SocraticGadfly: The Green New Deal vs The Green New Deal

January 10, 2019

The Green New Deal vs The Green New Deal

Let's start this off by stipulating that the DSA roses' "Green New Deal" is a pale imitation of the Green Party's offering. Andrew Stewart also talks about the original Green New Deal at Counterpunch. Carl Beijer (who allegedly worked on two Nader campaigns) says, "but the Democrats are the first to talk about the global climate issue."

That may well be true.

At the same time, it's not "the Democrats," Carl; it's a small subsection of Democrats, not a party stance. And, per those links, we'll see how well that small segment does at avoiding being co-opted by national leadership.

Indeed, the face of the Roses, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has continued to move rightward since lauding John McCain and backing away from BDS-related issues, as this longform from Mint Press notes.

Mint Press focuses on the Green New Deal and how it is, at bottom, fauxgressive. It mentions things like entrepreneurialism and other neolib buzz words, and looks like it would be entirely open to a carbon cap-and-trade, not tax and tariff, as the primary government "tool." And, that is even before Speaker Pelosi guts it. The piece also notes the GND of the Roses is a plan to work on a plan much more than an actual plan.

OTOH, I would support Carl Beijer's idea of a more socialist Green New Deal than the Roses (or the US Green Party, I think he's right) have offered. OTTH (On the third hand) Beijer does a bit of shark-jumping for me when he claims that capitalism inexorably leads to fascism. There, he refuses to call himself a dialectical materialist, but does call himself a "historic materialist."

A difference that makes no diff, Carl. You're claiming to be a Commie, specifically of Marxist variety, not just a socialist. As I've said elsewhere, Marxism is bankrupt both scientifically and philosophically. Marx had basically no scientific data to back up his ideas (and economics was even less scientific then than today), and Hegelian dialectic is a bucket of warm shit within philosophical ideas. The Frankfurt school and other neo-Marxist ideas were better, but really, we need to shed these polarities, especially of Marxism vs fascism with nothing in between. We even, IMO, need to look beyond the lesser polarity of capitalism vs socialism (I mean socialism, not DSA or similar social democracy). Sadly, or worse than that — Beijer seems to be like others, whose general mindset I call out in that link — romancers of November 1917 Russia.

For New York Greens, Howie Hawkins gets that right when he notes that a real Green New Deal needs that, and adds that during World War II, with its analogies, FDR nationalized 25 percent of American industry. Speaking of, Stan Cox at Counterpunch notes that led to a massive new emission of carbon dioxide in his own call for a true Green New Deal to go beyond capitalism.

Andrew Stewart also remains skeptical of the AOC "wave election" and other things related to it.

Meanwhile, in "mainstream progressive" media, the likes of Emma Vigeland claims that John Cornyn supports a carbon tax (which she insinuates is in AOC's version of a Green New Deal). First, I found multiple examples from Cornyn's Twitter feed showing her wrong (and politely let her know). Second, per both Vox and Grist, it seems fairly clear that the nebulous GND proposed by AOC and allies doesn't have a carbon tax. Some of their think-tank allies are in outright opposition.

Per Grist, I don't see a massive expansion of renewables without a hammer of the carbon tax forcing it. Ending all onshore and offshore oil drilling on federal lands to try to force us out of internal combustion engines, or at least those without hybrid drives, won't do enough to #KeepItInTheGround in the US, let alone doing nothing about foreign oil. And, of course, that's where a carbon tariff (which the GND doesn't come close to mentioning) is part of the picture.

Finally, now that AOC has released her own Green New Deal document, it looks highly aspirational. No carbon tax or other sticks to go with carrots. No real estimate of costs. These are going to be questions that need to be answered, issues that need to be addressed. Carl Beijer notes this, in noting AOC's document does discuss "funding" with no talk about real costs. The Green Party has also weighed in, saying it has fossil fuel industry loopholes. Michael Grunwald has another critique. That is that the manifesto is a laundry list grab back. Agreed! Prioritization is important. For example, were I president? Climate change and national healthcare would be the top priorities. A step below that would be a minimum wage hike. Other things fall yet lower.

As for the cost? Contra a Reason claim of $7 trillion, this Stanford study goes much lower, without specific final numbers. Among other things, it says that reduced electric generation costs would offset some of the construction and installation costs. I'm going to say $3 trillion over a time period until 2040 rather than 2030, and scrapping some localization issues of the Stanford study. Still pricey? Yes, but not THAT pricey. At $150 billion/year, less than half of DoD's budget.


The biggest of "allies," or actually a progenitor, is the Sunrise Movement. Its homepage looks even whiter than the Green Party, despite its acknowledgement that much of climate change will hit poor of all ethnicities and especially minorities. The ambitious goals it lists, per the New Yorker, seem unobtainable without major funding for it. Major funding. And a carbon tax would help until much of this was in place. But ... like AOC, so far,  heavy on aspiration, light on perspiration.

If even more tax credits to renewables is a small part of the deal, fine. But, that alone won't lead to a ramp-up of the size needed to get us driving electric vehicles, as well as running our computers on renewable electricity. And, what about the Dick Cheney sneered-at "conservation"? What if we can't ramp up car batteries without massive environmental degradation? What if, in some ways, the world has peaked? I'm leery, from seeing things like a "smart grid" touted as a major part of the solution (overhauls of the current electric grid ARE needed, but the grid is already relatively smart as far as "switching") that we've got a dollop or three of salvific technologism running around here.

I am also distrustful of any organization which won't list its leadership on its website. Some of the founders claim inspiration from the Occupy movement, or Black Lives Matters. In both cases, we see what has happened with actual or alleged lack of leadership. The original Occupy at Zucotti Park had leadership, despite denials; I've written about that before. Black Lives Matter truly appears to be more leaderless, and by 2020, will probably have dissipated much of its original energy. (In fact, co-founder Evan Weber was part of Occupy. At least he admits it had leadership problems. The real truth is Occupy had leaders who tried to get others to believe the leaderlessness myth. It eventually sold out to Wall Street; remember that, when you see $20 T-shirts; a Sunrise Occupy-style debit card could be next. Occupy also had a 1 percenter problem.

Also, none of the Sunrise Movement have acknowledged ripping off the Green Party, or even really acknowledged its existence. Related big question: If there's a ConservaDem in a general election, after a failed primarying attempt, will it endorse Greens when they're running? SPUSAers or whomever, if Greens aren't available in a particular district?

I sent a second direct question to Sunrise after first indirectly tagging after starting work on this piece. We'll see what, if any, response I get. Don't believe me? Twitter link and screengrab. Account started in 2013. Wikipedia information? Organization started in 2017.

Reality, per Wikipedia? It's a youth front of Sierra Club that sat around and did nothing, it seems, for four years. And, people who have been long-term readers know what I think of Sierra in particular and Gang Green environmental groups in general. And, that explains why it hasn't credited the Green Party.

And more research. Stephen O'Hanlon's Downingtown is semi-ritzy. The man I presume is his dad would appear to have a ritzy yet small-scale law practice.

And, at least one claim, per its Twitter feed? To eliminate all greenhouse gases by 2030? Since cow farts are greenhouse gases, unless Sunrise makes the entire country vegetarian, that simply ain't happening.

But, per the tweet embedded below, that is exactly the claim.
I also find it interesting that Sunrise Movement's Twitter account says it was started in September 2013 ... which is long before the Sunrise Movement was allegedly started. (Both the "@" and the actual name are Sunrise-related, as you can see in the embedded Tweet, so it's not like it originally started as something else.

Finally, do not cite Modern Monetary Theory as a magic wand to pay for all of this. (I'm not specifically referring to the Sunshine Movement here.) I consider that some left-liberals, and a few leftists, version of snake oil or voodoo economics. Unless you find a magic way to eliminate the bond market as well, it doesn't work that way. It's one of my biggest disagreements with Michael Hudson, for the amount of good he has to say otherwise on economics.

Finally, none of this distinction between the GREEN New Deal and the Green New Deal matters as much, arguably, as the fact that Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic leadership allies of hers gutted the powers and mandate of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. (Update, Feb. 7: Pelosi has left AOC off the committee.)

And, the chair of that committee, Kathy Castor, is now talking about how "woke" Dear Leader was on climate change in his 2009 stimulus bill. Since that bill fell short on stimulus help, let's be honest and note that while it did "something" green, the something it did was entirely neoliberal, markets focused. (Of course, per all of the above, the AOC GND has too much of that itself.)

Update, Feb. 22: The New Republic, of all places, not a leftist outfit, now asks if some Dems (not necessarily AOC) are deliberately trying to steal Greens' thunder.

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