environmental movement is on life support. Some would say it is
already dead. Even though climate change and Al Gore are fast
becoming the conversation du jour around the American dinner table,
it also happens to be the rallying cry for do-gooder conservationists
and corporations alike.
Call it the
eco-economy. Virtually all major corporations now claim they are
going "green". Toyota dealerships cannot keep the hybrid Prius
in stock. Apple, after heavy lobbying from Greenpeace and others,
declare they are going to make their computers environmentally
friendly. Genetically modified corn, which produces ethanol fuel,
is being hawked by Monsanto as an alternative to petroleum-based
gasoline. Ethanol advocates are calling their program "Fuels for
Profit", while they sip McDonald's organic coffee. The environmental
movement has been corporatized.
groups are not helping the situation. Their hands are tied by
both the large foundations that pay their rent and the Democratic
Party to which they are attached at the hip. They long ago gave
up on challenging the system. Most groups today are little more
than direct mailing outfits who have embraced a sordid neoliberal
approach to saving the natural world.
The true causes of planetary destruction are never mentioned.
Industrial capitalism is not the problem, individuals are. Not
the government's inability to enforce its weak regulations. Not
big oil companies, or coal fired plants. These neoliberal groups
argue ordinary people are to blame for the impending environmental
catastrophe, not those who profit from the Earth's destruction.
green groups are not
helping the situation. Their hands
are tied by both the large foundations
that pay their rent and
the Democratic Party to which
they are attached at the hip.
They long ago gave up
on challenging the system.
on the ground, grassroots environmentalists engaging in arson
as a response to unfettered sprawl and our car addicted culture
are dubbed terrorists by the Federal government. Despite their
extreme and counter-productive methods, the cases are quite informative.
In our post-9/11 world young eco-radicals are viewed by the FBI
and corporations as if they are as dangerous as bin Laden. All
activists, no matter their cause, should take heed. It is the
first step in cracking down on radical activism.
SUVs in the middle of the night, unfortunately, will not bring
about any massive radical change, except, perhaps, in our "anti-terrorism"
legislation. There are militant direct actions that are prevailing,
however, from Paul Watson's crusade to protect the wild creatures
of the sea, to the environmentalists who stake out in trees for
weeks at a time, to the grandmothers who chain themselves to logging
trucks, despite the dangers.
coupled with the organization of the working class, could help
steer the environmental movement in the right direction. The philosophy
of the great wilderness advocate Bob Marshall may prove to be
quite prescient in the age of foundation driven conservationism.
Marshall believed wilderness was for the regular folks. He believed
wilderness was a "minority right" and argued that elitism inside
the movement would be inherently corrupt. He's right. The burdens
of a coporatized society are great, not only for our forests and
rivers, but to the workers who are consistently exploited and
poisoned for profit.
believed the radical trade unions and socialized forestry was
one answer to countering the destruction of the wild places he
loved so much. Now is the time to once again embrace such an environmental
ethic. Wilderness, that living symbol of freedom, exists for all
to enjoy. It is not ours to exploit. The salmon and grizzly bears
Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been
Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature
Theft Pentagon. His newest book is End
Times: the Death of the Fourth Estate, co-written with Alexander
Cockburn. The two of them also edit Counterpunch
Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left
Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage
Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of
the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press
in March 2008.
can be reached at: [email protected].