Sunday, 4 May 2014

The New Abolitionism | The Nation

The New Abolitionism | The Nation

So in order to preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need
to convince or coerce the world’s most profitable corporations and the
nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth.
Since all of these numbers are fairly complex estimates, let’s just
say, for the sake of argument, that we’ve overestimated the total amount
of carbon and attendant cost by a factor of 2. Let’s say that it’s just
$10 trillion.

The last time in American history that some powerful set of interests
relinquished its claim on $10 trillion of wealth was in 1865—and then
only after four years and more than 600,000 lives lost in the bloodiest,
most horrific war we’ve ever fought.

It is almost always foolish to compare a modern political issue to
slavery, because there’s nothing in American history that is slavery’s
proper analogue. So before anyone misunderstands my point, let me be
clear and state the obvious: there is absolutely no conceivable moral
comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African-Americans and
the burning of carbon to power our devices. Humans are humans;
molecules are molecules. The comparison I’m making is a comparison
between the political economy of slavery and the political economy of
fossil fuel.