From Climate Change to Transformation of Democracy

I laud Garrison for his brilliant formulation of our crisis quo, “From Climate Change to Climate Shock” , and his imperative that we actively use unfolding disasters to generate needed changes (just as corporations use them to generate profits, as Naomi Klein points out). Above all, I support his call for collective reflection, as a movement. However, I have a different take on what all this means about what we should do. I’ll offer that friendly dissent as part of the reflection he calls for.

Garrison says “we somehow have to change public awareness sufficient to create a critical mass on climate action. Because this is missing, nothing else is possible.” Evidence suggests that all issues are interconnected and we can’t solve one adequately without increasing our capacity to creatively address all the issues that we face. If we don’t increase that capacity, it won’t matter how much time, money, attention and care we pour into changing public attitudes on climate. Our opponents and the other unhandled issues will continue to impede progress. Look at health care, which had overwhelming public support for serious change which barely produced mild reform. Our quasi- (pseudo-?) democratic system is increasingly incapable of responding to public opinion, to say nothing of potential public wisdom.

I humbly suggest that our focus should not be on any one issue, but on increasing our capacity to address those issues, especially a radical change in the assumptions, understandings, and institutions of democratic governance. I tend to focus on citizen deliberative councils, but many other democratic innovations are worthy of evaluation and support. Furthermore, more than ever, we must radically limit the role of concentrated power — especially financial and media power — in politics and governance (and society in general). I am heartened by groups like MoveOn, the Coffee Party and others focusing on the high-leverage issue of unlimited corporate power.

So I humbly steal Garrison’s complaint and apply it to my proposal to focus on democratic reform: If we don’t change the way we do democracy, nothing else is possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.