It’s the Economy, Stupid!

The following is a slightly revised version of my presentation at the annual Faith, Reason, and World Affairs Symposium held at Concordia College, Moorhead, on the topic of “Sustainability” (September 16 & 17, 2014). I still think that capitalism is incompatible with sustainability, but I don’t believe that it is the final root cause.

Some people believe that we can solve our environmental sustainability problem by such measures as technological innovations, energy efficiency, carbon taxes, recycling, regulations, and green lifestyles. Others believe that these measures are necessary but insufficient, and that we won’t be able truly address our environmental sustainability problem unless we bring about fundamental and far-reaching transformations in our political economy.

I am here to tell you why this latter viewpoint is the correct one.

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The Voter’s Dilemma (7)

Chomsky’s advice is that we should vote for Biden if we live in a “swing state.” The advice is based on the LEV strategy, which, in turn, is based on the ethic of responsibility. The problem, however, is that different individuals starting from the ethic of responsibility do not necessarily reach the same conclusion as Chomsky does. Similarly, different individuals can agree that voting is a matter of strategy and not an expression of personal values, and, furthermore, that the choice should be based entirely on its likely consequences; yet, they can still disagree as which set of consequences is most salient, and hence arrive at very different conclusions about how they should vote.

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The Voter’s Dilemma (6)

My last post on this topic—The Voter’s Dilemma (5)—was on May 30. While I wanted to continue this series over the summer and bring it to a conclusion, some of my other projects got in the way and prevented me from doing so. However, just because we are in the middle of October in an election year does not mean that the topic has become irrelevant or obsolete. Even though I am writing about a particular election, the problem itself is an abiding one. As long as there is electoral politics, the voter’s dilemma will remain.

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