A follow up to the NEF Green Deal pamphlet: The Cuts Won’t Work

NEF has published a follow-up to the summer 2008 New Green Deal paper:  The Cuts Won’t Work

I like this report – it very effectively debunks the current hegemony of the supposed need to make savage cuts in public spending, and it makes the connection again between the crisis caused by the bursting of the credit bubbles and the need to decarbonise energy and the economy.
But like the New Green Deal it remains essentially a Fabian document – telling truth to power as if this will create the needed change. There is no theory of action, no praxis. It is essentially Utopian sustainability.
Secondly, it fails to address the argument (of Tim Jackson and others) that sustainable growth is a chimera because it is no possible to de-link resource throughput from growth. The document is arguing for (a green) Keynesian stimulus to get growth going again. maybe that speaks to those in power, but it leaves a big question – can there actually be a green ‘business as usual’?
The root of this second problem is the accumulative core of capitalism. Capitalism works on the accumulation (growth) of capital) extracted as surplus value together with the energy and other subsidies extracted from the natural world. It is this motor that has faltered in the present conjuncture – because the previous fix – financialisation of the economy had burst. What we see now is a combination of the internal and external contradictions of capitalism.
This is difficult to say and be heard since the whole world system (pretty much) is addicted to capitalist growth as an engine of wellbeing. NEF does a good job in problematising this, but it does not reach deeply enough into the root causes of the problem. Consequently it has neither an adequate diagnosis of the problem that needs to be fixed nor a convincing praxis or theory of action. Not that I’m saying this is an easy thing!
For an essay length exploration of these connected issues see my article:
But  thanks anyway NEF for doing what you do. Just because it can be criticised doesn’t mean it should be rejected out of hand – I’m just trying to suggest (very roughly) where you need to amend the model and carry out new lines of work to take it further.

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