The Politics Of The Green New Deal: Conclusion

Posts in this series:

The Green New Deal Challenges The Domination of Capital

Part 1 on Labor

The Politics of the Green New Deal: Part 2 on Capital

The Politics of The Green New Deal: The Opposition Of The Rich

The Green New Deal: OMG It’s Socialism!

The Politics Of The Green New Deal: We Can’t Pay For That

The Politics Of The Green New Deal: More Democracy

The Politics of the Green New Deal: The Conventional Wisdom

The premise of this series is that climate change is going to impose enormous costs on society, whether we do nothing and try to cope with the changes, or whether we try to ameliorate it. In our current version of unrestrained capitalism, those costs will be imposed on the working class*, and the capitalists will enjoy all the profits to be gained whatever we do. The Green New Deal promises to spread the costs and burdens fairly across society, meaning the capitalists will pay more and get less. This is fair, because the capitalists accumulated their wealth by underpaying the working class and by externalizing as much of their costs as possible onto the working class.

I slightly regret using the word politics in the title of this series because I’m no politician, and don’t have much to contribute beyond personal opinion and unlimited optimism about my fellow citizens; think of me as a John Dewey democrat**. (This 2011 post at FDL explains the term, and it holds up really well.) I planned to conclude by saying something like: So everyone has a good reason to support the Green New Deal, even on the off-chance that we have overestimated its effects on the planet and therefore the economy.

Sadly, in the weeks since it was first announced the Trump-led Republicans have poisoned the atmosphere with their unsurpassed and uncontroverted media. Here’s a good discussion of the attack and the results by David Roberts (@DrVox) writing at Vox. And here’s a nice piece on the Climate Change Communication website that shows changes in responses to a number of climate change questions over time and by different segments of the population.

Progressives have nothing like the right-wing media complex, and have utterly failed at reaching the broad public with their rationale for the Green New Deal and its benefits. The media is distracted by the shiny objects Trump skims over our heads daily. Liberals have dozens of critical issues that divide their attention. The Democratic Party lacks any focus at all, other than getting rid of Trump. That leaves huge numbers of people unable to formulate a coherent response to the right-wing media and its capitalist supporters. Far too many of us are unsure about the potential problem or the costs that that will come due as our climate changes.

I’ve read several analyses of the problem by people who know more about politics than I do. This is from the Roosevelt Institute. This is by Ezra Klein at Vox, responding to the Roosevelt Institute’s recommendations.
This one is by the indispensable Eric Levitz at New York Magazine; and there’s lots more on his author page. You won’t have trouble finding more.

I do have two thoughts.

1. I largely agree with this by Thomas Piketty. He writes about the disparity between the views of “voters with the lowest incomes, personal wealth or qualifications” (the “working classes” in his article) and their prosperous fellow citizens as shown in EU elections. The working classes mostly vote against the EU while the prosperous mostly vote for it.

The reason for this, according to those who are better off, is that the working classes are nationalist and xenophobic, perhaps even backwards.

But there’s a better explanation according to Piketty: the current structure of the EU unfairly favors the prosperous at the expense of the working classes, and the latter know this, resent it, and vote to change it.

In the US, many people respond to the obvious fact that their votes don’t change anything by refusing to vote at all. In the 2016 election turnout was about 58% of the voting age population. If the Democrats could get another 10% to the polls, raising turnout to 68%, they wouldn’t need swing voters and nervous Republicans, and they’d likely take the Senate and the House.

In my simple-minded approach, the failure of the Democrats is their absurd unwillingness to act like a political party. To take an obvious example, when Ed Markey and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced the Green New Deal, some Democrats immediately indicated support. But the centrists just had to weigh in, whining about how radical it is and how much trouble it would be, and it might affect my chances of reelection and we can’t afford that. They just couldn’t keep silent, or say how much they were looking forward to working with their colleagues on this critical issue.

In my simple-minded approach, the Democrats act like a real party, where all of them are on the same team, and assert that they will pass legislation that will benefit non-voters, and will protect them from the depredations of the rich and their corporations. With control of the House, they can prove they will do so by passing legislation now.

2. Movies on TV have really long commercial breaks, three or four minutes or even more. Climate activists could make mini-movies for those breaks, 3-4 minutes long, that would basically be educational, with a very light touch of activism. As I see it, the right wing relies on fear, hatred, nationalism, and other highly emotional triggers. The viewers I would try to reach aren’t hooked on those emotional charges. They either are apathetic, or are turned off by those appeals. And those emotional triggers don’t work well late at night, they interfere with sleeping.

The idea is to show the problem directly, but keep the commentary to a minimum and keep it low-key. So, we could show the heavy rain, ice and floods in Nebraska, interview people who were damaged, like maybe a shot of farmer walking through a muddy field explaining he can’t plant and the financial effect on his business. We could interview the water treatment officials in Omaha whose system was flooded and poured raw sewage into streams and rivers. The commercials would be so long that people would look up during them even while playing with their phones, and the footage would be riveting.

The talk would be short, and focused on the people damaged. There would be large easy to read captions, because I think a lot of viewers mute commercials. There would be two or three open-ended questions in caption format from time to time. Can we afford to take the risk of more climate change? What happens to the price of food if we have wide-spread flooding in the Mid-west? How can we protect ourselves from the increased number of dangerous storms? Maybe we should talk about this with our friends and neighbors. And so on. Non-threatening, easy to understand, and non-judgmental, not didactic or pedantic. A soft approach might have an impact on people’s willingness to consider decarbonization.

The idea is easily expanded to teaching about other issues, including, for example, financial problems facing the 40% of us who can’t pay an unexpected $400 bill without borrowing, or people facing medical problems without decent insurance, people forced to move to chase jobs and so on, all problems addressed by the Green New Deal.

I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but I know we have to do something new, because whatever we think we are doing now isn’t working.
* I define the terms working class and capitalists in the first post in this series.
**Also, I generally agree with the views this post attributes to Sophie de Grouchy and others.

45 replies
  1. Bri2k says:

    I wanted to thank you for this fine series, Ed, which has helped educate me on all of this.

    I especially liked this part:

    “The Green New Deal promises to spread the costs and burdens fairly across society, meaning the capitalists will pay more and get less. ”

    My concern is that these costs will just be passed on to consumers, most of whom are poor. This makes it regressive and I don’t believe successful policy can be paid for on the backs of people who can least afford it.

    I’d like to see more written about strategies to ensure the Green New Deal doesn’t just end up being another regressive tax on those who are already financially burdened to the max.

    Thank you again for a fine, informative series.

    • Mainmata says:

      The GND is not meant to be a tax, e.g. a carbon tax or significantly higher gas prices. It’s principal focus is on the rapid conversion of the fossil fuels based economy based on renewable energy and energy efficiency and the millions of jobs that could be created by an aggressive program like the original New Deal.

      And those us who work on climate change know that the people most exposed and vulnerable to climate change impacts are exactly the poor and working classes that have little or no adaptive capacity and available resources. We’ve already seen these vulnerabilities in the colossal disasters that have already happened. The wealthy and corporations have, so far, escaped any real consequences from climate change impacts though that too will eventually change.

  2. Rayne says:

    This was a great series, Ed, provoked good discussion.

    I disagree with your conclusion that activists need to try new ways to communicate. It will not matter how they communicate if they are outgunned. This observation by researchers you shared in a previous post highlights an essential part of the problem:

    “…When only the affluent strongly support a proposed policy change, that policy is adopted 46 percent of the time; when only the middle-class strongly support a policy, that policy is adopted only 24 percent of the time. …”

    The affluent — specifically the 1% — have captured the policymaking and legislative process. They have insulated themselves with money so well they’re not reachable. They’ve also captured media to ensure that insulation.

    The other key barrier is the transnational nature of the challenge. We’re not fighting against the 1% in American; we’re fighting against corrupt petro-states whose interests align much of the time with the American oligarchs like the Kochs.

    We have to take action as individuals, doing everything possible to eliminate our use of fossil fuels. Only the crash of oil and natural gas prices will speak to the transnational oligarchs here and abroad. We can see it changes their calculations because of their reactions after the steep drop in oil prices when Iran’s oil reentered the market in late 2014 as part of the P5+1’s JCPOA process.
    Monthly price of Brent crude oil per barrel over time
    Hell, the oligarchs are fomenting war now because they must tighten the screws on Iran’s oil.

    It’s imperative we vote for sympathetic candidates and incumbents at both federal AND state/local level. Reshaping how states produce/price/tax energy to meet Green New Deal goals may be more effective than trying to badger the 1% with new communication approaches. Michigan, for example, implemented a goal moving toward renewable energy under its last Democratic governor in 2008. We could realistically bump up that timeline before 2022 under the current Democratic governor if we can clear out some of the intransigent GOP state legislators in 2020.

    Sadly, some of the work will be done for us, too, as the climate emergency deepens. Farmers across grain producing areas have been hammered badly by two bomb cyclones followed by flooding, and now even more flooding due to increased rainfall. Add the damage volatile weather patterns have wreaked on top of Trump’s idiotic trade war and farm country will begin to change their votes.

    Thanks again for this series. I have the feeling you aren’t really done with this, though.

  3. fpo says:

    Fantastic series – appreciate the links to earlier posts. Thank you.

    Agree with Raine here – as Americans across the country increasingly have the realities of climate change/crisis visited on them, and they struggle to deal with the impact – attitudes, opinions and votes will change. And to the extent that deniers and the uninformed come to appreciate the inter-connectedness of climate crisis impact with the socio-economic conditions that shape their own lives and sense of well-being, priorities will shift as well. Let’s hope that includes actually voting.

    While the pace of change here is maddening, I’m looking for some positivity wherever I can find it, and encouraging signs can be found among younger (and particularly GOP) voters, wrt their views on the role of government to climate change. Consider:

    “…the youngest Republicans stand apart in their views on the role of government and the causes of climate change. Gen Z Republicans are much more likely than Republicans in older generations to say government should do more to solve problems. And they are less likely than their older counterparts to attribute the earth’s warming temperatures to natural patterns, as opposed to human activity.”

    [ ]

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In the 2016 election turnout was about 58% of the voting age population. If the Democrats could get another 10% to the polls, raising turnout to 68%, they wouldn’t need swing voters and nervous Republicans, and they’d likely take the Senate and the House.

    Reality is sufficiently angst producing as not to need Faux Noise to amplify it. But what reality does that FN and neoliberals in general fear is that it accurately assigns blame, factual causation. FN and its brethren spend every dollar they have and whatever Rupert and the Kochs can borrow to distract from that causation. They blame others, instead, and make flaming dragons out of the innocent and the peripheral.

    To your point about the politics behind this, a heavy dose of reality passionately and accurately articulated is both necessary to affect that reality and to win at the polls. Playing Bidenesque games and being naively nice to the other side – which has made clear it will stick a political and cultural shiv into the Dems and the 99% every chance it gets – are the polar opposite of that. Something Ms. Pelosi might think about.

    • Eureka says:

      Everything becomes so meta. The other day, Senator Koch # XX celebrated (what is pork when it’s not in a bill, but via other channels?) an article, “EPA says it will expedite review of summer gas in Allegheny County:”

      “Gas prices in #SWPA should not be through the roof. I’ve been working to remove Allegheny County from the summer gas mandate. Glad to see the @EPA is moving quickly to bring down prices at the pump: (links above-titled article)”[]

      The replies are hysterical because the best comedy is truth (~The-clap- EPA’s -clap- mission- clap- is -clap- not -clap- low -clap- gas -clap- prices). But what can anyone do about the continual fruits of paymastering/ lobbying besides vote (people out)? It’s like Dewey inside out: the amount of public-square activism directed towards this MOC is sustained. Anyway, y’all know I’m not a giver-upper and still I try. But it’s worth noting that they have exponentially jacked the cost-time of trying, along with other costs. Freeloaders, they are. Networks of freeloaders.

      ETA: and as to dems, I think Biden’s poll numbers are gaslighting Pelosi into a comfy-old-sock-centrist corner. Perhaps a longer comment on that later, but I think the Biden effect is replicating the McCain funeral effect of relief at the sight of apparent public servants (such that folks gushed over W handing a lozenge or whatever to Michelle Obama. This too shall pass, I think…)

  5. Jonf says:

    The democrats too often are dysfunctional. They chase Trump and friends around and they ignore the Dems and their subpoenas. Yet the Dems refuse to open an impeachment inquiry, that would afford them a reason to sue. End result is nothing happens. And when it comes to the GND they are tortured over pay fors and again nothing happens. Too many Dems still flirt with blue dog sentiments. My fear is this lack of anything to point to will end badly in 2020.

    • P J Evans says:

      You won’t get anything at all from the GOP-T, though, and there are no third parties with power in the US.

    • Mainmata says:

      “…they are tortured over pay fors…” And yet, the US is paying hundreds of billions of dollars per year to clean up after multiple disasters. But somehow those “pay fors” don’t count. That’s just weird. It’s similar to the GOP’s approach to healthcare: do next to nothing to address preventable healthcare costs and then spend billions of dollars trying to deal with the consequences of that same lack of prevention. It’s insane but it’s where the money and profit is with these psychopaths I guess.

  6. jaango says:

    Ed Walker, you’re in good hands when it comes to the “progressive nationalism” as articulated within today’s Latino Perspective.

    Take for example, the current and articulated National Internet News Service (NINS) and where Congress funds 50 municipalities to a tune of $500 million annually or $10 million per municipality. Thus, a local NINS with a handful of reporters, a political analyst and a public polling staffer that addresses the critical elements from our localized self-governance, becomes quite critical, especially when the Super Wealthy and its large cadre of well-funded Elected Officials, tells us otherwise via today’s media barons.

    Of course, the shorter route to truth-telling is that mandatory voting, not likely in the short term for a seminal success, means that demographics cannot be circumvented but can be further reinforced via this constructed and well-meaning NINS.

    In closing, the opportunity, and which is yet to arrive, eliminating the Oath of Office platitude as is applied to our Elected Officials would add more honesty to our civic discussion, writ large.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Speaking of the politics of corruption, EW points to this Motherjones piece by Russ Choma analyzing Trump’s latest supposed financial disclosure form. []

    What’s said in it is startling. What’s left unsaid is probably more so. The overall effect is one of declining revenue, at Mar-a-Lago, for example, but also at properties he does not visit and in his other businesses.

    One big takeaway is that in May 2018, Trump, via a shell company, borrowed between $5 and 25 million from a small Florida bank – Professional Bank – apparently to buy his sister’s property, which abuts Mar-a-Lago. It joined the stable in the Trump International Reality portfolio. You can rent Trump’s sister’s former estate for about $80,000/month, down from an original $100,000/month. That’s the former federal judge sister who retired in order to end an ethics investigation into her part in the Trump family’s finances.

    The real estate deal was reported last year as being his sons’, Eric and Don Jr, but Trump controls the company used for the deal. The mechanics of that would be interesting to see, since Trump hates the process required to do such things properly. It would also be useful to look into the price of the deal to see whether the Don added a sweetener to keep his sister quiet about the family’s finances.

    The non-family kicker is that after approving that loan, a large one for Professional Bank, Trump appointed its CEO to the Federal Reserve’s Atlanta office’s Miami branch. Sure looks corrupt to me.

  8. Ed Walker says:

    Perhaps I could clarify that the point of the advertising campaign is to move non-voters and people confused about the entire issue by the right wing media complex. The ad campaign is designed to fly low and calm, but make the important points and encourage people to do a bit of looking around and talking to their friends and neighbors.

    That should open the door to encouraging non-voters and low information voters to considering actually voting, and voting in their own interest and in the best interest of the nation, two things that are often separated by the Rs. The Ds as currently comprised don’t make a difference, but if voters are actively looking they can find or demand people who will respond to their interests, just as the Rs have done.

    Maybe? The nature of the US voter is really beyond me.

    • DAT says:

      Ed, Even cheap ads at cheap times start adding up if they are run nation wide. If there was only some way to get time in bulk, something like having your own TV network.. Nah, it’d never happen.

  9. Pam says:

    I agree with this statement and why I think we don’t stand a chance of winning 2020, sadly.
    “The Democratic Party lacks any focus at all, other than getting rid of Trump. That leaves huge numbers of people unable to formulate a coherent response to the right-wing media and its capitalist supporters.”

    • bmaz says:

      That’s fine, and arguably true. That said, the Dems hold exactly one arm of the Congress. Since McConnell and Trump have flat out said they will kill any Dem legislation in its tracks, why not spend some energy on getting rid of Trump?

      What do you want, a bunch of show bills that will never go anywhere? Do you not think the Constitution should be defended per the Congressional oath of office? So, what do you suggest then?

      • Jonf says:

        We need an impeachment inquiry. Absent that we have far too much arm waving and posturing.

      • Mainmata says:

        Your response was exactly what I was going to say. In addition to your excellent response, the House Democrats should hold hearings on all the damage Trump’s corrupt Cabinet is causing the nation. The loosening of air pollution regs alone is already having serious health impacts never mind all the other damage this garbage administration is inflicting on the nation.

    • bmaz says:

      Also, it seems this is your first comment here. Welcome to Emptywheel, and please join in more often.

  10. OldTulsaDude says:

    From what I have seen over my life, the Republican party – at least since Reagan – has been much more adept than Democrats at weaponizing power. The OLC opinion that McGahn has immunity seems to me such an exercise.

    • Rayne says:

      Democrats don’t represent a narrow range of interests called “capital.” Makes it more difficult to come up with a consensus on approach to power. Also makes an enormous difference if one party doesn’t give a rat’s ass about making patently corrupt decisions in wielding power.

  11. Watson says:

    Speaking of the media —

    MSM: Trump is presiding over a ‘booming economy’.

    Progressives: Therefore the best that de-regulated ‘free market’ austerity capitalism will ever offer us is this callous debt-saturated gig economy. We need some significant changes!

    • Rayne says:

      Media does a shit job of pointing out the stock market is NOT the economy. The economy would boom in truth if 2-3 generations of Americans weren’t saddled with college tuition debt or irrationally high health care costs on top of rents made unaffordable by investors.

      • P J Evans says:

        And food that’s only affordable for many if they buy junk food. (Being told to eat a healthier diet is fine – but dammit, fruits and vegetables are much more expensive than the unhealthy stuff.)

          • P J Evans says:

            More community gardens, in every neighborhood. Or fixing codes so people can have non-ornamental gardens. (Yes, some vegetables are very pretty – artichokes and rhubarb are Landscaping – but some areas won’t allow them in places where they’re visible from the street, and there are places like my apt where there’s minimal space even if we were allowed: I get flak for having my plants outside part of the time for much-needed light.)

            • Rayne says:

              We should promote legislation at state level across the country to allow food gardening or encourage multi-family housing developments to have communal gardens — X number of feet for each family unit. (Draw the line at marijuana.)

              Should also work in tandem with prohibiting restrictions on line drying laundry, again encouraging multi-family units to provide line space for each family unit. Laundry dryer are on average 25% of the average family’s power consumption.

              • P J Evans says:

                I’d probably allow marijuana in states where it’s legal – “grow houses” are big consumers of water and power.
                And some buildings aren’t suitable for changing to line drying (The one I’m in has a laundry room with four washers and four dryers, and not much space for a clothesline.)

                • Rayne says:

                  I was thinking line drying outside in space which is less expensive to the developer — at a minimum allow occupants to use a rack on their deck/patio.

                  No builder wants to pony up money to finish a space which will be infrequently used and owned as a commons, hence the small drying areas in laundry rooms. Builders should be encouraged to put built-in racks in units which have their own laundry space, though.

  12. gmoke says:

    “The premise of this series is that climate change is going to impose enormous costs on society, whether we do nothing and try to cope with the changes, or whether we try to ameliorate it.”

    This reminds me of the old bumpersticker: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Which is apt in a few different ways.

    After about 40 years educating myself on climate change, with the help of MIT and Harvard whose intellectual property I’ve been stealing throughout that time as a layperson attending public lectures at those institutions on those topics (my weekly listing of Energy (and Other) Events around Cambridge, MA has been going on for about a decade and is available at, my considered opinion is that preparing for climate change is a) considerably less expensive than not doing so and b) if done thoughtfully, can lead to a much more economically successful and egalitarian economy than what we have now. For instance, what happens when the cost of fuel goes away, as it will in a renewable energy powered economy?

    The facts are that, in the USA, the fastest growing jobs are in solar and wind and have been for the last few years, that there aren’t enough trained people now to fill those jobs, and that even with Trmp’s solar tariffs and Republican states’ foot-dragging, the renewable sector is thriving.

    I’ve never believed that the “scare them into doing something” tactic would work with climate change but that a positive vision of a renewable, restorative, ecological future would. But that requires imagination and, as the poet Diane Di Prima reminded us during the Vietnam War, the only war that matters is the war against the imagination as all other wars are subsumed in it. The Republicans have won the war against the imagination, so far, with the help of all those who use only scare tactics to convince others that climate change is real and happening now.

    The recent short video by AOC and others to promote the Green New Deal in the form of a letter from the green future to our gray present is a step in the right direction. We need to imagine the future we want and backcast from that forecast to determine the steps we can take now that set us on that path. I say start from Solar IS Civil Defense – $10 retail buys you a solar light and charger that gives you the light, radio or cell phone, and ability to charge small batteries we all should have on hand in case of emergency and is also entry level electricity for the billion or more people now who don’t have access to electricity. That is real and available now and the end of deep energy poverty is affordable with probably less than a day’s global spending on the military. That’s present day reality and an unrecognized opportunity.

    A solar civil defense is also becoming more and more necessary as weather emergencies become more common and more destructive.

    We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls by, not seeing you at all.
    Lew Welch

    Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviors tha will avoid extinction. R. Buckminster Fuller

    A technology of communication, education,
    and quiet transportation,
    land-use being
    sensitive to the properties of each region…

    Careful but intensive agriculture
    in the great alluvial valleys,
    deserts left wild for those
    who would live there by skill.

    Computer technicians who run
    the plant part of the year
    and walk
    along with the Elk
    in their migrations
    during the rest.
    Gary Snyder, Four Changes 1969

    We have the technological and social solutions available to us now to slow, stop, and possibly even reverse climate change (look up the word “geotherapy” please and do that before any geoengineering) IF we have the imagination and determination to use them.

    • rip says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful post. It adds a lot to my already brimming concepts from Ed’s OPs.

  13. Richard says:

    Ed Walker writes with a national perspective when in the real world the Climate Crisis actions are happening at the local level.
    1. Oregon Clean Energy Jobs Bill (with at least 84 amendments) will pass by end of June 2019.
    2. The Oregon Cap and Trade program will link up with California and others in the future.
    3. Oregon Cap & Trade will raise about $500 million per year to be distributed to urban and rural areas of Oregon.
    4. Problem with bill is that the target dates for zero emissions are too far in the future however they can be changed as we experience success with reducing emissions.

    Successful Climate Emergency declarations are happening at the city and local levels. Although UK is an exception.

  14. JamesJoyce says:

    “The affluent — specifically the 1% — have captured the policymaking and legislative process. They have insulated themselves with money so well they’re not reachable. They’ve also captured media to ensure that insulation.“

    This reality is called the “Curse of Dred Scott.”

    Money now deemed speech insulates a 1% .

    People “deemed inferior” by a “once”insulated 1% are insulated from nothing, while the once insulated morph into another insulated 1%.

    Tobacco commercials and learned behaviors like discrimination both die hard. Neither are predicated on reason.

    It is all about control and profit.

    Deja Vu?

  15. Kick the darkness says:

    It seems likely, at least to me, that broadly scoped economic and environmental justice legislation like the Green New Deal will really only happen once we start to more fully experience the effects and consequences of climate change, rather than occurring proactively. At least at the national level. As has been pointed out, efforts to transition to green economies are occurring locally, and all those experiments may be very instructive in the long run. In a way, that’s similar to the original New Deal, which was driven by the desperate state of the country during the Great Depression. If you compare a map of the 1928 versus 1932 presidential elections, the realignment is truly remarkable. I think it will take something like that. A wake up moment. And then hopefully, with some luck, multi-generational change along the line of Uno’s Garden. I was reading that to my daughter the other night. I was thinking she may well be in the generation that’s going to have the wisdom to get us through this. Thanks for the series.

    • JamesJoyce says:


      Only when the consequences of actions are obvious is there change.

      Yes all those MarlboroMen are dead.

      Once your dead there is no change…

      It is over…

      Anyone here want a Lucky Strike?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As one wag said about the sociology of change in science, it proceeds one funeral at at time.

        The dominating charismatics of one period – with their idee fixe and their will to enforce conformity among those allowed to engage at the height of their profession – depart the scene, making cultural room for their successors filled with new ideas. They are then succeeded by another generation.

        In the abstract, it might lead to progress, or at least more knowledge. But it requires a lot of seamanship to tack so hard in one direction, then another, to generate what becomes the ultimate course. I suspect changing culture and politics is even less clear and more trouble.

        • Kick the darkness says:

          “science advances one funeral at a time”…I never heard it put quite like that. Depending on your place in the queue I suppose either darkly humorous or grimly satisfying. I remember something similar expressed along the lines of the road to the paradigm shift is paved with unfunded grants.

            • Kick the darkness says:

              Thanks. Hadn’t thought about Structure in a long time. I remember it as exciting, radical. Revolution. But going back to it, there is a bleakness to the work. While his ideas were incubating, Kuhn failed to get tenure at Harvard and landed at Berkeley. I imagine him moving his young family across the country, looking at the landscapes and coming to terms with his ideas on science, progress and meaning. That what he would have considered the greatest bursts of human creativity were not really leaps forward in any fixed direction. And that the utilitarian value of the accomplishment would fade like any other human thing.

      • Kick the darkness says:

        I wonder if, on the 10th anniversary of the Toba event, somebody said “everything’s pretty much gone to shit, but the sun’s peeking out a bit. What the hell, let’s have a picnic.” And after shoveling dirt on his grave, two of the Marlboro Man’s three kids gave up smoking.

  16. Eureka says:

    Thank you for this series, Ed. Rayne, who knows you much better, said above that she thinks you’re not done; I’ll add that the prior post was so lit that I didn’t expect a conclusion to follow.

    Throughout, I’ve also enjoyed everyone’s comments and different angles of expertise.

    As for your ads idea, I think they need to be even more positive/with less stressful info, focused on imagery of a happy future. With gentler cue topics —> discussion on how to get there. (Said as one who– checks timestamp– has seen late night long-ads and hates them because of the stressful content, even though focused on a ‘solution’ (currently, of buying something).)

    It’s a great idea, and would do well on the over-the-air channels with retro programming, which now seem to be suffused with repetitive long-ads for all manner of junk and unpleasantries. It’s a void begging to be filled by better content.

    Thanks again.

  17. JamesJoyce says:


    US now has the ability to ionize argon and xenon gases to create ionized propulsion for space travel. Nothing more be
    need be said.

    Passive collections of photons could prove as beneficial as crop rotation for humans.

    Problem solving is nothing for human as well as seeking monopoly.

    The problem actually is no different than the historical realities of a Catholic Church and the Burning G. Bruno.

    Trump is a poster boy for the dysfunction…

    Donald thinks he is in the center of the solar system.

    Is not Trump just star dust predicated on his daddy’s greenbacks and now “pixie dust” unlike the rest of us?

Comments are closed.