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All Cards on the Table: For a Social Ecological New Deal

Learning from Roosevelt's New Deal is an imperative when the private sector wont invest.
ALL CARDS ON THE TABLE.
FOR A GENUINE SOCIAL ECOLOGICAL NEW DEAL

By Chris Methmann

[This article published in: Attac Rundbrief 2/2009 is translated from the German on the Internet,  link to www.attac.de.]




The financial crisis has become an economic crisis. Central bankers and governments throw around billions aimlessly. Nevertheless the first worldwide recession since 1945 darkens future prospects.

The news from the climate front grows worse. Recently climatologists warned the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer of 2030. Today millions of people suffer under floods, droughts and rising sea levels. The neoliberal and fossilist finance market capitalism has become a discontinued model. This is now clear. It is high time to discuss genuine alternatives in the hectic commotion between "bad bank" and debt brakes.

The idea of a Green New Deal is an initiative that emphasizes the combined solution of the economic- and climate crises. The policy of US President Roosevelt that answered the worldwide economic crisis of 1929 with fundamental social and economic reforms is a model. With his New Deal ("reshuffling the cards"), he introduced government pensions, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage, reduced working hours and strengthened unions. A huge investment program boosted production. The economy was stripped of power with regulations like stock exchange oversight and a progressive tax reform. Thus the American government cushioned the crises in a short time.

This program is well suited as a blueprint for the greatest economic crisis since 1929. From Obama and the German Greens to the UN Environmental agency UNEP, many propagate an ecological new edition of the New Deal. The economy and climate should be gratefully received: investing in solar plants, electric cars and thermal insulation on a large scale instead of more streets, bridges and houses. The German government puts a green tinge on fraud premiums and tax reform. Not everything sold to us as green and new is a good deal for humankind and the environment.

On one side, even eco-Keynesian ideas like a Green New Deal are based on growth - which in the past fueled climate change. The crisis of the automobile industry shows the danger. Motorized individual transportation is the certain way to ecological collapse. The two-liter- or electric car give us urban sprawl, noise and traffic deaths and devour an incredible amount of resources and energy in their manufacture. Even if Opel can build busses and streetcars, the auto branch must shrivel and not grow at the end of the day. Instead the solution is more intelligent urban planning, railways under public authority and rebuilding our traditional settlement structure. Such a structural change would release growth forces that are simultaneously good for the climate.

But this rebuilding of our industrial society cannot function without a social and economic reorientation. The world really does not need Opel. But it needs an answer for the many thousands of people who are on the streets. Only a radical reduction of working hours and building social security systems make possible exodus from a job without a future. For economic reconstruction, the dominant 25-percent profit logic must be broken. A Green New Deal only deserves its name if it disempowers the markets as in the 1930s. Banks must be democratized, the financial markets shriveled and wealth redistributed. Complementing a massive North-South resource transfer, a fairer global Green New Deal would then be possible - which could simultaneously reduce the global economic imbalances.

Most past proposals for a Green New Deal uncritically rely on supposedly green growth. Nevertheless they offer inspiration for alternatives. But all cards must really be on the table. The task of social movements is to bring growth criticism and the social question into these discussions. If this succeeds, a Green New Deal would be a great chance.


READING LIST FOR FURTHER STUDY

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich: Ethics. The penultimate needs the ultimate. The church, media, unions and universities should be critical and independent greatnesses.

Chomsky, Noam: American Power and the New Mandarins: Technical solutions like cap and trade do not change our ecological footprint, climate change or the fraud of banks and big business. The edifice must be debated and changed: the role of government, the purpose of the economy, public and profit, stakeholders and shareholders.
 http://free--expression.blogspot.com/2009/06/chomsky-at-riverside-church-nyc-12-june.html
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2009/06/392188.shtml

Cox, Harvey: Feast of Fools. The Harvard Divinity professor argues that the turbo-consumerist society lacks memory and hope, festivity and fantasy.

Freire, Paulo: Pedagogy of the Oppressed: In false consciousness, the oppressed assume the consciousness, prejudices and blindness of the oppressors.

Fussel, Kuno: Introduction to Paradise. Cult Marketing:
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/11/275130.shtml

Habermas, Jurgen: Instrumental Rationality. All life, relations and dialogue, can be colonized by instrumental reason. For example, questions like: Will this be on the exam? And will this put money in my pocket? can drown out other questions.

Johnson, Chalmers: Nemesis. The empire, like Narcissus, falls in love with its reflection in the pond and drown. The US could follow Britain and become an empire or Rome and stage self-destruction.

Johnson, Simon: The Quiet Coup:
 http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200905/imf-advice?x=36&y=1
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2009/05/391151.shtml

Marcuse, Herbert: One Dimensional Man

 http://www.therealnews.com The Federal Reserve: Same old sheriff on Wall Street:
 link to therealnews.com

Mills, C. Wright Mills: The Power Elite

Orwell, George: Animal Farm and 1984

President Roosevelt: Inauguration Address 1933
 link to www.youtube.com

Twenge, Jean: The Me-Generation and The Narcissist Epidemic:
 http://www.booktv.org/watch.aspx?ProgramId=PC-10487
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2009/06/391817.shtml

Wolff, Richard: Capitalism Hits the Fan
 http://www.capitalismhitsthefan.com

Wölflingseder, Maria: Gross Social Happiness
 http://www.krisis.org/2009/gross-social-happiness

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