To get there, the Green New Deal calls for enormous investments in public transit, universal health care, free public college tuition and millions of high-wage green jobs. It emphasizes that everyone ought to carry out its projects, with a central role for working-class people of color. The bill’s vision is so counter to the actual practices of the state, and to the talking points of the Democratic and Republican Parties, you have to stretch your imagination to understand it. And that is the point.
Organizers often call these demands “non-reformist reforms,” a term coined in the 1960s by the French socialist André Gorz. Reform on its own is a tired continuation of liberal politics and legalism, expert-driven and elite-centered. Even now, policing experts are grasping to turn the energy around ‘defund’ toward the same old reforms, and mayors are endorsing superficial budget cuts, diluting the bold demands.
The way to respond is to stay focused on building mass movements of ordinary people who are serious about restoring and redistributing social wealth, as the Red Nation’s Red Deal puts it, to those who created it: “workers, the poor, Indigenous peoples, the global South, women, migrants, caretakers of the land, and the land itself.” Here, too, you see the connections — among Indigenous resistance, environmental justice and more.
Leftist movements today see our crises as intersectional. Police violence, global warming and unaffordable housing are not disconnected, discrete problems; instead, they emerge from colonialism and capitalism. Organizers recall these histories, and tell stories of freedom struggles.
And whatever you think of their demands, you have to be in awe of how they inaugurate a new political moment, as the left offers not just a searing critique, but practical ladders to radical visions. These capacious demands create the grounds for multiracial mass movements, our only hope for a more just future.
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