politics

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Theories of change.

“[The Sunrise Movement’s] theory of change is that we need to destroy [fossil fuel] companies to defeat their political power. And if that’s the case, then you don’t want anybody who has been associated with those in energy sector who might be seen as a defender or sympathetic to them. It’s a sort of a total victory approach to getting this done.”

But on the other side, there’s a group of people who believe we need “to push them and force them to see that they can’t keep doing what they’re doing and that there’s an opportunity for them to take part in this transition,” Jenkins says. “Some of them will have to go out of business and be bankrupt because they’re not willing to come into the future, but this transition is too big and too challenging, and we don’t have the time or the political power to think that we’re going to just have total, overwhelming victory.”

In other words, Jenkins says, everyone has the same end goal of getting to zero emissions to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. But they have different views about how to get there, who should be at the table, and what they’re willing to compromise.

On seats at the table.

On the one hand, I do think this is correct in the way it articulates different approaches to the same problem. One the other hand: The fossil fuel industry has known since at least the mid 20th century that their industry was destroying the planet and actively spent money on covering that fact up.

Let them all burn.

2021-01-11T09:23:27+11:0024th January, 2021|Tags: , , |

The fucking stupid century.

Frankly, I expected more epaulets and tanks, but this is all you get. A bunch of dumbasses throwing chili powder. Someone at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, next to a dildo shop. What a fucking stupid century. This is what our coups look like.

Indi Samarajiva on coups.

2021-01-11T09:23:25+11:0021st January, 2021|Tags: |

You’ve got fail.

In that sense, You’ve Got Mail is the ur-Clintonite film, a pure expression of the era’s liberal political defeatism masquerading as an optimism that politics are now disposable — indeed, that they’re only standing in the way of utopia. This is the ethos of Third Way centrism: that socialism versus capitalism is an outdated dichotomy, and that popular interests will be most broadly served through technocratic tinkering rather than conflict. Of course, big capitalists come out on top in the final result, but everyone else — from the proletariat to the petty bourgoisie — is also happier and more prosperous for having relented. We have no use for the old antagonisms, the movie seems to say. History’s over. Romance has defeated it.

On romance at the end of history.

This is what I think about, incidentally, every time I read a You’ve Got Mail AU fanfic. Mostly because most of the ones I’ve seen recently involve whomever is playing the Tom Hanks character to realise the Evils of Capitalism at some point in the story. The Meg Ryan doesn’t just “forgive” him; he has to actually renounce (at least some portion) of his previous Evil Plot to take over the bookstore/cafe/car mechanic/kid’s science centre/library/whatever, usually by teaming up with the Meg Ryan against the real villain, who is inevitably the Tom Hanks’s evil capitalist CEO boss and, usually, also parent.

Which is kind of… So, like. The “normal” application of a fic AU is to take characters from one media property and have them enact the plotline, or engage with the worldbuilding, from another one. Right? So far so good. What I think it kind of interesting with the YGM AU stuff is that they’re almost kind of the opposite, in that they’re characters from an outside property “fixing” Mail’s original plotline.

It’s worth pointing out at this point I’ve never watched You’ve Got Mail and never intend to. Literally everything I know about it I know from reading fic AUs and—literally just right now—the summary on Wikipedia, and I suspect I’m not alone in that. I suspect a lot of people who write these AUs have either not seen the original film or saw it so long ago its themes have mostly been overtaken in their minds by YGM AU fic plots. Which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing—I actually think it’s awesome—just… interesting. The way these things go.

2021-01-05T07:40:19+11:0017th January, 2021|Tags: , , |

The normal one.

After the election, when Trump would not concede, Republican officials, following suit, would not recognize the results. Humor Trump, they said. What harm could come from giving him time to get used to being a loser? Here is the result: Terrorism.

On today.

2021-01-07T10:36:37+11:007th January, 2021|Tags: |

Overleveraged.

These women aren’t anti-Communist because of some weird holdover from the Cold War. They’re anti-Communist because they don’t want other people to have more money if it means that they will have less of it. When people talk about Trump supporters voting against their own interests, they’re eliding this very basic motivation: people voting entirely in their own interest.

To me, that rationale signals just how quietly unstable many of these voters actually find themselves. Even in a place like Idaho, with relatively cheap cost of living, there’s still a feeling […] that the bottom could fall out at any moment. A business could go under, a child could be diagnosed with a chronic illness, a parent could need full-time care and has no savings to cover it. The safety net is gone and the demands of middle-class living, from those family photos to constantly tweaking the design of your kitchen, add up. A lot of families are carrying two car loans, plus thinking about a third when their kid reaches high school age. Being middle class in America today requires a whole lot of consumer debt. The house of carefully balanced credit cards could collapse at any point.

Anne Helen on lifestyle reactionaries.

See also all those “you don’t have to worry about Biden’s tax plans if” memes. I think the influence of middle-class precarity–or even the perception of middle-class precarity–as a driver for reactionary conservatism is very under-examined. It’s the whole thing of, “We struggled and worked hard to get where we are, and we’re still only One Bad Day away from it all ending… so why should anyone else have an easier ride? (Also: please God don’t let anyone else find out how close to the edge we really are…)”

Obviously the Standard Issue Marxist Answer to this problem is a combination of false consciousness and “class solidarity” except… you’re talking about people, the petite bourgeoisie, who fall outside of the standard class solidarity paradigm. There’s a subconscious understanding that communism is not “for” them which—as someone whose middle-class/small-farm-owning Russian ancestors did indeed get thrown in the gulags—is not an entirely unfounded fear. And, yes, no-one is seriously trying to introduce Soviet-style capital-C Communism into any modern liberal democracy, let alone the US… But.

But I think it is kind of, again, underestimated how much middle-class lifestyles do change under even the most coddling of social democracies, and how bad socialist reformers tend to be at messaging around that. So yes, you socialize healthcare and education and install killer public transport systems and a four-day working week, and have basically just made life better for everyone in society. Hooray. But you’ve also taken away pretty much everything the aspirational middle class has been taught to value as life goals. Being able to send your kids to a “good school” doesn’t matter when every school is good and, worse, private schools are treated as the glorified babysitters for the idiot offspring of the parasitic upper-class. Owning a nice car doesn’t matter when the train is much easier and, worse, private car ownership is selfish and planet-destroying. And taking pride in working hard and for long hours has no value when “working hard” is framed as exploitation and anyone who indulges in it is seen as a bootlicking scab.

And yes, incidentally, those are indeed all real examples.

They’re not insurmountable ones, sure, but the point is they have to be surmounted in the first place. You don’t just need to convince the reactionary middle class that they’ll be better off in the democratic socialist workers’ paradise; you have to find some way to scale the wall of existential horror that comes for everyone when they realize everything they’ve been taught to value in life is, at best, bullshit and meaningless and, at worst, actively exploitative. That’s no easy feat, and requires a level of leadership the current donor-and-focus-group-tethered political class doesn’t seem well-positioned to express…

2020-12-09T08:52:19+11:002nd January, 2021|Tags: , |

Social immobility.

A short history of student debt in the US.

2021-01-11T09:23:23+11:0031st December, 2020|Tags: , , |

The Inhabited Earth.

For [Uninhabitable Earth author] Wallace-Wells, ecological devastation has not been wrought upon the few by the many. Rather, “each of us imposes some suffering on our future selves every time we flip a switch, buy a plane ticket, or fail to vote.” Never mind that 1.2 billion people today have little to no access to electricity. Or that 80 percent of the world’s population has never flown. Or, most egregiously, that ExxonMobil executives already knew that their industry was destroying the planet in 1977 but chose to hide their findings and fund climate change–denying research because there was money to be made in killing future generations. To blame everyone equally in the face of such extreme inequality is to take the side of fossil capital. It denies rather than clarifies the obvious: the climate crisis is a space of class struggle.

On the new class war.

Or, to put it another way: in 2020 when a global pandemic shuttered air travel and forced people to stay inside for extended periods, the US’s carbon emissions fell by less than 10%.

Maybe, just maybe, individual actions aren’t the main things at fault, here…

2020-12-08T08:30:18+11:0030th December, 2020|Tags: , , |

Not of this world.

The security systems in airports are hell. But rich people don’t go through it, they fly in private jets.

The medical system in the US is bad and overpriced for most people. But it’s very very good if you’re rich or powerful.

The US has been at war for almost 20 years now, but US elites don’t care, because they and their children don’t fight in it.

The US education system is bad, and worse in places which are poorer. US elites don’t care, because they either go to private schools or cluster in rich neighbourhoods where the schools are good, because they are funded through property taxes.

Covid-19 is not a problem, because it mostly kills poor people and minorities, and it’s making the rich much much richer, getting rid of their competition among small business-owners.

If you want something to work well, powerful and rich people must be forced to use it. They must have the same experience as ordinary people.

Ian Welsh on the private jet rule.

The more money you have, the less you think about the world as something you live in versus something you own…

2020-12-07T08:05:51+11:0018th December, 2020|Tags: , |

Death World.

Trump, too, is a person who is totally uninterested in books, art, and music. (Does Trump even have a favorite band? Has he ever listened to music for pleasure?) Trump doesn’t give a shit about nature—the Trump family’s approach to revamping the White House Rose Garden, as we found out, is ripping out the trees and draining it of color. Trump is impressed by things being big and impressive, and just about the only facts he knows about the world is what color things are and how much they cost. I do not think it is snobbery to say that Trump is dumb, but it’s important to note what’s dumb about him: the problem is not that he doesn’t go to the opera, it’s that he is totally uninterested in other people or in anything beyond the most boring superficial material objects in front of his nose. […]

Donald Trump’s brand of American capitalism troubles me so much in part because it’s so ignorant of what it destroys. It doesn’t care about the beautiful beloved places it demolishes to put up luxury condos, or the diverse species and cultures it wipes out in the pursuit of “efficiency.” Having no knowledge of what is in a library or a university, it doesn’t care what it shuts down or sells off. Having no appreciation for what wild animals and plants are like or why they matter, it obliterates them. Having only the faintest awareness that the Global South exists and contains actual human beings, it thinks nothing of imposing catastrophic climate change on billions of people in other countries. Taking the world of surface appearances as its reality, it destroys life and creates a soulless dystopia of cops and commodities, without any awareness that it is doing so. A whole country of Trumps would create what I think of as “Death World,” where everything heartfelt and fragile and lovely is crushed in the pursuit of raw material gain for its own sake.

Nathan J. Robinson on children’s media.

This is from a very long take by Robinson on a particular YouTube children’s “content creator”, and it is both definitely Peak Robinson and worth a read.

2020-12-01T17:56:20+11:008th December, 2020|Tags: , |
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