We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hansen Says Obama Will Be 'Greenwashing' About Climate Change if He Approves Keystone XL Pipeline

Click here to access article by Christa Marshal from NY Times.

The only problem with this report is that it conforms to the mythology about bourgeois democracy that it provides leaders who make decisions. Forgetting for a moment that the elections are carefully managed so that only a safe, select few are presented as candidates for us to vote for, such "leaders" are fully aware that they are merely employees of international capitalism whose headquarters is in the US. Their values and policies nearly always conform exactly with those of their employers. However, even when they might differ, these employees ("leaders") know that they have no real alternative other than following orders from at least a major section of the ruling capitalist class. 

To be sure, although basic interests are identical, policies of the capitalist ruling class are not completely monolithic. There will always be differences of opinion regarding how aggressively to exploit workers and the environment to promote the accumulation of wealth for this class. It's just that the range of differences is always within acceptable limits. That is one reason why we see two political parties. The other reason is to present the illusion of choice for its citizens who have been indoctrinated to believe that they have real choices. 

Regarding the use of fossil fuels, there is little debate in the ruling class regardless of how polluting or dangerous they are. Extremely hazardous nuclear power will be pursued for the very same reasons. The profit addiction of capitalism requires growth and more energy, and more energy right now. So, you see, the addiction is not to fossil fuels, it is to profits. It's just that fossil fuels can give capitalists their "profit high" quicker and cheaper than other forms of energy. And, like all addictions, nothing else matters but that next fix.

If you follow this argument, you will realize that the Obama administration really has no alternative but to promote the Keystone XL pipeline. Because it has made noises in the past favoring environmental concerns, members of the administration will likely try to camouflage their support so that the public isn't very aware of what's happening, and mainstream media will be very helpful in this effort.
With the protests currently getting scattered news coverage, mainly from print and online outlets such as The New Yorker and The Huffington Post, it's not clear the rallies are capturing the public's attention much at all, they say.
And, then of course, there is always the jobs argument. 

After finishing this commentary, I came across this article in the Guardian entitled, "Obama administration backs oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas", and dated the same day as the above article. I've seen very little coverage of this issue anywhere in US mainstream media. One exception is this interview on Fox News' O'Reilly program.