Well, it happened. Finally! The mainstream media has finally shown their highest level of interest in a major story that has evolved in no small part because of the realization that climate change is already acting upon the atmosphere now. And the problem, so it seems, is that plateau of interest generated in the major press in the United States brought about because of events like Sandy, towards climate change. For a short while, Keystone XL managed to garner certain levels of respectable stories, but like media relations campaigns on twitter, the trend abates and so does coverage.
By outflanking the Big Green movement, the administration has almost rendered the issue of KXL irrelevant, ever the more so because of the expansion of fracked oil and other pipelines destined to “relieve pressure” from the tar sands as well as the Bakken region. Spectacularly, however, the community led motions to prevent tar sands have continued to expand, re-focusing the struggles onto a community level where it can flourish.
The two paths forward to resistance to climate chaos and tar sands in particular appear to be to follow the dead end of the Keystone XL struggles, allow the campaign to be flogged by the administration again as– stop me if you have heard this before– delays on a possible decision are announced again.
No matter how successful the initial campaigning has been in the lowest common denominator of putting a struggle around a tar sands pipeline on a North American stage, the science says stopping tar sands alone is not sufficient nor prevents further climate chaos; the media has relaxed its level of coverage of the same media-savvy White House productions involving civil disobedience in a non-confrontational manner; the government wants nothing better than to tie up Big Green in an endless game of soundbites; community struggles that have continued unabated have gained traction and are growing as fast as media interest in KXL is diminishing.
Community struggles do not have an all encompassing demand that can be accepted or denied through this or that permit. In fact, this very attribute is precisely why big capital doesn’t invest on a regular basis in community struggles the way it is done for Big Green on such a national scale.
Capital needs to constrain and control the investments it makes– the wing of capital that is wedded to oil and gas is much larger in money and power, and seeks to own governments, corporations and even broadcasters such as Peter Mansbridge or Rex Murphy. The types who manage capitalism and try to clean it up with a coat of green paint helped do much the same of the US government, creating the Democratic Hopey Changey administration we have now, and have done much the same to direct McKibben’s 350.org group.
Make no mistake, the campaign to target the pipeline was chosen by this very faulty reasoning: A singular target is needed– and KXL provides this. In so far as it goes, it has served a purpose. Yet the very reason this KXL campaigning could receive the levels of direction and funding is the declared goal– having a single target that can be put on pause– that allows a “win” within a media-relations framework that can be “celebrated,” and funders can steer, control and direct the process.
Community framework struggles– even those that go into municipal governance struggles as a target, have not more than one-off funding, if that, to play with. Consequently, even with attention to KXL diving, the grassroots organizing that has fed the fertile land over the last season is just now starting to bloom.
From communities that are resisting fracking initiatives, tar sands pipelines that have not been subject to a national well-funded campaign, to preventing tar sands in the US and even to continuing the struggles that are based on simple information have not slowed.
Is there a real appetite to have community struggles never centralize but always coordinate? How can a true alliance of community outside of the grasp of Big Green properly evolve?