Faculty Writing: How Not to Talk About Climate Change and Paramilitary America

In Jacobin, Alyssa Battistoni excoriates Nathaniel Rich’s long, politically unsophisticated New York Times Magazine piece “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” For Rich, climate change and the inability to act to stop it is a tragedy for which “we”—not private power or the prevailing political-economic structure, but humans at large, victims to “human nature”—are to blame. Writes Battistoni: “[T]he period Rich examines, when democracy is ostensibly getting in the way, is one in which the Right systematically decimated the only force historically capable of holding capital in check—that is, the labor movement—and overrode democratic constraints on capital in favor of free-market fundamentalism … [Y]ou cannot tell the story of climate change without telling the story of twentieth-century capitalism—at the very least.”

In the Nation, Patrick Blanchfield reviews Katherine Belew’s history of American right-wing paramilitarism, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. “Belew’s book,” Blanchfield writes, “isn’t only a definitive history of white-racist violence in late-20th-century America, but also a rigorous meditation on the relationship between American militarism abroad and extremism at home … Two fundamental insights underpin the book: first, that there exists a profound relationship between America’s military violence and domestic right-wing paramilitary organizations, and, second, that the character of that relationship underwent a decisive change in the late 1970s and early ’80s.”