It may not be a shadowy communist conspiracy to "destroy American capitalism," but it should still scare you.
Those familiar with The Blaze founder Glenn Beck may have understood what it meant, on Monday, when "The Great Reset" started trending on Twitter.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said in a speech to the UN that the coronavirus pandemic "provided an opportunity for a reset." And for those in the know — or those looking for evidence of a totalitarian scheme in every instance of global cooperation — that was reason enough to start panicking.
But even if you're not an aficionado of right-wing conspiracy theories, you may have seen TIME Magazine's October issue on the topic of "The Great Reset". In which case you're likely confused as to why anyone would find it frightening.
Coronavirus: Trudeau tells UN conference that pandemic provided "opportunity for a reset" www.youtube.com
The vision for the future proposed by the World Economic Forum — and laid out in TIME — doesn't sound particularly scary. The coronavirus pandemic has stalled many aspects of the economy, and the WEF calls for reforms to be implemented as the economy gets back into gear.
Among their suggestions are a voluntary adoption of more corporate responsibility, acknowledging the social and ecological costs of doing business. They call for businesses to take proactive steps in auditing their operations and shifting toward long-term, sustainable models that value "stakeholders" rather than just investors.
But the vague gesturing toward a more virtuous form of capitalism is presented as a grand vision for revolutionizing every aspect of society and the global economy. And in that exaggerated language, it's easy for people like Glenn Beck to perceive a hostile takeover of their beloved America.
The Conspiracy Theory
According to Beck's YouTube channel, the plan is to "DESTROY American capitalism." With Joe Biden's help, the "elites" want to replace American enterprise with a planned economy, akin to the China's state capitalism.
Beck, along with guest Justin Haskins — of pro-tobacco, anti-climate science think tank The Heartland Institute — argue that the term "Stakeholder Capitalism" is coded language. According to them it's a euphemism for the total subversion of individual sovereignty to the imposed will of the sinister "collective."
Pictured: Glenn Beck about to explain his conspiracy theory.
This is the same tune Beck has been playing for years now. Calls for regulation and anything less than unfettered capitalism are really just covers for allowing totalitarian rule to take over.
In Beck's vision of the world, "elites" use excuses like a global health crisis and impending ecological collapse in order to seize power from the little guy. And there is an element of truth in that.
As Naomi Klein laid out in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, natural disasters and economic crises often provide openings for radical reforms that serve ulterior motives. Disguised as recovery and aid, these reforms often end up benefiting the powerful while doing little to serve the interests of those most affected by the crises.
But Klein's observations on this phenomenon differ in one important way from the conspiracy theories Glenn Beck peddles. The radical reforms that Klein points to in post-Katrina New Orleans and elsewhere tend more toward neoliberal privatization than toward increasing government control.
Rather than a shadowy, big government agenda, the disaster capitalism Klein writes about serves the simple purpose of making rich people richer. After all, since the 1970s, American politics have been solidly on the side of wealthy private interests against the expansion of government services or the protection of workers.
Shrinking the role of government has long been treated as a dogmatic good that will put more power in the hands of individuals. And that kind of thinking has resulted in situations like the end of public schools in New Orleans.
Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine www.youtube.com
But there is something that people like Glenn Beck consistently overlook. While entertaining nightmares about the government forcing "Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics" on small businesses, they forget that Governments aren't the only force capable of eroding our freedoms.
How Corporations Steal Your Freedom
If a corporation knowingly dumps poisons into your water supply — because those chemicals aren't regulated — doesn't that affect your freedom? And if wages are so low that you're forced to sink all of your waking hours into multiple dead-end jobs, what freedom do you have?
Beck always frames things from the perspective of the business owner losing freedom to government regulation. But what about exploited employees, defrauded customers, or neighbors made to deal with the health effects of industrial pollution?
Ask the residents of Louisiana's "cancer alley" if they are more concerned about "government overreach" than they are about the freedom to breathe air without being poisoned by private industry.
Those are the "stakeholders" who Klaus Schwab and the WEF are referring to. They're people who don't necessarily receive the benefits of short-term profits, but have to deal with the consequences of corporate malfeasance. And for decades their interests have been systematically stripped out of the equation of corporate success and neoliberal governance, leaving only the eternal pursuit of quarterly returns.
So when an organization like the World Economic Forum — with membership representing the wealthiest people and the largest corporations on Earth — starts promoting major reforms to the global economy, we should all be nervous.
Generally, when the wealthy and powerful align on an agenda, it's an agenda that serves the wealthy and powerful. And when they manage to get leaders from the US to the UK to Canada all promoting the same motto — "Build it Back Better" — we should wonder who stands to benefit.
This 'Build Back Better' nonsense must stop. The World Economic Forum is a corrupt racket and their 'Great Reset' a… https://t.co/TUqXMUXKP9— Mahyar Tousi (@Mahyar Tousi)1605608116.0
And yet, the rhetoric of "The Great Reset" and the "Build it Back Better" campaign seems to be a repudiation of exactly the kind of neoliberal reform it resembles. Instability and a disruption of normal order has made our system ripe for reform, so wealthy interests are stepping in to…decry tax evasion? What has changed?
A Societal Shift
The simple answer is laid out in WEF founder Klaus Schwab's introductory piece in TIME's "Great Reset" issue. The neoliberal policies that have dominated in recent decades "have proved wrong." Amid the insistence that our economy will function better without government intervention, workers, citizens, and the planet have suffered.
From declining wages, to the rising cost of basic necessities like housing, healthcare, and education, and the rapid approach of climate collapse, things have not been going well. So the WEF is pushing a new approach.
The more complicated answer is that we have changed. The attitude of the citizenry has adapted. No longer devoted to a Cold War battle between capitalism and communism, we have adjusted to a reality in which 42% of the workers earn less than $15 an hour.
We've adapted to the fact that the wealthiest family in the world makes its fortune on the backs of workers who rely on government assistance to make ends meet. We've adapted to the fact that most of us won't live as well as our parents. We've adapted to the fact that a basic standard of education requires taking on massive debt, and that a single medical event can be financially crippling.
We've adapted to the fact that the global temperature has been trending steadily upward — along with wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and other effects of climate change. And we've adapted to the fact that the fossil fuel companies that knowingly caused this horrifying reality continue to operate with impunity.
It's only natural — in the context of rising inequality, environmental catastrophe, and the immiseration of generations of workers — that many of us would abandon allegiances to the system that brought us here.
For people like Glenn Beck, the thought of paying higher taxes may still conjure the specter of communism. But for those of us who don't make $20 million a year — with $250 million in the bank — the thought of things continuing on our current trajectory is quite a bit more frightening.
Protesters at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos
That's why Democratic Socialism has seen a sudden surge in popularity. It's why free, government-run healthcare is now a widely popular proposal, and why the slogan "eat the rich" has become a rallying cry in recent years.
People are hungry for real change. And if they don't get it soon, there will be consequences. Those consequences could look like economic collapse due to the erosion of the American middle-class. Or they could look like an armed revolution.
In either case, investors and executives who are paying attention know that it won't be good for the bottom line. That's where "The Big Reset" comes in.
If corporations and governments can make some bare-minimum changes to counteract the ravages of laissez-faire economic policy, maybe they can avoid the worst. And if they can make themselves look good in the process, all the better.
And that's why we should all be scared of "The Great Reset." It is not a high-level plot to install a global hegemony. It's a PR campaign to restore the reputation of the current global hegemony.
Whatever the plan's merits — the full details will be revealed in Davos in January of 2021 — the companies and the executives who are promoting it have their own self-interests at heart. They can express ideas about stakeholders and a collective good all they want, but if they can find a way to make themselves look benevolent without sacrificing profits, they will.
Ultimately, the idea underlying "The Great Reset" is that government and industry should work in tandem to determine the best policies. They want to prove that they can police themselves by implementing things like Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan's "Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics."
The Great Reset www.youtube.com
Whether they acknowledge it or not, they are asserting that we don't need stronger government protections to step in and force them to stop exploiting workers or ravaging the Earth. They are responsible. They can be trusted.
They can dress that idea up as something new, and tell us they're looking out for us this time, but it's the same old story. It's neoliberalism by another name.
In the best case scenario, "The Great Reset," does result in some incremental improvements in policy. As we move on from the coronavirus pandemic, the plan could borrow concepts from The Green New Deal to offer a slightly more tolerable system — until those gains begin to erode again.
In the worst case scenario, the execution of the "The Great Reset" will be co-opted by the familiar forces of neoliberalism, changing things for the worse while the PR campaign convinces the public that everything is okay. If they succeed in persuading us that we don't need to keep fighting for a more equitable distribution of power and wealth, we will continue to creep toward oligarchy, with wealth controlling every aspect of our society.
So, no, there is not a communist conspiracy to use COVID-19 and global warming as an excuse to establish the dreaded "New World Order." The capitalists behind "The Great Reset" are not interested in destroying capitalism, and most of them are probably well meaning.
But we should all be scared that this band-aid will be used to cover up the festering wound of our diseased system.
The event was a powerful challenge to capitalism and climate change.
This Friday, over 300 protestors from Extinction Rebellion took to the streets to draw attention to the climate crisis—as well as the undercurrents of excessive consumption and corporate greed that created and perpetuate it.
This week's protest was labeled a "Meditation Rebellion," and it featured speakers from a variety of different faiths, who gathered to call for unity and solidarity on the steps of the New York Public Library at Bryant Park. Though the event wasn't linked to any specific religion, in spirit, there was an underlying sense of worship.
Personally, I'd been a bit worried about the event's theme, worried it would be a bunch of white people idealizing Eastern religions, especially because it's widely argued that XR and the climate movement have a race problem. Plus, climate activists have long been written off as hippie tree-huggers.
The event wasn't free from these issues, but at the NYC rally, speakers didn't over-emphasize the meditation aspect and mostly featured speakers of color, who all called for an intersectional approach to fighting the climate crisis. Overall, the event's organizers emphasized compassion, interconnectedness, and solidarity. The result was something that felt immensely powerful and regenerative.
After several speeches and songs, protestors marched silently down to 34th Street. To march in silence in New York City, especially on Black Friday, is a bit of an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Even if you weren't meditating, simply being silent with a group of protestors sharing the same pain and hopes created a sense of unity, despite or maybe because of the lack of conversation.
During the march, I found myself really feeling my grief about climate change and its related and intersecting issues for the first time in a while. The grief formed a heavy mass in my chest. But I knew I was walking alongside people who felt the same thing, who were aware that this pavement-covered, ashen city was built on top of forests that were stolen from the Lenape, that it still bears the scars of that breach.
I knew I was walking alongside people whom, instead of marinating in fatalism, still hoped and believed change was worth fighting for and whom were willing to stand up and sacrifice to see that change become real.
Once the group reached Herald Square, which was completely lit up by garish Black Friday advertisements, 27 protestors sat down in the middle of the street and blocked traffic until they were forcibly removed by the police. (It's important to note that despite the aggressive police presence, the relatively peaceable nature of this removal was something that only could have been afforded to white protestors).
In the glow of Sephora, right outside of Macy's and H&M, the circle of trust formed by the protestors risking arrest felt temporarily unbreakable. As they were handcuffed and taken away by the dozens of cops that showed up at the scene, crowds of supporters cheered and sang from the sidelines.
Why Protest Black Friday: The Connections Between Capitalism and Climate Change
Why protest Black Friday as a climate change-focused organization? Climate change and capitalism have always been blood brothers. As Naomi Klein writes in This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, "Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life."
The consequences of this war, of course, are not distributed equally. Climate change disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color, who are often on the frontlines of the crisis's worst consequences. Like the climate crisis, capitalism (particularly in its vicious neoliberal form) disadvantages those who have less while propping up those who already have more (hence why a billionaire can effortlessly announce himself as a top-running candidate).
While individual consumers' choices won't singlehandedly end capitalism or stop climate change, mass movements, paradigm and consciousness shifts, and massive government action (such as plans like the Green New Deal) have that ability.
AOC and Bernie Sanders unveil their Green New Deal for Public Housing Grist
The climate crisis is not the fault of individual consumers and working people, and eradicating consumption completely isn't the answer. Instead, change will come through creating a movement large enough to pressure governments into holding corporations accountable for their actions, and it's going to be vital for these movements to connect issues like capitalism, climate change, and the ways they influence us internally as well as externally, and to stand in solidarity with those who they most affect.
Extinction Rebellion is part of this movement. It's also an arm of a worldwide reaction to frustration with economic inequality and neoliberalism, a movement that stretches (in different forms) from Chile and Hong Kong to Indonesia and Iran.
In recent months, NYC has seen an increase in anti-authoritarian protests (though they are far from new). For example, in October and November, the organization Decolonize This Place held two massive rallies in response to the MTA's crackdown on subway fare evasion.
Globally, a rising disillusionment with the false promises of billionaires and age-old toxicities rooted in white supremacy seem to be coalescing into a cohesive, if unstable, movement. Certainly, as these movements grow, things will break down and shatter, and roles and ideologies will shift and change.
As people with the privilege of choosing whether or not to protest, we have to be willing to be quiet and learn from each other during this time of instability, rage, and irrational, beautiful hope.
Climate despair is becoming so widespread that some people are losing their will to live. Is this the new normal?
If you're reading this, you probably know that the earth is not doing well. A 2018 UN report declared that we have 12 years to keep the global climate from rising more than 1.5 degrees, or we'll face catastrophic warming levels. Even knowing this, our worldwide carbon emissions have only continued to rise, with atmospheric CO2 reaching a record high at 417.4 ppm in May 2019.
In essence, we know the world is ending, we know why, and yet we have done nothing to stop it. In fact, things are getting worse.
Image via blog.derby.ac.uk
The Argument for Despair
Faced with this truth, it's all too easy to slip into despair, and this is what's happening to people all over the world. A recent VICE article explored the mental health crises that many people are experiencing because of climate change. Known as "climate despair," sometimes called "eco-nihilism" or "human futilitarianism," chronic feelings of hopelessness about climate change are becoming all too common among those who have allowed themselves to fully comprehend the extent of the crisis.
For people who suffer from these feelings, it doesn't help that life appears to be continuing on as normal, while only a few of us seem to care that the world is burning down. This creates a sense of duality that can be even more painful than consciously accepting the reality of climate change, as it involves a deep suppression of pain and fear, which is then left to fester in the psyche. Living this "double life," according to Joanna Macy's essay "Working Through Environmental Despair," can be detrimental. "Awesome and unprecedented in the history of humanity, the awareness lurks there, with an anguish beyond naming," she writes.
This awareness can manifest in many ways; and often it has lead to depression or suicidal thoughts. Even therapists are having trouble knowing how to handle the looming specter of climate despair. Several people quoted in the VICE article described how their therapists attempted to trace their terror of climate change back to personal traumas, instead of acknowledging the validity of these fears.
Image via Its Nice That
Children are just as vulnerable to these feelings as adults. As they watch governments refuse to act, kids are growing up in the world with little faith in the government or the adults around them, and with the knowledge that they've been born into a disaster they never asked for but have to deal with.
Greta Thunberg was one of these kids. She's spoken extensively about the feelings of despair that nearly paralyzed her as she became more and more aware of the climate crisis. "Before I started school striking, I was … so depressed and I didn't want to do anything," she once said.
But when she began to speak, as many of us know, she became one of the most outspoken and well-known climate activists in the world. According to Thunberg, this was not a choice. "I feel like dying inside if I don't protest," she said. For those suffering from climate despair, that feeling of dying inside is a familiar one. But Greta's inspiring actions contain seeds of hope, perhaps the best hope against climate despair.
The truth is that things are only hopeless if we don't take action. Conveniently, taking action might also be one of the best things we can possibly do to work through climate despair.
Image via Handelszeitung
Our Best Shot at Hope
Although they might be realistic responses to the threat of climate change, feelings of despair—when they aren't turned into action, or are suffered through in solitude— present a terminal danger to the climate movement, as they promote stagnation when what is truly needed is unity and protest.
This doesn't mean that we should deny the gravity of the situation. Action begins with admitting the problem, not stuffing it away under layers of performative normalcy. "Until we find ways of acknowledging and integrating that level of anguished awareness," continues Joanna Macy, "we repress it; and with that repression we are drained of the energy we need for action and clear thinking."
Still, the answer is also not necessarily to let oneself fall down a hole of hopelessness. Often, the doomsday-esque reports that are inundating the Internet and certain academic circles can be the opposite of productive. Sometimes, these reports are inaccurate, overly dramatized and apocalyptic. These alarmist articles that proclaim that we are all doomed often have the opposite effect, shaking people into complicity when the truth is that though things are really bad, there is definitely hope.
There is hope.
Though we won't be able to reverse climate change, it is possible to salvage so much of the world and to prevent the worst consequences of ecological decline. Human beings have mobilized massively before—we've split atoms and spread cell phones across the globe in less than a decade—and we can do it again. We have the technology, the money, and the capability: All we need to avert immediate crisis is the will and the public support to elect people into office who will take action.
Image via Flickr
We have the resources to fight climate change. Many countries are instituting programs to reduce their carbon emissions. Small nations like Denmark and Belgium have successfully slashed their carbon emissions, and plans like the Paris Agreement are promising attempts at global change. What we need to do is fight, to spread awareness, to elect people into office who will take action, and to make it clear that we as a human race won't go down at the hands of an elite cult of carbon-worshipers determined to ruin all of our futures for the sake of their own fortunes.
Climate activism doesn't solely have to be a fight against something, though: it can be a fight for a better world. Though climate change is often painted as an entirely doom-and-gloom issue, some of the things that fighting it will combat it could actually benefit our whole society, healing some of the deep wounds that have caused our modern epidemic of mental illness, addiction, and loneliness.
According to Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, this impasse at the brink between oblivion and climate disaster presents an unprecedented opportunity for positive change. This crisis can be a beginning, not an ending, she argues: the beginning of a movement towards a more interconnected and compassionate world.
"Climate change—if treated as a true planetary emergency akin to those rising flood waters—could become a galvanizing force for humanity, leaving us all not just safer from extreme weather, but with societies that are safer and fairer in all kinds of other ways as well," she writes. "The resources required to rapidly move away from fossil fuels and prepare for the coming heavy weather could pull huge swaths of humanity out of poverty, providing services now sorely lacking, from clean water to electricity. This is a vision of the future that goes beyond just surviving or enduring climate change...It is a vision in which we collectively use the crisis to leap somewhere that seems, frankly, better than where we are right now."
This kind of future would require a paradigm shift, a complete departure from our current free-market model that glorifies isolated successes and prizes maximum consumption above all else. It would require that, among other things, we sacrifice our own desires for the good of everyone else.
We need to sacrifice the concept that the goal of life is to be able to pursue one's individual fortune to the highest level: And we have to acknowledge that we operate in an interconnected network, and must lift each other and our planet up, if we wish to continue to live on this earth.
The shift is already beginning. Organizations like Sunrise and Extinction Rebellion have emerged at the forefront of the fight against climate change; and artists are starting to wake up, too. But even if you don't have a massive platform or aren't going to protests, even just talking about the ecological crisis with others can ignite powerful chain reactions. Overall, probably the most meaningful thing you can do is work to elect officials who will make good on their promises to cut emissions and create a better world while doing it.
Image via Ethics and International Affairs
Where We Go From Here
Still, considering the amount of mobilization and effort that these changes require—and considering how determined major, extremely wealthy fossil fuel companies are to squander these efforts—it's extremely difficult to be hopeful all the time when it comes to the climate crisis. Plus we've already damaged some things beyond repair, and we've lost many people to the wildfires and hurricanes rooted in climate change; to name a few, the 79 people lost in California's Camp Fire, and the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in Hurricane Maria.
And so, as the VICE article proposes, to comprehend the full extent of the climate crisis, first we need to let ourselves grieve. We need to allow ourselves to grieve as we would in the face of any other tragedy—to comprehend the harm that we've done to our planet and to recognize and honor our feelings about it.
Once we recognize these feelings, we can begin to deal with them. As Macy continues, "To experience pain as we register what is happening to our world is a measure of our evolution as open systems. This is true not only from the perspective of systems science but from that of religion as well. How many mystics in their spiritual journey have spoken of the 'dark night of the soul'? Brave enough to let go of accustomed assurances, they let their old convictions and conformities dissolve into nothingness, and stood naked to the terror of the unknown. They let processes, which their minds could not encompass, work through them. It is in that darkness that birth takes place."
While it's important to embrace one's despair and grief regarding climate, it's equally important to view these feelings as starting points for a spiritual and political revolution, instead of hindrances that need to be suppressed. If we view climate as a consequence of evils we've always been peripherally cognizant of—like selfishness, greed, and the hypocrisy that plagues human society—then we can view the climate crisis as an opportunity to at the very least connect with other people who understand that we, collectively, cannot continue this way.
Through this lens, climate despair is far from an end point. Rather, it connects us to the world around us, and to other people who care enough to want to see a better future for everyone and everything. "As our pain for the world is rooted in our interconnectedness with all life, so surely is our power," writes Macy.
So if you're pained by climate change, good. That pain means you love something. That love means you're alive.
Image via Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
This week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey will be proposing the most ambitious plan to fight climate change yet.
Recycle. Take shorter showers. Turn the lights off.
Over the past several decades, most of us have heard these diatribes repeated over and over, and have perhaps become numbed to these mantras, which promise that tiny droplets of collective action could potentially save the planet from environmental ruination.
It's true that small changes are important, and that each person contributes to the growing levels of waste and pollution that are killing our ecosystems and raising the planet's temperatures so dramatically that Manhattan-size gaps are forming in Antarctic ice. But it's also true that 71% of carbon emissions come from just 100 companies. It's also true that the scale of the crisis has grown unmanageable, and poses an unprecedented threat to human life.
That's where the Green New Deal comes in.
Image via The Intercept
"It's the only plan that matches the scale of the crisis," said Naomi Klein of the proposal, speaking on livestream yesterday night to thousands of activists tuning in across America. The livestream was hosted by the Sunrise Movement, a millennial-founded organization dedicated to supporting and fortifying the Green New Deal, especially as it's proposed in Congress in the coming week. Klein is the author of This Changes Everything, a book that argues that impending climate catastrophe actually presents an extraordinary opportunity to revamp the world's economic systems for the better. "I believe we were born for this moment," she told viewers.
Named after FDR's New Deal—which revolutionized the entire country on a tremendous scale, planting three billion trees and establishing hundreds of national forests in addition to catalyzing widespread economic, agricultural, and social reforms—the Green New Deal seeks to implant reforms on an equivalent scale in a time when it seems like there is no other option.
Image via Vice News
The plan has gone through several phases, but the one that's being proposed in Congress this week focuses on several fundamental points. First: achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, and transition to renewable energy on a huge scale through initiatives like the creation of a nationwide electrical grid. Second: institute a living wage for all, in tandem with the creation of unlimited numbers of green jobs. These are the plan's main tenets, but its ideological aspirations stretch much further. It hopes to generate thousands of jobs in the form of start-ups and maintenance, and to start a wave of international trade in the renewable energy sector.
The original plan focused on a switch to 100% renewable energy by 2030, but a recent five-page draft obtained today by Bloomberg didn't mention this point, perhaps as a nod to moderates, though the omission is still subject to change. The draft proposes large-scale investment in green technology, the restoration of threatened lands, waste removal, and "massive growth in clean U.S. manufacturing, removing pollution byproducts and greenhouse gas emissions from that sector as much as technologically feasible."
The term "Green New Deal" is not a new one, though it has been going through different iterations since its inception. It was coined in a 2007 column by Thomas Friedman, and Barack Obama included it in his 2008 platform. Britain also took note, but a surge of Republican/Tory victories stymied its momentum.
Image via theintercept.com
The GND has found new life in Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Bronx electorate whose rise to political success has been accompanied by widespread social media fame. Ocasio-Cortez showed up in person to support a Sunrise Movement sit-in in Nancy Pelosi's office, demanding the creation of a committee dedicated to developing and pushing the GND, and since then she has become one of its biggest proponents. Now she will be proposing it in Congress this week, alongside Massachusetts senator Ed Markey. The plan has also garnered support from Rep. Ayanna Pressley, as well as 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders.
The Sunrise Movement began in 2015, when it was founded by climate activists Sara Blazevic and Varsini Prakash, and quickly gained momentum, taking notes from the heady drive of the 1963 civil rights protests of Birmingham, Alabama. Its founders gathered activists, reached out to politicians, and pulled together the finer points of the Sanders campaign and other recent social movements; the successful Pelosi sit-in was the product of months of organizing.
The movement is appealing in a narrative sense: the vision of young people fighting against bloated fossil fuel behemoths has a definite draw to it. There's also the fact that science says the fate of the entire world requires unprecedented global change over the next few years, otherwise catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy and the California wildfires will become the stuff of the everyday.
Image via theinsurgent.com
But the GND is still just an idea, and it could remain that way. Its lack of specific policy has been subject to criticism, though an official draft has yet to be unveiled, and conservative news sources have labeled it as a hoax, an amorphous idea without policy to back it.
While the GND might seem like an impossibly ambitious proposition, humans have revamped and reshaped the world before a hundred times over, and we are nothing if not creative and adaptive. We've created technologies that connect the globe and turned empty landscapes to highway-lined cities in a matter of years. Now—unless you like the idea of joining Elon Musk's exclusive Mars colony—it's time to turn all of our collective energies towards the future of the home we share.
70 leading Democrats have signed on in support so far, and momentum is building for its official proposition. The Sunrise Movement is planning on facilitating office visits to congress people across the country this week, as well as a rally in Washington on February 26th.
In an age of doomsday threats and constant headlines about plastic oceans and refugee crises facilitated by environmental droughts, the idea of a Green New Deal—something that could actually, genuinely make a difference that touches every aspect of life—seems like a light at the end of the tunnel. Now it's just a matter of getting there.
Image via radioopensource.org
Environmental crisis affects the poor and vulnerable at disproportionate levels; it catalyzes mental and physical illness, economic decline, and overall devastation. Irreparable damage has already been done—but the fight is not quite over yet, though time is running out.
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @edenarielmusic.