Soul MatesIf you are a physical scientist - or think like a physical scientist - the unexpected rise of the number of passionate climate change Deniers has to seem both a disappointment and a nightmare.
You had assumed that if only the world had sufficient evidence of human-caused global warming, then all nations would respond rationally and quickly move to change their behavior, if only out of selfish interest in their own survival.
But, seemingly, the more scientific evidence that is released, the more Deniers that have emerged out of the woodwork - each new one more angrier than the others, as if emboldened by the signs they are not alone but rather representative of a silent (slight) majority.
But if you are a more politically minded Climate Change believer,
(we'll call you a Green, for sake of argument) the rise of the Deniers is the best news your rag tag movement has had since it was formed in the 1970s, almost 40 years ago.
Because to you, the Deniers are almost (almost) soul mates.
You both care - passionately - about Climate Change, albeit from opposing sides of the debate.
This makes a welcome relief from Greens trying to engage the other political parties.
These parties usually make 'mouth movement sounds' about worrying and caring about climate change --- but then quickly turn to more familiar divides from the 19th and 20th century.
Yep, the good old Left/Right divide.
These politically minded people don't hate or fear Greens, may even admire their passion and commitment a little.
But damagingly, they largely dismiss them as a one-issue party, seeing them as more a protest group than a real multi-issue political party.
the old Left/Right DivideThey ignore Greens ---- the worst thing that can happen in politics.
Let me contrast this with the democratic socialists.
In most countries they were almost immediately seen as the major threat to the existing parties, even when their popular vote and seat winning was almost non-existent.
Only the United States (which characteristically preferred to fear secret conspiracies from the Communist socialists) tended to ignore its homegrown democratic socialist parties.
In Canada, in the early 1960s, in older, rural areas - like the Maritimes where I grew up, democratic socialists got very few votes except in the industrial or mining areas.
But they were never ignored.
Socialism was seen as a fully relevant alternative to capitalist parties in modern,urban, industrial cities --- but were just dismissed as irrelevant in the Maritimes' pre-capitalist, rural culture.
It was fully relevant intellectually (elsewhere), but currently irrelevant electorally (locally).
Today, the position in the Maritimes is reversed --- socialism is seen as fully relevant, if not increasingly dominant, electorally.
But intellectually it is irrelevant : seen as a mildly more reformist version of the other mixed economy parties which themselves have moved their positions closer to those of the democratic "socialists", in practise if not yet in rhetoric.
Left or Right still exist in rhetoric, but are irrelevant in practise.
Their ideologically passion has all drained away.
The only ideological passion found on Earth today is not found in the chat rooms of leftish or rightish parties.
Instead, it is found outside our current formally organized parties, in the chat rooms of the environmentalists and their sworn enemy/soul mates, the deniers.
The old Left/Right divide was global in its dimension but not in its substance.
the new Global divideBoth left and right agreed on their underlying hegemony: Modernity's industry and technology would grow an ever bigger pie.
One Hegemony : Modernity but two ideologies : Socialism and Capitalism.
Because Left and Right then fought viciously over who deserved more of that ever growing pie : workers or bosses ?
The fight then, intellectually at least, was an internal family squabble (albeit played out with real guns in much of the world).
Worrisomely, the current divide between Green and Denier is much wider : they live within wildly different, parallel, hegemonies in our post-hegemonic world.
This conflict could easily end in bloodshed - not just between the sides, but within both camps..
Our best hope is that many of the deniers turn out to be mild skygods, really more like high technology-consumed Earthlings and that many of the greens do not reveal themselves to their green brethren as having skygods beliefs.
(Briefly - too briefly - an Earthling is committed fully to staying on planet Earth no matter what , while a Skygod is willing, nay eager, to ditch Earth 1.0 and start a new Earth 2.0 on Mars or elsewhere.)
The second thing that is different about the new global divide is that it literally a division of opinion about the Globe - its condition now and where that condition is headed.
So now we have an entire world divided ideologically and this is very new. Remember the Canadian Maritimes - it could ignore the Left/Right wars because it was only fitfully a part of a modernizing, urbanizing, industrial world.
Most of the world in the first half of the 20th century - albeit poorer in income and education and in serious demographic decline - fitted in that category : they could avoid having a serious pony in the Left/Right divide.
But who can avoid having an interest in and an opinion on the fate of the planet they live on ?
Wait, wait !
It gets even more complicated. Because we are not just 6.7 billion onlookers in this battle : we are 6.7 billion foot soldiers in it as well.
It is our individual lifestyle and consumption habits that will settle this issue : not the tiny bit that national government politicians can do to alter our consumption habits (and still win re-election).
William Wordsworth's take
I am a political science graduate, a long time political activist, organizer and candidate, with a strong interest in the history of politics and I can tell you this is not like anything the world has seen before.
It is a whole new ball of wax and I am just so excited to be here as it happens, exploring it as it unfolds, rather than simply reading about what my fore bearers experienced, from a history book.
Our post-1989 world feels, to a Green, like it must have felt to Radicals in the post-1789 world, or to Socialists in the post-1889 world: simply alive with pregnant, exciting, new possibilities.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!--Oh!