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Comments 28

Red And Green Should Never Be Seen

David Lindsay

Striking Miners c. 1985

“I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential!” So tweets Donald Trump. This is why we must promote the exploitation of the vast reserves of coal in this country. That, and the extension of civil nuclear power, are the means of delivering highly paid, highly skilled, high status, unionised jobs while securing independence from Arab oil, from Russian gas, and from coal that has been mined using child and slave labour. From North Korea, Trump intends his dynasty to supply a dependent world with the coal of the Kim dynasty deep into the twenty-second century. Yet we have our own, right here under our feet. Horror stories about how coal was burned or mined in the Britain of the twentieth century have no relevance to the Britain of the twenty-first.

This is part of a wider battle. We must reject out of hand the notion that the problem with the world is that it has people in it. Instead, we must celebrate the full compatibility between the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past. That expansion and development must now include space exploration, fuelled by, and fuelling, fusion power. As a species, this is what we do. This is why we are not all still living in caves in one small part of Africa. The continent, by the way, to which the twenty-second century will belong. But of that, another time.

“To increase the power of Man over Nature, and to abolish the power of Man over Man,” said Trotsky. “Dominion,” says the God of the Bible. Dominion over the beasts, thus over the land, and thus over everything on and under the land. Dominion over the fish, thus over the waters, and thus over everything in and under the waters. Dominion over the birds, thus over the sky, and thus over everything in the sky, as far up as the sky goes, and the sky goes up a very long way. That dominion is entrusted so that we might, “be fruitful and multiply.” Entrusted as it is to the whole human race, its purpose is, “To increase the power of Man over Nature, and to abolish the power of Man over Man.”

Therefore we need an approach to climate change which protected and extended secure employment with civilised wages and working conditions, which encouraged economic development around the world, which upheld the right of the working classes and of nonwhite people to have children, which held down and as far as practicable reduced the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, and which refused to restrict travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich.

Look back to 1870, to each of what were to become the New Deal United States, Social Democratic Western Europe, and the Soviet Bloc. Then look at each of those in 1970. Neither laissez-faire economics, nor caring overly much about the fate of rare voles, had delivered electrification, or mass transportation, or decent accommodation, or proper sanitation, or universal vaccination, or space exploration. Are we to deny to Indians, or to Chinese, or to Brazilians, the same progress that we ourselves have made, and instead leave them defecating in communal pits while waiting to die of cholera or typhus? Are we to have the women of Africa continue to die, as the women of Europe did for thousands of years, from the fumes emitted by the open fires over which they cooked? This has nothing to do with post-imperial guilt, which is contestable. This has everything to do with common humanity, which is not.

If you hear echoes here of the debates around hunting or whaling, then, while I am not quite sure that I agree with you, I do take your point. Much as I take the point, without necessarily being quite sure that I agree with it, of those who see similarities between the attempted restriction of Second Amendment rights in the United States and the impending attempt to ban private drone ownership in Britain after the recent carry on at Gatwick Airport. There is no evidence that there ever was a drone there, and indeed Sussex Police publicly denied it until “a conference call” with “the Cabinet Office” changed their tune. But look out for every “security” measure of which most Labour and all Conservative MP have been dreaming since the days when Tony Blair was Shadowing Michael Howard at the Home Office. “Security”, and especially “Islamist terrorism”, is one of the two supposedly unanswerable pretexts for doing absolutely anything that had already been in the head of the person advocating it. The other used to be called “the environment”, then it was called “global warming”, and now it is called “climate change”.

In Britain, Greens and their fellow-travellers need to be asked the Yes-No question: “Do you regret the defeat of the miners in 1985?” The British Left’s biggest annual event is the Durham Miners’ Gala. At 2018’s, a video message from Bernie Sanders had to be corrected immediately from the platform by the Chairman of the Labour Party, Ian Lavery. Lavery reiterated his party’s commitment to the application of clean coal technology, not to the abandonment of fossil fuels. When Jeremy Corbyn rose to speak, then there was no correction to that correction.

As Piers Corbyn has pointed out, Margaret Thatcher took up all of this Greenery as an excuse to destroy the National Union of Mineworkers. All Conservatives still agree with her, and see the destruction of the coal industry as one of their party’s greatest ever achievements. Sadly, most Labour MPs would also never go near the Durham Miners’ Gala, or even know what it was. Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and our people need to hold the balance of power in it.

David Lindsay is a freelance journalist and an Independent political activist based in Lanchester, County Durham.

28 Comments

  1. Thomas Prentice says

    No more from this Space Oddity.

    Although I do agree: The problem is NOT that the world has people in it.

    The problem is that the world has TOO MANY PEOPLE IN IT who are CONSUMING TOO MUCH CRAP THEY DON’T NEED AND BUYING IT WITH MONEY THEY DO NOT HAVE.

    Also the world is filled with TOO MANY PEOPLE who have VASTLY OVERRUN and SHAT IN their own Earth habitat and PEAK EVERYTHING is nigh because daemonic satanti power is somehow vested in the capitalist economic system and its various technologies of coercion, control, repression and death. As the technology-will-save us capitalists of yesteryear might say: No Free Lunch. Indeed, I do think they DID say “There is No Free Lunch.”

    Unless the writer can produce cold fusion some time in the next year or two, the end, i.e., HUMAN SPECIES EXTINCTION — will NOT be pretty.

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    • Which people are the wrong people, and why? And surely, by your own logic, the extinction of the human species would be a good thing?

  2. crank says

    Climate change – nobody has a clue how to really deal with it. (Apart from the deniers that is)…

    ‘Lets create a mass mobilisation of people in the West to suffer the abuse of state power so as to force a systemic change in order to have less freedom to travel, consume less gadgetry, eat less luxury foods and be less comfy and warm 365 days a year’. Any takers ?
    This is why Green politics has been a toothless failure. There is no physical means of replacing fossil fuels and keeping anything like the kind of society that we recognise. So in a democratic society Greens are asking people to stand against basically all the vested interests put together,
    so as to get a more austere life at the end of the process. There is no mass mobilisation, nor will there be.

    A worldwide communist dictatorship might stand a chance of rationing carbon allocation in some sort of fair way, but even then the human population would have to be fully controlled in a way that would certainly not be desireable and probably not feasable. It would also be corrupted of course.

    So Caroline Lucas goes with the liberals rather than any recognition of the working class rejection of Neoliberalism that is unfolding as I write, even as Neoliberalism creates another significant uptick in CO2 emissions.

    And we get dangerously unhinged mixtures of transhumanism and socialism from the likes of Aaron Bastani (look out for his book this year and check to see if he even references ERoEI ).

    And we get rubbish articles like this one by Lindsay, which propose dominion (fascistic) , ‘clean coal’ (no such thing) or nuclear fusion (a complete red herring).
    In short we get no answers.

    We got a free deal. We got a windfall. We got fossil fuels.
    The capitalists said, “We’ll distribute this” and gave most of it to themselves. The socialists said, “Let’s share this fairly”, and were bombed and shot at for their concerns by the capitalists.
    However, the windfall is all but gone.
    We’ve trashed the joint.
    What now?
    What was the point ? Extending human life? Avoiding death?

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  3. John says

    Trotsky was a rat and a traitor and linked to western intelligence agencies and his followers do what Leon did best…..split up everyone into smaller groups. He was a fraud and ALL of his idiot disciples can’t explain permanent revolution. All Trotskyists can’t be trusted from the Hitchens brothers to corbyn etc etc

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    • wardropper says

      Please.
      I like your comment, but Corbyn is a long way from Trotsky.
      That’s the sort of thing a Tory might allege, someone who is so conservative that they think a trip to the toilet is a risqué, left-wing thing to undertake.
      JC could certainly be more decisive and consistent, but if anybody is splitting the Opposition into smaller groups, it certainly isn’t Corbyn.
      It just so happens that some people are easily split into smaller groups, and I believe it is the current Cabinet that wishes to do that right now.

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    • Antonym says

      Yeah, Stalin was much better. This ex pre priest kept all sheep together through fake news (Pravda), camps, disappearances, torture, executions: a real charm.

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      • RealPeter says

        Well, dear Antonym, We, the neoliberal, mock-democratic Westerners also have the fake news (state- and oligarch-owned media – wall-to-wall, 24/7, blanket lying), camps (now called refugee camps, retention centres, or in the United States just prisons with 3 million inmates), disappearances (where ARE the Skripals?), torture (officially sanctioned and justified by Bush Jr, Pompeo, the woman torturer now in charge of the CIA, and President Tweet himself; think also rendition centres, aka torture chambers, including EU members Poland and Romania, as well as the French in Algeria, waterboarding and all the rest of it), and executions (the judicial ones of course, but also by bombs, drones, helicopter gunship, napalm, depleted uranium and whatever else I may have forgotten).

  4. BigB says

    Here we have the ultimate in denial and transference. Anyone, such as myself, who would provide the counterargument is obviously pre-ordained as neo-Malthusian and anti-civilisational …taking the shoes off the children of Africa: preventing them acquiring i-Phones and VR (virtual reality) headsets (to view archive material of the extinct wildlife that used to roam freely on the site of the Serengeti megatropolis). On the way: if we run out of rare earth materials, we can always engage our fusion-drive to mine an asteroid or two. I probably won’t burst anyone’s (who has one) mastery of Natures technofix virtual reality bubble, but …Meanwhile, back in touch with non-virtual reality, here on earth, in the here and now – ‘Dominion: the first (and last) two millennia’ …how is that working out for civilisation?

    I’m not going to provide a counterargument: on the basis that if you need convincing, your name is probably ‘David’, or ‘Lindsay’ …and through the brain smog, reality is little hard to find right now. I could suggest where to look, but that might be considered unnecessarily rude on such a well mannered site. The perverse fiction of Thatcher, the Environmentalist, who stole the miners livelihoods …what can I say? With ones head so far buried: can you read my lips?

    Dominion is part of a suite of ideas – loosely incorporated by the term ‘instrumental rationality’ – that have left the biosphere somewhere on the verge of extinction. Past the verge of extinction for many of the creatures ‘we’ have ‘entrusted’ ‘dominion’ over: including many (most) of our own kind. ‘Dominion’, ‘exceptionalism’, ‘hierarchy’ and ‘subjugation’ are all part of that suite. When combined and compounded, the ego takes over. Reality becomes a distant horizon of utilitarian objects, that are separate and disposable. Only the ego is really real, with an assertively reified permanence. Everything else is inferiorised, Otherised, and assumes the position of a means to an instrumental subjective (egoic) agency. In the pantheon of ideas: dominion is about one of the worst we have ever had. This should be a self-evident truth: but apparently it is not.

    So long as we view the world as an individuated set of unconnected objects, each existing in its own right: each object – animal, vegetable, mineral, or human – is dispensable. Instrumentally rational agency (dominion) has no consequences. The separate parts have no inter-relation to the whole, and can be commoditised and consumed in perpetuity: to the satisfaction of egoic desire. Spare me the “entrusted”, responsible, custodial, stewardship sequel, because that is not part of our current reality, is it? We are not responsible, not to be trusted, and dominion has had only negative consequences.

    Over two thousand years of the desolation of civilisational dominion says we need a new suite of ideas. A suite that drops us in the ranks of our self-imposed hierarchy – ‘over’ – into a co-mutual interdependence with Nature. That requires a resacralisation of the objectified, externalised Other as a co-equal …as a miraculous living expression of the interdependence of the Web of Life.

    The new suite of ideas will have pratitya samutpada as its founding, and only principle. Everything depends on everything else. They, we, (self and Other) inter-are. It could be transliterated as ‘symbiogenesis’ (to coin Lynn Margulis’ word). Even the subjacent strata we call ‘abiotic’ or ‘inorganic’ is a co-conditioned genesis of Life.

    imasmim sati, idamhoti; imass’ uppada, idam uppajjati; imasmim asati, idam na hoti; imassa nirodha, idam nirujjhati.

    (When this is, that is; This arising, that arises; When this is not, that is not; This ceasing, that ceases.)

    [Majjhima-Nikaya ii.32; Samyutta-Nikaya ii.28; etc.]

    If all phenomena are interdependent, inter-relational, interlinked, intercausal, and a co-dependently arisen interbeing: how can any one phenomena assume dominion?

    If we can replace the conceit of dominion with the humility of reverence and equality: we might develop the interdependence it will take to survive. All things being co-equal. Isn’t that the essence of true socialism? And the essence of true ecology? Perhaps the future is red and green; though that remains to be seen?

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    • @BigB. What he said.

      Re Dominion, two quotes from Beethoven.

      Young Beethoven: “Power is the morality of men who really matter’.
      Older Beethoven: “Ah, Beethoven, Beethoven, what an ass you were in those days”.

    • Fair dinkum says

      The ‘Holographic Paradigm’ is cracking up
      and we’re gonna fall through the cracks.
      Especially our kids and grandkids.

  5. Kerry F says

    Opening with quotes from Trotsky and some obscure version of the christian bible on a critique of socialist treatment of the ecology is inane. If this is the best the coal lobby has to offer they are in serious trouble!

    What may I ask the editors is this piece of rubbish doing here on Off Guardian?

    Trotsky, Marx et al would turn in their graves at the way “Leftism” is bastardised by the Western “democracies”

    Climate Change is definitely being used as a political tool, but there is no doubt that our environment is in serious trouble from man made pollution of every kind. The Climate Change debate is superficial at best. The real issue is how do we stop destroying the planet that sustains us, not some circular argument on terminology.

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  6. Ken Kenn says

    Not the worst argument I’ve read re: the politics of energy.

    Here’s the moral/political dilemma for myself at least.

    Fission is dangerous and allegedly fusion is not – it is allegedly controllable.

    The Chinese are/were developing new technologies for ” scrubbing ” the output effects of burning coal.

    Arthur ( Scargill that is ) said that British Deep mined coal was the most thermally efficient coal in the world per ton.

    The earth is allegedly warming – more sunshine/energy for everyone ( fun and sunshine – there’s enough for everyone – thank you George ) so why not exploit that allegation?

    My view is pretty simple ( maybe naive – I don’t know ) but why not err on the side of caution and go with Green energy?

    The cynical – or real? argument is that it may suit the Corporates who can make a bundle on it and that is true.

    But – do we want to take a gamble?

    The earths riches are finite – materially finite so in the end they will come to an end – no doubt about that -they are not infinite unless your Donald Trump so we need to act genuinely smart as in exploit what is free to us.

    I don’t mean ‘free ‘ because it cost us in £’s or $’rs – I mean free as in a gift from nature.

    Elon meanwhile supposedly has a plan.

  7. bevin says

    It is bad enough that George Monbiot advocates nuclear power. But at least he does so as an alternative to fossil fuel use.
    David, whose tongue grows out of his cheek, goes one worse: unlimited amounts of nuclear power and fossil fuel use without restriction.
    Both are very bad ideas. To suggest that to oppose either of these abominations is to promote poverty is the sort of argument that used to be made by ‘socialists’ who held capitalism to be a great thing except that it distributed the productivity gains of the system unfairly. It is now more likely to be heard from the sort of speculators who surround Donald Trump and infest his Cabinet.
    The truth is that no part of humanity benefits less from nuclear or fossil fuel power than the poor, who are, indeed, among the first casualties of both industries.
    The basic problem is that of capitalism, which stands in the way of rational discussion and planning for the general welfare. Under capitalism there is simply no chance that the immense dangers of nuclear power production will be properly evaluated and guarded against- Fukushima is merely one example of many which show that to put nuclear power production into the hands of profit making corporations is suicidal. Nobody motivated by greed ought to be allowed withing a mile of nuclear reactors.
    And something similar might be said of fossil fuel use- not to mention fossil fuel extraction.
    David loves to get an argument going. And none more than those which can be calculated to earn him the applause of the old miners of County Durham. But global warming is a very serious thing; nothing is undeniable, but climate change is very close to being so. How close may be judged by the lameness of the arguments used to refute its importance. .

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    • Fair dinkum says

      It’s not just George.
      James Lovelock also advocates for nuclear power.
      Maybe the Chinese can bury the waste on the dark side of the moon.

      • Re Civil Nuclear Power I believe there are various types of Reactor. The early Civil Reactors were geared to produce “dirty” Uranium waste which contained Plutonium as a military byproduct: for use in Atom Bombs as pure Plutonium, and for use as a cancer-producing Bioweapon in socalled “Depleted Uranium” cannon shells. But there appear to be new types of Civil Reactor which either do not produce Plutonium or, if they do, consume it on site to produce relatively “clean” Uranium waste. Plutonium is the most infernal poison because a single atom can be fatal, and Plutonium hangs around for a very, very long time. Reactor waste which does not contain Plutonium is much less of a headache: less poisonous, less long lasting.

  8. Seamus Padraig says

    I used to accept–on faith, really–the existence of ‘global warming’. But three decades on, I am now entertaining real doubts. The climate has simply not changed perceptibly over that rather long period of time. Certainly not enough to melt the polar ice caps and inundate our coastal cities as they were predicting! (For that matter, have we even lost so much as one, single Pacific atoll?)

    No, I now believe that ‘global warming’ was just a hoax to make people feel better about de-industrializing the West and moving all our factories to the Third World. But don’t take it from me! Read F. William Engdahl: ‘The Dark Story Behind Global Warming aka Climate Change’.

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      • Seamus, good to see the other point of view — so essential for reasoned debate. A previous reader has made the same points and more; so it is time to draw up a table of points For & Against, ticking them off one by one. At the moment there is confusion and ignorance among laymen, as well as disagreement among scientists.

        As a Layman, I am in a quandary. My respect for Engdahl as a political scientist equals m my respect for my friend Altman as a physicist. Yet, when I forwarded Links to Engdahl’s powerful criticism and to the previous OffG reader’s well formulated objection re CO2, I received this answer:

        “The “powerful criticism” of the theory of Global Warming by the historian William Engdahl, is just so much bullshit. i have also received a “very well formulated” reply to my article on The Sixth Extinction whose “well formulated” thesis is that CO2 is good for you. More bullshit. ”

        You see: “Bullshit” implies a certain dismissive impatience with counter arguments, as though the scientific aspect were settled. That may well be, but Laymen beg to differ, or beg to be illumined. What I’d like to see is more documented “Points Pro & Contra”; as in this thread, where BTL Contra asserts “We haven’t lost a single Pacific atoll”, and Pro provides a Link to half a dozen “Pacific atolls swallowed whole”.

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        • grandstand says

          You make an assumption, vexarb, that I am “pro”. I don’t even know what that means in this context. I’m a scientist – that’s what. Like any other honest and competent scientist (which I like to believe I am on the basis of many publications), I am reporting facts – observations in this case – though in other situations it might be the results of simulations based on the best climate models we have – themselves tested by observations. Seamus asked a question or two – and I provided answers on the basis of observations. That is what scientists do. I am not getting into a “pro” vs “con” debate – I’m just modestly providing evidence.

          But, if you do want a debate, think this: suppose that the “pro” crowd as you call them has only 1% chance of being right and the “contra” crowd 99% chance. That’s an absurd imbalance given the evidence as it stands. In fact, on the basis of evidence as we see now I’d say the odds were tilted heavily in the opposite direction but, for the sake of argument let’s stick with it. Even the most rabid climate change deniers would surely grant the “pros” at least 1% chance of being right.

          On that basis, the cost of the “pros” being right and the world ignoring them is possible extinction for humans and many other species. The cost of “pros” being wrong and us acting to reduce CO2 emissions to levels the “pros” deem acceptable is large but, at least at the moment, affordable. Or, putting it another way, if someone offers you $50 to jump off a cliff with your chances of being killed at 1%, do you take the money? In other words, it’s not about “pro” vs “contra”, it is about making rational decisions based on likelihood and, just as importantly, costs. If being a “pro” means acting rationally based on the evidence, perhaps I’m a “pro” after all.

          • PSJ says

            What kind of scientist are you, grandstand? (that’s not an indignant demand, it’s a polite question!)

            • grandstand says

              For various legitimate reasons to do with my work I don’t want to give my identity away and so I’ll be deliberately vague. Sorry but that’s the way it is. I work across a range of topics in engineering, physics, and mathematics.

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          • GrandStand, by Pro & Contra I mean the arguments For & Against the proposition: “Is the Earth’s Climate really Warming by Humans burning Carbon; and if so, what can we expect?”.

            That’s why I picked out your comment: You gave Links to Facts Pro: Yes, the Earth’s climate really is getting warmer, the ice caps really are melting, Pacific atolls really are being swallowed whole, and unless we stop burning Carbon we can expect more of the same.

            “The facts, Ma’am, just gimme the facts”. — Dragnet.

      • Rhisiart Gwilym says

        The climate IS changing, Seamus. In my late 70s, I’m old enough to remember our earlier climate, and how it’s changed to the present state. The – credible, actually-honest – science is virtually unanimous too.

        David L is clearly a Magical Unrealist. This link (below) will provide open-minded truth-seekers with a much more credible outline of what’s really happening to current human society, and where it’s leading; not coming soon, already begun:

        https://www.ecoshock.org/transcripts/greer_on_collapse.pdf

  9. Great David, bar the last sentence: the Labour Party needs you now more than ever. If the “people’s vote” crew get their way we will be witnessing Orwell’s boot treading on the face of humanity, possibly in perpetuity (or as long as I live, which for me is the same thing). If things go pear-shaped in the next period and Corbyn is forced out of the Labour Party leadership, you may have some reason to revert to your line. Right now, it’s all hands to the pumps, socialism or death and anything that detracts from that task is unhelpful. Best wishes to you, regardless.

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