Political Climate Change
By Frank Scott
Kyoto Accords that went into affect in February take a mincing step towards
environmental sanity, but they are adamantly opposed by capital's most powerful
religious fronts. Judeo-Christian and Islamic governments in the US and Saudi Arabia
lead the stand against this small move towards controls on energy use. They
exemplify the return to unregulated, free market capitalism which threatens to
make the globe a green house gas chamber. But this reactionary policy is only
one aspect of the political economic reversal of the last thirty years.
After an international breakdown of the free market called "the great depression," capital prescribed prozac, in the form of social democracy, to protect its future. By assuring that people would not drop dead in the streets, or worse, revolt against financial tyranny, capitalism "with a human face" bought valuable time. But since the mid seventies it has returned to its earlier ugliness. This developmentally damaged economic practice supposedly promotes self-reliant individuality, but it does so by threatening collective suicide.
Reactionary capitalism was popularized in the 1970s through the leadership of Reagan and Thatcher, but they were only fronts, the way religious fundamentalists are now. Behind them were the financial powers whose policies assured wealth and affluence for minorities, by creating poverty and debt for majorities. But the entire world is menaced by international economics that are causing more destruction than the industrial revolution produced.
Nonpartisan science's warnings that we are abusing the planet's resources at a dangerous pace have grown more numerous and frightening. Even America's lapdog, Tony Blair, saw fit to call a British conference to examine the problem of climate change. It reported that we are in even bigger trouble than we imagined.
But fundamentalist economics simply relies on religious theories of the free market, regulated by a perverse natural law that guarantees all will work out in the end. If people just get out of the way of market forces, some will simply suffer, starve and die as nature would have it, so that a minority might feast on the wealth created by everyone else. If the invisible hand that regulates this market tends to give most people the finger, it's god's will, so just shut up and enjoy it. Nice.
The newer, more deadly assault on the natural environment has been accompanied by an attack on personal freedom. The threat of terrorism, inflated to create profits and fear, has led to a rejection of previously observed democratic rights. Though hardly so acknowledged, 911 was a tragic retaliation against an oppressive force, and the war on terror has unleashed a greater threat of retaliation than existed before, while abusing civil freedoms once taken for granted, if rarely practiced.
Having slaughtered thousands in a criminal quest for imaginary weapons, it has introduced fundamentalist instability to a nation previously stable and secular. If that fundamentalism operates in pre-capitalist religious form, the system may have made its long-term crisis more severe. But that crisis is a problem for everyone, not just the relative few who profit from injustice and exploitation.
While international nature-rape grows more dangerous, the national atmosphere is of a witch-hunt, practicing soft-core fascism that could become hard at any new, manufactured, menace.
The arrest and detainment of people guilty of nothing but being of Arab lineage or of Muslim faith was barely noticed by a mind managed public. But more attention has been paid, at least among college faculty, since media tele-vigilanties found a radical academic guilty of "treason." His biting critique of American policy unfortunately included a tasteless allusion to some who died on 911, and this quote was used to vilify his character, threaten his job, and severely challenged academic freedom.
In the present atmosphere of political correctness, criticism of anything deemed sacred is treated as blasphemy, and it has become dangerous to speak critical thoughts, even in the previously sacrosanct academic environment.
An even greater threat to the financial temple is seen if speech becomes action. A radical lawyer who dared to defend someone defined, by the new immorality, as unworthy of defense, faces a severe jail sentence, for doing what she believed. And what her profession supposedly dictates.
Lynn Stewart practiced her politics and the law by representing a jailed Islamic leader who threatened ruling power in Egypt, not the USA. But her defiance of a gag order, by carrying a message from him to his followers in Egypt, was treated as an attack on the USA. This gag order, and the government eavesdropping which recorded her conversations with her client, all are results of the near insane anti-legal atmosphere that has reverted to biblical law. And so she faces prison, and her profession, already sorely limited in the number who put the law before the dollar, will now see even less willingness to defend the unpopular.
Our mythological founding fathers might be spinning in their graves. But more important than legends of our freedom's origins are the facts of its compromised condition. In this, it joins the other endangered aspects of our physical and metaphysical world.
The current political atmosphere is as threatening to our future as is the present weather forecast by our climate changes. The only hope is a strengthening of democratic desire to transform our entire social and natural environment. That hope shows signs of becoming reality, in the global community of political activism, and the national communities of some South American states. And in the USA, where a peace movement , temporarily traumatized by the anybody-but-bush malfunction, is in motion again.
For globally coordinated democratic action to avert future disasters, it will have to create governments of the people, and not of private capital. Sounds almost like the dream of high school civics. Or the reality of Venezuela. Whatever the inspiration, if we fail to realize it, the future may make the present look clean and free by comparison.