Something bothering me about the likes of 'Plane Stupid'

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libertarianconn...
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Oct 24 2006 19:37
Something bothering me about the likes of 'Plane Stupid'

I understand and agree with some of the points of the likes of http://www.planestupid.com/, which seek to reduce or eliminate air travel.

However, there's one point they seem to be missing - how would those workers (like me) manage, who travel to see family overseas every few years?

I have family in Malaysia and try and get to see them every two to three years for three to four weeks at a time. It takes almost two years just to save the air ticket money.

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mrsmaintenance
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Oct 24 2006 20:13

I know! Let's have a bunch of individuals sitting in cars, congesting highways further, putting out even MORE emissions!

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Tacks
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Oct 24 2006 20:19

woah woah woah - sorry, short haul flights aren't neccessary, this lot fucked with them - ergo they are trying to stop all workers visiting their family?

If i could click my fingers and instantaneously arrive anywhere in the world - but seriously damaged the planet every time i did - i probably never do it.

I'm fine if you have problem with their methods or whatnot, i am not fine if you are just randomly rubbishing environmental concern.

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Oct 24 2006 20:21
libertarianconnection wrote:
I have family in Malaysia and try and get to see them every two to three years for three to four weeks at a time. It takes almost two years just to save the air ticket money.

Clearly you're a very bad man and you should be ashamed of even considering flying to Malaysia to see your family angry

Seriously though, this is exactly the problem with having no class analysis, you end up with stupid demands like a tax on all "non-essential" air travel (i.e. only business folk and the very rich should be able to afford a plane ticket)

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Oct 24 2006 20:26
Tacks wrote:
woah woah woah - sorry, short haul flights aren't neccessary, this lot fucked with them - ergo they are trying to stop all workers visiting their family?

The thing is they were delaying all flights from the airport with this little action, which fucks with everybody travelling from said airport, from people going on short haul flights to people visiting family abroad to workers who've saved for months to afford a holiday.

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Oct 24 2006 20:29

planestupid is a great initiative. Compare that to the offerings of some of the posters on libcom who place all their hope in overthrowing capitalism and establishing libertarian communism to avert climate change or environmental destruction. Well, lets hope it is coming really damn soon because we have reached crisis points on most of the environmental criterias.

libertarianconnection wrote:
I understand and agree with some of the points of the likes of http://www.planestupid.com/, which seek to reduce or eliminate air travel.

However, there's one point they seem to be missing - how would those workers (like me) manage, who travel to see family overseas every few years?

I have family in Malaysia and try and get to see them every two to three years for three to four weeks at a time. It takes almost two years just to save the air ticket money.

you said it yourself, they seek to REDUCE air travel, most of which is short haul. For an average person ecological footprint they could do a flight from UK to US once per year and keep the balance level (of course other consumption level factors contribute to this, as well as that hatred dietary habits wink ).

So you are well within your ecological footprint if that is the only flying you do.

What would be a class based solution be for this issue which could be implemented overnight? Quotas per person? Sounds a bit free markety to me, but i would go with that.

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Oct 24 2006 20:31
madashell wrote:
The thing is they were delaying all flights from the airport with this little action, which fucks with everybody travelling from said airport, from people going on short haul flights to people visiting family abroad to workers who've saved for months to afford a holiday.

with any strike you get the same "inconvenience" argument. But if it is done to combat climate change it suddenly has merit to you?

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Oct 24 2006 20:33
JDMF wrote:
with any strike you get the same "inconvenience" argument. But if it is done to combat climate change it suddenly has merit to you?

The inconvenience to others has to be weighed against the potential gains of the action.

In this case, none whatsoever.

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Oct 24 2006 20:40
madashell wrote:
JDMF wrote:
with any strike you get the same "inconvenience" argument. But if it is done to combat climate change it suddenly has merit to you?

The inconvenience to others has to be weighed against the potential gains of the action.

In this case, none whatsoever.

hehe, well you may be right.

But here is the problem:

1. everyone agrees that climate change is taking place, it is destructive and it is causing, and will cause even more, massive destruction and human suffering.

2. everyone agrees that something has to be done

3. everyone agrees that carbon emissions are main culprit and that air travel is the fastest growing sector of those emissions

4. no one wants to reduce air travel for what ever pretext (this case class position: if only rich can fly, it would be more unjust than the carbon emissions caused by artificially low air travel).

so, any good ideas comrade, or are you just focusing on attacking others?

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Oct 24 2006 20:45

JDMF has convinced me.

I don't see the class angle in this at all either: planes are setroying the world; A group of activists are trying to stop them.

Where's the class?

Rich people will always be the last to suffer from anything. So? Oh, and that includes climate change. They'll feel it last.

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Oct 24 2006 20:51
Tacks wrote:
Rich people will always be the last to suffer from anything. So? Oh, and that includes climate change. They'll feel it last.

hey that is a good point. Climate chaos is a class issue by its very nature of class basis of its victims: people living in flood risk areas, people living in drought risk areas, people suffering from price fluctuations of staple food products, people suffering from the increased price of staples such as rice, corn etc, people without access to healthcare with increased amount of tropical diseases and so on. List is long.

ok, climate change may not yet affect much the next working class person hopping on a cheap flight liverpool - barcelona for a weekend stag night though...

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Oct 24 2006 20:57
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Quotas per person? Sounds a bit free markety to me, but i would go with that.

Quotas doesn't sound free market at all, it smacks of regulation. Not that I am necessarily against regulation though when it comes to the environment.

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Oct 24 2006 20:58
JDMF wrote:
1. everyone agrees that climate change is taking place, it is destructive and it is causing, and will cause even more, massive destruction and human suffering.

2. everyone agrees that something has to be done

3. everyone agrees that carbon emissions are main culprit and that air travel is the fastest growing sector of those emissions

I'd agree with 1 and 3, I'm not so sure about 2 until somebody can suggest something that can be done.

Quote:
no one wants to reduce air travel for what ever pretext (this case class position: if only rich can fly, it would be more unjust than the carbon emissions caused by artificially low air travel).

That's not my argument at all. The point is that by ignoring the class issues behind the causes of climate change (rather than just the effects in isolation) and advocating this kind of market based solution where everybody is equally to blame for even using planes in the first place, you shoot yourself in the foot in terms of bringing more support to your cause.

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so, any good ideas comrade, or are you just focusing on attacking others?

I don't believe there's anything we can do about climate change under capitalism. The kind of genuine social movement which would be required to force such a massive shift in how things are produced is pretty unlikely to grow up around an issue as distant from everyday life as climate change, at least not until it's far, far too late.

I could be wrong, but I've yet to hear and sensible suggestions as to how climate change can be prevented via direct action under capitalism.

These kind of tiny actions by small cliques of activists have no long term impact, it's like a flea trying to rip somebody's throat out.

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Oct 24 2006 21:04

they have already affected me. I was going to fly over christmas, i'm taking the train now.

Indirectly too, given the crazy CRAZY amount of coverage the Independent give climate change and this kind of stuff (front page for climate camp) it has convinced other ppl i know not to fly.

yep, bourgoise liberal ethicalism. South Africa didn't directly affect ppl here either.

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Oct 24 2006 21:10

The Independent gives plenty of coverage to climate change as it is, they don't appear to need any encouragement.

Everybody already knows about climate change and carbon emmissions.

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Oct 24 2006 21:35
madashell wrote:
That's not my argument at all. The point is that by ignoring the class issues behind the causes of climate change (rather than just the effects in isolation) and advocating this kind of market based solution where everybody is equally to blame for even using planes in the first place, you shoot yourself in the foot in terms of bringing more support to your cause.

i think you are contradicting yourself. On the other hand you say that nothing can be done, and then on the other hand you talk about support for your "cause". What is the cause you talk about here?

So, in the end, planestupid folks still have the upper hand in terms of strategy since you have absolutely nothing to offer in turn, so no matter how unlikely it is that carbon emissions can be cut to sustainable levels under capitalism, it sounds like it is much more than you have to offer at the moment.

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Oct 24 2006 21:47
JDMF wrote:
i think you are contradicting yourself. On the other hand you say that nothing can be done, and then on the other hand you talk about support for your "cause". What is the cause you talk about here?

1. Who said anything about my cause?
2. You can have a cause to persue whether you have any chance of achieving your ends or not.

Quote:
So, in the end, planestupid folks still have the upper hand in terms of strategy since you have absolutely nothing to offer in turn, so no matter how unlikely it is that carbon emissions can be cut to sustainable levels under capitalism, it sounds like it is much more than you have to offer at the moment.

This 'Do something whether or not there's anything useful to do' mentality is a problem in itself though. It just leads to burn out and ghettoisation. What's the point?

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Oct 24 2006 22:42
madashell wrote:
1. Who said anything about my cause?

sorry, their cause, i was quoting you so it should have been clear.

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This 'Do something whether or not there's anything useful to do' mentality is a problem in itself though. It just leads to burn out and ghettoisation. What's the point?

i think you are repeating the libcom mantra in a wrong context. Usually there are alternatives to be done (g8 actions against global capitalism vs building anti-capitalism through everyday organising). This case the only alternative you have given is establishing a libertarian communist revolution and until then class struggle anarchists cant do anything, or support grassroots actions against climate change.

i dont think the actions of plane stupid are useless, fairly sterile and impotent maybe, but not totally useless at all (and i would not have the hubris to believe that i know exactly what will happen as a result of some campaing and what is totally useless). I support anything against short haul flights, even those done on dodgy class politics, because i see the increasing emissions as a bigger damage.

Maybe we need to agree to disagree on this one. Maybe its just a difference in how serious we see climate change to be?

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Oct 25 2006 02:57

I'm not offering any alternatives whatsoever, because I don't believe there are any, frankly. We can respond to the problems caused by climate change as they develop, but I've yet to see anybody explain how the likes of Plane Stupid are going to stop climate change or eliminate its causes.

What collective political action can be taken to combat climate change at a grass roots level under capitalism?

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Oct 25 2006 08:57
madashell wrote:
I'm not offering any alternatives whatsoever, because I don't believe there are any, frankly. We can respond to the problems caused by climate change as they develop, but I've yet to see anybody explain how the likes of Plane Stupid are going to stop climate change or eliminate its causes.

What collective political action can be taken to combat climate change at a grass roots level under capitalism?

i see couple major issues with yhour stance mate.

First one is around the cynicism that nothing cant be done (unless capitalism is done away with). You do realise that means we are seriously fucked and the only ones laughing will be primitivists? I think thats based on a dishonest view of capitalism and perhaps some historical baggage of capitalism as self destructive economic system. There is a possibility that climate change can be combatted within capitalist framework, much like most of our activities where worst excesses of capitalism are reacted upon and then in many cases regulated by the state, i cant see any evidence that climate change couldn't be combatted in the same way.

Second one is the old problem of theory coming before reality. You take it as a starting point that all activity and struggle has to be collective (like ID card campaign right? Just a tease...) and if you cant think of one, that issue cant be tackled.

Climate change is a complex issue where class position is possible, but very difficult and orthodox class positions and class fetisising (workers cant be inconvenienced) probably dont work. I suggest we start tackling this issue in our groups or here on libcom so we could get somewhere with this because clearly it is the most pressing and urgent issue there is. It seems like libertarian communists and class struggle anarchists avoid the issue because it doesn't fit neatly in our models of struggle and politics. This is again the situation where we blind ourselves of a real pressing issue because of theory (i made the same argument in the animal thread).

Also, the fear of lifestylism is paralyzing here. It seems like you only have one choice, and thats state regulation, because collective politics based decision to change our culture towards more sustainable consumption, diet and commuting habits is just lifestylism and should be condemned because of some dogma.

Meanwhile, planestupid are doing something about this. And i think something applaudable. Everyone knows about climate change, and knows about flying being major contributor. planestupid is demystifying (hey i am learning these words much to your peril!) the concrete sacrifices that needs to be made in order to get carbon emissions to a sustainable level.

odd
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Oct 25 2006 09:13

the thing is ,is that the rich have been do this kind of thing,i.e.travel,for years, now that its affordable for the rest of us its a big enviromental issue.i have no problem with activists doing something about it,but why do they go for the easy option,like sitting on a runway,why not spend some time and thought,and harass the MDs,or owners of the airlines,and bring distruption to the haves and not to the havenots.

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Oct 25 2006 09:51
madashell wrote:
There is a possibility that climate change can be combatted within capitalist framework, much like most of our activities where worst excesses of capitalism are reacted upon and then in many cases regulated by the state, i cant see any evidence that climate change couldn't be combatted in the same way.

This is where we part company I think.

I do not think that it is possible to halt climate change within a capitalist framework- and neither do my two mates (left liberals, not communists) who work in the field and are very knowledgeable on the topic. It simply does not seem to be possible to maintai production for profit and yet stop climate change happening.
I read somewhere that something crazy like 80-90% of energy used (and therefore the massive majority of emissions)is in production, not consumption- I'd love to get this figure confirmed or denied.

Given this, what is the point in reducing our consumption of cheap flights? If it is only an ascetic sop to climate change, what do we gain from it? What do our kids gain from it if they will be saddled with climate change anyway?

JDMF wrote:
Meanwhile, planestupid are doing something about this. And i think something applaudable. Everyone knows about climate change, and knows about flying being major contributor. planestupid is demystifying (hey i am learning these words much to your peril!) the concrete sacrifices that needs to be made in order to get carbon emissions to a sustainable level.

I think they are part of a politics that sees solutions to the problems of capitalism in altering patterns of consumption, when the real locus of the problems is in production. I'd love to actually see stats for global and western emissions, broken down by leisure use (i.e. car and plane use for non-business purposes)and then capitalist production use. I seriously doubt that shutting down short-haul pleasure flights would have a significant effect compared to the emmissions generated by industry.

I'm happy to be shown to be wrong- as always!

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Oct 25 2006 10:32
odd wrote:
why not spend some time and thought,and harass the MDs,or owners of the airlines,and bring distruption to the haves and not to the havenots.

well, you could start doing this wink

I know rising tide folks have done this kind of work as well, but i dont know how helpful it is in the end actually...

pingtiao wrote:
This is where we part company I think.

I do not think that it is possible to halt climate change within a capitalist framework- and neither do my two mates (left liberals, not communists) who work in the field and are very knowledgeable on the topic. It simply does not seem to be possible to maintai production for profit and yet stop climate change happening.
I read somewhere that something crazy like 80-90% of energy used (and therefore the massive majority of emissions)is in production, not consumption- I'd love to get this figure confirmed or denied.

Given this, what is the point in reducing our consumption of cheap flights? If it is only an ascetic sop to climate change, what do we gain from it? What do our kids gain from it if they will be saddled with climate change anyway?

i say it is possible, not likely or even the best option, but scientifically you cant deny that there is a possibility.

And if there was only a slight possibility, how are we going to change the consumption habits of us all overnight "after the revolution"? No one has come up with an answer to that.

Developing clean technologies takes a long time, developing cultural habits which save energy, fossil fuels, more sustainable dietary culture and so on take a long time to establish, and to say that this is all looked into after the revolution sounds a bit... jehovas witness stuff to be honest.

regarding the 90% issue, i believe that to be the case as well, and monbiot talks about it in his latest book which i havent yet read. Lets see if it raises any ideas.

Quote:
I think they are part of a politics that sees solutions to the problems of capitalism in altering patterns of consumption, when the real locus of the problems is in production.

are you being honest here? You think it is all just from the production, but not from the consumption? That is, we could have the same level of consumables and same modes of transport if the production was... what? A bit cleaner?

i dont think you can separate consumtion done for business purposes from the production of the consumables, or did i miss something in your argument? Very interested to hear how that could work mate.

ticking_fool
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Oct 25 2006 10:34

[The last post on this page is starting to look a bit fucked BTW] - admin, fixed

JDMF wrote:
There is a possibility that climate change can be combatted within capitalist framework, much like most of our activities where worst excesses of capitalism are reacted upon and then in many cases regulated by the state, i cant see any evidence that climate change couldn't be combatted in the same way.

I basically agree with the criticism's you make of madashell, but I think this bit is key in understanding why there's a problem with Plane Stupid and points towards what the alternatives might be. Capitalism, as you point out, is not stupid and is capable of recognising climate change as a threat and tackling it. The way it will tackle it, however, as we saw in New Orleans, will be to transfer as many of the costs to the working class as possible whilst profitting from rebuilding and the creation of new industries. It wasn't the hurricane that killed all those people and fucked up their lives - it was the government response to it as a business opportunity.

The way Plane Stupid tackles climate change is through appealing to a vague constituency of 'concerned people' on the grounds that we all contribute to climate change and that we're all going to be affected by it. It conceals this crucial class distinction that the costs of climate change are not evenly distributed. The main threat is to the working class; the ruling class could in fact do very well out of it. Part of this concealment is the usual result of liberal radical lobbying, but part of it is also how it conceives the response to climate change. It's something abstract and out there that we've got take action against and strike at and so we see pointless direct actions against power stations and airports.

A class response would organise at the point where we're being fucked over, where the effects are hitting us. The best example so far is the Common Ground collective in New Orleans (http://www.commongroundrelief.org/), but the situation doesn't have to be so extreme for a class response to be possible. I don't think it's about organising to 'stop climate change', it's about organising to defend ourselves from what capital is going to do while it tries to stop climate change.

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Oct 25 2006 10:51

interesting point of view ticking_fool, so you have the opposite belief and thing that capitalism will take care of it anyway, we just need to combat the class bias of the solutions?

Personally i think capitalism will start effectively combatting climate change only when it endangers profits. So far climate change and carbon emissions are just too profitable to make any difference, but things could change, for instance if peak oil theory holds water (personally i think it will start making an impact way too late if you look at the evidence).

Anyone involved in rising tide?

Isnt there a big climate demo on november 4th?

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Oct 25 2006 13:09
ticking_fool wrote:
A class response would organise at the point where we're being fucked over, where the effects are hitting us. The best example so far is the Common Ground collective in New Orleans (http://www.commongroundrelief.org/), but the situation doesn't have to be so extreme for a class response to be possible. I don't think it's about organising to 'stop climate change', it's about organising to defend ourselves from what capital is going to do while it tries to stop climate change.

The funny thing is, this is pretty much what I'm saying here.

I'm just not saying it very well, apparently.

Pepe
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Oct 25 2006 13:38
Jack wrote:
Most importantly, did anyone see the guy on Newsnight?

What an utter, utter cunt.

He was like a really, really posh guy doing a parody of a really really posh guy, with a really fucking annoying voice, and obscenely liberal politics.

Well? What did he say? Do share.

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Oct 25 2006 13:42

i bet he said we should boycott cosmo for promoting cheap weekend break flights, the inane middle class liberal guardian-reading luvvie angry

God_is_a_Nihilist
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Oct 25 2006 15:04

I don't understand the point of protesting. It is just going to get you painted evil by the media to begin with, especially when "anarchists" burn buildings.

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Oct 26 2006 00:09

So what do people think about this "alternative"? Apparently it is as climate neutral as carbon trading. It seems like the only solutions there are are using the free market.

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Oct 26 2006 05:44

dead link atlemk neutral

but yeah if we're talking preventing climate change within capitalism it has to be a source of accumulation; cue crackpot trading schemes and individual carbon licenses that third worlders have to immediately flog to westerners. then we'll be able to say they freely renounced our standards of living while we've paid for it roll eyes

that said i don't know if ecological finity can be squared with the endless drive to accumulate without strong state action, maybe a sort of eco-fascism (various left-liberals like the new economics foundation are calling for an 'environmental war economy').