FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Symphony of Failure

by GREGORY VICKREY

Allegro – Local Failure

In 2010, I wrote an article titled, “Environmentalism is Dead,” decrying the ineptitude and/or downright skullduggery of large environmental nonprofit organizations. At the time, I still held the foolhardy belief that we could keep environmental activism alive at the local level through traditional nonprofit vehicles, particularly because of the “good people” typically involved in such outfits and the hypothesis suggesting small and nimble – and the development of personal relationships – could create more effective tactics within a comprehensive strategy or agenda.

Of course, I was wrong.

I suppose one could argue isolated circumstances prove exceptions to the more idealistic rule, but conversations with activists around the United States and Canada, in particular, have only supplemented my own experiences to the point where the hypothesis above demonstrates abject failure in practice among the grassroots, local and regional fare.

Environmentalism truly is dead.

Please bear this in mind: idiots like me try things like this because we are, in some sense, fatalistic optimists. Our hope and our fear coagulate into things that make momentary sense to our egos and the dichotomies of expectation and the need to eat. Despite knowing the science and openly challenging false environmental saviors – and, in some cases, putting together the science ourselves – we fall into a fundamental, error-prone pattern of belief that this or that or our scrappy little group may be effective. Occasionally we even win. But those occasional successes make the fatalistic optimist a dangerous – if temporarily effective – sort to tradition and classical liberalism and foundation moneys.

Unfortunately, proving the rule applies to more than a privileged white dude is too easy. Traitors to Mother Earth and fashionable sellouts exist in every corner of the world, as Macdonald Stainsby and Drew Oja Day demonstrate in this seminal report about the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada. Within and without organizations and coalitions, those with personal and profitable agendas over-run good people utilizing the methodology and corrosion of conformity in explicit and implicit lock-step with your fiat currency. Some of those good people – abandoned and desperate – even end up dead.

(Read more uncompromising and relevant prose from Stainsby in “Corroding our Democracy.” In case you missed it, I shudder when recalling how many times I sat down at the same table with Steven Kallick.)

Sounds just like your favorite big enviro, does it not? Nearly all of us might as well say we work for The Nature Conservancy.

Andante – Global Failure

Let’s slow it down. Let’s take the wide view. Let’s go back, again, to 2010. Escaping from the morass of the corporatized UN COP system and the debacle that was Denmark, more than 32,000 people descended upon Cochabamba, Bolivia, in order to spark what could have been a purposeful revolution with clarity. Those enacting souls embraced reality and the future by composing a powerful dialogue. The immediate outcome was The People’s Agreement of Cochabamba. Hopeful and relevant, the document portrayed the planet as it was three and a half short years ago, and injected insight and fortitude into the climate justice movement.

In response, the climate justice movement did – and has done – nothing.

I know this because I am part of the problem. Remember? “Idiots like me try things like this because we are, in some sense, fatalistic optimists.” And in every superlative sense, I have tried nothing beyond the vagaries of ego and avarice, joining Climate Justice Now! (CJN!), today a faltering collective of small-time excellence and megalomaniacal and sold-out behemoths purporting to be friends of the earth.

Despite “actions” attempting to display the contrary, large environmental organizations have co-opted Climate Justice Now! to the point where it is indistinguishable from Climate Action Network, the condescending, well-funded, corporatized shill for Green Capitalism and mass affiliate for Rockefeller-produced 350.org and, yes, nearly every politicized branch of Friends of the Earth. And while steadfast, small-time excellence consistently pushes for acceptance of the People’s Agreement, those in control at CJN! maintain a measurable silence on the matter and an inherent lust for a Green Climate Fund – capitalism and progress and growth, oh my! – to save us all.

Again the fool, as an individual I spent most of the last 1000 days or so in a weary state of delusion believing reality and reason would prevail. To no avail. But, damn, we sure do get some vigorous pleas to sign on to innocuous statements, and there’s always a chance one crony or another will invite me to expand my carbon footprint and fly me to COP19 in Warsaw where I can hobnob at the same table with Greenpeace and BASF.

These days, CJN! means jet-setting every fall and demanding everyone has universal access to the false prophecies of “clean energy.” It demonstrates cabalistic communications among the funded elites of the collective behind firewalls and closed doors. It stands for Climate Justice Never.

Yay.

(To discover the latest goings on at CJN!, don’t visit our all-but-defunct website. Visit CAN’s authoritative guide to selling out.)

Scherzo – Quick & Marketable Failure

Back in the cushy United States we embrace the marketable phrase over simple realism, as here our t-shirts say such things as, “I am Herman Wallace,” (I am not Herman Wallace – I have no way of knowing what more than 40 years of solitary confinement or dynamic heroism is like), our Facebook statuses ring, “We are all Trayvon” (no, we are not – most of us have not been stalked by a racist, pathological killer), and we commodify individuals like Chelsea Manning and Bidder 70 into fundraising mechanisms and membership pleas.

We typically avoid rudimentary words and difficult-to-market pursuits like, “ban.” A recent case in point comes from the weak-kneed Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and their dismissal of the general public’s opposition to fracking.  Because OEC, itself, maintains a fossil-fueled complexion due to its root relationships with groups like The Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation, this top-down Council proposes the proverbial “win-win” – laughable new standards to improve fracking and make sure localized groundwater contamination rates increase.

Ouch.

Rondo – Finale

All this is to say, of course, we are essentially out of time. My idiocy and our complacency and their skullduggery, all decades in the making, will provide us with an untenable Mother Earth in a few more. Our collective modalities of unabashed narcissism and ironic nihilism will continue to defend the status quo while hoping for a prayer in the first world and death in the third. Even now, I feel unrealized shame visualizing the end of civilization’s symphony; sardonic nepotism conceptualizing an appropriate uprising to avoid the crescendo; and a desire to continue listening, even if the music stops.

Gregory Vickrey is a consultant in the environmental and political arenas and may be reached at: gregory@gregoryvickrey.com.

 

Gregory Vickrey is a consultant in the environmental and political arenas and may be reached at: gregory@gregoryvickrey.com.

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail