Friday, December 23, 2016


Life and Labor in the Era of  Climate Justice

As radicals, it is our job to respond to the very newest political formations, and few have presented themselves with the urgency of the tendencies that have sprung up to address and combat the climate crisis. For the purposes of this talk, let me outline four of these tendencies
1) The first is the emergence of the carbon calculus as an overriding measure of our ability to meet the crisis...  we must proceed by any means necessary, even if it involves following pathways that are undemocratic. 
But the most everyday manifestation of this new calculus is the growing habit of assessing the carbon footprint of every product... –the outcome of which is a moral assessment of our thermodynamic performance. Carbon-Neutral Man is the goal, a model of ascetic behavior that is the obverse of the wasteful hyperconsumer.
2) The second tendency is ... reforming the behavior of... the more recalcitrant classes... New York, is  best known for eliminating smoking, banning “trans fats” in city eateries, barring the purchase of soda drinks by welfare recipients, and covering the city with bicycle lanes... perpetuating a status quo which could be loosely but accurately described as eco-apartheid.
3) The third tendency emerges from the opportunity offered to us by the Great Recession to launch... the market segment known as LOHAS, or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability...
4) The fourth tendency flows from the concept of climate justice... a carbon-conscious version of the politics of wealth redistribution... If the footsoldiers of anti-precarity were looking for a righteous banner to march under, then the urgency and missionary purpose radiated by radical sustainability would fit the bill...
In the counter-hegemonic spirit of Gramsci ... its people’s summit meeting earlier was held in a center of indigenous socialism, Bolivia’s Cochabamba...  In the global North, the slow food movement is probably the closest in spirit to Cochabamba’s agrarianist consciousness
Now, the mentality of austerity threatens to relegate red-greens to the same corner as financial elites who sought lavish help from the public treasuries ... if the climate crisis did not exist, it may have been necessary to invent it so that this synchrony could finally occur.

* From a paper presented at  the international conference  ”Lavoro in frantumi”,  

 Social Text Editor Andrew Ross was immortalized in 1996 by winning
 the IgNobel Prize for Literature for his part in the Sokal hoax.