer to pay more. Sounds like you favour the rich (mind you, given your 'politics' has the patrons of toffs, I guess that's understandable). But what about the less well off.

If you haven't noticed the market place is chocked full of fear entrepreneurs. Why should I be any more fearful and worried about climate change any more than any other risk I'm told I should be worried about. I don't think your existential 'worry' will be sorted out by the politics of climate change. Not while the 'problem' is perceived to be external to humanity, who is the problem solver and not the problem.

To follow on from On Balances's previous thoughful observation about climate change refugees. Just on one example. How about the 1 to 3 million (not counting the already 10s of millions since the ban was introduced (mainly children in Sub Sahara Africa) climate refugees that die of malaria each year. Wasn't it not the wisdon of the environmental movement that forced through a world-wide ban on the spraying of DDT. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria. How humane was that. Is that an high enough human toll in the HERE and NOW to pay for 'the polluter pays'!

Green Gordon said...

Sorry, count me out. More ad hominems/'assumptions'/misunderstandings that either disingenous or show your lack of willingness to engage with points of view that you don't agree with make this a completely pointless exchange, I've asked questions and shown open-ness to beign convinced, you've avoided them and put up straw-men. I don't in anyway favour the rich, what a strange point to take. You'd rather pollution-mitigation was paid for from the public purse than from the massive profits of massively polluting massive companies, fine. I won't draw any conclusions about that. You think the Green Party is chock full of toffs (another ad hominem attacking the arguer and not the argument)? It isn't? and regardless of that, what party doesn't have rich people in it? P.s. why not read the wikipedia article on DDT. It's far from one-sided. Cheres, later, Gordon