This Sunday the Grey Skank is devoting their entire magazine to a single article about catastrophic climate change. I heard an interview with the author of the long article, who seemed a very bright, well-informed and reasonable fellow. As you would expect from someone who writes for the Grey Lady. That said, I am always suspicious of the first drafts of history written by the New York Times. Humankind, the Times apparently concludes, is at fault for the climate mess we are in. We were not up to the challenges of keeping up the momentum to halt climate catastrophe that was developing up to 1988. We all failed, it seems, human nature itself dooming us to our doom.
The New York Times often tends to leave out one or two crucial factors, for no doubt excellent reasons that, most likely, have nothing to do with the myopia of their distinctly upper middle class worldview . I always read the Times with an eye toward the story not being told and consult other sources to get as much of the rest of the story as I can. My father, who read the Times cover to cover every day, always supplemented his reading of the Times with other publications. As an adult now myself, I understand why the Times alone is not enough to keep us fully informed on the pressing issues of the day.
Which is where a journalist like the brilliant Naomi Klein comes in. I have always been engaged by what she has to say. When she writes of the Times piece “this work of history is filled with insider revelations about roads not taken that, on several occasions, made me swear out loud” I want to know exactly why. I had the feeling the Times was going to somehow partially miss the mark with their important landmark piece, Naomi Klein was about to tell me how they’d missed it. You can read her recent article here.
When I think about the New York Times, so valuable in many ways, I often think: fucking earthlings… If you are in their demographic, it is a wonderful part of Sunday sitting in the cozy family room unwrapping and sharing the gifts of their vast Sunday edition. If you are poor, disenfranchised, homeless, well, the reading of the Sunday Times is not as great a gift. Let’s just leave it there.
Read Naomi Klein’s article in conjunction with the Times magazine this Sunday and you will get more of the picture than the Grey Skank will give you herself. Here is Naomi Klein’s good news:
And the good news — and, yes, there is some — is that today, unlike in 1989, a young and growing movement of green democratic socialists is advancing in the United States with precisely that vision. And that represents more than just an electoral alternative — it’s our one and only planetary lifeline.
Yet we have to be clear that the lifeline we need is not something that has been tried before, at least not at anything like the scale required. When the Times tweeted out its teaser for Rich’s article about “humankind’s inability to address the climate change catastrophe,” the excellent eco-justice wing of the Democratic Socialists of America quickly offered this correction: “*CAPITALISM* If they were serious about investigating what’s gone so wrong, this would be about ‘capitalism’s inability to address the climate change catastrophe.’ Beyond capitalism, *humankind* is fully capable of organizing societies to thrive within ecological limits.”
Their point is a good one, if incomplete. There is nothing essential about humans living under capitalism; we humans are capable of organizing ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems. Indeed, humans have lived that way for the vast majority of our history and many Indigenous cultures keep earth-centered cosmologies alive to this day. Capitalism is a tiny blip in the collective story of our species.
Of course this is an unthinkable thought for the “liberal” New York Times. After all, it is beyond dispute that Reagan and Thatcher defeated Soviet Communism back in their day and so the only viable economic ideology in the world today, now that socialism was invalidated, you dig, is the global “free market.” Yes, there are problems with capitalism, the Times seems to agree, but picture your retirement portfolio without the dynamic, ever churning roulette wheel of the stock market making sure you don’t have to eat cat food in your old age. In a certain way the stance of the NY Times is marked by a lack of creative imagination.
Imagining a different and better world, analyzing the clear brutality of this global “free market” we are all being sold, for billions of human beings, animal life and the planet itself , and writing about it vividly, is but one reason I love Naomi Klein.
 In a story about the good news that, statistically, black American are now living almost as long as white Americans, the decisive factors, according to the Times, have little to do with the extreme stresses of institutionalized racism, apparently. Poor dietary and lifestyle choices of black Americans are the culprit, it turns out. Jeez, good thing we have the fucking New York Times to enlighten us! You can read more about that, and the wonderful article itself, here.