Not a one-off threat

The Morning Star is a UK newspaper which describes itself as “a reader-owned co-operative and unique as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media”.

In a recent editorial it writes:

Groups like Extinction Rebellion (XR) have raised the profile of the climate emergency, forcing politicians to acknowledge it. [But the] link between environmental action and anti-capitalism is one movements like XR have been reluctant to concede.

This probably stems from a desire to appeal to the broadest possible coalition willing to take action, but it is self-defeating.

Green parties that have reached the mainstream through accommodation with the capitalist system in Germany and Ireland have become pillars of the centrist, liberal and environmentally catastrophic status quo.

One approach to circumventing this promoted by XR especially is the Citizen’s Assembly, a representative body chosen by sortition (as a jury is, rather than by election) that stands outside the political system and would be tasked with decreeing solutions to the environmental crisis.

The suggestion has one key merit, in drawing attention to the inability of our current political structures to meet the biggest global challenge of our time.

But it falls into the trap of viewing climate change as a one-off threat that can be seen off independently of our political and economic system, rather than a process driven by the economic system itself.

Even if such assemblies were called, it is difficult to see how their authority could be imposed on elected governments or how their decrees would survive the lobbying and litigation efforts of the transnationals.

There is no non-political remedy for climate change, nor are solutions that rely on the private sector likely to do anything but obstruct effective action.

Would the editorialists be supportive of, instead of having a “non-political” one-off allotted body addressing climate change alone, replacing the entire electoralist system with one based on sortition?

2 Responses

  1. While this article’s ideologic narrowness and their unbearable conflation of the economic and the political is really off-putting, they do have a point regarding the topic of this forum when they write: “… it is difficult to see how their authority could be imposed on elected governments…”

    The current approach where sortitionists sell their beloved wares to election-ennobled and empowered politicians suffers exactly from this problem. From various dialogues with government representatives – always noticeably coloured by their party’s viewpoint – the retention of power is key.

    Ceterum censeo: To secure authority for sortition we must get sortitionist parties elected into governments, in all democratic countries.


  2. So we now learn that citizens’ assemblies are part of a broader socialist and anti-corporate/capitalist movement. Given the circulation of the Morning Star is 10,000 (at least it was in 2008, and most conventional media have declined catastrophically since then), do we really want to take advice from such an outlier?


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