Interwoven into a Fabric of Oppressive Systems

A recent article in Popular Resistance by Don Fitz is titled, “PATH TO EXTINCTION OR TO A LIVABLE FUTURE. Climate change is not a “thing-unto-itself” but is interwoven into a fabric of oppressive systems. Addressing climate change requires multiple approaches, including participatory economics, financial equality, and mutual aid networks.

COP 26 has shown, once again, that solutions for climate change will not come from societies whose goal is to maintain the status quo. That will not act to decrease fossil fuel extraction and use. That refuse to listen to the wisdom of Indigenous peoples who have lived for millennia in balance with Mother Earth.

It has long been said in many ways that problems cannot be solved by relying on individuals and institutions who created them. The novel crisis of climate change nested within intertwined social problems calls for new ways of thinking – ways which are manifested in new mutual aid groups, new trade unions, and new political institutions.

Stan Cox whacks all three dragon heads in his new book The Path to a Livable Future: A New Politics to Fight Climate Change, Racism and the Next Pandemic. He dismisses the anti-science and racism of climate denialists such as Trump, strips bare the insincerity of the early Biden administration, and uncovers the lurking dangers of energy denial.

The book goes beyond these. Cox demonstrates that climate change is not a “thing-unto-itself” which can be halted by a quick fix of a few trillion dollars; but, is a pernicious stain in an interwoven fabric of oppressive systems. This lays the groundwork for outlining a multiplicity of problems which must be addressed to confront climate change. These include reducing production via a participatory economy, establishing financial equality, and building mutual aid networks.

PATH TO EXTINCTION OR TO A LIVABLE FUTURE By Don Fitz, Popular Resistance, November 7, 2021

Readers of this blog know Mutual Aid is a focus of my study, writing, and work. https://landbackfriends.com/?s=%22mutual+aid%22 What Sam Cox says deepens my conviction of the importance of Mutual Aid as a pivotal part of change that is desperately needed now. To immediately address the consequences of our current fossil fuel-based economy.

But I wasn’t familiar with the term participatory economy. I updated the model I’ve been working on to include that. (See below)

The Participatory Economy model, also known as Participatory Economics, or Parecon, was developed by economists Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel and first formally presented in 1991 in Princeton University Press. Drawing on libertarian socialist ideas and real-world examples throughout history, their motivation was to inspire hope, inform strategy and to demonstrate that a viable and better alternative to the two dominant economic systems of the last century, capitalism and a command economy, is possible.

Participatory Economy


Another term I’ve just learned is “energy denial“. I’ve been guilty of thinking “alternative energy” would play a significant role in transitioning away from fossil fuels.

The term “energy denial” reflects an intense belief that “alternative energy” (AltE) such as solar, wind, and hydro-power cause nothing but trivial problems which should be ignored in order to allow unlimited expansion of production.  Michael Klare is one of innumerable progressive authors who use justified hysteria over climate change to demand unjustified spending of trillions of dollars on AltE.

Core to Cox’s analysis is a concept that runs so contrary to conventional leftist wisdom that many will not speak it, read it, or publish it.  He is at the forefront of authors willing to melt the golden calf of AltE.  He slams congressional proposals for a “Green New Deal,” noting that they fail to include any plans for restricting fossil fuel (FF) production and merely pretend that increases in solar and wind will cause a reduction in its use.  Reduction is not written into the plans because FFs are essential for manufacturing AltE equipment.  The book portrays the most troubling aspect of AltE to be its promotion as a panacea.  This contributes to the preservation of social structures that are most in need of replacement:

PATH TO EXTINCTION OR TO A LIVABLE FUTURE By Don Fitz, Popular Resistance, November 7, 2021

As a result, I’ve also changed this diagram by removing “renewable energy” and replacing that with “conservation“.

Thanks to bright green technologies, we can continuously grow the level of consumption on planet Earth and deliver a bloated North American lifestyle to all without inviting climate catastrophe or a general breakdown of natural ecosystems that support all living things.

That’s the big bold lie that politicians are telling themselves this week at yet another climate conference. Greta Thunberg calls such dissembling just so much “blah, blah, blah.”

As I’ll share in this piece, a number of brilliant energy critics from Vaclav Smil to William Rees have done the figuring, acknowledged the physical limits of things, and told us the truth. A truth that is not as uncomfortable as you might think.

It is this. We must contract the global economy, restructure technological society and restore what’s left of natural ecosystems if we want to live and breathe.

Returning to a 1970s Economy Could Save Our Future. We’d contract energy use by half. Shrinking consumption is the solution we can actually live with. Second of two By Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, 4 Nov 2021

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