Charging the Windmill

The climate “movement” held their great rally today. Their target? A pipeline that nobody outside their PR machine seriously believes will make any major difference in the expanding extraction and combustion of Alberta tar sands. Those sands are simply going to get burnt, barring serious alteration in the demand for petroleum — meaning serious movement to end the reign of corporate capitalism’s core commodity, the private automobile.

Meanwhile, it will certainly be interesting to see what these Obama fans — dig the naked use of Obie’s marketing logos and slogans here — do when Zero, perhaps in the midst of new blowback or some newsworthy danger stemming from yet another heightening of the ongoing U.S. war against Iran, slaps them away.

Obama Logo

The key demand in this movement is also very telling about its chances at success. You can see the core demand there on the protester’s very expensively and professionally-made placard: “clean energy.” As if there could be any such thing, without huge alterations in the infrastructure of the country, including, once again, a sharp move away from the reign of the private automobile. To call for “clean energy” without mentioning the level of energy use is like SNCC asking for “tasty lunches” while saying nothing about segregation. It is liberal practicality in all its evasive, stillborn glory.

FWIW, TCT favors approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, on the condition that it be accompanied by a huge and immediate expansion of funding for all the nation’s public transit agencies, including Amtrak, so that they might rise from their present state of near-bankruptcy and start seriously competing against car ownership.

That, of course, won’t happen without — ahem — a social movement pushing in that direction…

TCT‘s prediction? As pretty obviously signaled in this year’s State of the Union speech, Zerobama will approve the pipeline and link it to a call for more “clean energy” research and subsidy. The “movement” that met today will then face a severe crisis, and probably dissolve, having built their flimsy little tent on a hill of sand.

That, of course, may actually be less of a defeat than if Zero somehow decides to grant their wishes and block the pipeline. If he were to do so, what would the next steps of the movement be? To declare victory and start asking for “clean energy” research? At least a tasty lunch was an actual possibility in Greensboro, North Carolina…

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Marla SingerMichael DawsonMartinHigh Arka Recent comment authors

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High Arka
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Increased funding for public mass transit is just another nightmare. But don’t worry–if the gates don’t fall for a few more years, we’ll get to see that increased funding. Unfortunately, city and state governments across the country have already shown us what they’ll do with increased public transportation funding: they’ll prioritize cutesy “downtown revitalization” projects, where dozens of millions of dollars are spent setting up ridiculously inefficient “light rail” systems that can move small numbers of people over a painfully short distance at a greatly reduced speed. Funding mass transportation under the current regime is the next stage of the… Read more »

Martin
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Martin

Harper’s has a compelling essay by a reporter who went to the new, supermasssive Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, and states bravely that Keystone XL will be built eventually, in some form, that there will be drilling, baby, drllling, all over the hinterlands, and that the social miasma wrought by our collective fossil fuel energy needs are ramping up, hotter and worse on into the befouled horizon. “Huge infrastructures” don’t change from within, but only from either collapse or being subsumed under other, more deleterious superstructures. Not all public monies are wasted – the public transportation systems of other… Read more »

Martin
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Martin

As always, MD, well-said, quite interesting to me – comments sections are a better way, than many other, for us (or just me?) to test out some lines of thinking. I don’t see all becoming pessimism, just the entirety of social reality – we still have our wonderful lives, our unearned compensations, for now, for tomorrow. Chris Floyd, a major voice along with TCT, has penned a column in Counterpunch in which he cops to having been too credulous with the “progressive hope” vision and now being summarily sick of it all, but I’m not trying to get everyone downcast… Read more »

High Arka
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Heehee. Arka the Cynic says, from a couple anecdotal experiences, that local politicians do what they can to immediately spend down public transit funds so that they never attain a level sufficient to accomplish anything. Example: voters in a metro area beg for thirty years to have a mass transit system. Finally, $17 million is appropriated. From your Pepsico post, we know that investing in future returns is what would save the holdings. We also know that our evil overlords understand this principle. But our local politicians immediately splurge, blowing nearly the entire $17 million on a new system that… Read more »

Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

Arka is right – the transit projects are usually tiny projects that are created not to meaningfully contribute to the transportation problem, but simply to increase traffic to the properties of certain local landlords – this summarizes one of the revitalization projects in my city. A laughably short light rail system will be built, just long enough to bus tourists to restaurants from downtown, and inflated rent paying yuppies back downtown. And then there is also the issue of suburban homeowners (hate those fuckers): currently the bus system in the city proposes a major “park and ride” project (i.e. you… Read more »

Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

Lol, it’s all yours!
(can’t wait for the book, it’s going to be epic for sure – no pressure ;))

Of course nobody here is advocating naivete – it is just unfortunate that the type of naivete inherent in the current generation token ‘initiatives’ is yet another hurdle to deal with in trying to formulate a large enough to be meaningful response… It is amazing what power symbolic ‘improvements’ or ritualized protests hold as pacifiers of the public (and I’d lie if I say that I’m not occasionally susceptible myself… )