Martin Lukacs warns — in the climate change battle — don't bring flyswatters to a gunfight!

In Monday's U.S. online edition of the The Guardian's "True North" Environment Section, Canadian independent journalist Martin Lukacs posits in an op-ed piece that neoliberalist corporate (and mainstream environmental group) messages have misdirected potentially effective climate activists into focusing on meaningless modifications of their individual behavior.

While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives, fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant.... A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71 percent [of carbon emissions since 1988]. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet.

Lukacs contends that these neoliberal messages of misdirection are not accidental.

The freedom of these corporations to pollute – and the fixation on a feeble lifestyle response – is no accident. It is the result of an ideological war, waged over the last forty years, against the possibility of collective action. Devastatingly successful, it is not too late to reverse it.

Lukacs goes on to suggest that this (false ideology) war on collective climate action began during the Reagan/Thatcher 80's. It's intent, to emasculate the climate protection efforts of the masses against the corporations and ensure unbridled capitalism can continue to reign supreme.

The political project of neoliberalism, brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private  power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will.

According to Lukacs, the political side of this 40-year war/psyop has seen legislation and trade policy used by the elite to all but seal our collective fate.

Its trademark policies of privatization, deregulation, tax cuts and free trade deals: these have liberated corporations to accumulate enormous profits and treat the atmosphere like a sewage dump, and hamstrung our ability, through the instrument of the state, to plan for our collective welfare.

Any action in contravention of unbridled corporate profit-seeking is said to be a potential target of the ruling elite, resulting in a flood of money and political resources to stop it.

Anything resembling a collective check on corporate power has become a target of the elite: lobbying and corporate donations, hollowing out democracies, have obstructed green policies and kept fossil fuel subsidies flowing....

As a key recommendation, Lukacs warns climate activists to (figuratively) choose their weapons against the corporations wisely.

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.

For me, Lukacs appears to make a very strong case for the bludgeon approach.

You can review Lukacs' Article, Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals - Stop obsessing with how personally green you live – and start collectively taking on corporate power, at the following link:



Rick Shankman's picture

Rajesh, I think tofu

Rajesh, I think tofu bludgeons are akin to flyswatters at a gunfight.
I fear mine and Lukacs' point is precisely the opposite; that the corporations will never be willingly ready to have this conversation and further, that the entire system is rigged against such meaningful discussions. As I see them, modern corporations are inherently sociopathic in nature. You can't discuss responsible, or especially altruistic, behavior with a sociopath.
Rajesh Kasturirangan's picture

I like vegan bludgeons made

I like vegan bludgeons made out of tofu (not the extra firm kind), but more seriously, I do think that even business people are ready to have this conversation.
However, I am pretty sure state regulation is not the answer - not because I believe in small government but because the modern state and capital arose in tandem. You can't change one without changing the other.