We do have a situation where the problems in the climate are not accidents. They are crimes. All apologies to the prison abolitionists reading this, but crimes mean there are also criminals. With criminals, that means perpetration has taken place… and thus, if what happened is against the interests of human beings, then for those human beings at least, the perpetrators are enemies.
Why do I say all of that? Simply because we hear it said often– the environmental movement doesn’t have enemies anymore, just “potential partners.” This is supposed to come from the belief that corporations can and will make the needed adjustments to allow life to continue. This conveniently avoids noticing that they not only created the problems in the first place, they approach environmentalists as enemies– even the ones who are, in point of real fact, actually their best allies.
This all makes sense– Big Green ideals now involve finding ways to make their pay masters happy– they receive high donor funding from sources that direct their politics, and the first rule when giant capital gives you money is that you can’t oppose the dominance of capital. As such, there are not enemies anymore.
Here’s the thing. That’s nonsense. The thing needed most right now for the environmental movements in North America is the ability to recognize an enemy. So let’s make a little list of enemies– just a few. There’s obviously the entire Harper administration, so we can skip that. But you know what else? There’s the Obama administration.
Saying this matters. Since the struggle of preventing Keystone XL became the flagship struggle for the Obama-pr team that surrounds Bill McKibben and his 350.org, Obama has been held up as a likely ally. But when his administration continues to fail to do anything about climate and people do not sense that the Democratic Party is an enemy, then self-hate may set in. “We tried so hard, but our influence was unable to garner enough to make a real push to do…” STOP.
The Obama administration was the most well financed campaign ever run in the US when it came into power in the election of 08 and nothing has changed since. If there was ever going to be a reason for the government to do the bidding of social justice movements it would be now, while the administration is a lame duck administration.
Some other enemies of superior note also include Justin Trudeau. Trudeau is perhaps most well known in a green way for commercials he used to appear in where he advocated for The Nature Conservancy. TNC is about as right wing as one could be– it is a group designed to buy up lands, privately, and hold them in eco trusts. Privatization of crown land as a strategy. That sums up Liberal Party outlooks. Green labels on people like Stephane Dion aside, “no environment minister on earth could stop the tar sands,” right? Trudeau is currently jetting back and forth to the US where he is promoting not only himself and his vacant stare, nor even just the tar sands– but even the Keystone XL itself.
Andrew Weaver. The “first elected Green in BC” has recently started endorsing the building of a refinery in British Columbia. People want to have their heroes, and with climate change perhaps it makes sense they look to people with a phd or similar concept attached to their names. But Weaver is no environmentalist just because he knows how to explain the science of climate change that is happening. He endorses that which he sees as a “lesser evil” than bitumen on the ocean.
But Andrew Weaver is actually a great example of what happens to the politics of “what is to be done” if we accept the unwritten, secret but extremely explicit rule: one must not question profit or growth, nor can a solution be put forward if it challenges the basic tenets of either. This is the approach one must use if they discard the concept of “enemy.”
If you accept that the framework of this society is that oil and gas profits are not a bad thing unto themselves, and that in order to deal with the “collateral damage” of the burning of fossil fuels, we must use financial incentives to make change– then you have no enemies, you only have policy disagreements. This is how people like Andrew Weaver can sit down at a table with people like David Black, or how Tzeporah Berman can work with General Electric while trying to privatize rivers.
Without enemies, we have a new version of Naomi Klein’s the Shock Doctrine evolving. It’s really as if climate change is now a worldwide Katrina for ready made excuses among the Green hierarchy:
“Things are so bad, there is so little time left for climate mitigation that for us to try and topple the system and do everything perfectly– well, there just isn’t time for that. We need action from the “decision makers” now, and they are the corporations. Even if it seems like a long shot, let’s give the corporations even less hassle, even more power—while they fix things for us. They are the only ones who can, while we still might be able to.”
What could provide a greater argument for Disaster Capitalism than climate chaos? Soon, with millions of new climate refugees, we will see the same things being done again: Excuses from people who notice correctly that the scale of the problem is new, incorrectly assuming that this somehow means that governments like the Canadian and American ones should be entrusted with even more scrutiny over who goes where, and who gets what papers.
Without enemies, and with a planet spiraling into the positive feedback effect, the emergence of a new form of climate based fascism is increasingly likely– and the worst part, is without enemies– and without understanding that the ruling class of oil and gas powers, forestry corporations and more have caused this mess and necessarily cannot solve the same mess with the same solutions– we will walk into this trap as if it really is a case of “Well, you know, climate change effects us all– let’s not work ourselves up over the details of who is hurt worse.”
We need enemies. The first rule of thumb while we try and eliminate tar sands, fracking, MTR and oil shale and all of the other major contributors to climate change– is anyone who tells you that there are no enemies– might just be one.
Love the 7 billion people and the ecosystems on this planet enough that you make enemies of the very short list of people who put this whole balance at risk. Love humans and the planet so much– that you compile a list of enemies.