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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chris Hayes Enables the Anti-Ecologism of "Reasonable" Republicans

I'm in a blistering bad mood, largely brought on by watching Chris Hayes this morning. Hayes is of course amazingly earnest and bright and righteous and he actually takes environmental issues seriously, and yet today he had "reasonable" Republicans on his show talking about climate change.

And you know what? Christine Todd Whitman and Paul Douglas frankly probably really are the closest thing to reasonable Republicans on environmental issues ... and yet the simple truth is that because they were there the discussion was worse than useless (even the infinitely adorable Sam Seder couldn't turn the tide). After Hayes offered up his fine initial editorial framing of some of the issues at hand, no one who actually knew anything about the scale and seriousness of the problems at hand and the necessarily governmental and quite radical scale and nature of the kinds of organized intervention that alone will be adequate to address these problems was able to keep the focus where it should be for any length of time.

It would seem that even "reasonable" Republicans who are not outright denialists about climate science all end up behaving as what I call "second stage denialists" in their embrace of market non-solutions and refusal to call out patently obvious bad actors in this death-dealing drama. And quite apart from engaging endlessly in that kind of second stage denialism, the Republicans on the panel this morning wasted everybody's time pretending Republican anti-civilizationism is actually somehow the inevitable result of the "bad attitudes" or "imprecise phrase-making" of environmental scientists and activists... or indulging in "both sides are exactly equally to blame" nonsense (the denial of which is not at all the same thing as pretending Democrats are doing enough when they obviously are not or would all do enough even if they could when they obviously would not)... or fluttering about how we must not demonize wonderful celebrity CEOs or our marvelous plutocratic free enterprise system just because we all know who the bastards are who are destroying the world for short term profit... and on and on and on and and on.

Nothing could be clearer than that when "reasonable" Republicans condemn a lack of government vision or effectiveness in the face of environmental problems they are always doing so as part of the making of a profoundly pernicious wholesale anti-governmental case that is incomparably more catastrophic as a vision or guide to pragmatic considerations than anything they are presumably condemning while making it... and all the while, the polite lefty host and actually concerned environmentalists blandly nod, or say "interesting" or "good point," as if sublimely indifferent to the fact that they don't agree at all with the actually salient ideological point really being made, and despite the fact that these points are, even at their best, the furthest imaginable thing from actually interesting or good, but are usually quite flabbergastingly obvious and inept and tired (when they aren't actually outright destructive).

Although I suppose it matters less than the rest of what bugged me so much about the discussion, I'll admit that neither do I have much patience for that whole tired "reasonable" Republican rap that reminds us for the millionth time about Lincoln and Roosevelt and the national parks (as if either of them could be so much as elected runner-up for deputy dog catcher by today's white-racist pro-corporatist GOP), how Nixon deserves credit for founding the EPA (which he did to gain executive control over what was then a clear inevitability rather than to promote an environmental vision of his), or how green Reagan was compared to the present day GOP (when of course his appointment of rabid anti-environmentalist loon James Watt to Secretary of the Interior directly prefigured the current Republican anti-ecologist death cultism). There was plenty of that deceptive self-serving crap in evidence as well on the show.

Part of me concedes that one should perhaps allow this sort of thing to permit some kind of face-saving grace for reconciliation with the GOP in this consummating moment of their madness, some kind of a space for the emergence of actually "reasonable" Republicans to become something other than an always only relentlessly obstructive and actively world-destroying force... but then I find myself wondering why the only way such grace or such a space can be made is presumably by collaborating in lies and deceptions and frauds? What kind of "reasonableness" is really finally facilitated by this sort of enabling and hand-holding?

The simple fact is that quite apart from the explicit anti-science turn in Republicanism that leads to the more loud-mouthed forms of denialism about environmental crises, Republican anti-governmentalism eliminates tools without which there can be no adequate address of environmental crises and so amounts to a second, and equally catastrophic, layer to their anti-environmental denialism. The fact that Republicans are also a bought-and-paid-for lobbying arm of petrochemical multinational corporations whose world-historically unprecedented profits depend on the externalization of the actually-existing environmental costs of the extraction, processing, transportation, and consumption of their commodities is of course another layer, one that depends for its maintenance and force on these twin anti-science and anti-governmental denialisms.

Setting aside the role of Republicanism in the ongoing class war on the poor and even on the middle-class, on the disabled (I prefer the term differently enabled, but whatever), on women's health, on vulnerable children, on educators and on the diversity of secular culture and on the role of knowledge in accountable policy-making, setting aside the literal Republican devotion to war-making, gun-waving, execution of innocents, and so much more, setting all this death-dealing aside, their role enabling climate catastrophe makes the Republican Party the single most dangerous organized force in the world right now. There are no "reasonable" Republicans. Republicanism is not a force for reasonableness, the role of reason is the complete marginalization into irrelevance of every Republican from civilized life.

It's too late for the Republicans. If we waste more time pretending otherwise, it's too late for us all.


jimf said...

> If we waste more time pretending otherwise, it's too late for us all. . .

We would have to lose a few cities (mostly, ironically if not deservedly,
in the South) before Republicans (and even, let us be honest, most
corporate-fed Democrats) would start taking a problem like anthropogenic
climate change seriously (or even admit that such a thing exists in the
first place, outside the fantasies of a few overheated pessimistic
eggheads and tree-huggers).

It's almost exactly like the business with cigarettes and lung
cancer -- suggestive statistics (in the beginning at least, and
that "beginning" lasts a long time) are simply useless in the face of
people who would very much rather not have to change their lifestyle,
to say nothing of the corporate interests whose bottom line would
be affected. (In the case of tobacco, those corporate interests have
continued to get away with, well, murder, if you want to think of it
that way, to this very day.) And don't forget that Ayn Rand, The Greatest
Human Mind That Has Ever Been Except For Aristotle, And Maybe Even Including
Aristotle, simply refused to believe that probabilistic inference based
on statistical data should have anything at all to do with individual

When (and if) Katrina-scale storms start happening every (or several
times) a year, and emergency response starts consuming funds at a
rate similar to that of an ongoing war, then -- maybe -- the tipping point will
start to come into view. If by then it's "too late" (for some value of "too late"),
well then, that's just too bad.

Dale Carrico said...

Perhaps America will need to lose Florida -- after all, its wang -- before it stops acting like a dick.

jollyspaniard said...

A tipping point in understanding and seriousness might come in the next few years. The deniers are having to move to later stages of denial. They may run out of stages.

Dale Carrico said...

I suppose eventually all the stages will be underwater...