on green capitalism

This is part of a (planned, i.e. possibly nonexistent) series of blog posts where I post choice ideas from stuff I’m reading.

Today’s selection comes from Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow’s The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America’s Eden (NYU Press, 2011). Most times I don’t bother to critique capitalism, but sometimes it just needs to be said. I love the extremely clear, no bullshit approach of this passage:

Nativist environmentalism and environmental privilege are further linked and reinforced by a common view of environmental politics and social change we call “the Aspen Logic.” The Aspen Logic is a worldview that people across the mainstream political spectrum embrace, but one that is particularly prominent in liberal and Democratic political circles. The idea is that environmentalism and capitalism are entirely compatible and not in fundamental opposition. … The Aspen Logic is hard at work in the en vogue fixation with the so-called green economy. The fundamental problem with an idea like green capitalism is that it presumes that capitalism is, at root, a just system that only needs regulation and reform. We reject this premise for what should be obvious reasons: because capitalism is a hierarchical, violent system of production, consumption, commerce, and governance that inherently views people and ecosystems as variables to be manipulated for the benefit of a minority. … Therefore green capitalism does not result in a transformed society marked by ecological sustainability and social justice because (1) it is not possible and (2) because that is not the goal. (pg 14-15)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “on green capitalism

  1. Interesting post, that I definitely agree with, no matter how much I wish it wasn’t true. My own politics lean to the left, yet the society of which I am a part doesn’t. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to justify to myself how I can describe myself as environmentally considerate yet continue to be complicit with this great capitalist political machine that we live in. As such, I find that having to compromise my principles frequently becomes inevitable in the course of just existing. And thus I continue to repeat the mantra of “Yes, it’s shit, but I must keep trying my best”.

    Thanks for giving me an excuse to get deep and introspective on a Wednesday afternoon.

    • Thanks for your honest reflections on your own role. The point is well-taken about how to find a way to continue to live in societies that are capitalist, and I’m especially thinking a lot about ethical consumerism in relation to _The Slums of Aspen_ (and planning on posting a bit about it soon). For now I’d remind you that building ecological sustainability and social justice are simply not individual tasks, so there is no easy solution if we pose the puzzle as one of how we as individuals go about our daily lives.

    • Any post on ethical consumerism is one that I would be most interested to read – so I’ll keep an eye out for that. And yes, I feel that community is key to change, otherwise you’re just an individual repeatedly banging your head against a wall.

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