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Who Are the Extremists? Who Are the Rational Ones?

The logic of neoliberal reason gives us liberal leaders who lie to our faces telling us we can extract and pump out tarsand bitumen and still make a safe energy transition.

"Resisting pipeline projects across the globe is the obvious and rational thing to do. However, due to the hegemonic domination of capitalist ideology, we are told we are 'irrational, emotive simpletons who don't understand how economics and profit work,'" Esler writes. (Photo: Peg Hunter/Flickr/cc)

These are strange times.

What do you do when the political/economic consensus in no way reflects the scientific consensus and all its policy implications? Well, people have a choice: to resist the political consensus and try to create a new one, or to ignore the policy implications of the IPCC reports findings and to distract themselves with other things. 

Such is the state of global capitalism today that despite many liberal political and business leaders claiming to believe in global warming, they seem to believe in free market fundamentalism and the public subsidy of the fossil fuel industry even more.  (An odd ideological contradiction in and of itself.) The truth is, in dealing with any major social crisis where uncertainty or losing is not an option, state planning, public investment, and tight control of markets is needed on a major scale.

Every liberal capitalist nation turned to state planned investment and put markets on hold in order to mobilize labor and capital towards the social necessity of defeating fascism/Nazism during the Second World War. We need a similar movement today to subsidize clean energy research, ban fossil fuel extraction, and build clean energy infrastructure that the market left alone will currently not allow.

Unfortunately for the planet and all its most vulnerable people, the logic of neoliberal reason makes this obvious solution an impossibility. It gives us liberal leaders who lie to our faces telling us we can extract and pump out tarsand bitumen and still make a safe energy transition that keeps the world under 1.5c. It gives us corporate media that does not point out these obvious lies, systemically filtering out dissent that would risk challenging the fundamental logic of capital.

Resisting pipeline projects across the globe is the obvious and rational thing to do. However, due to the hegemonic domination of capitalist ideology, we are told we are "irrational, emotive simpletons who don't understand how economics and profit work."

In fact, we understand perfectly well; what we don't accept is the starting premise that this current economic status quo is forever and always the optimal solution to every social problem.

It clearly isn't, and this should become obvious after a short amount of time is allotted to some basic research and sober reflection on the facts.   

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Jack Esler

Jack Esler is a philosophy student at University of British Columbia who is involved with the UBC 350 grassroots club.

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