A Critical Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post: How to Penetrate Denial on Climate and Capitalism

Today’s post extends the theme from yesterday’s post: How can we move the needle?  How can we move from frustrated and angry to productively engaged in a campaign that could foster the conditions, capacities, and commitment necessary to address social, economic and climate crises?  Join the conversation.

Creating Conditions to Foster Sustained, Intentional Activism and Resistance:  Only We Can Do This, the Media Won’t and Politicians Can’t, Without Us

Yesterday’s post was one of the more important posts in some time, as it first presented the assumption that climate change is an urgent crisis that feeds on growth and greed and can only be addressed by attacking the root causes that underlie our addiction to growth and things. It then made a case that political solutions simply can’t address the crisis unless pushed and pushed hard by a well-informed constituency that wasn’t begging anymore. No petitions, no Town Halls to hear empty promises and rosy rhetoric. Politicians have known about climate change for nearly 50 years and their “concerns” have not translated into effective legislation and regulation.

The post suggested that the cascading consequences of climate change would at some point present the conditions where people will take risks and commit to really bold, possibly illegal acts of resistance., e.g refusing to pay student loans or federal taxes or surrounding the greater Chaco area and refusing to budge.  It then asked the question, What can we do to accelerate the movement to the point that it is strident, strong, and focused and willing to do more than ever before? Today, I extend that questioning and with a variety of influences informing the thinking presented below, arrive at a possible role you, we, Retake could play over the next year, a role that could sow the seeds for the kind of sustained and focused advocacy required at this time.

Throughout yesterday’s blog, I was skeptical of the impact of politicians as they have failed us so often. But I got email and comments back that said that there just might be something different about the new crop of US Reps who are young, women, largely of color, pissed and unapologetic about being pissed. And Mariel Nanasi from New Energy Economy sent me a link to a one hour 15 minute interview with AOC. She was so uncompromising and clear that I had to acknowledge that perhaps she and some of her colleagues could be critical to igniting the conversation and then if inaction is Congress’ response, could possibly lead a unified movement of civil disobedience. I provide the full video interview with AOC at the end of this post. It is worth your time, as she shows the courage of convictions that have been sos sadly lacking from politicians for decades.  Yesterday’s post is also worth your review. It got out late, so if you missed it, I highly recommend reading it as it prepares the ground for today’s thoughts.  Click here.

I also heard from others who reinforced our sense that education was critical to all generating the conditions that could generate a sustained and focused advocacy campaign, that the conditions must be cultivated and that even folks who ‘get it’ need to be motivated to move beyond concurrence, but be ready to devote serious time to educating others and then when the time comes–and it will—be ready to put their bodies on the line in acts of resistance that go well beyond a march.

Roxanne and I had been thinking that education might well be the most important role for Retake after our Road Trip where we had met with activists across the east and south US and learned of so many effective organizing and programmatic strategies….it was all tremendous and uplifting, but who knew about it? More importantly, who could convey how all these seemingly disparate initiatives were conceptually connected, that all of this work had been formed to advance common principles and faced opposition from the same forces?

On Wednesday we met with Allegra Love, SF Dreamers and she had suggested the need for a communications “tool kit” to help concerned members of the community become informed of the facts on immigration, become comfortable with their own communication in the press and with friends, and to develop a guide to organizing house parties focused on immigration and the continued incarceration of trans women asylum seekers.

Finally, yesterday The Nation arrived in our  mailbox. The entire issue focuses on how the media has utterly failed in its role to effectively educate the community in relation to climate change, that it has even been complicit in ensuring that for far too long, far too many Americans doubted the science that was indisputable. The media was and remains responsible for the facts that had been kept from us and for how the “debate” about climate science was presented as an honest debate between competing scientific understandings rather than as a settled issue disputed only by hired guns who would testify to anything for a price. I recommend your reviewing this Nation article as it is astonishing in the degree to which gas and oil has manipulated that public debate for 40 years and the degree to which media has been complicit in this effort. Leadership at The Nation was so appalled by what they found that they are forming a partnership with the Columbia School of Journalism to develop a media tool kit for how the media could elevate climate change as an issue and focus a bright and persistent light on the urgency of the moment.  Click here to read the full article.  Then consider subscribing to this invaluable publication.

The tumblers started to fall into place. Perhaps it is Retake Our Democracy’s role to develop some kind of New Mexico-focused educational strategy that includes development of a communication tool kit and plans for an organized house party campaign focused on the root conditions that prevent individuals, the media, and political forces from mounting sustained, effective campaigns addressing, climate change and the need for a just transition, for meaningful immigration reform and addressing the just needs of refugees, for creating economic justice and addressing other social justice challenges. The blog has often addressed these issues and delved into how capitalism, colonialism, racism and sexism are root causes for the injustices we face, the urgency of replacing capitalism and pressing need for new systems to govern and guide our communities, our economy and our political processes. But that work has been done in an unfocused and unintentional manner.

But with 30+ research volunteers, a blog framework and a growing statewide action alert network with plans for visits with activists across the state well advanced, perhaps this might be a role that Retake and its volunteers could effectively play. The education and organizing involved would cultivate cadres of well informed, highly motivated people across the state, people who would then be far better prepared for lead roles in advocacy at the Roundhouse, for canvassing in support of progressive candidates, and for organizing small local groups of informed activists throughout the State who can be activated to participate in Roundhouse advocacy, candidate support or to take even bolder action when the moment is ripe.

We can’t wish away climate change or economic injustice. We can’t just “support” the urgent need for a just transition, to protect Chaco, to develop comprehensive immigration reform and to form plans for welcoming and resettling a far larger number of climate change refugees who are certain to present themselves at our borders. We need to develop tools and strategies to help people move from concern to action, from understanding the issues to sharing that understanding with others, not as the occasion arises but as people create and take advantage of those occasions. Sound bold? Bold is what is required at this moment.

If this sounds like something you might want to be part of, a good place start would be at Retake Our Democracy’s Community Input and Strategy Session slated for Thursday, May 9 from 6:30-8:30 at the Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe. That meeting will be very interactive and designed explicitly to hear from you both as relates to how our advocacy work during the Roundhouse Session can be improved and as to how we might use the next 10 months to use educational and organizing strategies to build a stronger advocacy movement supporting election, legislative and social action strategies.  Let’s Do This.  Please RSVP by writing to paul@retakeourdemocracy.org.

That’s it for today, below you will find a healthy array of actions and opportunities over the next few days. Please take a look. And at the end of the blog is a link to an extraordinary interview with AOC. It was enough to cause me to have hopes that some of the emerging national leadership may just be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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 We don’t push hard for donations.  It has been awhile since we asked. You get so many requests, we try to keep it low-key.  But we blew through a good deal of funds in mounting our Roundhouse advocacy effort and now we are launching a series of Town Halls throughout the state to meet with Action Alert team members and with legislators from other parts of the state.  We need one time donations or even better, modest monthly donations to sustain this work.  And thanks to all of you who have already donated generously.

Sunday May 5 at 6pm at The Swan Theater 1213 Parkway Drive, Santa Fe, Creativity for Peace and IAIA present Tearing Down Walls, Voices from the Middle East and New Mexico at IAIA Performing Arts Center, 83 Avan Nu Po Road, Santa Fe.  Against the backdrop of rising tension and violence in the Middle East, this original production interweaves voices of Israeli, Palestinian, New Mexican youth and IAIA students on themes of borders, identity, violence, and reconciliation. The one-hour performance is followed by a talkback with the actors and director exploring issues relevant to both the Middle East and New Mexico. the workshop, as it’s being led by an incredible facilitator, Nandita Dinesh, who specializes in immersive theater in conflict zones. She has worked in Rwanda and Kashmir, among many other places.

On Sunday, May 5, There is also an immersive theater workshop happening at Meow Wolf on May 5, where participants work with the same materials that were catalysts for the play. Spectators will have a unique opportunity to engage with the same content that served as the stimulus for Tearing Down Walls; to create their own dramatic response to this material; to share their work with the performers and other audience members during that evening’s post-performance discussion. 10:30 am – 6 pm at Meow Wolf. A portion of the $125 workshop fee will be donated to Creativity for Peace. Open to participants 16 years and up.For further information, contact Nandita Dinesh: nanditadinesh@gmail.co

Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday, May 4,   8:30 am – 9 am.  This week I will be interviewing Hanna Laga-Abram and Kim Smith, two youth advocates who speak with such poise, passion and moral clarity that we extended the show to a full hour. You can get 30 minutes of it on the radio at 8:30 Saturday, but to hear the full show, you’ll need to click here anytime after Friday around 5pm. I think this may be the best show I’ve done in over two years.

Monday, 5/6 at 1pm, Supreme Court of New Mexico: Don Gaspar & Alameda, Santa Fe, New Energy Economy Challenges PNM Yet Again.  As a result of rapidly declining renewable generation costs, solar and wind out-compete against coal, nuclear, and gas on an unsubsidized basis. As PNM finally begins to retire these uneconomic coal and nuclear plants the question we must answer is who should be responsible for developing, owning and operating the energy resources that replace uneconomic coal and nuclear generation: rate-regulated utilities or independent, competitive developers?  That is the fundamental question posed to the Supreme Court. New Energy Economy will argue that PNM’s procurement process is so stilted and rigged that only they can compete for developing replacement power for the closing San Juan Plant. Throughout the country climate and energy activists are finding more and more ways to break privately owned, for profit utility monopolies and NEE and NM are at the cutting edge of that work. This is a historic hearing. If you have never been to a Supreme Court hearing, come early to get in the room or watch the live stream from one of the many ‘spillover’ rooms.  And if you want to be part of a more sustained energy advocacy effort, join NEE on a webinar on Wednesday, May 8 at 5:30pm. Sign Up by clicking here.

Thursday, May 9, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Retake Our Democracy, Input & Strategy Session at the Center for Progress Justice, 1420 Cerrillos, in Santa Fe.  The meeting has three purposes:  1) reinforce the formation of a Retake community of activists committed to social justice; 2) to seek input from those involved in 2019 Roundhouse advocacy so we can improve our work and increase our impact; and 3) to discuss other strategies we could employ over the coming months to engage and educate our community and to strengthen and grow our base.  Whether you were involved in advocacy at the Roundhouse this past session or not, we are interested in your input into what could be the most effective use of Retake resources and capacities over the next 10 months as we prepare for another Roundhouse session and the 2020 June primary. No food, no drink, just very important conversation. Please RSVP by writing to Paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org.  Thank you.

5 thoughts on “A Critical Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post: How to Penetrate Denial on Climate and Capitalism

  1. I don’t know if Maggie Toulouse-Oliver is our AOC. But I know Ben Ray Lujan is not. One of the greatest things we can do is to find an AOC to run for Ben Ray’s House seat.

  2. Hi Roxanne n Paul. In yesterdays Daily Beast Michael Tomasky quotes Eric Hoffer in an educational explanation of how corruption occurs. To loosely paraphrase – Every good idea begins as a movement, becomes a business and ends as a racket. Another way of putting it might be – neither the designer nor the design can hold the line in a process in which design stops the instant it starts.

    Why is that? He is right. But why is he right? You heavily discuss today the need for education to pry open the shell hiding the secret to the cult of personality. AOC, in her example of the Reagan welfare queen, ends with the conclusion that just one bad apple can spoil the barrel for everyone, because everyone is in that barrel.

    Except for the designer of that barrel. My reading of history leads me to conclude that there would be no history at all if there was not a cult of personality to commemorate it. Humans have never been able to separate themselves from their personality. Except for maybe Buddhists. We simply will not be able to and never have been able to do – education – because there is always a designer personality that controls how the design will look like.

    In Nature, there is no such formula. Seldom, if ever, have there ever been plants or animals who became the center of a cult of personality. And all of those systems, good ideas that yielded a positive and sustainable outcome, failed miserably in only one way – there was not one icon to memorialize in stone, not one idea that became a racket.

    AOC demonstrates, just by her being who she is, that she is the result of an organic idea, and that because she is not groomed by or for the system she is upending, her continuing presence, which is completely organic and every changing, is as threatening as it is. I will also add Talib and Omar to that mix,

    So to your point, and my obsession, that climate instability is the immense cascade that will end it all for everybody, if we ROD aficionados want to ‘become a movement’ without turning into a racket, we have to crush the walnut of the cult of personality.

    I will see you on the 9th.

    Mick Nickel

  3. I believe that your blog has already moved to fully become a truly progressive Local News Outlet. We need to begin by looking at the language we inherited from our Capitalistic/Neoliberal Culture. ‘They’ want us to use ‘Climate Change’ because it does not carry the right connotation for what has been happening to us, Life and the whole planet. The correct term is Global Warming because it describes our planetary reality. One important section for your/our new curricula is the Growth and Continuous Sustenance of our Local natural/organic/traditional FOODSHED. A Foodshed that should include Urban Farming. eduardo

    • I second eduardo’s motion to support and expand the local natural/organic/traditional foodshed. I believe this is one key to de-consumerizing our culture.

  4. Thanks for this post, Paul. Monday in Taos, we are holding an educational session on Climate Change, fact based. This will include draw-down solutions to buy time, and personal decision options, and political solutions. We are using the Sunrise Movement as a template to educate and motivate citizens. We can not wait — no one will save us from ourselves — it is truly up to the people.

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