The past-present-future of capitalist ideology moves seamlessly from a crude and environmentally destructive past to an ‘improving’ but imperfect present to a gleaming, prosperous future. The facts are of these various stages existing together motivated by the promise of a future that never arrives. Dirty production was never left behind and ‘developing’ market capitalism will serve as the locus of outsourced environmental destruction for as long as people will put up with it. Environmental commitments are never but one capitalist crisis away from reversal driven by engineered desperation. The careful parsing of these crises as accidents unrelated to the normal workings of capitalism provides cover for imperial machinations posed as facts of nature.
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 Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up