On environment, Sam Gindin gets it wrong

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Vancouver ecosocialist Brad Hornick responds to Sam Gindin’s dismissal of “environmental catastrophism”

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A recent article by York University professor Sam Gindin, published in Jacobin, criticizes what he calls “environmental catastrophism”— he also calls it “fearmongering” and “crisis-mongering.” Warning of environmental crises, he says, will cause either demoralization or embrace of reformism.

A powerful reply by Brad Hornick of the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group has just been published on the Canadian website rabble.ca. Some excerpts …

Sam Gindin’s recent contributions to the The Bullet and Jacobin explore the lost potential of the working class in revolutionary politics. On the economic and ecological fronts, he argues, working-class politics has been incapable of catalyzing widespread and consequential societal mobilization, or becoming vital sites of theoretical and practical struggle. …

Gindin’s reference to, then sidestepping of the ecological question is a first clue that something is amiss in his interesting juxtaposition of the class struggle between contending forces. While Marxism as a whole is leading an important ideological fight against climate change, some of its spokespeople are clearly laggards in understanding the relevance of a burgeoning ecosocialist movement.

When he argues we cannot evoke environmental catastrophism because we risk “immobilization” he engages in the same fear-based psychologism of denial behind reactionary political solutions and utopian green capitalism. …

The pressing question that must be sharply addressed is this: Is there or is there not a crisis? …

As J.S. Risbey argues, there is a difference between “alarmist” and “alarming” in connection to climate crisis. The former exaggerates a danger causing unwarranted panic and the latter is an appropriate response to objective reality.

Climate & Capitalism will have more to say about this.
In the meantime,  read Brad’s article here … 


More from my notebook …

1 Comment

  • Ginden is very astute on the state of class politics. His views on how to organize for change are very realistic:
    “It would seem much more useful, in terms of building the capacity to address the environmental crisis, to frame the issue of the environment as linked to a broader struggle that includes the redistribution of income and wealth to more equitably share the costs of environmental restraint; a cultural shift in the balance between individual consumption of goods and collective services; the development of public spaces and desperately needed infrastructural renewal (including mass transit); and the conversion of potentially productive facilities rejected by the market to the production of socially useful and environmentally necessary products and services. Such a framing would also tie the environmental crisis to the obvious need to place democratic planning on the agenda and go so far as to start talking about making private banks into public utilities so that we have access to the financial resources to carry out the above initiatives.”
    A pathway for humans to leave the oil in the ground.