[Marxism] Fwd: Report on September 10th Chicago Area Greens Showing of End of Suburbia:
obeynow20001 at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 15 20:14:56 MDT 2005
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We had a good showing of folks- there were around 25 attendees, with ages ranging mostly from the 30s to the 60s. The audience was mostly white and middle class. The film was shown in the basement of a Local northside church.
A good review of the film by Tom Wheeler is linked below. There is also an article by William Kunstler on "The Long Emergency" soon to come, which contains useful and disturbing information.
The short version of Peak Oil is that the world is due to run out of premium, inexpensive oil somewhere between this year and the year 2050. The film asserted that most experts think that we will run out in 2020. This gives us 15 years to organize before catastrophe hits industrial capitalist society.
When we run out of peak oil, traveling medium or long distances to work, to transport food, heating large office buildings, among other aspects of industrial capitalist life, will become untenable. Also, in particular, if modern society is not prepared for the loss of readily available oil, producing food, which depends on oil for fertilizers and pesticides, will become a huge problem for our centralized, agribusiness model of food production.
Audience discussion was limited to about five people, mostly Green Party members and friends. Much of the audience seemed too disturbed or even shocked to comment about the film and its implications at legnth.
The discussion was led by Kathy Cummings, who has dedicated herself to driving around the country in her VW bus and presenting the film. Cynthia's style was engaging and open and allowed audience members to share their thoughts and participate.
Questions about The Long Emergency that were raised for me were:
will capitalism's ruling class in the U.S. and elsewhere be able to organize a response to this profound energy loss so that the great majority of people in the U.S. and on the planet can survive and live in some socially useful and satisfying way?
My answer is no, given the evidence of their lack of action around global warming, and loss of sea, plant and animal life due to constant capitalist devouring of resources.
Reorganizing life just in the U.S., as Kunstler sees it, will require whole populations of middle class America to shift from the sprawling suburbs to live more densely, rationally and socially around urban areas and inner-ring suburbs. In the Chicago area, for example, farmland that will be vitally necessary for food production has been cut up and rendered unusable by suburban sprawl. Without some sort of planned, democratic response, this kind of emergency could turn the Chicagoland area into a disaster zone. Given the U.S. ruling class' lack of preparation for Hurricane Katrina's wiping out of New Orleans and their continuing willful ignorance of the sharpening ecological catastrophe, the U.S. ruling classes' ability to respond to coming disasters on this magnitude is hugely in doubt.
On the other hand, we have the example of Cuba, a relatively small country with very limited resources that managed to evacuate 700,000 out of a population of 2,000,000 in the greater Havana area when Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004. They made extensive preparations for the hurricane as far as streets and sanitation, supplies and shelter in a planned and democratic way. Cuba survived the hurricanes without any deaths. The U.S., with far, far greater resources but no democratic planning, incurred as many as 10,000 deaths and will have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars up to the equivalent cost of two wars. Cuba has in one way or another, however imperfectly, with extremely limited resources, chosen to get rid of and move beyond capitalism to a more socially democratic and rational society. The U.S. ruling class has opted for neoliberal capitalism where market chaos prevails, especially for the impoverished, non-white working class.
So, as I said at the film showing, the end of oil as a massive industrial resource will have broader implications than just getting farming specialists and architects together to figure out a smaller scale, compact and more sustainable way of living. What is going to happen when millions of these former middle class suburbanites try to move into and around the existing cities? Is "the market" going to decide housing prices and utility costs? Who is going to decide how urban housing is retrofitted to cool and heat much more efficiently than it is now?
Is the market going to decide who is going to do what work? Can the market function when it's profits, based on expansion of a consumer society, are wiped out? Historically, democratic societies, or what we on the left call "bourgeois democracy" function when the 0.05% of the population which has power over production and distribution of commodities keeps on investing
based on a steady or rising rate of profit, or return on investment. What happens to "democratic society" when these commodities can't be produced and the ruling class stops investing? We are going to need a mass, democratic political movement based in the working class and communities of color, and organized to end the rule of the 0.05%, and to build a new, democratic, rational and just society.
We will probably need 20 years to prepare, to build a mass Party that enables the majority of the population to push capitalism out of the way and transition to a society based on workers, people of color and their allies. We need this 20 years to prepare so that when the moment to take power comes, we have the leadership ready to lead us in the struggle.
Two case histories which are extremely valuable are Harman's _Lost Revolution_, and Cliff's _Lenin and the Revolutionary Party_. Harman writes about how the Left did not build a conscious current within the German Social Democratic Party, so that when the crisis of World War One hit and German capitalism went into sharp decline, the Left wing of the Party was not able to help the German working class push capitalism out of the way and start building a new society. They were outmanuevered by liberal refomers who shot and betrayed the left wing.
Cliff's book details how the Russian revolutinaries built what became a mass Party over 20 years, and when Russian society went into sharp decline due to World War One, lack of bread and land, the revolutionaries, workers, peasants and their allies were able to get rid of the capitalist regime and start to build a new society.
Right now the most important vehicle for starting to build this political movement is the Green Party U.S. Here in Illinois, we are talking with labor, Black, gay and agricultural representatives about running a statewide slate for Governor against the two corporate parties, in order to bring these issues to light for the majority.
Where we are right now in the U.S. makes it necessary that we work with reformists while having an organized Left wing to put forward the ideas that our societies will have to move beyond capitalism's devouring of our planet to a cooperative, just and rational system.
We should be loyal builders of the state Green Parties, while keeping our vision and keeping a current within the Party active.
James Howard Kunstler "The Long Emergency"
(Thanks to www.marxmail.org for providing the database for the above articles).
Alex Briscoe <obeynow20001 at yahoo.com> wrote: Just a reminder- this Saturday, don't miss it!
Alex Briscoe <obeynow20001 at yahoo.com> wrote: Apologies for any duplications or intrusions, but we're short on volunteers. As soon as folks start volunteering, we can start targeting emails more exactly.
Walter Esler <jobcity at juno.com> wrote:
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 19:59:47 -0500
From: Walter Esler <jobcity at juno.com>
To: Alex Briscoe <obeynow20001 at yahoo.com>
Subject: End of Suburbia: Collapse of American Dream - September 10, Saturday
End of Suburbia:
Oil Depletion and the
Collapse of the
Do you own a home or hope to? Do you hold a job, drive a car, invest in the stock market? Are you paying $25.00 for a tank of gas? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you owe it to youself to see this film.
Get the facts about peak oil, in this recently released 78 minute documentary. Learn what you can do to protect yourself, your family, your community. Hosted as a public service by the North Side Greens.
"If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst."
"the documentary is actually quite engaging and entertaining. . . . informative for those already familiar with the issues, quite accessible, and enlightening for the uninitiated." Thomas Wheeler Baltimore Chronicle 8/3/04
Telephone: (773) 572-6192
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