|Sean Cubitt on Thu, 3 Oct 2019 14:24:57 +0200 (CEST)|
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|<nettime> CO2 tax (was: left wing climate denial (franz schaefer)|
Hi Franz (and David etc)
the question of a green new deal can't be separated from capital and what alternatives we might build
Utopianism is debarred by a large tract of the Marxist tradition I grew up with, but we need some now. So
I am also in favour of all exhaust fumes having to pass through the passenger compartment of petrol-powered vehicles; and of push-button-operated traffic lights being set to default on pedestrians wakling, so drivers have to get out of their cars and push a button to get a green light. No-one said utopia would be easy . . .
PS I deleted a speculation about evening up sweated labour and energy-intensive manufacture: I don't know how that might be achieved: ideas? Intuitivel;y it seems to link to the idea of a global debt moratorium, but if so how?
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2019 21:09:28 +0200
From: franz schaefer <email@example.com>
Subject: <nettime> left wing climate denial
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Anyways: what I wanted to talk about is the left wing climate denial. So I
was surprised to learn that some groups on the left where opposing a CO2
tax: with the argument that it would make goods more expensive for the poor
and the rich would not be hurt as much. Others more along the line of: The
CO2 tax works within the capitalist system and without changing the system
we are screwed anyways and thus lets just oppose it.
So while this is not technically "climate denial" I think it is pretty
close: The underlying assumption is: things are not as bad as we are told
and we have enough time to change things later and lets just sit and wait
for the revolution to come until doing something now.
This is stupid in many ways. Instead of using the fact of climate change to
indicate the urgency of a system change the message is: just wait its not as
bad. If one does not acknowledge that it is an urgent issue then one will
not be able to communicate that more is need. Above all: even if we could
establish an e.g. socialist society today: we would have to also do the
same optimizations in our production that a CO2 tax would bring: compute the
amount of CO2 that is produced by producing a certain good when it is
produced by a factory of type A or by a factory of type B and then choosing
the one with the lower ecological footprint. Is it cheaper to import
bananas from far away or produce them with an extra amount of energy in
local glasshouse once you have to pay a lot for the CO2 emissions? So a CO2
tax in the capitalist economy only helps to structure it in a way that we
would have to do anyways.
Now one one the left would dare to argue that we should reduce our wages so
that the goods would become cheaper. (Yet still you find some idiots on the
right that have not read "Value, Price and Profit" by Marx and would argue
that we should not demand higher wages because those would only make the
goods more expensive). Now a CO2 tax, at least if all the money that is
taken would be payed out to those in need, could be seen as an additional
wage. I mean, why on earth should it be free for capitalists to poison our
basic conditions of living?
Now once someone understands that the costs of doing nothing against climate
change will far out weight the costs of anything that we can do now: Even if
the burden of paying for a CO2 tax would be only on the poor: It would still
be a social thing to do: As it is better to pay a little now then a lot
later. And the costs of the climate catastrophe will be for the most part
on the poorest of the poor: Their houses under water, their agriculture
As for the stupid controversy about the CO2 tax on the left: What I started
thinking about is the motivations for some on the left: what drives them to
their activism? Sadly, it seems there is a certain group that is driven
more by "punishing the rich" then driven by "lets build a better world".
As for the measures to be taken on climate change I think there are 4
* a CO2 tax - which works within the capitalist system and helps to optimize
for a lower carbon footprint.
* a "green new deal": still within the capitalist system, the state would
get more involved in actively rolling out large scale green technology.
* universal basic income - will help to get rid of unproductive ("bullshit")
jobs. and prepares for a different kind of economy.
* real system change.
The problem with the "Green New Deal" is that is also allows people in the
believe that the basic capitalist system does not need to be changed much.
The state financing green tech will be seen as a huge business opportunity
by some and others will take it es evidence that the capitalist system is
fine. So I also think there is a need for a left wing critique of this
"Green New Deal" plans - but for the same reasons as mentioned above: Of
course we DO NEED that green new deal.
Why is it not enough?
>From reading the manifesto we know: The biggest curse for a capitalist
economy is the curse of over production. Once there is too much of
something you can not sell your goods for profit anymore. Now in the 160
years since the manifesto capitalism has learned to deal with that: creating
artificial demand for crap that we do not need. Short lived products.
Cheap, useless things that fills the shelf of the stores. An advertizing
industry which produces only one good: "our discontent with what we have".
War and "defense industry". Financial "products", etc..
I would estimate that more then half of what we produce is not necessary or
more harmful then not. Also given that larger companies tend to be
extremely inefficient and bureaucratic and that even desk-only jobs have a
large ecologic footprint. I recently read that 1/4 of all jobs in the US
are just for disciplining other works.
All this would not easily be solved by a "green new deal" or by a CO2 tax.
I think the best way to get rid of those would be with a:
* Universal Basic Income
Who would work if their livelihood would be guaranteed? Well hopefully a
lot less people. So we could get rid of the unnecessary jobs? But how to
decide which is necessary and which not? Well: as long as people, due to
the basic income, have the money to buy what they NEED, there is an
incentive to produce that.
One objection here is that all the people with their permanent vacation
would also produce a lot of CO2, but I do not think that would be the case.
Now people only have a few weeks of vacation and try to fill it with as much
as possible. But if you have all the time in the world: You can take your
bicycle on a month long tour to the coast, etc. And then people could
actually spend their time for useful things: art, free software or growing
So a basic system would to some degree still connect to our capitalist
system but also prepare a for a life beyond capitalism:
* System change.
Ultimately we do need that. But with an UBI we already got a long way to
Now what I found most noteworthy in thinking about all of this: We need all
4 of the above. Not just because of the urgency - that we can not way for a
complete system change until we start doing something: Also because all of
the 4 are tapping into different pools of reduction of CO2 emissions. The
optimizations within the production done by a CO2 tax. The Green Tech
brought by the Green New Deal and the reduction of unnecessary crap by the
franz schaefer (mond).
. Franz Schaefer GPG: 3774ECD160719558
.. +43 699 106 14 590 Fingerprint: 5025 A74A
... firstname.lastname@example.org 01DF F2AE 75E9 57C8
... http://www.mond.at/ 3774 ECD1 6071 9558
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