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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/2/18

Peace Activists' Best Hope? The Sunrise CLIMATE Movement

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Introduction: Connecting the Peace and Climate Dots

Let's start by facing a crucial fact: both major U.S. political parties love war. In fact, they love it so much that they're completely willing to sacrifice a livable climate--and human existence with it--to their militaristic aims. Manuel Garcia's incisive, cut-to-the chase article, underlining how U.S. elites' love of military domination (which both major parties simply reflect) is the death knell for any effective climate action, should be required reading for all peace and climate activists.

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At least for all who take these life-or-death issues seriously enough to demand timely, meaningful action. Like, say, before the end of recorded history.

Let's face a second crucial fact: whether as separate issues--or as properly connected--our elites (and the major parties and corporate media who reflect their agendas) don't give a flying frack about peace or climate. This fact is clearly illustrated by their deafening silence about the twin apocalyptic threats of nuclear war and climate Armageddon throughout the midterm election campaigns. A silence which Noam Chomsky rightly brands "moral depravity."

When elites (and their political and media lackeys) wish to bar all policy action on an issue, they simply shroud the issue in silence. And blather endlessly about distractions--like Trump's purported collusion with Russia--to crowd the far more serious (but taboo) issue out of media space. That the peace and climate issues have been given the silence-and-distraction treatment is compelling evidence they are taboo issues our elites don't want discussed, much less acted on.

What I hope I've established so far is that peace and climate are tightly interconnected life-or-death moral issues, both subject to political and media conspiracies of silence and distraction, that our ruling elites have overwhelming vested interests--contrary to humanity's interests--in not acting upon. What follows is that peace and climate activists have an overwhelming vested interest in joining forces (and making a huge public stink) on these tightly linked life-or-death issues, now tabooed from mainstream political discourse. As the real adults in the room, peace and climate activists must play regent to the willful, destructive, "child king" of our ruling elites, overruling their edict that everyone must overlook their unspeakably reckless acts of juvenile vandalism. While the planet literally burns.

The only important strategic question, for peace and climate activists desperately savvy enough to join forces, is whose issue should take the lead as the banner issue. I'll argue here that it should be the climate issue, but framed not merely as a call for climate action but for climate justice, where world peace is rightly viewed as an absolutely critical precondition for addressing humanity's climate emergency.

So my case here depends partly on arguing that climate justice--which includes peace--is the master moral and political narrative of our times. But even more importantly, it depends on highlighting a potent newsmaking force for climate action--and latently for climate justice and peace--already on the ground: the Sunrise climate movement.

Sunrise, by its strategically savvy targeting of Democrats, is already modeling for climate justice and peace activists the correct way to make a big, newsworthy stink. And its call for a "Green New Deal" is implicitly not merely a climate but a climate justice program necessitating (by its funding requirements alone) a huge scaleback of U.S. militarism. In short, the Sunrise Movement, now mainly a climate movement, is a potentially an enormous Trojan horse for smuggling the climate-justice-and-peace agenda inside the halls of power (where Sunrise has already begun to arrive). Climate justice and peace activists would be foolish--tragically foolish--to look such a huge gift horse in the mouth.

Climate Justice: Master Narrative for These Apocalyptic Times

As life-or-death issues ignored by our elites, peace and climate have been in natural--and deeply unfortunate--competition for activist attention and campaign building. After all, hundreds of thousands of people suffer or die globally due to perverse elite policy on both issues, and either nuclear war or runaway climate change alone has the potential to destroy civilization as we know it, perhaps entailing total human extinction in the bargain.

It would be a fool's errand--and a needless one--to convince peace or climate activists that the competing (but intimately linked) issue is more important. Fortunately, we have a master narrative--climate justice--that leads with the issue with greater promotional "legs" (our climate emergency) while insisting on peace as an absolutely essential precondition for addressing that emergency. Intelligent current activism, in my view, involves supporting the biggest newsmaking movement--the Sunrise Movement--that approximates having a climate justice narrative (its call for a Green New Deal) while nudging Sunrise closer to a full-bore climate justice narrative. Above all, by insisting on a vast scaleback of U.S. militarism as essential to its Green New Deal aims.

(In that regard, journalists Sonali Kolhatkar and, even more importantly, Naomi Klein have performed an immense public service by promoting the Sunrise Movement--and showed penetrating political insight by proclaiming Sunrise "a glimmer of hope on the horizon for climate justice" amidst the uniformly dismal stream of climate news. One can only hope progressive and leftist opinion leaders are insightful enough to follow Kolhatkar's and Klein's lead--and mine--in taking up cudgels for the Sunrise Movement. Precisely while nudging it to fulfill its vast climate justice potential.)

But, before further arguing why Sunrise is peace and climate activists' most promising horse to ride to victory--ultimately, humanity's victory--I need to explore why the climate issue has greater promotional "legs" than the peace issue. (But please remember, as I make my case, that I'm endorsing the climate justice narrative, where climate leads, but peace follows immediately behind; if Sunrise pushes for its Green New Deal without pushing for peace, its efforts are guaranteed to fail.)

Betting on Climate, the Horse with Natural "Legs"

Pretty obviously, the U.S. public is not nearly as concerned with either climate or peace as humanity's looming apocalypse warrants. Again, most of the blame lies with our ruling elites--especially our political and media elites--and their self-serving, morally depraved conspiracy of silence about these life-or-death issues.

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Patrick Walker is co-founder of Revolt Against Plutocracy (RAP) and the Bernie or Bust movement it spawned. Before that, he cut his activist teeth with the anti-fracking and Occupy Scranton PA movements. No longer with RAP, he wields his pen (more...)

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