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In the 1930s, the world endured a grim economic depression. In the US, F D Roosevelt pioneered the way out with the New Deal, which helped stabilise the financial system and refloated the economy. We face the same kind of economic problems today but with added ecological threats. The age of cheap, plentiful oil is ending and we cannot simply invest in polluting factories, massive dams, boondoggle transport projects as FDR’s government did then.
If there is to be a new New Deal, it has to be a Green New Deal, which is exactly what a distinguished group of environmentalists and economists, including Andrew Simms, of the New Economics Foundation; Tony Juniper, former director of Friends of the Earth; Larry Elliott, economics editor of the Guardian and Green party leader Caroline Lucas MEP, propose.
Drawing inspiration from Roosevelt, the Green New Deal group calls for:
Creating a carbon army
Brown talks of jobs in building a successor to the Trident nuclear missile system. But such jobs would be capital-intensive (not to mention potentially a war-crime), what we now have a ‘glut’ of is labour, not capital.
The first thing that a Green New Deal must mean is good, secure, green jobs (see Jean Lambert’s Green jobs to beat recession). We need a ‘carbon army’ of highly skilled green-collar workers, so money is needed for retraining as well as new tranches of public transport investment and to make working on the land more sustainable and localised. By capitalising on economies of scale, the UK could rapidly become a world leader in cheap, eco-friendly energy – not just wind, but tidal, solar and other forms of renewables.
But can government really lead a relocalisation of our economy and society? Yes – in fact, only government can do this. We can have a centralised drive to create the tools for localised solutions. Micro energy production and decentralised district heating systems make sense but require big investment and co-ordination from the centre.
We should incentivise localities to welcome renewable energy’s gift of greater security of supply – perhaps by reducing tariffs in areas that adopt rather than reject wind, wave or tidal power schemes. This works from both the radical left and any mainstream political perspective. We’d be crazy not to pursue an avenue that can become the political consensus.
Currently British manufacturers produce few if any wind turbines, and planning regulations make the whole process of moving to a low carbon economy unnecessarily expensive and time consuming. Gearing the country towards independence from fossil fuels does two things at once. It helps cut our environmental impact and distances us from the instability of international fuel prices and markets. This will help us become a more sustainable and resilient economy in every sense.
It is imperative to ensure this unexpected, if welcome, Keynesian consensus is not squandered. This requires government intervention, so let’s make sure it’s the right intervention.
No taxation without representation
The globalised finance system that we now have would have been repugnant to Keynes, who wanted finance and capital kept national – and thus under democratic oversight.
We need systemic reform of the banking system but reforms alone will never secure long-term safety, because after a while a privatised banking system will start agitating to strip away and circumvent the protections and regulations. Instead, we need a banking system consisting of a large public sector, democratically directed toward a sustainable economy that supports businesses in the real economy, with low interest rates, plus a large network of co-ops, mutuals and credit unions.
A key principle that must govern any just response to the financial crisis is no taxation without representation. If we the people are to put billions of pounds of our money into guaranteeing the banks, then we need to be able to exert real control over those banks to change their behaviour.
It’s a scandal, for example, that Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley are repossessing more homes than their private competitors. If our money is to keep them afloat, let’s demand that that these building societies act for the public good, rather than simply aping commercial concerns. In the longer term, they should be remutualised.
It’s time for a great leap forward in our ability to weather the vast triple threat of dangerous climate change, peak oil and the financial crisis. In our view, putting the banks under public control is a logical conclusion of the urgently needed Green New Deal proposals.
Jim Jepps blogs at the Daily (Maybe) and Rupert Read is one of the 15 Green Party councillors in Norwich and prospective MEP for Eastern Region
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
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Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook