James Gustav Speth on five decades of US government knowledge of climate change and promotion of the fossil fuel industry, a legal challenge to power from children growing up in the shadow of catastrophe, and his book They Knew: The US Federal Government's Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis from MIT Press.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
I’m always looking for the magic bullet, people. I’m always looking for the easy answer, the panacea, the talismanic formula, the miracle cure. For you, my people. For you. To ease the burdens with which the Pharaohs of capital have saddled you. To end their herding of poor people into prisons and their control of the powerless and dissident with violence. To end their destruction of community institutions which they replace with franchises to channel what community resources might remain into the transnational pockets of the ruling class. To rescue the planet from being sucked dry of what it needs to sustain life by the vampires of endless economic growth.
All of the societal remedies being floated these days miss the mark. Getting rid of the filibuster is a band aid, as are term limits, and any of the other tweaks to so-called democracy. Getting rid of the Electoral College would be great, and not just because they don’t have a football team, but it would still not be nearly enough to stop those who weaponize capitalism from bending elections to their desires. An intelligence test for public service might prevent a Donald Trump from rising to control, but there are plenty of people who could pass such a test and still be terrible leaders.
Getting rid of capitalism sounds great, but the power vacuum risks being filled by some other type of cruel opportunist, and where it isn’t so filled, the general global environment of cruel opportunism often forces otherwise beneficent leadership to adopt malignant policies in reaction to malignant pressures. Replacing all leadership with women is no answer, because Margaret Thatcher. Replacing all leadership with the gender, ethnicity, or physically-shaped people of your choice will not work because Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher ruined it for everyone, basically.
We need a dictatorship of the fair, honest, wise, and kind. They are the only demographic guaranteed to rule with fairness, honesty, wisdom, and kindness. And dictatorship is the only way they’d have the power they’d need to enforce their fair, honest, wise, kind policies. I can already envision them abolishing the police and the prison system and replacing them with trained cadres of peacemakers, conflict resolvers, and restorative justice practitioners. They could curtail private property rights that allow... read more