Author Topic: True Left breakthrough: seriousness in environmentalism  (Read 925 times)

Zea_mays

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Re: True Left breakthrough: seriousness in environmentalism
« on: October 06, 2021, 01:00:12 pm »
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If every single one of us were morally upstanding

But the majority of people aren't, so we must rely on the state to outlaw businesses from being able to massively exploit the planet.

Even if 1 billion people refused to use plastic, etc. and lived a perfectly exploitation-free lifestyle, we would still have 7 billion people screwing it up for everyone else (and screwing it up for the billions of animals who are tortured to "sustain" the ignoble humans).

Even if 7 billion people lived a completely noble and ethical life, there would still be 1 billion individuals causing unspeakable cruelty. 1 billion customers to sustain those ignoble businesses.

Media outlets are owned/funded by business conglomerates, or business conglomerates pay the media outlets for advertising (which includes subtle propaganda articles, not just TV commercials, etc.!) They're trying to distract leftists from the fact that statism is the solution to this problem, by shifting the onus to act on individuals. Obviously we need to make changes in our own lives to live more ethically, but even if 7 billion people magically became ethical, statism would still be the only way to stop the other 1 billion... Even if you and I don't buy plastic bottles, multiple corporations around the globe have just manufactured 1,000 more in the time it took me to write this comment.

In the past, the recycling movement nearly managed to force companies to reduce their wasteful usage of plastics. Instead, the companies funded massive controlled opposition recycling campaigns which placed the blame for pollution on consumers, rather than the companies who made the plastic in the first place. How are we supposed to end plastic waste when companies keep producing this nonsense?


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Earlier this month, the New York Times posted a video op-ed correctly debunking “The Great Recycling Con.” According to the Times, the plastics industry has sold generations of consumers a lie about just how much of the waste they produce could be recycled in order to create the false possibility of eco-friendly, guilt-free consumption.

It comes painfully close, but misses the full story. The true “Great Recycling Con” runs far deeper than lies about which products can and cannot be recycled; it is an ongoing political battle waged by waste-generating corporations against the public to evade regulation, shift responsibility for environmental destruction onto consumers, and protect the ecocidal and highly profitable business model that lies at the heart of industrial capitalism.
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As product consumption became increasingly tied to the American Dream, industry seized the ethos of excess to sell more and more stuff for more and more profit. Vance Packard, a prophetic journalist and sociologist, criticized advertising as an industry and a strategy led by “persuaders” who preyed on consumer vulnerabilities to sell more, more, more of their own product, promising social status and fulfillment.

In 1960, Packard published The Waste Makers, calling attention to a number of waste-making practices by corporations, perhaps most notably the concept of planned obsolescence.
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Jump ahead a few years to 1967, and the future was “plastics.”
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In the 1960s, the counterculture movement challenged a number of prevailing social norms, including the status symbols of owning lots of stuff.

But in addition to the greater cultural battle, corporate executives were also waging a political-economic battle against an early labor-environmentalist movement that threatened to look behind the curtain of the profitable model of postwar consumerism and possibly regulate the ecologically destructive practices that it relied upon.

As early as 1953, as Heather Rogers points out in Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage, nearly twenty years before the first Earth Day, dairy farmers in Vermont noticed their cows choking and dying on glass beer bottles that had been tossed into their grazing fields. Consequently, they organized and passed a state law banning not just the act of tossing the bottles, but the actual sale of such bottles by commercial businesses.

Presumably anticipating similar regulations around the country, and fearing a labor-environmentalist coalition challenging their practices of producing and selling products that quickly turn to waste, major corporations under threat responded with a series of “greenwashing” campaigns to derail environmentalists and labor.
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Drawing on notions of “good citizenship” and inventing the concept of littering as a literal sin against nature, the group used symbols of white, bourgeois virtue, most famously Susan Spotless, and drew on the stereotype of the Noble Indian, shedding a single tear for what is implied to be a consumer-led continuation of indigenous genocide, to shift responsibility for waste management from corporations to consumers. “People start pollution,” Keep America Beautiful would tell Americans, “people can stop it.”

And the group’s propaganda campaigns worked. In the six years after their first major advertising partnership with the Ad Council, the percentage of soda drinks sold in disposable packaging quadrupled, from 3 percent to 12 percent. Ten years later, it was near 70 percent.

Rather than corporations restricting their own production of disposable materials and eating into their profit, American consumers would now shame each other into managing industry’s cheap waste products. It was an insidious sleight of hand that reframed America’s growing waste problem as one not of corporate excess, but of irresponsible consumer choices and individual lifestyles.
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On December 3, the New York City Department of Corrections announced that it will introduce Meatless Mondays in its prisons and jails in part to minimize its institutional carbon footprint. Instead of challenging the agricultural corporations producing ecocidal levels of methane emissions, the state has chosen to place the responsibility of managing methane emissions on people who are incarcerated and already have no choice in what food to consume.
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But the public, much less the most marginalized among us, has not gotten us into this mess, and unfortunately, private citizens acting individually cannot get us out.

We have an obligation to keep our focus on the owners of the means of waste production — on those who can be coerced by state regulation into making the grand-scale, systemic changes required for any climate mitigation.
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/12/against-recycling-con-corporations-environment-waste-excess


As touched upon in the article above, many necessary environmentalist goals are not going to be possible without state-level "structural" changes. For example, it's apparently cheaper to ship food and manufactured products across an entire ocean rather than just making them within the nation which needs them. That's a macro-level issue with economics and laws. Getting rid of cars will require cities and higher levels of government to radically change their infrastructure and zoning, and so forth.

I think the indignation by the Twitter commenters is the correct attitude to have. The billionaire manufacturers who are paying millionaires in the media have no room to preach to regular people before they can live up to the ethical standard they tell us to live up to.