One Cheer — More or Less — For the Green New Deal

This seems to be a serious, thoughtful critique of the “Green New Deal” idea from a fairly conventional left-anarchist perspective (although Carson is an individualist/mutualist/AWA, not an an-com).

The ATS theoretical model and strategic paradigm is oriented toward global revolutionary struggle against the new Rome (i.e. the global capitalist empire), with an emphasis on indigenous people everywhere, and bottom-up anti-imperialist struggle. I’d say my own geopolitical outlook approximates that of the Shining Path (minus the Maoist fundamentalism).

What Carson describes here is more or less what I would envision the reformist wing of the left-wing of pan-anarchism in First World countries doing, but it’s only that. Notice that the examples Carson provides are all First World places (“the new municipalist movements in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, and Jackson”) I see the ATS vision of global revolutionary struggle as transcending the left/right reformist/radical First World/Third World (core/periphery) dichotomies. A similar analysis could be made of Carson’s ideas on “privilege theory,” which would likewise be appropriate for the social/cultural wing of the left-wing of pan-anarchism in First World countries (in a way that potentially networks with similar tendencies in the Third World).

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

In critiquing and analyzing a state policy proposal like the Green New Deal from an anarchist perspective, I should throw in the usual disclaimers about my working assumptions. I’m not an insurrectionist and I don’t believe the post-capitalist/post-state transition will be primarily what Erik Olin Wright called a “ruptural” process. Although the final transition may involve some ruptural events, it will mostly be the ratification after the fact of a cumulative transformation that’s taken place interstitially.

Most of that transformation will come from the efforts of ordinary people at creating the building blocks of the successor society on the ground, and from those building blocks replicating laterally and coalescing into an ecosystem of counter-institutions that expands until it supplants the previous order.

Some of it will come from political engagement to run interference for the new society developing within the shell of the old, and pressuring the state from outside to behave in more benign ways. Some of it will come from using some parts of the state against other parts, and using the state’s own internal procedural rules to sabotage it.

Some of it will come from attempts to engage friendly forces within the belly of the beast. Individuals here and there on the inside of corporate or state institutions who are friendly to our efforts and willing to engage informally with us can pass along information and take advantage of their inside positions to nudge things in a favorable direction. As was the case with the transition from feudalism and capitalism, some organizational entities — now nominally within state bodies or corporations — will persist in a post-state and post-capitalist society, but with their character fundamentally changed along with their relationship to the surrounding system.  If you want to see some interesting examples of attempts at “belly of the beast” grantsmanship and institutional politics, take a look at the appendices to some of Paul Goodman’s books.

A great deal, I predict, will come from efforts — particularly at the local level — to transform the state in a less statelike direction: a general principle first framed by Saint-Simon as “replacing legislation over people with the administration of things,” and since recycled under a long series of labels ranging from “dissolution of the state within the social body” to “the Wikified State” to “the Partner State.” The primary examples I have in mind today are the new municipalist movements in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, and Jackson and the dozens and hundreds of cities replicating that model around the world, as well as particular institutional forms like community land trusts and other commons-based local economic models.


3 replies »

  1. All I really got from that? Buy local and consume less. Fuck zoning laws, which I agree with, along with building codes. Other than that, just some “cuddle and carpool” uppity-ass urbanite bullshit in an overly large font that hurts my eyes. Oh well. As long as us country bumpkins and our pickup trucks are safe from those statist interventionists.

    • Carson has some really interesting economic ideas on political economy, but I agree it’s contained within a fairly narrow paradigm, as I indicated in my introduction.

      • And the font size! I know it’s such a nitpicky little thing, but perhaps I could appreciate his thoughts a bit more if I could read them with less eyestrain….

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