Would you advise someone to flap towels in a burning house? To bring a flyswatter to a gunfight? Yet the counsel we hear on climate change could scarcely be more out of sync with the nature of the crisis.
The email in my inbox last week offered thirty suggestions to green my office space: use reusable pens, redecorate with light colours, stop using the elevator.
Back at home, done huffing stairs, I could get on with other options: change my lightbulbs, buy local veggies, purchase eco-appliances, put a solar panel on my roof.
And a study released on Thursday claimed it had figured out the single best way to fight climate change: I could swear off ever having a child.
These pervasive exhortations to individual action — in corporate ads, school textbooks, and the campaigns of mainstream environmental groups, especially in the west — seem as natural as the air we breath. But we could hardly be worse-served.
While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives, fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71 percent. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.
On the one hand, I get really irritated with many modern “apolitical” hippies who have absorbed so much neoliberal individualism that they think all of the world’s problems can be solved with positive attitude and good vibes – they are removed from all socio-political reality and tend to float in a bubble of economic privilege. On the other hand, I’ve become kind of disillusioned with much of the left’s resistance to adapt to different material conditions – we are not going to win over the working class of today with 1917 larping and newspapers heavy with Marxist jargon (at least in much of the Western world, which is what I can personally speak for). I make these complaints both as someone invested in hippie/raver subculture and as a leftist committed to world transformation beyond class society; the merging of these two traits was a driving force behind this blog, as I wanted to help reinvigorate a cultural-political connection that’s been seemingly dormant for decades (and is only starting to revive as of recently with the solarpunk movement).
It’s a real shame that Murray Bookchin came down so hard on what he described as the “mystical” elements of environmentalism and feminism, because I feel as though an aesthetics revival is overdue on the left – especially within social ecology. Not everyone gels with the “mystical” vibes that Murray was criticizing (most won’t, in fact), but to categorize all cosmic yearning into the same box as the aforementioned neoliberal hippies is a tad reductionist. There are those of us who crave story, purpose, color, and other such “mushy” shit in our worldviews; there’s nothing inherent to anti-capitalism that demands that we rid ourselves of these cravings. In fact, I can’t stress enough that they are intensely useful to the cause.
I’ve gone into more detail on this topic in a @leftist-daily-reminders post that outlined my support for a “dual power” tactic – we need to create parallel institutions for the people of the world to pour their support into, adapting the language and aesthetic choices to the given area. I also support intentional communities that try to break away from society and consciously present an alternative to laypeople. The class struggle should always be firmly about putting power into the hands of the people, and that will mean diversity in the details. Diversity in the details, united in anti-capitalist purpose. I’m not suggesting that we revitalize a solarpunk/Starhawk aesthetic where it doesn’t apply – just that there are many places where it will apply and that we on the left need to be more open to a unified front with it. Rather than coldly refusing to engage with any positive visions for the future (”The socialist society of the future will be built by the people of the future; we shouldn’t anticipate the details.”), we need to be enthusiastic in our visions for the post-capitalist future. After all, how else are we going to get the people on the train without a clear picture of the destination? (or at least a relatively clear picture of the destination, beyond just “communal control over the means of production”)
It worries me somewhat to see liberals seeking to ‘out’ far-right protestors in order to get them fired. We need to choose the forms of force we employ against neo-Nazis and their soft support - being especially conscious that far-right, racist and Nazi ideas have their roots in misdirected working-class disgust.
Attempting to wield ruling-class violence, and the ultimate punitive sanction of unemployment, sets up deceptive lines of battle: between ‘the Nazis’ and a broad 'anti-racist’ camp which might easily accommodate rabidly neoliberal capitalist interests. History has shown us, time and time again, that capitalist states and huge industrial combines have been more than willing to court far-right political movements to safeguard their profits, and forming alliances with 'progressive’ businesses has fatally hamstrung working-class movements in their attempts to deal with racism as a symptom of capitalism.
Punching Nazis is a core component of anti-racist self-defense - but think twice before you try to set the bosses on them.
Conservatism" in America’s politics means “Let’s keep the niggers in their place.” And “liberalism” means “Let’s keep the knee-grows in their place – but tell them we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.” With these choices, I felt that the American black man only needed to choose which one to be eaten by, the “liberal” fox or the “conservative” wolf – because both of them would eat him.
a reminder that jk rowling spent a year before this election trashing jeremy corbyn (and also mocking his young supporters). a man who has worked tirelessly for human rights, peace, and social betterment for decades. her excuse at the time was that she thought he was “unelectable”. so let’s fast forward to june 2017.
during the election day jk rowling did manage to tweet the following message of support for an anti-corbyn mp she wanted elected. cheers joanne.
and a thread of someone saying he was voting for the lib dems. also so helpful.
it’s interesting that joanne managed to have so much time to tweet about the us president during the uk general election, but just couldn’t really be bothered to talk about how the horrific policies of the tories and theresa may could be changed if jeremy corbyn was prime minister. (also side note: being anti-trump doesn’t automatically make you a progressive… even some republicans are anti-trump.) so essentially during a general election that she claimed she wanted to win joanne couldn’t muster up much of anything for the labour campaign. all while a conservative government has been decimating the uk. while 3 million children go hungry, nurses use food banks, and disabled people die because of cuts.
i have lost every last bit of respect for jk rowling. the excuse that she donates to charity is also getting old. if you’re not actually interested in ending the reasons why charities need to exist in the first place then i don’t think you have a right to lecture people about morality. if you can’t support a labour party trying to defeat the tories then you’re not on the side of the most vulnerable in society.
it’s strange how neoliberal centrists always say that the left won’t compromise when they won’t ever do the same themselves. the blairite centre-right faction of the labour party and neoliberal white feminists like jk rowling aren’t who the labour party of the future should represent. we are. it’s actually an extraordinary achievement that labour, under the leadership of jeremy corbyn, has been able to achieve so much this election. especially when corbyn has been undermined at every turn, both internally and from the right-wing corporate media.
jk rowling and the centre-right faction will probably continue trying to bash the left faction of the labour party, but it will only make the progressive left stronger as it continues to expand its calls for policies that support the many not the few. this election regardless of the final result has certainly been vindication for jeremy corbyn and his supporters, and has shown that there are many people who want an end to neoliberal austerity. it’s also revealed so much about jk rowling’s true character. and i for one have a hell of a lot more respect for jeremy corbyn.
The Star Wars prequels tell the story of a neoliberal Jedi Council that ignores the needs of Anakin, who is eventually lured towards right-wing populism by Palpatine/Darth Sidious. When Obi Wan later declares that Senator Palpatine is evil, he’s not wrong, but he fails to recognize the major part the elitist and hypocritical Jedi Council played in all of it. Anakin Skywalker transforms into Darth Vader, and with this transformation we see right-wing populism evolve into fascism. Obi Wan, during his time in isolation on Tatooine between the two trilogies, leaves behind his liberal idealism and radicalizes, fully understanding the necessity of using force to defeat fascism and training Luke to take on Darth Vader.
Serially awesome Cambridge economics professor Ha-Joon Chang has written the world’s smallest economics textbook.
It’s five key points, all of which are illustrated above; and most of which boil down to “economics is a discipline for the people, and to serve the people. It must be taken back from the political agents known as economists."
The problem with capitalism – especially with its today’s prevailing form: neoliberalism – is that it appropriates progressive ideas such as cultural diversity, feminism, environmentalism etc and converts them into yet another commodity, thus making them saleable. This gives capitalism and the negative characteristics it implicates – eg huge wealth inequality, wage slavery, ecological destruction, racial prejudice etc – a positive and progressive appearance. Whereas capitalism in the former days was symbolized by cruel and insensible fat men with top hats, today many people identify capitalism with hip CEOs donating millions to charity. The problem is that essentially nothing has improved. On the contrary: there have never been more people living in unbearable conditions while some others possess unimaginable wealth than today. To show that to the people should be one of our most important priorities in our struggle against capitalism.
“Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.”
Neoliberalism is one of the things that I hate the most. It’s a black fucking hole of capitalism, greed, and economic inequality, and instead of looking at Ronald Reagan and Margaret fucking Thatcher and going “wow, these policies contribute to vast systemic corruption and economic plutocracy”, liberals have just gone “yeah, this is good. we’ll go with it.”
democrat: imperialist??? nah Hillary isn’t an imperialist what a— [trips] [hundreds of thousands of US-backed coups spill out of jacket] w-what a fuckign i these arent Hillary’s im just [gathering them up frantically sweating] listen i just listen fuck [thousands of neoliberalisms scatter across the floor] shit fcuk she’s holding them for a friend just listen
I see myself as an antiracist feminist. Why does antiracist feminism matter in struggles for economic and social justice in the early twenty-first century? The last century was clearly the century of the maturing of feminist ideas, sensibilities, and movements. The twentieth-century was also the century of the decolonization of the Third World/South, the rise of the splintering of the communist Second World, the triumphal rise and recolonization of almost the entire globe by capitalism, and the consolidation of ethnic, nationalist, and religious and fundamentalist movements and nation-states. Thus, while feminist ideas and movements may have grown and matured, the backlash and challenges to feminism have also grown exponentially.
So in this political/economic context, what would an economically and socially just feminist politics look like? It would require a clear understanding that being a woman has political consequences in the world we live in; that there can be unjust and unfair effects on women depending on our economic and social marginality and/or privilege. It would require recognizing that sexism, racism, misogyny, and heterosexism underlie and fuel social and political institutions of rule and thus often lead to hatred of women and (supposedly justified) violence against women. The interwoven processes of sexism, racism, misogyny, and heterosexism are an integral part of our social fabric, wherever in the world we happen to be. We need to be aware that these ideologies, in conjunction with the regressive politics of ethnic nationalism and capitalist consumerism, are differently constitutive of all of our lives in the early twenty-first century. Besides recognizing all this and formulating a clear analysis and critique of the behaviours, attitudes, institutions, and relational politics that these interwoven systems entail, a just and inclusive feminist politics for the present needs also to have a vision for transformation and strategies for realizing this vision.
Hence decolonization, anticapitalist critique and solidarity.
An excerpt from “Feminism Without Borders,” by Chandra Talpade Mohanty.
Living in the First World*, we constantly hear about the glories of world travel. Travel is moralized as a good deed, an opportunity for spiritual transformation, or a test of the will. But in a world where global inequalities and borders dictate who gets to jetset around the globe and who must stay put, travel is largely the exclusive ability to consume in a world where others are selected to be consumed.
(*I will continue to use First World, Third World, Traveler, Backpacker, Native and Other to critique the imagined dichotomies that shape the culture of travel, not to say that these are accurate labels.)
Travel’s Imperialist Foundations
Colonization has always depended on controlling representations of the colonized Other, in order to deny their humanity and complexity, and both justify and facilitate their domination. That legacy is echoed in travel literature today, from guidebooks to blogs, which paint countries outside the West as primitive, exotic, and rich for exploitation, with their people, cultures, spiritualities, and natural habitats presented as products to consume or experiences to conquer.
While appearing neutral, travel literature is undeniably political, erasing global exploitation, shifting blame for historical injustices, and interpreting the world through white supremacist and Western-centric frameworks.
Contrary to the belief that travel makes one open-minded, travelers tend to approach cultural differences in ways that highlight their own sense of universality against the perceived deficiency of the Other. Poverty and chaos are seen as innate characteristics of the Third World, as proof of inferiority rather than evidence of exploitation. From their fleeting vacations in foreign lands, First World travelers believe themselves capable of evaluating and defining the Other’s complexities in ways they would find unthinkable with respect to themselves. While comments may range from sweeping generalizations about how uncivilized and strange the Natives are, to seemingly generous praise of how unmarred, beautiful, and peaceful they are, there is a shared subtext: that the observer has the ability to place the observed on a scale of human development, taking for granted their own position at the top of this scale.
And while the problems of the Third World are always seen as internally created, the solutions are expected to come from beyond. Those who feel guilty about the extreme inequalities that make their vacations possible can participate in a random assortment of volunteer opportunities–known as “voluntourism” or humanitarian travel–even though many of the charities and NGOs providing these opportunities are highly politicized, neoliberal organizations at the root of the problem. The voluntourism industry rests on the assumption that Third World people are so incapable of managing their lives that they can be saved by the natural ingenuity of any and every unskilled First World do-gooder.
Travel vs. Tourism
Distinguishing themselves from mere tourists by their oversized packs, Lonely Planet guides, and hill-tribe treks, the “Backpacker” travels not just as what they do but who they are, and their identities–predominantly privileged and white–are developed in relation to the exotic cultures they try on.
In spite of its veneer of grassroots independence, backpacking has become a large industry and prevalent culture that claims not only the land and resources of a country, but the very lives and identities of the Other as commodities. Seeking out the bizarre, problematic, and dangerous aspects of the Third World, backpackers turn whole countries into amusement parks, freakshows, and wild photo ops. Backpacking’s relentless obsession with adventure also fetishizes an "authentic" experience of the Other, with the goal of ever more completely possessing the Other’s being. Third World people are forced to sell and perform bastardized versions of their cultures in order to survive, while the Western world appropriates, commodifies, and dessicates. The existence of the Other is reduced to a badge on the First World traveler’s display of cultured enlightenment and superiority, available for purchase at tourist markets in the form of cheap and stereotypical imitations.
Backpacking has also been instrumental in “discovering” new areas, as communities previously untouched by tourism are initially penetrated by the backpacking trail and quickly transformed to fit touristic needs.
When the Third World becomes the premier destination for “budget travel,” poverty itself is commodified. Travelers seek cheap places to stay, cheap transportation, cheap sex, cheap food, but the prices are considered “fair” only in a world where Third World people are considered innately inferior and deserving of poverty. Rather than challenging Third World exploitation, budget travelers have the chance to exploit directly, as part of the fun, violently haggling down to the last cent with Third World laborers, who are pushed below subsistence wages.
Waltzing through their fantasies of the exotic, First World travelers transition old imperialist doctrines into contemporary forms. They rarely look at themselves and see the ugly history and circumstances that make their travels systemically possible. The elements of our world that are unjust, pitiable, broken, backwards–all that is everywhere but with them.
The Other at Home
Travelers of color occupy a space between privilege and marginality, knowing the violence of exploiting difference while simultaneously wielding the power to do the same. Notwithstanding their complicities and contradictions, travelers of color share the experience of being Othered by the global reach of white supremacy, and their perspectives offer an important challenge to the white supremacist moorings of travel culture.
Due to the structural inequalities that define the industry of travel, however, travelers of color confront the familiar experiences of exclusion and tokenization in an industry that justifies itself as a celebration of intercultural understanding.
About this Project
Inedible Roots seeks to challenge the exclusive and racist tendencies of travel culture by centering the perspectives of people of color, either as they experience tourism’s impact on their bodies, lands, and cultures or as they navigate their own travels.
It actively critiques seemingly independent or “humanitarian” forms of travel, such as volunteer trips, “backpacking,” and “eco-travel,” and the ways these forms of tourism exploit and commodify Third World Otherness.
Inedible Roots will share critical perspectives on travel–personal, journalistic, academic, and otherwise–and highlight activism around the world that challenges the neoliberal, racist structures on which tourism relies.
We welcome travel-related narratives, diatribes, artwork, and other forms of expression from people of color as well as resources related to the topics we discuss. Click Submit to find out how you can contribute.