As I read Naomi Klein’s ThisChangesEverything, I am also winding down the final chapters of Tavis Smiley’s book Death of a King, about MLK’s final years, where he was offending a good portion of his following becuase they saw him as “Venturing out” from Race to issues (like war and economics) that many were saying were “beyond his province”; “Stick to civil rights” he quoted others as saying to him. His answer: “Ive worked too hard and too long against segregation to end up segregating my MORAL CONCERN”. This is a KEY THEOLOGICAL truth. “Theology” is not “over here” while economics, race, and yes, the environment are “over there”.
I have this friend who is constantly missing that truth: that theology is not “other” than any of the socio-ethical issues of our time, or any time. This comes up time and time again whenever “Separation of Church and State” comes up. It’s always “Keep the ‘religious’ element OUT of the decision making process where it concerns governing; religious beliefs ‘have no place’ in deciding what to do about X”. Again, the separation of “religous” into some ideological section OTHER than politics, government, social welfare. Frustrating artificial divide. The same collection of false dichotomies leads to what I was tweeting about earlier: that the reaction to the environmental crisis is yet “another issue” that is something to be “into or not into”; is it is certainly understandable, and one cannot argue with “I’m just not interested in that subject, although I believe the science about it”. But the “gap” there is realizing that this climate crisis constitutes a much bigger deal than the act of giving it a score , and of course, to people who treat it this way, it is practically impossible to point out this disconnect, since they HAVE that disconnect.
Naomi talks about the great weight of this issue, and how it drives so many people (like herself, and like me, even more so) to treat it as we would any other issue, and read about it and listen to discussions, but also somewhat consciously set it aside as it becomes “too much” to take in, given the state of our politics, and the ingrained harsh capitalist behavior of the fossil fuel companies, and their constant , largely successful pressure, on the politics, which is a part of why our politics is in such a depressing state of being totally subservient to the corporate state. The corporate state , in turn, bows to the will of the Fossil fuel companies by actually subsidizing their already massive profits. How this makes sense in an economic atmosphere where the conservatives oppose “government intervention” and regulations of any kind, is revealed when we follow the money cycle, which changes hands virtually between the halls of government, Fossil Fuel, Conservative think tanks, and the .1% drivers of all this.
And so, 1988 , the year commonly identified as when the climate scientists got their message out that some concerning trends had been taking place around and on the globe, due to the massive emissions. And once a network of collaboration has been shaped and implemented that creates an economic ideology that underpins and enables that behavior, there is a seemingly endless problem in breaking through that set of assumptions about our economics. That a certain style and shape of economics is assumed if it is to be called capitalism. And then when people like Naomi Klein question the ethics and practicalities of such a capitalism, there are endless protests of “anti-capitalist” as if that meant “Anti-American”, which for many people, does indeed mean that.
MLK understood this process, which enabled him to question the economic priorities of the United States and not be attacking the very idea of America, which we took great pains to articulate, drawing from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He saw a “triple threat” to America in the shape of racism, poverty, and militarism. Post 1988, he would be talking about climate as well, as a principal component or major product of the threats. He often talked about militarism and the economy in terms of priorities, and the impact of poverty on ALL of the poor, fueled by racism and militarism. Add the environmental implications, which has its economic causes (“unfettered capitalism) and effects on poverty (low income areas often most impacted by toxic activities, since the more affluent have the political muscle to have a say in where these “byproducts” can be handled and expelled. And racism is a vicious cycle, acting as a social stigma, due to the generalizing that racist elements use to develop prejudices , from the impact of strident low-income populations, being beset by economic disadvantages, environmental hazards, and lack of funds for basic infrastructure (often in no small measure due to the wasteful activities of the economy and the corporations which lobby the halls of government for increasingly lax regulation and subsidies.
So you see the quandry we’re in, caught in multiple feedback loops where problems compound and spill over into the others.