Rundle on Minchin, the green movement and Marxism  

Posted by Big Gav

Crikey has an article from Guy Rundle trying (in rather tortured English) to explain the how a "green" leftist (not the only type of green, I might add) is different to an old school "red" marxist and how conservatives don't seem to understand either of them - Rundle: on Minchin, the green movement and Marxism.

Argues Kerr, there’s no doubt that the radical left moved holus-bolus into the environmentalist movement in the late ’80s and ’90s, Kerr argues, noting the entrist push into the 1984 Nuclear Disarmament Party by the then Socialist Workers Party (later DSP) among others.

More acutely, Kerr sounds a note of caution: though environmental issues are a real problem, they’re ultimately a business problem, a question of cost — and people really believe that climate change is happening.

Pari passu, the upshot of this is, let’s create a conspiracy about the conspiracy — regard the whole green movement as communism by other means, but let the lumpensuburbatariat think that you really care about the issue.

By now, the whole issue has become so live, that it’s worth disentangling it a little — if only because it throws light on the Liberal Party’s separation from the mainstream.

Everyone knows, or should, that the Communist movement — the Old Left — wasn’t anti-industrial in the slightest. It’s about as wrong a definition as you can get.

The whole aim of Communist movements within capitalist countries was to build a movement within the industrial working class — and thus the growth and expansion of that class was vital to its task. In Communist countries, industrial development was vital to standing against the capitalist world.

Left, Old Left, New Left … by the 1960s Communist Party dominance of the left was starting to slide, as a more civilisational critique of industrial and organisational humanity came to a head — including our impact on nature. Silent Spring, One Dimensional Man, DeSchooling Society, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Steal This Book, Growing Up Absurd, The Dialectic of Sex, and a hundred others suggested implicitly and otherwise that the Old Left was part of a monolithic system of growth and alienation, whose victory would do nothing to solve humanity’s deepest problems.

Lord, by the time that official Communist parties had taken onboard this wider critique, they were irrelevant — and they often remained highly critical of much of its efflorescences. David “Burnout” Burchell fits well into The Oz’s op-ed page because as a CPA intellectual and editor in the ’70s and ’80s, a lot of his role was to hold back much of the “New Left” tide, both its macro-civilisational critique and its micropolitics of non-hierachical participatory organisation and frikkin face painting. He’s a grumpy sod, because those people were most of the readers of ALR, which he edited.

In Michin and Kerr’s account, the accurate part is that a section of the Marxist left — the Trotskyist “far left” groups — began to see the social movements of the 1960s and ’70s, as places for entry, activity and recruitment. Within the far-left there was keen debate about the dangers of “movementism” — of getting sucked into the actual cause, rather than building the party. “Far left” groups remained scrupulously agnostic about what form a socialist society would take — but their insistent motif was that environmental destruction was caused by the profit motive (often rendered rather unmarxistally as “greed”), and lack of social control of the economy.

Seen thus, a section of the Green movement was Marxism by other means. But it’s more complicated than that. Because Minchin, Kerr and others can give no credence to the Marxist argument about capitalism — that it must expand endlessly, and at ever greater velocity just to keep going, that the idea of a stabilised capitalism is an illusion of the pre-Marxist classical economists who thought of it as an eternal structure (hidden beneath centuries of bondage) — they can’t credit the possibility that left wing people would work in either a Marxist organisation or a Green one, because they believe the criticism to be correct.

Now, you would have to say that not only is there a strong case for this, but also that many people believe it — that our way of life, especially if it were generalised to all six billion people — would simply choke the planet dead. Many people aren’t prepared to actually change their life at this stage — which is why useless activities such as personal recycling are devised, to give the illusion of action — but hypocrisy is not the worst of vices.

Understand this clearly — more people now believe the Red-Green hypothesis, that capitalism is a system testing us to destruction in its current form, than go with the idea that it is some empty charade of communism by other means. The idea that it’s merely a “business problem” is one they’re increasingly rejecting, at least in thought.

To put it plainly, that group includes a lot of Liberal voters, and a high majority of Labor voters. None of them want to live in grass huts, but the idea that factors other than business will have to be brought into global economic calculus is one that appeals to them — including fairly radical schemes to make the electricity grid two-way with clean domestic power generation, relocalisation of parts of the economy, and drawing areas of life out of the commodity cycle. Ideas that are Green and, in a way, vaguely communistic.

Seriously, it’s early days for all that. But it will grow and grow — and voters will assess parties on their seriousness about addressing the deep problems of global growth, not in advancing cheap kludges that give the sense of appeasing a fringe.

The trouble for Minchin, Kerr and co is that they won the battle at one level — the privatisation of the economy — while culturally the new left prevailed in terms of a sense of what life is about. Now that the right’s victory delivered us a global financial crisis, the new left’s critique of its illusions is still there, and growing stronger by the day.


So we're agreed...Guy Rundle is the classic eternally employed and tenured affluent Marxist product sodden convoluted talentless leftard MSM phony, "living in a fantasy life completely supported by the system they despise" as Mark Steyn said.

All these stale incredibly boring, stupid, unread and relentlessly WRONG about virtualy everything morally vain circus geeks, are on display and dissected at zombietime com, thepeoplescube com, drsanity blogspot com, dissectleft blogspot com, lookingattheleft com, biggovernemnt com, PJTV com and in any P.J O'Rourke, Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Jamie Glazov, Diana West, Victor Davis Hanson, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin com and so on.

When will the deluded Utopian control freak frauds of the Living Dead 1960's and 70's finally go away? Go figure. When unchallenged narcissistic arrogance and lies no longer make money, thus the old media paradigm is dying. Thank God or Neils Bohr for the Net .

Colonel Robert Neville blogspot com.

Anonymous   says 10:01 PM

pari passu, my upshot is, what on earth is any of this about? I literally can't make out what the basic point is, nor what any of the specific points raised mean. And I have four university degrees. How the umm "lumbensuburbatariat" (?) are supposed to benefit from Guy's wisdom is a mystery to me.

Hmm - well - I don't know what pari passu means and one paragraph in there remains a total mystery to me.

But the summarised version of the article goes like this (in my mind):

The conservative conspiracy theory that global warming and other green issues is a front for deindustrialisation and/or communism by other means is silly, because:

1. Old school reds were very much for industrialisation - they just want to own the means of production themselves, not have it owned by capitalists.

2. The percentage of greens who want deindustrialisation (or communism for that matter) is pretty low - most are just liberals who want all their creature comforts, but without impacting the environment too much (albeit with a lot of self-delusion about how to accomplish it).

3.Most voters buy into the idea that protecting the environment is the right thing to do (along with a lot of other "new left" cultural ideas) in the same way they buy into the idea of free markets - however the "free markets" tide has been halted somewhat by the GFC, so the (multi-faceted left) now has an advantage at the moment.


Most of these people you mention are certifiably insane (Mark Steyn for example, clearly suffers from extreme paranoia) - so I'm not sure you want to mention them when criticising Rundle.

As for Crikey, I'm sure they'd be glad to be thought of as aprt of the MSM - however they are a purely internet based example of modern media entreprenuership - so you analogy sort of collapsed when you said MSM.

But I agree that the net is a wonderful thing.

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