Extortion, Justice, And The Green New Deal

After last week’s unveiling of the Green New Deal (GND), I was really tempted to ignore it, as never has so much emo been vented in reaction to a non-binding resolution with support of twenty percent of the House and ten percent of the Senate (I will have something later this week on what I think it is critically missing). Much of the anguish was over the broadness of the initiative, that it was a catch-all for progressive policy. Certainly, it would appear that’s not the usual Way Things Are Done.

But most policy involves placating the powerful (e.g., healthcare, financial regulation). They are often able to water down or even fundamentally alter how policy works, in order to get any legislation passed. But we don’t consider that a problem. So, I would argue that the people commonly derided by the right as social justice warriors have decided that “fuck you, pay me” could work for them too. Why let a crisis go to waste? Which brings us to this critical point from Naked Capitalism (boldface mine):

Which indeed makes progressives seem like fools, because what justice can there be if the planet is cooked? Unfortunately, Vox, Politico, GND proponents, and even the extraordinarily focused and articulate AOC are all ignoring the glaringly obvious: The Green New Deal is a DEAL. All agree that the entire society most be mobilized for the GND to succeed (and though few say it, the dreaded lifestyle and consumption changes will have to be part of that). The deal for the working class is if they participate in GND mobilization, they are restored to a life of dignity: Real work for real money, the chance to take care of their families (even for those whose family numbers one), medical care, the rentiers’ boot off their neck, and clean air and water. In other words, universal concrete material benefits. That is the deal. That is a new deal, a deal that hasn’t been offered for most of my lifetime, and never for young people. That is the green new deal. And it’s a GND for the 90%, not 60 [family blogging] siloed NGOs. And all deals have (at least) two sides: This one has the “climate” side, and it has the “justice” side. One for the other. That’s how and why the Green New Deal will work as a deal. You might even call it a covenant, if you’re religiously inclined.

It’s worth remembering that the original New Deal was full of compromises and included many policies, attractive to parts of the left and the right, along with various constituencies, that were absolutely necessary for its passage. That’s why it was a deal. Not everything was simply about lowering unemployment.

What is freaking people out about the GND–which isn’t to say that some parts of it need a lot work–is that the deal, as is so uncommon in the last thirty years, involves large swathes of America that are usually left out entirely. It asks that sacrifice not be a one way street. And, yes, from a brutal power perspective, it demands that, if the well-heeled want climate change, they might be the ones who have to sacrifice.

How rude.

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