Hey, Kids, Guess Who Screwed the Climate?
Hint: probably not your mom and dad.
My latest for The Baffler is an essay on intergenerational justice, true accountability, and something you might call solidarity. It begins with a quote from Hannah Arendt (a hero of mine, as you may recall), speaking about postwar Germany in the ’60s:
... the cry ‘We are all guilty’ that at first hearing sounded so very noble and tempting has actually only served to exculpate to a considerable degree those who actually were guilty. Where all are guilty, nobody is. … It is only in a metaphorical sense that we can say we feel guilty for the sins of our fathers or our people or mankind, in short, for deeds we have not done, although the course of events may well make us pay for them.
The piece goes on to look at the new book They Knew: The U.S. Federal Government’s Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis, by climate-movement elder statesman Gus Speth, about the landmark lawsuit Juliana vs. United States in which twenty-one youth plaintiffs famously sued the federal government. In the second half of the piece, I take the opportunity to reflect personally on the sometimes fraught generational dynamics of the climate movement, at a time when intergenerational solidarity (among other kinds) is what we need.
I hope you’ll have a chance to read it, and if you feel it’s worth passing along, please do. As always, feedback is welcome.
Coming next week (yes, so soon!), my conversation with Bill McKibben and Akaya Windwood about their new initiative, Third Act, which launches this Friday. Bill is getting into some good trouble today in D.C., so we’re hoping he’s out of custody in time for the interview. If not, we’ll roll with it. First things first.
Peace and love,