Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Liberal and a Conservative

The old joke is that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, while a liberal is a conservative who's been arrested. Well, America's top climate change scientist, James Hansen (about whom I've blogged before) is a conservative Republican. But he's also one of these people who, having seen the evidence for climate change, understands the implications and the actions necessary. He knows we're fucked, he's just hoping we can limit the damage. So in today's Guardian:

Protest and direct action could be the only way to tackle soaring carbon emissions, a leading climate scientist has said.

James Hansen, a climate modeller with Nasa, told the Guardian today that corporate lobbying has undermined democratic attempts to curb carbon pollution. "The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working," he said.

Speaking on the eve of joining a protest against the headquarters of power firm E.ON in Coventry, Hansen said: "The first action that people should take is to use the democratic process. What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash.

"The democratic process is supposed to be one person one vote, but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes. So, I'm not surprised that people are getting frustrated. I think that peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we're running out of time."

Hansen is a conservative who's been mugged by the world of realpolitik. Personally, my political leanings are socialist, but my commitment is to democracy. I remain convinced that if we further democracy, we get the world we ask for--sane, safe, reasonably sensible. With, of course, periods and moments of stupidity and madness. But overall, a decent world, because by arguing together, we can make reasonable decisions. (I know, in theory, theory and practicum are the same thing, but in practise, they're not). We don't realize just how broken our democracy is and yet all indications are that we're hungry for a more democratic world. Honestly, we should have dealt with global warming 40 years back, but then, as now, we keep running into the wall of entrenched interests between us and democratic control of our political world. We don't live in a democracy, we live in an oligarchy. Republican conservative James Hansen has run into that wall, just like all the tree-huggers before him.

Look what's happening on the street
Got to revolution, Got to revolution

Marty Balin/Jefferson Airplane

When I mention the "R" word, that's what I'm talking about--a revolution against oligarchy and for greater democratic control over our lives. I watch the world going backwards, fleeing democracy wherever possible, embracing fascism, oligarchy, totalitarian control, and the people yearning towards democracy like a plant yearning towards the light. Got to revolution indeed.

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