Another Christmas

Another Christmas

Another Christmas has come and gone. One wonders how many more we will have before the earth can no longer support a humane world. Deadly wildfires, droughts, floods, melting ice caps, monsoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, once in a lifetime blizzard, the disturbance of the equilibrium conditions needed to support life, etc. — these just make up the brief list of what is and will be the consequences of environmental chaos. We are living on the edge of a precipice and have not yet shown the capacity to manage the situation we have created. Reforms need to be radical to address this problem or, better yet, problem cluster. The situation is such that the beings living on the planet are in trouble; we will remain in trouble up to the point in time when humanity will learn to live within its means or will collectively destroy the world because it cannot or simply failed to live that way.

The word “humanity” is an abstract noun, an idea that refers to the sum of all persons on the planet. Humanity can neither experience the world nor act in concert. Fractions of the globe can trade goods, communicate, make war, defend against aggressors of various kinds, these do bring the disparate forms of life on the planet into something like a social relation. However, quantity passes over into quality in this instance. Humanity is not a real group; it is an abstract category, an entity of reason, which refers only to the sum of all human beings. States are real. They exist to manage problems. They are collective actors, and are durable in most cases. It is unfortunate that the states found in the world today are not doing much to resolve the problems created by industrialized production, automobile use, industrial farming, forest destruction, etc. The key state is the United States. We have the United Nations, but the UN lacks credible enforcement power. It is not a state. It does not tax or issue a currency. It has a legislative body in the General Assembly. It has the Security Council which can make decisions for the whole body.  However, the composition of the Security Council reflected the relative power of the various members of the Council at the time of its inception. The UN acts mostly through its member states. This is significant since the UN is often considered a rubber stamp the United State uses to ‘legitimate’ its reckless war-making.

As for the climate, we are currently at 1.9°F degrees above the estimated average temperature which existed before the industrial revolution. Two degrees may not seem like much; but that measurement reflects the enormous amount of energy transferred onto the planet. And we are nearing the point of no return.

So, it is surprising (or not) that the two greatest polluters (the United States and Red China) do not talk with each other about climate chaos, to which they each contribute so much. In fact, the United States has famously made a pivot to Asia. But it pivoted to check the emergence of a regional economic bloc led by China, to bend China towards affirming the role of the United States in the region specifically and the world as a whole. China, however, has refused so far to bow to the authority claimed by the only existing superpower (Wolin, 2008, 131). It is unlikely to do so in the future. Instead, we can add the conflict between the United States and China to the war in the Ukraine, which Russia reportedly believes to be a proxy war with the United States and NATO. This is significant since the Ukrainian war reflects the possible use of nuclear weapons and other parts of the arsenal by the United States/NATO and Russia The conflict between the United States and Russia as well as the Ukrainian invasion are arrogantly mad acts committed by an actual hegemon, the United States, and a lesser state, Russia. The media in the United States seems to be treating Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a great statesman and defender of liberty, mimicking the acclaim bestowed on Boris Yeltsin. Zelensky is but a tool of NATO. That said, it can also be stated that the United States, NATO and the Ukraine pushed Putin into a corner from which he emerged swinging wildly. NATO was never meant to include any of the former Soviet Republics. The United States and NATO promised Russia that it would not expand. But it broke those promises. NATO lacked a mission once the Soviet system collapsed. It provoked the Russian response, and we are thus left with supporting the out-manned and out-gunned Ukrainian army, amid calls for a Marshall Plan for the country.

This situation provides the left in the United States with dilemmas. First, it can continue to ignore the surreptitious Cold War that the United States and NATO are fighting with Russia or China. Second, it can attempt to organize itself to link climate chaos, militarism and imperialism together as scourges to be managed (climate chaos) and resolved (the latest Cold War, militaristic saber rattling and imperial aggression). In this way the left, by revealing what had been occluded by ideology can return to its historical mission: Being the functionary of liberated world.

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