Plan, mood, battlefield – reflections on the Green New Deal

Kali Akuno of Coöperation Jackson has critiqued the productivism and nationalism of the Green New Deal framework, while advocating for both the development of grassroots alternatives (such as cooperatives, urban farming, ecosystem restoration) and mass civil disobedience to fight for a radical, just transition to ecosocialism. Rather than taking refuge in negation, these movements grapple head-on with a complex strategic dilemma: the challenge of simultaneously confronting the fractions of capital and their many allies in the state who will fight most ruthlessly to preserve fossil capital and radicalizing the politics of the Green New Deal beyond its current limitations. How the new world is born out of the old is of course the vexed question of any project of radical transformation. What kinds of programmatic demands, organizational forms, and institutional designs can be proposed, mobilized, and assembled under present conditions but that would, once set into motion, violate the sanctity of growth, property or profit? What tactics of disruption are available to us? What nascent coalitions might weave solidarities across the dispersed supply chains of the energy transition? What financial crises might be on the horizon? What fractions of capital ascendant or descendent? Where are the vulnerabilities in the hegemonic order? We are living in a moment of profound turbulence; predicting or foreclosing the future seems less analytically rigorous than actively intervening to shape it. We don’t yet know how the politics of the Green New Deal will play out. We can be certain, however, that resignation cloaked in realism is the best way to ensure the least transformative outcome. Waiting for ever-deferred moment of revolutionary rupture is functionally tantamount to quiescence. In an extremely asymmetric conflict against fossil fuel executives, private utilities, landlords, bosses and the politicians that do their bidding, we need both extra-parliamentary, disruptive action from below – taking inspiration from Standing Rock, the teachers’ strike wave, Extinction Rebellion, the global youth climate strikes – and creative experimentation with policies and institutions. The battles to come have the potential to unleash desires and transform identities. We will learn, screw up, and learn again. The Green New Deal doesn’t offer a prepackaged solution, it opens up of new terrain of politics. Let’s seize it.

Thea Riofrancos in Plan, Mood, Battlefield – Reflections on the Green New Deal (Viewpoint)