Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, Climate and Clarity

Published on TomDispatch, by Rebecca Solnit, October 28, 2012.

All summer, there were screaming weather headlines and stories, in part because of the worst drought the U.S. has seen in more than half a century — a continuing drought that is now threatening the winter wheat crop.  (“Much of Kansas and Oklahoma, the largest producers of the hard red winter wheat variety used to make bread, are in severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.”)  This is a pocketbook issue, globally and nationally, the sort of thing that should be on minds everywhere.  After all, any intensification of drought in breadbasket areas of planet Earth ensures rising food prices.   

And by the way, although it didn’t get much attention, this year tied with 2005 for the warmest September on record globally, while 2012 is in the running for warmest year ever in the continental United States … //

… That’s it.  One passing laugh line.  The end.  Hundreds of thousands of words on events in Benghazi, Libya, and just that one sarcastic sentence on climate change.  Someday people will surely look back on this election season with a kind of nightmarish wonder at the fear and denial our leading politicians (who knew better) exhibited in the face of the power and financial clout of the energy industry and its lobbyists.  It will be a chapter of shame in the annals of greed, a subject TomDispatch regular Rebecca Solnit takes up today. (Tom).

Our Words Are Our Weapons: Against the Destruction of the World by Greed, by Rebecca Solnit:

In ancient China, the arrival of a new dynasty was accompanied by “the rectification of names,” a ceremony in which the sloppiness and erosion of meaning that had taken place under the previous dynasty were cleared up and language and its subjects correlated again. It was like a debt jubilee, only for meaning rather than money … //

… Occupy the Names:

One of the great accomplishments of Occupy Wall Street was this rectification of names. Those who came together under that rubric named the greed, inequality, and injustice in our system; they made the brutality of debt and the subjugation of the debtors visible; they called out Wall Street’s crimes; they labeled the wealthiest among us the “1%,” those who have made a profession out of pumping great sums of our wealth upwards (quite a different kind of tax).  It was a label that made instant sense across much of the political spectrum. It was a good beginning. But there’s so much more to do.

Naming is only part of the work, but it’s a crucial first step. A doctor initially diagnoses, then treats; an activist or citizen must begin by describing what is wrong before acting. To do that well is to call things by their true names. Merely calling out these names is a beam of light powerful enough to send the destroyers it shines upon scurrying for cover like roaches. After that, you still need to name your vision, your plan, your hope, your dream of something better.

Names matter; language matters; truth matters. In this era when the mainstream media serve obfuscation and evasion more than anything else (except distraction), alternative media, social media, demonstrations in the streets, and conversations between friends are the refuges of truth, the places where we can begin to rectify the names. So start talking.
(full long text).

(Rebecca Solnit is the author of thirteen books, a TomDispatch regular, and from kindergarten to graduate school a product of the California public education system in its heyday. She would like the Republican Party to be called the Pro-Rape Party until further notice).

Comments are closed.