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The New Left - Neoliberal Climate Alliance

Politics / Climate Change Dec 16, 2011 - 02:45 AM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleCHOMSKY WRONG AGAIN
Strange causes throw together strange bedfellows with even stranger offspring. Naom Chomsky, always sure to place himself with the angriest-seeming part of the New Left crowd, has no problem ranging himself alongside the Climate Crazies despite them receiving yet another big setback, in Durban. Packing their suntan lotions and picking up their air tickets somebody else paid for, the overfed bureaucrats and overpaid lobbyists who profit from climate craziness failed in their quest to suck more subsidies and garner more public cash for their Great Cause, once again. The strange band of New Left climate radicals is breaking up, as its upstream cause fed by one-liner slogans and Rentacrowd Science fails to amuse, beguile, fool or provoke like it used to. Climate change is a big yawn.

The New Left line was easy to memorize: the global economy hurtles toward Great Recession and the earth hurtles toward Climate Catastrophe.  Both are due to neoliberal deregulation which leaves humanity no means to shape our economies towards serving human needs. This forgets that neoliberalism means Laisser Faire, which soon morphed to Nobody in the Cockpit. The cult of deregulation almost instantly morphs to no regulations at all. We get zombie economics - and especially the Zombie Banks - as a direct spinoff, something like the claimed self-amplifying feedbacks that supposedly make global warming go one-way-only but in fact do not. For the economy the zombie end result is a natural product of neoliberalism; in this case "end result" means final.

Natural regulation will take over sooner, rather than later. For the earth's climate the natural regulation is likely the cloud cover "mechanism", limiting the warming. For the zombie economy and its Zombie Banks it is a 1929-style crash followed by a 10-year deep recession. What else is new?

As we know, each time she brings out a new DVD, Lady Gaga is as unprecedented as Lady Thatcher was in her 1980s heydays when she regularly turned out speechlets stuffed with cool keywords like No Future. This especially concerned old-fashioned, out-dated things like getting a job because jobs were now reserved only for Nice People who toe the party line. Anybody between 18 and 35 years old was surplus to requirements. Anybody over 55 years old was dead on arrival. The Zombie Economy had arrived. And the Brit middle classes trooped out to vote for it, rain or shine, every time. They loved it.

Not so long after, however, it was no future for Lady Thatcher who in her gaga days, called 'dotage', started opining about the terrible fate of penguins and polar bears due to runaway global warming - long before Al Gore packaged the product, made big dosh out of it but then killed the golden goose of Climate Doom simply through wild exaggeration and lying.

For the rentacrowd not-so-new left, coming to the climate crisis party took even longer than Gore, but they could not resist the honeypot because the aura of "unprecedented climate crisis" looked so attractive. This was a crisis that is affecting every nation, every locality, every worker. Its effects are already serious, they said, so unless decisive global action is taken to counter it the effects will soon be catastrophic. Neoliberal deregulation, by dismantling the means for public steering of society to meet social needs makes the climate issue even more critical and catastrophic - in fact impossible to regulate or control because no regulation and no control is what Laisser Faire means, right ?

For the left the answer is always no. By strange mental gymnastics - regular grade hypocrisy that is - the New Left can lionize the UN IPCC, adore the European Union's carbon trading system, and even admire Al Gore "because he gets the message across". Going one step further to stay controversial and high up the bookselling charts, Naom Chomsky can even cite the name of Richard Nixon as an "environment conscious" president of the USA ! Presumably Tricky Dick, if alive today, would be rooting for Low Carbon the same way that Al Gore called up a Light Coca Cola before breaking the catastrophic news, but with warmth and sincerity in his $10k fifteen-minute interviews for Leading Journals back in the good old days before Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban. Lady Gaga is almost as sincere, when it comes to getting paid.

The 'Bretton Woods' system of national and international regulation simply coincided with one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest period of sustained economic growth in world history. This ran from about 1948 to 1974. For countries like China and India, with a combined population nearly 3 times the total for all 30 OECD countries, the "greatest period" may be something like 1990 to 2015, we do not yet know when the Best By date will arrive. What we do know is that global economic recession will surely dent and thwart the Asian Locomotive. Its potential for meltdown grows every day.

Following the 1970s panic inside the Old Rich world triggered by the Oil Shocks, neoliberalism was the Natural Child solution, the La Nina of global policy change. Things were set out on a plate for Punk Policy: previous regulation was mostly useless, when it wasnt simply symbolic, so throw it all away. Which happened from the early 1980s.

But after a quarter-century of global policy change the cracks in the system got appallingly evident: after Punk Economics we got the Zombie Economy and nobody knew what to do. Talk of the kind recently centred on the UN FCCC, a shadowy but vast proposed system of "climate change control" which does not exist, and we can be certain will not exist, is as unreal as the 1980s and 1990s talk on the Third World's proposals for a New International Economic Order. It was never certain what this NIEO might be, but it was certain that it didnt exist. As a result, the reckless neoliberal strategy of abandoning all regulations was the permanent default solution. Ergo the Zombie Economy.

Rather clear in the proposals of the bureaucratic but "liberal" would-be Climate Regulators, who suffer from massive schizophrenia or breathtaking hypocrisy, or both, is the use of "the markets" to impose massive changes in the energy system, economic system and financial system. The extreme left, showing its now total disorientation is like a hitchhiker hippy carried along by this bulldozer disguised as a limo. When Chomsky starts praising Richard Nixon we know they are in trouble.

The key model is the International Monetary Fund. This was created after World War II to regulate currencies and prop up central banks, supposedly to ensure full employment through Keynesian monetary and fiscal policies and/or pubic ownership of leading economic enterprises. During the Trente Glorieuse of around 1948-74 this wasn't necessary. When it did become necessary in the 1980s it was first directed at the Third World: the IMF only enforced austerity plans in poorer countries the exact same way it is now enforcing austerity in richer countries, in Europe. How this IMF-type system, with liberal trappings now talked up by New Leftists would set about radically changing the global energy sytem, to protect us from climate catastrophe, is a masterpiece of delirium. There is no obvious way "the markets" will change or can change the global energy system, but the New-Old Left has to pretend it could.

IMF and WTO studies and reports, like those from the UN ILO or UNCTAD on "regulating climate change" rarely mention what actually happened in the last 20 - 25 years. The Race to the Bottom in who could deregulate first and most was the heyday of Thatcherite Neoliberalism, before the gaga dotage years with climate doom trappings. A totally unregulated economy could only be marvelous, not so ?

Taking the schizophrenia or hypocrisy up to unparalleled summits, the de-regulated masses of world bureaucrats now want to re-regulate the economy "but only to fight climate crisis". Their only possible mechanism is "the markets". The black box economy is out there, ticking over, we just put some different software in it, push the start button - and stand well back.

What we can call the Leftover Left, what was called the New Left some while back, includes credible seeming entities like the International Trade Union Confederation representing 175 million workers in 155 countries, which like other supposedly traditional left-wing power groups, including socialist political parties never fails to talk about "the dangerous and irreversible consequences of climate change." The not-so-clever trick is to say that climate change is producing irreversible damage, but setting up a new bureaucratic system of market players to turn the one arm bandits and pinwheels of the Global Finance Casino will reverse this damage - hey presto - and above all will Save The Planet.

It is possible, even probable the Leftover Left was only jealous of the media blitz that was given to climate change doomsters, in their short opportunity window of around 2006-2010. Plenty of the biggest doomster mouths belonged to long-term hopefuls who had failed in previous attempts to hit the big time, for example an insipid vice-president who was an insipid presidential candidate, and lost. Failed Gandalf Garden-type pap authors, like James Lovelock can also be added to the list. When these hungry for success players saw the green light they moved faster than cockroaches in an unguarded kitchen larder. Their voracious, desperate attempt to finally succeed with any junk theme can explain why the climate crisis circus grew so fast, sucking in the ever-declining and disappearing Old Left.

The crisis doomster theme grew fast - and collapsed fast. Due to its wild exaggeration of reality, it was doomed to exposure and failure.

During the fade-out period, to be sure, we will go on hearing claims that global warming will have catastrophic effects on the economy -- including employment -- unless "controlled markets" operate ambitious, and of course effective measures for reducing GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions. By "ambitious" they mean multi-hundred billions of freshly printed public money thrown on the casino tables; by "controlled" they mean bureaucrats running cozy market regulatory agencies when they aren't dining and supping with the market operators. What they mean by "effective" is impossible to know: if the model is European ETS (carbon bets and wagers), this is guaranteed ineffective. If they imagine that Silicon Valley-type "investing" can crank up a green energy future this is simply one more example of the perfect, seamless convergence of New Left claptrap and Neoliberal claptrap that allowed the New Left-Neoliberal climate alliance to emerge from the methane-filled swamps of failed doctrines.

To be sure we have recycled and "newly relevant" survivors of the New Left who now proclaim, hand on heart that a magic thing called "the markets" will prevent the gory Gore-type climate catastrophe from happening. Seemingly on another planet, those same markets produced the ultimate economic crisis we have ever known. The so-called regulatory systems, processes or entities that exist like the IMF or WTO or the UN system and European Commission did a lot less than nothing to either anticipate or stop this economic crisis: plenty of evidence shows they intensified it.

More than 25 years of neoliberalism leaves only "the markets" as vague indicators and gauges of how much damage was done. Providing the same markets with even more ammunition in the shape of printed cash is just about 99% certain to worsen any crisis, any problem - even problems that do not exist like global warming.

As far as any one thing can be identified as what Climate Crazies want, this is a 100% Green Energy based global economy; getting it can supposedly be done using only "the markets". The chances of other and somber things happening are massive. Neoliberalism, as a doctrine can easily be interpreted as nihilist and "apres moi le deluge", well suited to its origins in the dying days of the French monarchy and the court soothsayer, called "economist", Francois Quesnay. His early version of the hands-off doctrine of Doing Nothing produced exactly what we could expect: revolution, civil war, and total economic failure.

More simply, when the global economy needs to morph away from fossil fuels, for any reason including simple depletion and Peak Oil it will do so. Throwing money on the casino tables of the late stage neoliberal-neo capitalist economy will do little or nothing to change the state of play. Even 5 years into the supposed "massive growth" of green energy investing, that is market plays, the results are clear: no serious change of the global energy sytsem is in prospect other than driven by its own causes, it own internal dynamics. The New Left-Neoliberal alliance has failed.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2011 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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