Greed or Life: Take Your Pick
New Haven, Conn.
Congratulations to The Nation for printing Naomi Klein’s “Capitalism vs. the Climate” [Nov. 28], and thanks to Klein for that disciplined primer of what our problem is. As a former Air Corps weatherman and former vice president of the National Audubon Society, I urge all environmental groups to make this primer the catechism for a new worldview.
ROLAND C. CLEMENT
Naomi Klein exposed that the right actually “gets” (and fears) climate change, and she included the “nationalize” word. Great stuff. There are dark days ahead, but today I saw three yard signs saying, I’m Part of the 99%. Keep it coming!
The best homemade cardboard sign I have seen from the OWS eviction reads, Screw Us and We Multiply! Bring it on.
MARTHA JEAN BAKER
Naomi Klein outlines a vision for our future that unifies environmental concerns with other progressive goals. Such a vision might empower people worldwide to have action plans ready when the neoliberal world regime loses its ability to govern, an event that may occur sooner than we had any right to hope a few years ago. In this way, we would be emulating the neoliberals who so quickly filled the vacuum in Eastern Europe after communism lost its legitimacy, as described so well in Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. Would it not be appropriate to replace “disaster capitalism” with “disaster environmentalism”?
“Capitalism vs. the Climate” was an incisive forecast of a world bent on self-destruction. Conservatives and free market ideologues do indeed fear that climate change is a Trojan horse designed to change capitalism to socialism or to world eco-government without nations or borders. Klein’s six steps to global interdependence rather than hyperindividualism are right on, but only a climate change disaster of epic proportion will change our path in time, I fear. Meanwhile, the GOP will issue poll-driven sound bites, the world will delay and dither, and Mother Nature will obey the laws of physics and keep warming the earth.
The Energy Department recently announced that the world added 564 million more tons of carbon dioxide in 2010 than in 2009. Time and tide are not on our side.
People need to consume energy in order to rise above the poverty level. The disparities in the global energy economy are horrifying. Some consume enormous quantities of energy while others will be lucky to get a blanket and a bowl of hot soup at the end of the day.
The climate change discussion is stuck in the mud because mainstream environmentalists have little to offer the developing nations and the poor and near-poor in the United States. We need an energy justice program that will provide all people, in all places, with energy that is safe, affordable and sustainable. Socialism plus electrification, said Lenin, will introduce the social revolution. Lenin was wrong about a lot of things, but he understood the human need for energy.
Highlands Ranch, Colo.
I thank Ariel Dorfman, in “Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile” [Nov. 28], for sharing his existential narrative with us. This is a very moving, straightforward moral and intellectual challenge to the international left. His writing has been an inspiration since How to Read Donald Duck and The Censor. I could not help seeing a comparison with the combat of Victor Serge, who made three demands on socialism: the elimination of capital punishment, the right to a truthful press and the acceptance of a dissenting voice.
Democracy Gets in the Way
Gary Younge, in “Europe’s Potemkin Democracy” [Nov. 28], misses a fundamental truth about the EU: it is not a democracy at all. The EU works best when it is being run by the commission, a technocratic institution more or less impervious to popular opinion. The commission promulgates the rules that guide the lives of the union’s 450 million citizens. Once in a great while, a commissioner will overreach—Fritz Bolkestein’s crazy scheme for a social welfare race to the bottom brought millions into the streets, and the commissioner to a sudden retirement.
The EU is at its worst when political leadership is needed. Merkel dithers and Sarkozy blithers and the situation gets worse. As Lee Kuan Yew remarked, the true “great Occidental creation” is not democracy, which has systematically failed ever since the first Greek experiments. The great invention is “human rights,” the guarantee of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The EU at its best is China with human rights, a mandarin-led meritocracy. That will persist, whatever becomes of the euro.
Wake Up, Wake Up!
Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
Good article by Louis Uchitelle [“The Vicious Cycle of Joblessness,” Nov. 28]. As he quotes an economist as saying, “It is remarkable how passive the American people are about unemployment.” This passivity has to be broken, people awakened, and it will take massive effort to make it happen. Always we have waited for the capitalists to create jobs for us. Now the capitalists are creating jobs in other countries and still expecting us to buy what they make. With smartphones and e-mail we have the means to organize, energize and rectify many of the distortions in the American job market. But will the sleeping millions wake up?
‘Night Thoughts,’ the Pamphlet
I urge you to issue Marilynne Robinson’s extraordinary essay “Night Thoughts of a Baffled Humanist” [Nov. 28] as a pamphlet to be handed out at Occupy demonstrations. Robinson’s critique (especially) of the current austerity attack is the most accessible as well as intelligent presentation I have read. Robinson’s solid arguments are a significant contribution to assessing how we came to be where we are and what we need to move forward. Congratulations!
In Ed Morales’s “Puerto Rico’s Policing Crisis” last week, ACLU researcher Jennifer Turner named the wrong man as attorney general. She meant Guillermo Somoza, not Roberto Sánchez Ramos.
The final line of Sanjeev Mahajan’s letter to the editor [Dec. 12] should read: “Although NREGA is considered a revolutionary act, it is simply crumbs the state throws to the masses, who are up in arms all over India, for all the devastation it has caused.”