Our Pass-Fail Moment: Livable Ecology, Capitalism, Occupy, and What is to be Done

  • Paul Street Independent Researcher
Keywords: Sustainability, Social Movements, Capitalism, Ecology, Occupy, Green Jobs, The Profits System, Revolution, Envrionment, Marxism, Green Marxism, Rouge-Verde, Ecological Crisis


The ecological crisis is the leading issue of “our or any time” posing grave threats to a decent and democratic future. If the environmental catastrophe isn’t forestalled, “everything else we’re talking about won’t matter” (Noam Chomsky).  Like other issues leftists cite as major developments of the last half-century, the environmental crisis is intimately bound up with numerous other deep changes (growing inequality, authoritarian neoliberalism, corporate globalization, U.S. imperial expansion, and more) and grounded in the imperatives of capital and the profits system. Tackling the crisis in a meaningful way will bring numerous related and collateral benefits (including significant opportunities for socially useful and necessary work/employment) beyond and alongside environmental survival. To prioritize ecology is not to demote or delay radical social reconstruction. It means the elevation and escalation of the red project.  It is highly unlikely that the crisis can be solved within the framework of capitalism.

This article was originally delivered as a Keynote Address at the Rouge Forum 2012: Occupy Education! Class Conscious Pedagogies and Social Change, on June 21, 2012 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Author Biography

Paul Street, Independent Researcher
Paul Street is an independent radical-democratic policy researcher, journalist, historian, author and speaker based in Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois.  He is the author of six books to date: Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2004); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era(New York: Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: a Living Black Chicago History (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics(Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2008); The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Paradigm, 2010); and (with Anthony DiMaggio) Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011).