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The case for a radical Green New Deal: insights from state theory

Authors: Carlo Sica*, Syracuse University
Topics: Energy
Keywords: Green New Deal, energy, state theory
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Critical nature-society scholarship needs to broaden its focus on energy-state relations to include the possible obstacles to climate change mitigation, adaptation (and reversal) plans that attack economic inequality like the (still evolving) Green New Deal. Most of this literature explains energy’s importance mainly as a source of rents and not as a vital means of production for capitalism. According to Marxist state theory, capital exerts power over the state because capitalist states are dependent on capital for investment, income, profits and rents, which are the financial basis of the tax revenues that states use to employ workers and offer public services. A Green New Deal would threaten the bourgeoisie by democratizing the means of the production in the energy sector and it could inspire a wider referendum on capitalism itself. At a bare minimum, a GND would be hugely expensive and the state would need to redistribute accumulated wealth from the wealthy and limit the bourgeoisie’s ownership and control over carbon-intensive fractions of capital. Anticipating reaction to the GND by the bourgeoisie, I propose that working people’s needs must be placed at its center, not only as a moral imperative, but also a strategy to push through the GND in the face of anticipated counterattack by capital. Aspects of the GND that lessen social inequality can inspire the (multi-racial, multi-gendered, organized and unorganized) working class to use strikes to pressure the bourgeoisie into capitulating to a GND.

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