Thursday, October 15, 2015

People's Climate March 2015

I attended the People's Climate March yesterday. As the home page of the People's Climate Movement boasts: "TO CHANGE EVERYTHING, WE NEED EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE. Happening Now: Close to 200 actions in almost every state in the country calling for bold action on climate!"

An ambitious call to action, indeed; but judging by the rally and march to yet another rally, one that fell far short of its goal of everything, everyone, everywhere (at least in the Emerald City). Turnout was good I thought, maybe a city-block's worth of marchers moving uptown from city hall before turning west and then south, heading back downtown to Pioneer Square, but nothing beyond the groups already focused on climate change (though there was a robust presence from a Teamsters local, an interesting side note since the leadership of the District Council of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has been incendiary in its criticism of other unions for opposing Shell's presence at Port of Seattle Terminal Five).

What is noteworthy this morning is that there is zero note of the event. In neither the New York Times nor the Seattle Times can I find a single mention. Climate change, though undeniably and catastrophically real, is apparently newsworthy only as a scientific topic or possibly as a platform for international diplomacy, not as a social movement. Thank goodness for Russia's RT.

The problem here might be that this social movement is headed, while not aggressively, certainly in the direction of a head-on collision with capitalism; along the way it is embracing a critique of institutional racism. (The march began with a listless bit of street theater lampooning the greed of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Congress is now considering.) Criticism of capitalism and institutional racism is almost never allowed in the pages of the press. That is why Occupy Wall Street, $15 Now and Black Lives Matter deserve a great deal of respect. These movements managed to make the inequities of capitalism and the savagery of institutional racism breaking news covered by the mainstream media on a daily basis.

The climate justice movement isn't there yet. It is still too diffuse. But from what I saw yesterday I think there is reason for hope. Something is definitely building, taking shape. It is anti-capitalist and anti-racist. The age demographic skews to the old and the young -- old Hippies and Hip-Hop kids. It has to broaden out and rope in rockers who came of age in the Eighties and Nineties, the acolytes of Van Halen and Alice in Chains. A tall order but not completely impossible.

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