In the movie Casablanca, Rick says to his twice-lost love, “We’ll always have Paris”. Meaning, that romance was amazing, but it’s just gone. The Parisian response of internationalist unity was a perfect riposte to terrorist attacks in that same City only a few weeks earlier. Statist optimism. Call it a little glimpse of the Statesman’s Anthropocene Era; diplomacy as symbolism and unenforceable goal triumphant.
Then, in the ‘Good Capitalocene’ version of Paris 21, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, no-one believes that politics is enough. But private capital will remake the world. As US Secretary of State John Kerry said straight after the COP 21 signing: “It won’t be the governments that make the decision […] it will be the genius of the American spirit. It will be business unleashed.” Capitalism forms the path towards its own salvation.
Naomi Klein’s recent writing is hoping for a great revival that unites from below. The Democratic Anthropocene. In this version of the future, intensified climate movements unite their strength and pivot major parts of the global economy towards renewable energy and start reworking life towards a greener, fairer, and more secure world. Great blocs of protest coalesce to force change. While the international agreements help, the primary targets of the great protest bloc remain national governments while they still have the power to alter economies.
But one march isn’t enough. To compare it to the entire Marxist movement and its derivatives over the 19th and 20th century, the global movement to change the world has not coalesced. There have been wins: Keystone pipeline is dead. Shell has withdrawn from extreme-area drilling. COP 21 is signed. Some institutions have divested of fossil fuel investments. But actually turning whole industries into pariahs need sustained victories.
Nor has some climate version of the Marshall Plan emerged, to support the Statesman’s version.
So I’ve been perplexed by the limits of all three: the COP 21 Statesman’s Anthropocene Era, the optimistic Good Capitalocene Era, or the hopey-changey Democratic Anthropocene Era.
I’ve seen more change on the ground operating in smaller groups.
So I’ve got a request. Can we please set down the groups we are aware of, or active in, that are Doing Good to alter the world? Particularly Doing Good other than as parliamentary parties.
My challenge to you, gentle reader, is to set out a great list of the environmental trusts, community garden networks, local initiatives, alternative power retailers, and earth-changing work that we know of or are active in. A line or two and a link about why we like them.
Keep adding to them throughout the holidays as you bump into more good people doing good things.
We’ll always have Paris. It’s not enough.