“Only a crisis produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around,” said free-market saint Milton Friedman.
Today, as the world reels from recession, unemployment and civil unrest all while facing an oil shock and worsening symptoms of climate change, Friedman’s disciples hope to capitalize on today’s crisis.
And what’s the idea they want to pick up? It’s simple, really: Ordinary people need to make sacrifices so that big corporations can thrive.
Corporate globalization is your daddy
After all, the argument goes, only big business can create jobs and keep us all out of bread lines. So if we want economic recovery, then we all need to tighten our belts, accept lower wages, give up unions and forget about do-gooder nanny-state luxuries like taking care of the environment.
Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, gave this message to a packed hall in Totnes in England, where she had little praise for those who are supposed to be protecting us from dangerous anthropogenic propaganda about climate science.
The climate movement hasn’t just failed to make progress in the last few years. It’s actually going backwards politically, even as the science continues to get more certain and the situation on the ground gets more dire.
Last year’s failed cap-and-trade campaign blew any chance for serious climate action for years not only in Washington but worldwide.
And the movement hasn’t wised up much since, insisting on sticking to either one of two failed strategies:
- Keep your head down just talk about the science while pretending the ideological war between science and denial doesn’t exist, or
- Try to appeal to the mentality of the right (“hey you free-marketers, climate change can actually be good for capitalism by creating lucrative opportunities for entrepreneurs”).
Traitors to the free market
But despite Palin and misspelled Tea Party signs, the right isn’t stupid when it comes to what it would really mean to accept climate science.
If you admit that climate change is real, that it’s caused by industry and that it’s dangerous, then you must also agree to regulate globalized capitalism. So there goes the free market.
“The green tree has red roots,” as conservative columnist George Will wrote.
So it’s not about melting icecaps. It’s about socialism.
How can climate activists fight that? First, they need to listen better to the actual claims made on the right. Then, Klein says, activists need to hit those claims head on.
Watch video excerpts from Klein’s Talk sent out last week by Transition Network co-founder Rob Hopkins. Klein’s brilliant analysis is must-see TV.