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The Challenge of a Trump Era: What’s Coming Next?

How do we move on from the soul killing and depressing depths of a Trump era? Undoubtedly, the wanton excesses of the political, economic, moral, and social carnage of a Trump presidency is leading to countervailing and healing responses. Now’s not the time for half measures, or a liberal restoration, but for pursuing new pathways for fundamental change with open eyes.

Trump’s limitless ego driven opportunism, rising to power from the right wing fever swamps, forever at war with Republican and Democratic establishment, the main stream media, a Deep State, and international trade deals has picked off the scab of legitimacy shielding major institutions from serious examination. The Trump era is precisely the time to formulate and organize for a just, sustainable and peaceful ecological future. This is our chance. Understand Trump as being coincident with the traumatic end of the line for ecocide, racism, and economic exploitation as usual.

We are on the cusp of a Second Great Transformation, from industrial global business as usual to an ecological civilization. This will happen because of interrelated global ecological, economic, and social imperatives. Ecologically, unless dramatically altered, the current path of global capitalist industrialism is leading toward climate catastrophe and collapse. Economically, there is a relentless concentration upward of wealth toward a new global class structure of a billionaire class, their well paid technocratic enablers, and the struggling and impoverished billions. This global class structure is driven by ceaseless advancement of financialization, artificial intelligence, robotization, and computer controlled automation.

Trumplandia’s lusts to burn more coal, pollute more, make the rich even richer are, at bottom, not an aberration, but an extreme manifestation of business as usual. Neither everyday industrialism’s measured pillage, or Trump’s deliberate accelerated abuse is sustainable. To this will soon be added another global financial crisis, likely driven by corporate debt and junk bond collapse, speeding Trump’s collapse amidst unfolding and deepening ecological crises.

These are the facts on the ground. Ecologically, economically,and socially business as usual that drives industrial civilization is not sustainable and must dramatically change. Will that change be the rise of a global eco-fascism; or a variation on a distopian Mad Max or Soylent Green future; or the pursuit of ecological, economic, and social sustainability that will build a global ecological civilization? That’s the central question. How can we plan for the development of sustainable ecological means to reach ecological, fair, and just ends?

This does not require revolution. Instead, ecological transformation can unfold through the exercise of democratic power, of millions in the streets, demanding new economic market rules and laws mandating and assuring that economic growth means ecological improvement and strengthening of social and ecological justice. Left to their own devices, neither industrial capitalism nor industrial socialism will divert us from our current path toward ecological and social collapse.

While ecological improvement is essential for industrial civilization to avoid collapse in the 21st and 22nd century, social and ecological justice is not. A  billionaire led global class could instead attempt to impose as emergency measures a global eco-fascism under the guise of ecological necessity and captive democracy to avoid ecological collapse and maintain its wealth and prerogatives. This is the world dominated by a global netocracy. The world dominated by Amazon, Apple, Google-Alphabet, Facebook, Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Uber, Tata, Morgan Chase, BlackRock, Bank of China et.al. This is the world of cyber-commons as private property, of corporate gatekeepers profiting through every bit and byte of information, and, at the same time, driving down wages, shredding the social safety net and protecting corporate wealth and power. Democracy become clearly an expression of one dollar – one vote as opposed to one person – one vote with the wealth of the billionaire class protected and enshrined by timeless cyberspace monopoly. This is possible, not inevitable. Wake up.

A Second Great Transformation

We are on the cusp of a Second Great Transformation, from an industrial to an ecological civilization. Karl Polanyi incisively analyzed the First Great Transformation, from an agricultural to an industrial civilization and the rise of capitalism and capitalist markets.

Ecological, technological, economic, and social imperatives will drive a Second Great Transformation in the 21st and 22nd century from an industrial to an ecological civilization. Failure to radically transform human relations with the ecosphere will almost certainly prove catastrophic for the ecosphere and all its species, including ours. We have the ability to revitalize our democracy, to shape the nature of this Second Great Transformation along lines that helps encourage and foster a necessary convergence informed by sustainable norms within a context of social, economic, and ecological justice — a  peace system and not a war system.

War is a feature of the State, with a six thousand year history. It is an artifact of empire not of human nature. Even under capitalism, mature democratic states have never been at war. A democratic global ecological civilization based on justice and fairness for all will also inherently be a peace system.

It is crucial to understand that global industrialism must change fundamentally to survive. The nature of the changes shaping this transformation must include the embrace of a global renewable energy system and ecological production seeking zero pollution and zero waste where all outputs from production become inputs to other processes, not polluting and catastrophic externalities.

The optimal path economically, socially and technically for the transformation from self-destructive industrial to sustainable ecological is huge sustainable investment resulting in:

+ A massive global reduction in pollution, depletion,and ecological damage;

+ Transformation of energy, industry, agriculture, forestry, aquaculture to sustainable norms and practices through trillions of dollars of productive investment ;

+ A global convergence on sustainable norms for all;

+ A personal share of the global common-wealth and cyber-commons for all;

+ An end to poverty and resource based wars.

This is not the only possible path, of course, but it is one that is both economically, socially and politically most efficient supported by a zero pollution /zero waste ecological information age. It is shaped by the nature of decentralized renewable energy systems, and optimized sustainable production systems by new generations of 3-D printing technologies employing sustainable inputs. This is the path toward remaking this world into one that is sustainable, peaceful, and just.

Ecological transformation that cannot be imposed from above, that must arise from mass movements and mass mobilization from below behind a clear program for radical reform and change. This movement can take advantage of the horrid Trump and craft a program that establishes, in stages, a path for fundamental transformation of a global civilization from industrial to ecological.

This is a world where economic growth means ecological improvement; where the growth of monetary capital must mean the revitalization and restoration of natural capital and eco-systems in the context of social and ecological justice. An ecological civilization must rest upon peace and justice and fairness for all of us. It means as a central goal and practice a global convergence on sustainable carbon dioxide emissions of 3 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per person per year, or 21 gigatons of carbon dioxide, plus removal of gigatons of atmospheric carbon into soil and biomass on land and sea. Such a transformation and convergence must involve the transfer of information and assets from rich to poor through ecological assessments on the rich to catalyze investment by the poor in efficient renewable energy systems.

Yes. This is an ecological growth agenda. The U.S., China, India, the nations of the OECD must invest trillions in this transformation. Renewable investment, and employment, already exceeds that in soon to be stranded fossil and nuclear fuels as the price of zero fuel cost renewables plunges.

The central questions for this radical reform agenda are two:

First, to act quickly enough to escape the worst consequences of global climate change that threatens to destroy global industrial civilization.

Second, to structure this Second Great Transformation in a fashion that supports equity, equality, sustainability and peace.

The decentralized nature of renewable systems makes it quite feasible for energy users to now become owners of energy producing systems and therefor have a major equity stake of 21st and 22nd century energy production systems that will remain the largest agglomeration of capital. We are at the dawning of the new solar age where decisions made now will help shape the nature of global political economy toward ecological, just and fair ends.

The Good News

The good news is that this Second Great Transformation will require trillions in productive investments in renewable energy, zero waste – zero pollution ecological industrial production, in sustainable forestry, agriculture and aquaculture serving as enormous sinks for atmospheric carbon, sustainable food production, habitat revitalization. Trillions in profitable investments  can be administered and applied in fashions that is both the driven by ecological necessity and conducted in ways guided by new market rules and laws that:

+ Make economic growth mean ecological improvement;

Revitalize the global ecological commons;

+ Build energy user assets and wealth through local ownership;

+ Establish the basis for community controlled cooperatives, and public banking;

+ Redefine fiduciary responsibility by law as making economic growth mean ecological improvement and the growth of social and ecological justice;

+ Build and institutionalize by new market rules, laws, regulation, ecological tax and monetary policy a sustainable ecological market system.

Building an ecological civilization is a departure from received wisdom of the professoriat. It means a revolution in the quality of economic growth to make economic growth in the 21st and 22nd century the instrument for ecological improvement and the increase in social and ecological justice for all. Trillions of dollars now spent on war and ecologically destructive activities will be refocused for ecological ends.

It is an ecological growth system based on:

+ An great increase in economic growth and a corresponding great decrease in pollution, depletion and ecological damage;

+ Breaking the connection between growth in monetary output and ecological damage through global trade in information of all sorts in a renewably powered cyberspace and global practice of ecological industrial, agricultural, forestry, and aqua-cultural practices;

+ Building a global efficient renewable energy zero pollution – zero waste carbohydrate economy maximizing sustainable inputs and minimizing pollution;

+ Five to ten fold increase in efficiency taking advantage of second law of thermodynamics practices such as heat pumps and the Carnot cycle in energy;

+ Global standards and global convergence on for carbon dioxide equivalent standards of three tons carbon dioxide per person per year plus aggressive sequestration of atmospheric carbon;

+ An ecological assessment and tax system using the price system to send clear signs for sustainability making sustainable products and services cheaper, gain market share and become more profitable;

+ Funding a universal basic income and sustainable’ investments from the ecological tax and investment systems and capitalizing community controlled banking systems with mandates to pursue sustainable community ecological ends

From Abstract Principles to Concrete Opportunity: An Example

A global decentralized renewable energy and production infrastructure is being built that will be far less polluting, making economic growth mean ecological improvement. These are, or will soon be cheaper than poison power systems. They can be financed and paid for by the monthly stream of savings by energy users who will become owners of the power generation and storage systems, not just customers.

It’s crucial to understand that today the largest global asset owners like Black Rock see that trillions invested in fossil fuel and nuclear power plants are quickly becoming stranded assets in the face of competition from zero fuel cost renewables and the ecological imperatives to prevent catastrophe and collapse. Black Rock and their brethren plan to be the owners profit ing from the construction and operation of the decentralized renewable powered micro-grids of the future that will power all aspects of our lives including lighting, heating and cooling, hot water, transportation, and industry. But energy users, that is, all of us, now have a real chance to be owners of these new energy systems and not just rate paying customers.

The basic principles are zero energy user personal capital investment and zero or minimal local tax increases. Lease purchase financing of renewables can be paid for by tapping the monthly saving stream compared to fossil fuels. This is not designed as a rich person’s game, but a path for all facilitated by utility scale energy user cooperatives, community loan funds, and community revenue bond finance. We can economically start building a sustainable ecological future based on local ownership and empowerment from where we are right now. We don’t need to wait for an end to Trumplandia.

Current business practice and tax law makes it both easy and possible, for example, to contract for the emerging practice of offering communities micro-grid as a service at a discount from current energy prices with zero energy-user or community capital down. Communities can move from being just customers to either co-develop the system using community revenue bonds to repaid for by stream of monthly savings, or to purchase the system after the corporate investors tax equity is satisfied in year six. Community savings from corporate investment can be used to finance community ownership and equity. I am working on developing and implementing such plans on a town or City basis.

Such local planning can and should be done in the context of eight 4-year plans form 2018 to 2050 to move from where we are now to a sustainable local economy where carbon dioxide emissions equivalents per person are 3 tons per person person per year combined with carbons sequestration.

A Systemic Change Rising From Below

The essential imperative for a global conversion to efficient renewable energy combined with information as high value and high profit center, and global interconnection by cyberspace and cellphone establishes the basis and to use of global cyber commons for common-wealth, not only for corporate wealth. Corporate cyber monopoly can be transformed to common public utility, a public road rather than a trillion dollar generating toll booth and eternal profit center. We have an opportunity to make economic growth mean ecological improvement in the context of social and ecological justice building a sustainable, just and peaceful world order.

This is a systematic change that must arise from below, that will not be gifted spontaneously by potlatch from above. It is a change that will be the response of tens of thousands , then millions, then billions in the streets demanding and implementing healing change and pursuit of an ecological future and social and ecological justice. Now is the time to understand and plan and organize to help guide and inform this second great transformation.

It is the time when the inadequate voluntary pledges of the Paris Climate Accord are replaced by global action in sustainable investment of tens of trillions of dollars in decentralized renewable energy that is also owned by energy users large and small, building local assets,wealth and power and a global convergence on a sustainable carbon dioxide emissions of 3 tons of carbon per person per year. It is a time not for minting new billionaires, but for shared and cooperative jobs and global convergence on a fair basic income for all. It is a time for new market rules that makes the price system send clear signals for sustainability that makes sustainable products cheaper, gain market share and more profitable, and polluting products more expensive, loose market share, and become less profitable through instruments like an ecological value added tax. It is a time for growth of a cooperative and community controlled banking systems with market rules to invest in ecologically sustainable projects that advance social and ecological justice.

The Essential Challenge

Our essential challenge is making the response to Trump much more than a return to the next Obama or Hillary bestride the stage leading us back into smart wars and U.S. imperial business as usual. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Will the certain to come collapse of Trumpism lead to more than just a single triumphant evening like the joyous appearance of Barak and Michelle Obama on the concert stage in Chicago on election victory night when all seemed possible for the most progressive Senator, an African American, a community organizer and law professor elected President in the midst of an unfolding economic collapse.

We know how that turned out. Obama slid immediately to the center. He saved the bankers and financial speculators, without forcing the failed banks to write down all their bad mortgage and consumer debt to market and keeping people in their homes and jobs; he played nice with BP after their negligence led to the Macondo well Gulf Catastrophe instead of using BP as an object lesson about disastrous corporate consequences for bad behavior; he presided over the further institutionalization of the Long War in the greater Middle East and its spread into dozens of nations in Africa and Asia; he participated in weekly extrajudicial assassination meeting; he gave the torturers like Gina Haspel a pass…

Yes infinitely preferable to Trump. But ante-Trump was not the path pursing economic social and ecological justice as inextricably linked imperatives for building an ecological civilization from global industrial business, war,and pollution as usual. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Looking Backward and Forward

Liberalism and Conservatism (but not Trumpism) can be ally or enemy of an ecological turn. Yes Obama was important in crafting the non-binding pledges of the Paris Climate Accord and his liberal due diligence in crafting rules for power plants,automobiles, and energy efficiency for the U.S. to perhaps meet its commitments that Trump is attempting to reverse.

The talent of United States in rising to global power and empire was an ability to temper excess with countervailing response, a more or less workable democracy that could respond to crises and demands from below. This was Roosevelt’s New Deal savings capitalism from itself; Johnson embracing civil rights and saying We Shall Overcome, launching a War Against Poverty –while allowing Kennedy’s best and brightest to lead us into Vietnam catastrophe. This was Nixon establishing the modern framework of environmental protection regulation, ruling and the owning class taking care of its long term assets and own quality of life.

There is much in an ecological market future that could appeal to small government conservatives. It is a global system that favors self-management, local ownership, and local equity building, empowerment and subsidiarity giving more direct control to those most directly affected. It is Jeffersonian and decentralist and anti-statist in flavor.

Trump does not listen to the better angels. He has no politics beyond personal aggrandizement and his bigotry and lusts. Everything is for sale. Loyalty, not morality or character is what matters, and therefore, it is only the opinion of Trump’s loyal supporters that matter. He is a conservative in name only. The ruling principle is the ends justify the means. The ends are: Get richer; Don’t get caught; Don’t get jailed. Truth is fungible; what I proclaim things are, they are, and then, they are not. Trumpism will have no seat at the ecological table.

Trump, a performer with the mien of a Mussolini, is certainly willing ,if allowed, to pull down American democracy in the interest of a dynastic Trump succession. In Trumplandia the Senate, already a millionaires club, become a billionaires club in a nation where the billionaires, the one-tenth of one percent, will own 99% of everything, and popular entertainment for the unemployed masses, housed in dormitories and issued rations, will be watching on cell phone screens for education and entertainment the latest executions and police apprehensions of immigrants and the non-white.

A return to a version of ante-Trump is a possible consequence of the already enraged Trump opponents and the soon to be broken hearted Trump supporters. But the quotidian, the longed for liberal restoration, is not what is fated to happen. It too is throughly inadequate to address the needs for an ecological transformation unless and until it to embraces the ecological imperatives not through changes in the margin, but as fundamental shifts in law, in new market rules, in redefinition of fiduciary responsibility, in monetary and fiscal policy and regulation.

Now is the time to develop plans and policies to help guide the Second Great Transformation from Industrial to Ecological.

Ecological and economic crises are sure to come, and will provide plenty of opportunities to step into the breech and advance and implement constructive plans and enabling legislation. Now is the time to craft platforms for candidates and agendas for communities, workers and their unions, business people and investors.

Crafting transformative policy agendas and step by step plans is an essential task we must face and must meet. It’s past time to neither do what we are told, nor long for a Clinton restoration. Our point of departure from Trumplandia should follow the example of Vaclav Havel who spoke the truth to Soviet power and lived as if he was a free man in a democracy, a man who was harassed and imprisoned and emerged as President of a post-Soviet Czech republic.

We need to speak and act upon the truth and build an ecological, sustainable and just future starting from where we are, where we live, with local plans and local actions today. Bold local acton is possible and achievable now.

The great neo-liberal conceit was that history ended with the fall of the Soviet Union and the advent of a millennia long liberal capitalist imperium where all was reduced to matters of administration and efficiency. In less than thirty years since 1989, reality has made it apparent that the ongoing wars, ecological pillage, and mass poverty is a basic consequence of an unsustainable and self-destructive global system of industrial business as usual manifest trough its market rules, incentives, uneven rewards and externalities.

The time for crafting and shaping a Second Great Transformation, from industrial to ecological civilization is at hand. We must rise to meet the challenge and take responsibility for helping build an ecological and just future.

What’s Next?

I will be writing a number of pieces on elements of a second Great Transformation to encourage debate and development.

Some of these topics include:

+ A 2018 to 2050 plan for Cities and Towns based on 8 four year plans to move toward sustainability including carbon emissions of 3 tons per person per year plus carbon sequestration context os sustainable economic growth that meas ecological improvement. Guided by zero energy end user capital requirements for investments paid for by stream of monthly savings, zero of minimal local tax increases.

+ Dual-cropping to integrate solar PV on poles with working farms for large scale underproduction along with row crops and pasture to help revitalize small farm economics as produce large amounts of renewable energy

+ Carbohydrate economy the growth of crops to be used as fuel and feed stock to replace particularly from marginal land and the use of organic waste of from food to by-products for bio-digester and syn-gas product to benefit local economies and help zero waste production close the loop between production and

+ A redefinition of fiduciary responsibility by law to require economic growth also mean regeneration of natural capital and pursuit of social and ecological justice

+ A full and fair employment and basic wage sustainable economy in the era of AI, robotization and computer controlled automation.

And more…

For now each one of us needs to do our part.

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