Klein on Centrist Timidity / #BlackLivesMatter Demonstration at MOA Today

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By JT Haines, December 20, 2014

Great interview with Naomi Klein in Sierra Club’s magazine next month. Here are a couple excerpts:

Klein argues with passion and scholastic rigor that “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.” Although the idea is neither new nor particularly shocking, Klein says she’s surprised by the number of environmentalists who shy away from it for fear of being branded as radicals.

“The real divide between liberals and radicals is how they feel about mass movements. Because mass movements are messy. You can have people with very similar goals, but if your model of social change is that it should come from a combination of smart leaders and technocratic policy options, maybe a little bit of lobbying” . . . some lawsuits . . .”Yeah, then you’re going to be threatened by the messiness of mass movements. Radicals tend to believe that change comes when you have these messy shifts from below, and those shifts make space for people to work in the center. I don’t think that enough credit is given.”

As usual, Klein is spot on. I’ve personally observed people working in “the center” be actually disparaging of the hard work taking place in the community and on the streets, and then a few years later claim credit for changes at the legislature that ultimately were the result. Perhaps you can think of some examples too.

In related news, #BlackLivesMatter MPLS is organizing a solidarity demonstration today at the Mall of America at 2PM– an action which is of course being met by significant hostility and misunderstanding (“why the shopping mall?”, “You’re inconveniencing people trying to get to work!” being two of the (tamer) reactions I’ve seen.) Information for the event can be found here. If you’re not able to make it (and aren’t too bothered by what strikes me as an unusually high online processing fee) you can join me in donating to #BlackLivesMatter to “help support efforts with bail, legal services and other supplies” here.

The full Sierra Club Naomi Klein interview is here: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-1-january-february/feature/capitalism-vs-planet

Naomi Klein and Rethinking PolyMet

By JT Haines, September 24, 2014

“We need an entirely new economic model, and a new way of sharing this planet.” — Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate

There are lots of ways that conversations about copper-sulfide mining in Minnesota conclude, some of them less than pretty. But what about where they start?

If we start with the proposition — and I believe we should — that we all share a stake in the health of the air and the water, as well as the soil and trees and habitats, then isn’t it the case that profits taken, and damage caused, by corporations exploiting these resources is at our collective expense? In other words, isn’t that resource-based corporate welfare? (One might argue the entire economy relies on it.)

If so, shouldn’t it follow that subsidizing public institutions (transit, schools, health, etc) by taxing investors who enjoy these profits is not “giving money away to the undeserving poor,” but reimbursing us for our losses?

Mine Sites, courtesy MN DNR

Mine Sites, courtesy MN DNR

More to the point, when it comes to the public resources at issue in the current copper-sulfide mining proposals in Minnesota (PolyMet, TwinMetals), what if we owned 100% of profits, minus a reasonable fee for the work that produced it, rather than multinational corporations owning the profits and paying taxes on a portion of it? (Incidentally, Tony Hayward, of BP Deepwater Horizon infamy, is deeply invested in PolyMet. MinnPost) Would we not then be better able to invest those revenues back into Minnesota, including a sizable fund for any cleanup-related costs and an international fee for carbon-based pollution produced?

If such a narrative were part of our discussion, then perhaps it would be more possible to have a rational conversation about the wisdom of accepting risks to our waters of generations of pollution. Perhaps it would then also be possible to speak both about jobs and environment.

I haven’t heard it. And without such a narrative, the deal has seemed cooked in the company’s favor from the outset.

Naomi Klein in her new book, This Changes Everything, is right — now is the time to “think big, go deep, and move the ideological pole far away from the stifling market fundamentalism that has become the greatest enemy to planetary health.” The PolyMet debate is an opportunity for us do our part by completely reconsidering how we think about public minerals and resources in Minnesota. According to a recent Star Tribune poll, support for the PolyMet proposal is declining. Perhaps we already are.