Keep your scythe, the real green future is high-tech, democratic, and radical


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“Energy is freedom”.

Where is the energy required to fuel this techno-utopia of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress going to come from?


from where it has come ever since our wee globe was formed, mayhap?


The sun? It will be tricky (to say the very least) to power a high growth, hyper-consumerist global society of 11 billion on solar and wind. We would need spectacular quantities of generation and storage capacity.


Matter is only knots-in-energy, there are forms of energy literally everywhere. It always requires some conversion to use. Where does Sol get its energy from? From fusing hydrogen, which is the single most abundant substance in the universe.

Most of the “where is the energy/resources/money going to come from” rhetoric tends to be based upon viewing human society as a closed system. This is tempting for certain kinds of people because they have traditionally used scarcity to impose social hierarchy. But this arguably seeds its own obsolescence.


Well yes there is abundant ambient energy; the tricky part is harnessing it and storing it for use when we need it. This is a non-trivial question and we are a long way from solving it. In my view, an answer to that question is a precondition to promoting ideas of material abundance.

I’d be interested to know what the author of the book suggests. At a guess, vast quantities of nuclear fission as this has all the hallmarks of an ecomodernist tract.


I don’t think so. The notion of “material abundance” seems like something of a McGuffin. Material is ambient as well.

The article seems to posit that industrial society can be green. I agree with you that this is a stretch. I am interested in post-industrial society. What I define as “industrial” is systems for mass-production of similar goods, and basically a complete lack of resource management. The old model destroys material through mostly unneeded processing and finally waste. Responsible modern manufacturing is about efficiency, making only as much as needed, and instantiating/destroying deliberately. Instead of consuming naively, matter is merely transformed directly. Everything gets re-used. If there aren’t enough resources, you go outside of your immediate system, or re-think what you produce.

IMO there is not anything “modern” about traditional industrial models. They are a holdover from the 19th century.


“The socialist left, with its historic commitment to reason and science,
has to separate itself from the distractions of the crunchy left.”

It also has to separate itself from the fact that historically its great ideas have wiped millions of peasants from the face of the earth in an orgy of paranoia and collectivization.



What do you consider “social” about murder? I think of it as being distinctly anti-social.

I don’t dispute that paranoia and murder happen in the world, but saying that these are the product of socialism - and that they don’t also occur without socialism - presents the framing of socialism as one unsubstantiated value judgement rather than anything objectively factual.


What are you talking about? And are you really sure that ‘growing food with technology and not going back to nature’ is relevant to whatever you’re getting at?


An “unapologetic Marxist” talking about food production rings bells for me and makes me remember the failed social workings of Stalin.

From Cory:
“In the past century, certain leftists pretended that Stalinism’s horrors
were the price we had to pay for socialist rule. Today, the austere
greens tell us that hairshirts, de-growth, and radical population
reduction are the unfortunate and inevitable consequence of undoing
capitalism’s excesses. Neither is right.”

I guess I’m in the group that worries socialist rule leads to abuses of power, actually I believe -most- rule leads to abuses of power… The author (and I’m curious to read the book now) seems to propose a democratic decision based system (with science!) to prevent abuses of power (profiteering), and also prevent excess resource extraction.

The pessimist in me thinks this is a big ask.


In the title “Keep your scythe, the real green…” you could have used a semicolon, a dash or a period, but you used the one punctuation mark that simply does not work here–a comma. This is absolutely terrible. Please do better.


The socialist left does NOT have to separate itself from Stalinism. Stalin was a totalitarian and barely even paid lip service to the concept of socialism. If I say my neighbor is a squirrel it doesn’t make him one. It’s the reality that matters (to most of us, at least)

Cory wasn’t crediting the argument. In fact, in the very sentence you quoted he makes it clear (correctly) that both stances mentioned are wrong.

The fact that you got THAT out of the article is really weird.


Fair enough… I was being reactionary… Modern proponents of democracy and socialism have to look to their histories.

Democracy with capitalism has given us the military industrial complex and monoculture farms… “Socialism” with Stalin gave us the purges and empty farms.

It will be interesting if humanity can just get a farm that works without all that other stuff.


Right. Surely the problem is that most peoples interest in democracy extends as far as their own self interest. As is clear, the democratic process doesn’t exactly lead to people voting for policies that are in the public interest.

I’m yet to hear a convincing argument that any of the problems of capitalism amount to anything other than negative externalities being not properly paid for (and this includes everything from carbon emissions to problems due to social inequalities). I would argue the job of government is precisely to minimise negative externalities (and make sure it is properly costed where I can’t be eliminated) and maximise positive externalities.

edit: to be clear, I mean “paid for” in the broadest sense of the word - similarly negative externalities.


wisdom. double-liked : )


Are we including the whole ‘not creating a gilded class’ bit in there? I agree that a good bit of the solutions are just tied to cleaning up the playing field, but there’s also the whole Rockefeller issue.

If we keep the playing field level while enabling amazing and useful things though, I’m pretty much in agreement…though I suppose that’d apply to any economic system, wouldn’t it?

In a way it’s just finding the right mix of socialism and capitalism in a targeted way.


I [heart] industrial policy!


So we’re supposed to believe that, most coincidently, humans are the only living thing on this earth that, thanks to its wonderful and unique rational capacities, does not need to submit to material limits? Gee, ain’t we lucky.