False hopes for a Green New Deal

In recent months the ‘Green New Deal’ has given hope to many on the Left as a promising solution to climate breakdown. Having been championed by the Sunrise Movement and figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the US, excitement for the Green New Deal has spread to the UK with the launch of the ‘Labour for a Green New Deal’ campaign.

Successive local Labour Party branches have passed motions in support of the programme, and the UK Labour Party itself has launched consultations for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution.’ Recently, the progressive think-tank Common Wealth published a ‘road map’ for implementing sweeping reforms for a greener and fairer economy, providing the most detailed description yet of what a Green New Deal might look like.

The Green New Deal promises everything. Its advocates anticipate a green industrial revolution led by workers, forging a power-grid run on renewables, a new and luxurious electrified transport system and affordable homes retrofitted for energy-efficiency. Our economy will be one of ethics and environmental stewardship, producing only what is socially-useful, with low-carbon lifestyles for all and with investors investing for sustainable ends. We will see employment for all, workers on shorter hours enjoying high-paid green jobs and a democratised workplace. Equally as important, the UK will enact this great renewable transition without perpetuating colonial resource extraction abroad. It all sounds too good to be true.

That’s because it is. Basic enquiry into the details of the Green New Deal reveals a failure to confront the political and economic realities leading to climate breakdown.

Capitalism’s dilemma

The cause of climate breakdown is our economic system. Capitalism relies for its functioning on a logic of infinite growth, fossil fuel combustion, and colonial resource extraction abroad. The drive for infinite economic growth exhausts the world’s finite resources and creates increasing waste and pollutant by-products which necessarily ends up crossing planetary boundaries and undermining the world’s biosphere. The capitalist economy’s growth imperative relies on the high efficiency of polluting fossil fuels to sustain itself, manifested in the stark rise in carbon emissions and global warming since the industrial revolution. The capitalist economy is historically built on colonial resource extraction abroad and has only survived by these same means. Still today, the fuels and resources for the Global North are obtained by means of gross human rights violations, exploitative work conditions, and localised ecological degradation in the Global South. It is this system of infinite growth that is currently driving the planet to climate breakdown and ecological Armageddon.

However, without this increasing growth, the economy falters and even collapses in recession, putting shops out of business, pushing communities into unemployment, and creating grim economic hardship and social fallout. This creates an impossible dilemma for those running society’s political institutions – they are unable to keep the economy afloat and tackle climate breakdown at the same time.

What is the Green New Deal’s answer to this dilemma? It refuses to acknowledge the problem. Clearly, the Green New Deal is rhetorically very strong on highlighting the injustices and ecological problems of the current economic system, rightly arguing for the climate crisis to be understood as a social justice and a class issue and outlining some of the basic characteristics of an ecological society. It’s educational role here is valuable. But its rhetoric is not matched by a practical plan to transform the economic paradigms producing climate change.

The Green New Deal pivots on a central lie of continued growth, promising this growth and employment whilst pretending it can magic away the environmental and humanitarian consequences. The result of this is that on all three counts – infinite growth, reliance on fossil fuels, and colonial resource extraction – the Green New Deal is unable to challenge the prevailing order. Instead, it perpetuates the capitalist paradigm and economic relationships and maintains the system leading us towards total ecological collapse.

The lie of infinite growth

Continued economic growth is necessary for the Green New Deal to fulfil its promise of jobs for all, which is only possible in a growing economy. Where the Green New Deal plans dare to tackle the question of growth, they promise to decouple economic growth from the extraction of finite resources and environmental consequences. But this is not possible. Economic growth has never been absolutely decoupled on a global scale from growth in material and energy use, and there is no credible empirical model to suggest it will ever be. To make claims to the contrary is to deny the planet’s ecological limits, and this is precisely the realm of ‘green growth’ narratives and a business class trying to find excuses for endless profit in an era of climate breakdown.

The Green New Deal plans imagine that they can measure growth by more ethical standards, but this ignores the harsh reality that jobs in this economy are tied to the grow-or-die imperative of businesses. Green New Dealers cannot use qualitative, ethical measures of value to create the quantitative economic growth that is necessary both to create new jobs for the unemployed and replace the tens of millions of current useless jobs. Indeed, millions of jobs in our existing economy are socially-useless – by providing superfluous products and services they exist merely to keep profits rolling and the economy growing. Simply put, ethical considerations cannot penetrate the capitalist economy.

A growing capitalist economy means environmental destruction. There is no such thing as ‘green growth’.

The limits of renewable energy

Secondly, the Green New Deal ignores the realities of renewable energy. Renewables are not a magic bullet. Like all technologies, they have their limits. A capitalist economy powered by renewables would still be ecologically damaging. Due to their lower energy density, renewables require high land-use, and for current levels of growth this land use would be at a scale which presents devastating ecological consequences. To power Britain’s current level of energy consumption solely on solar energy, around 30% of the UK’s available land would be needed, 50% for the EU overall, and many countries would need more land than they currently have available. This would not only wipe out biodiversity buffers but the need for land would also entail disastrous trade-offs between food and energy production. Beyond this, there are important limitations of efficiency, land competence, and mineral reserves. These technical limitations of renewables means that we should not expect them to replace fossil fuels in a capitalist system.

Fossil fuels have always been vital to the functioning of a capitalist system, to the degree that capitalism cannot exist without them. Fossil fuels, with high energy density, can be extracted, stored and burnt for energy around the clock. Historically their storage provided greater mobility than renewables and energy that wasn’t tied to a particular river or windmill, and despite their continual fall in efficiency, they would still have to play a huge part in a capitalist economy. If the Green New Deal is to maintain a growing economy it will inevitably end up relying on the final reserves of fossil fuels, the incessant burning of which is the main driver of climate breakdown.

Colonial resource extraction

Finally, the Green New Deal maintains imperialist relations between Global North and Global South, by which countries in the Global South are subjected to economic servitude. To build up its renewable technologies, like solar, wind turbines and batteries, the Green New Deal would require high inputs of earth minerals for its production, such as lithium and cobalt, and would rely on kilotonnes of silver, copper, and steel. These minerals are mined predominantly in the Global South; from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to Chile, Argentina, and China. Vast increases in extraction and appropriation of these resources would be needed to ‘green’ the UK’s economy – the process of which would be deeply violent. These mining industries are associated with some of the world’s most appalling work conditions, human exploitation, and a host of tragic health problems and ecological degradation for local populations – all enmeshed in colonial economic relations to service the Global North.

UK journalists rightly warn of ‘green colonialism’. To demand resource extraction at such increased levels would be maintain the colonial relationships between Global North and South and would intensify disaster for local populations. The climate justice rhetoric of the Green New Deal would lie in tatters.

The climate crisis – an institutional problem

Where the Green New Deal plans do present a challenge to the economic system, they fail to specify how the state’s political institutions would allow for any such changes. Whether the Road Map’s proposals to decentralise state power, democratise the workplace, enforce ethical financial regulations, or the Green New Deal’s support for a four-day working week, such plans completely ignore the harsh institutional realities that have always constrained and prevented such political and economic change within the State-capitalist system. Whilst these policies might be desirable – and some of them are crucial for an ecological future – until the Green New Dealers offer a feasible plan to implement them it will remain as mere rhetoric against the institutional reality.

The Green New Deal presents so many contradictions and failings that it is possible to read it not as a concrete plan on how to transform society, but rather as a rhetorical front to highlight the need for political action on climate change and put the climate crisis on the agenda for politicians and left-wing political parties. On this basis, it has had its successes, at least in the UK. But rhetoric isn’t enough, and the warm words of politicians must eventually come up against reality.

The climate crisis is not a simple problem of policy; it’s a problem of the institutions themselves. The climate crisis will not be solved with the institutions that created it.

The harsh reality is that the State-capitalist system presents inescapable economic and political realities that drive global warming, and at its core is so antagonistic to creating an ecological society that even the best programme it offers – the Green New Deal or any similar programme – spells continued ecological disaster and runaway climate breakdown. Fundamentally, the Green New Deal ends up maintaining the basic relationships of the capitalist economic system, and is thus incompatible with a green future. These obvious failings of the Green New Deal on relationships which are so central to the climate crisis should wake us all up from its cornucopia of false promises and force us to rethink where we seek ecological solutions and reconsider our faith in the institutions governing society.

This is not a call for despair or resignation. Rather, it’s a wake-up call that on the Left and in the climate movement we are in urgent need of critical self-reflection and questioning of our political assumptions. Crucially, we need a revival of ideological debate.

We cannot afford to blindly put our faith in political parties as the vehicle for achieving a free and ecological society, consoling ourselves with the rhetoric of a Green New Deal on account of ideological laziness. If the Green New Deal is the Labour Party’s best answer to the climate crisis, then the Labour Party has no answer to the climate crisis. It’s time to revive the classical Left debate as to the route and vehicle for socialism, questioning the State and how capitalism and the conditions of the labour movement have changed in the 21st century – whilst seeking new alternatives which will allow us to transform society.

We have desperately little time left to avoid total ecological and social collapse, and must begin organising immediately for all those suffering on the front lines of climate fallout. Nothing short of total transformation of society’s paradigms – that is, revolution – can win the survival of organised human life on this planet, and only a united and organised Left is up to the challenge.

If, in this late hour, we make a wrong decision as to the route we take to achieve this, it could be the last decision we make.

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2a Marcia Internazionale “Il Sentiero della Libertà”

Il 24/25/26 maggio, con partenza da Sulmona, attraverso la Maiella si snoderà la marcia che ripercorre il sentiero utilizzato nella 2° Guerra mondiale da partigiani, prigionieri di guerra fuggiaschi, perseguitati politici e quanti combattevano contro i nazisti per la libertà.

Nei giorni 24, 25 e 26 maggio 2002 si effettuerà la 2° Marcia Internazionale “Il Sentiero della Libertà”, che attraverso la Majella ripercorrerà, in tre tappe, Sulmona – Campo di Giove – Taranta Peligna – Casoli, quell’impervio Sentiero lungo il quale, negli anni più tragici della II guerra mondiale – quando l’Abruzzo divenne linea di confine ed angolo di speranza – si avventuravano, alla ricerca della Libertà oltre la Linea Gustav, i prigionieri di guerra fuggiaschi, i perseguitati politici braccati dai nazisti, i renitenti alla leva della Repubblica fascista di Salò. Fra questi c’era l’attuale Presidente della Repubblica, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, desideroso di ricongiungersi all’esercito italiano di Liberazione.

Negli stessi luoghi nacque la Brigata Majella, che combattè eroicamente per la libertà a fianco degli Alleati, entrando per prima a Bologna. Promotore della marcia rievocativa è il Liceo Scientifico “E. Fermi” di Sulmona – specializzato in ricerche storiche e pubblicazioni sulla II guerra mondiale – che si avvale della collaborazione di numerose associazioni di volontari per assicurare la logistica e l’assistenza lungo il percorso e nei pernottamenti.

La 1° marcia è partita solennemente e festosamente, con migliaia di partecipanti, il 17 maggio 2001, con alla testa il Presidente della Repubblica, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, che ha voluto ripercorrere, per un tratto di strada, la “traversata” verso la libertà che egli, giovane sottotenente, fece nel marzo del ’44 e che racconta nel suo diario di guerra, donato al Liceo Scientifico E. Fermi.

Hanno già aderito ex-prigionieri di guerra, reduci e loro parenti da ogni parte del mondo. Ad essi si uniranno studenti e cittadini italiani e stranieri. Insieme, di nazionalità e generazioni diverse, per rivivere, fianco a fianco con i testimoni, le verità storiche e riaffermare i valori della libertà e della pace.

Per Il Comitato Organizzatore
Il Preside del Liceo Scientifico di Sulmona
Ezio Pelino

Sulmona – Campo di Giove – Taranta Peligna – Casoli

Liceo Scientifico Statale “E. Fermi”, Sulmona;
Associazione Nazionale Alpini d’Abruzzo;
Gruppo Reduci Brigata Majella della Valle Peligna;
Volontariato Alpino di Protezione Civile Sez. Abruzzi;
Parco Nazionale della Majella;
Croce Rossa Italiana, Sulmona;
Club Alpino Italiano Sez. di Sulmona; Associazione Guide e Scout Cattolici Italiani;
Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino;
Associazione Culturale Altipiani Maggiori d’Abruzzo;
Comitato Provincia Centro Abruzzo.

Aggiornamenti e info:
Tel./Fax. 0864 51771 – 0864 33816

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Alpine SkyRaid, 1a tappa, Courmayeur – Cervinia

La 1a tappa della grande corsa da Courmayeur a Cortina è stata vinta dai valdostani Bruno e Dennis Brunod e a Jean Pellissier.

Cervinia 26/05/02

Bruno e Dennis Brunod e Jean Pellissier hanno vinto oggi la prima tappa dell’Alpine Skyraid. La grande corsa che, in otto giorni consecutivi attraverso le Alpi, condurrà gli atleti da Courmayeur a Cortina, con un percorso di quasi 500 km e 23.000 metri di dislivello in salita.
In testa quindi in queste prime battute il team Vibram, ma con le squadre della Forestale e della Camp subito a seguire, anche se oggi sono state precedute dai forti valdostani rispettivamente per 6 minuti e 53” e 14 minuti.

Il percorso della prima tappa si è snodato sui sentieri dell’alta via valdostana, per una traversata di 124 km e 1.421 m di dislivello che ha toccato lo splendido Colle Malatrà a quasi 3000 metri quota. In quest’esordio sono servite poco più di sei ore ai corridori del cielo, che subito hanno interpretato al meglio la loro parte di poliedrici runners d’alta quota. Dalle mountain bike alla corsa su neve, alle ciaspe, per poi inforcare ancora la mountain bike nei 90 km che separano il Colle San Bernardo da Cervinia.

Lotta anche fra i due team femminili al primo traguardo del Colle S Bernardo. Le tre atlete del Team Fila, Arianna Follis, Glorianna Pellissier e Alexia Zuberer hanno prevalso di soli 6’ sul Team Maxim, capeggiato dalla francese Corinne Favre, campionessa del mondo di Skyrunning.

Domani le squadre, che ricordiamo sono composte da 3 atleti ciascuna, percorreranno la via dei Walser, come un tempo facevano i commercianti, ma sempre di corsa, fino all’arrivo a Gressoney.

  Alpine SkyRaid

FSA, Lauri van Houten

Atleti della squadra spagnola in gara (Foto copyright Orler)

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Diaconferenza Nanga Parbat a Genova

Nella ricorrenza della prima salita in solitaria di Hermann Buhl del Nanga Parbat, il Club Alpino Italiano – Sezione Ligure – Sottosezione Genova Bolzaneto, organizza per oggi 09/12/2003 alle ore 21,00 una diaconferenza sulla figura del grande alpinista, ad opera di Gianni Pastine

Nella ricorrenza della prima salita in solitaria di Hermann Buhl del Nanga Parbat, il Club Alpino Italiano – Sezione Ligure – Sottosezione Genova Bolzaneto, organizza una diaconferenza sulla figura del grande alpinista, ad opera di Gianni Pastine.

L’appuntamento è presso i locali della Sottosezione in  Via C. Reta 16 r. Genova per il 09/12/2003 alle ore 21,00.

Archivio news Nanga Parbat

Nanga Parbat (8125m)
Himalaya, Kashmir – Pakistan.

Il ‘Nanga’ è stato salito per la prima volta il 3 luglio 1953 dall’austriaco Hermann Buhl (membro della spedizione austro-tedesca con a capo Herrligkoffer).

Era la 3^ montagna oltre gli ottomila metri scalata dall’uomo, e Buhl sconvolse il mondo alpinistico con una salita in solitaria assolutamente fantastica.

Vette sul Kangchenjunga e Dhaulagiri

Il 20/05, Cima del Kangchenjunga per Mondinelli, Merelli, Pauner, Kuntner e Reichen. Sul Dhaulagiri top per JB Lafaille.

Vetta e avventura sul Kangchenjunga
Silvio Mondinelli, Mario Merelli, Carlos Pauner, Kristian Kuntner, Kobi Reichen, il 20 maggio alle ore 16 (nepalesi), hanno raggiunto gli 8.586 m del Kangchenjunga (terza cima per altezza della terra), probabilmente per una via nuova.

Dopo un’estenuante discesa, caratterizzata dal maltempo e dalla improvvisa scomparsa di Pauner – riapparso miracolosamente dopo aver bivaccato per 2 notti da solo – ora la spedizione è felicemente riunita al CB (anche se alcuni alpinisti hanno riportato congelamenti) in attesa dell’elicottero che dovrà portarli direttamente a Kathmandu.

Anche se si tratta di alpinisti himalayani di provata esperienza la loro è stata una salita (ma soprattutto una discesa) che difficilmente dimenticheranno… Una vera avventura. Ci ritorneremo, perchè lo merita.

Jean-Christophe Lafaille top sul Dhaulagiri.
Il 20 maggio, da solo e, come sempre, senza ossigeno,
il francese Jean-Christophe Lafaille ha raggiunto la cima del Dhaulagiri (8167m) alle 10.00. Vento e forti nevicate hanno carraterrizato questa difficile ascensione, che, in un tour du force di tre giorni, gli ha portato la sua nona cima di 8000 metri. Come riportato nella news di ieri, adesso Jean-Christophe punterà a Broad Peak e Nanga Parbat.

Archivio news Mondinelli Silvio Mondinelli
Archivio news Lafaille

Silvio Mondinelli
ph arch. Mondinelli

Jean-Christophe Lafaille sull’Annapurna
ph arch. Lafaille

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Tibet, Himalaya e oriente in mostra a Roma

A Roma, negli spazi della Casa dell’Architettura – ex Acquario Romano, fino al 19 giugno resterà aperta la mostra fotografica “Viaggio ad Oriente”.

E’ stata recentemente inaugurata a Roma, negli spazi della Casa dell’Architettura – ex Acquario Romano, la mostra fotografica “Viaggio ad Oriente”, che resterà aperta fino al 19 giugno.

La mostra costitutisce uno degli eventi del III Fotografia Festival di Roma, e si articola in tre sezioni. La prima, organizzata in collaborazione con l’Associazione Italia – Tibet, è completamene dedicata alle foto scattate da Fosco Maraini durante la prima spedizione in Tibet ed in Sikkim nel lontano 1937, possiamo assistere a momenti di vita quotidiana di contadini, pastori, monaci sui quali per la prima volta si posavano sguardi europei (e che per la prima volta vedevano degli europei), le cime ed i passi innevati dell’Himalaya, ma anche esterni ed interni di monasteri ed altri monimenti religiosi ormai scomparsi, distrutti dall’invasione cinese.

Nella seconda sezione, intellettuali, registi, artisti che per vari motivi hanno viaggiato in Asia espongono le loro impressioni ed i loro ricordi: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Alighieo Boetti, Ettore Sottsass, Alberto Moravia, Roberto Rossellini, Luigi Ontani.

La terza sezione, “Dharma Bums”, con foto di Italo Bertolasi, rievoca il periodo dei primi viaggi hippies verso oriente, nei primi anni ’60, lo stile di vita “on the road”, la sorpresa ed il rapporto con popolazioni che vivevano tra il Pakistan e l’Afghanistan, nelle remote valli del Chitral o alle pendici dell’Himalaya.

All’inaugurazione, avvenuta in una Roma completamente blindata (era il giorno della visita di Bush), che non ha permesso la prevista partecipazione del Dalai Lama, Stefano Dallari di Italia – Tibet ha sottolineato come la mostra voglia lanciare anche un messagio di pace, tolleranza e gemellaggio tra i popoli di cultura diverse, ed ha ricordato la gioia di Maraini nel cercare tra i negativi del suo archivio quelli da stampare per la mostra, occasione per rivivere i momenti più belli dei suoi viaggi.

Purtroppo, Maraini non potrà più vedere la sua mostra: durante l’inaugurazione era ricoverato in clinica nella sua Firenze, e l’8 giugno giungeva a tutti quelli che lo amavano la notizia della sua morte.

di Aldo Frezza

Acquario Romano
Piazza Manfredo Fanti 47, 00185 Roma
5 – 19 giugno 2004
dal lunedì al venerdì: 10,00 – 18,00
Sabato: 10,00 – 13,00
Domenica chiuso
Ingresso libero.

scomparso Fosco Maraini

In alto una delle foto di Fosco Maraini esposte a Roma.

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Cima del Nuptse East per Babanov e Koshelenko

IL 2/11 Valery Babanov e Yura Koshelenko hanno raggiunto l’inviolatra cima del Nuptse East 7804m, lungo la parete sud.

Ce l’hanno fatta! Valery Babanov e Yura Koshelenko sono riusciti a salire il Nuptse East, attraverso la parete Sud. Come riportati pochi giorni fa (news), i due alpinisti russi erano partiti per la cima il 20 ottobre, ma ancora una volta erano stati costretti a tornare indietro per il forte vento ed il freddo. Ma la loro determinazione e tenacia alla fine è stata premiata con la meta tanto desiderata: la cima, raggiunta il 2 novembre alle ore 7.30 di sera.

I due hanno poi impiegato altre due giorni per scendere al campo base, lungo la cresta sud . Dopo una breve pausa i russi tenteranno di rimouvere le corde fisse prima del loro rientro a Mosca, previsto per il 16 novembre. Questo era il terzo tentativo di Babanov su quella che (ormai) era una delle cime più alte rimaste inviolate.

Ecco il report della salita, inviatoci da www.mountain.ru:

Valery Babanov: “Domenica 2 novembre abbiamo raggiunto la cima del Nuptse East. Siamo partiti alle 8.40am dal campo a 7450m diretti alla cima, che abbiamo raggiunto. Quindi abbiamo fatto ritorno alla tenda alle 00.30am. Gli ultimi tre giorni prima del tentativo erano stati terribilmente freddi, non riuscivamo a dormire, e mettevamo le gambe sul petto dell’altro per scaldarle. Avevamo soltanto una tenda, un materassino, delle giacche in piuma e un fornello. Questa montagna è molto seria e il nostro un grande successo !”

Yura Koshelenko: “la cima è splendida! Siamo stati molto fortunati – il tempo durante la nostra salita è stato abbastanza stabile. Ma sulla cima c’era un fortissimo vento – grazie a Dio non abbiamo subito congelamenti. .
La nostra salita è una grande impresa: due notti senza sacchi a pelo, arrampicata con difficoltà di M4-M5 sopra i 7450m. Siamo stanchi morti.”

La salita in breve:
Partenza la mattina del 29 ottobre, bivacco a 6200m,
30 ottobre – salita fino a 6900m,
31 ottobre – salita fino a 7200
1 novembre – salita fino a 7450
2 novembre abbiamo raggiunto la cima (19.30) poi siamo scesi fino a 7450m (0.30)
3 novembre – discesa a 6900m
4 novembre – siamo tornati a campo base verso le 17.30 (Moscow time)

Yura Koshelenko e Valery Babanov

Nuptse East tentativo Babanov vince Piolet d’Or www.babanov.com www.mountain.ru

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“Ringhio”, nuova via sulla sud est del Pizzo Badile

Nuova via sulla parete sud est del Pizzo Badile per Ezio Marlier, Massimo Farina, Herve Barmasse, Massimo Datrino.

Nuova via sulla parete sud est del Pizzo Badile per Ezio Marlier, Massimo Farina, Herve Barmasse, Massimo Datrino. “Ringhio” (nome scherzoso che è stato dedicato a Massimo a Farina) misura circa 400/450 metri di sviluppo ha difficoltà complessiva valutabile TD+ con difficoltà obbligatorie di 6b (3° e 6° tiro) e difficoltà massima di 6c.

Ezio Marlier sul 3° tiro, 6b+

“La via segue una linea entusiasmante, soprattutto nella parte alta dove percorre un diedro di 60m. che “spacca” in due il pilastro rosso a destra della via classica.

Si attacca, proprio a destra della classica via “Molteni”, e con due facili lunghezze su placche (4/5°), si giunge alla placca del primo tiro difficile. Dalla sosta su clessidra (cordino), con arrampicata esposta (chiodo) si raggiunge una fessura (nella foto) che conduce alla sosta (chiodo). Altri due facili tiri portano alla base del favoloso Pilastro, con roccia grandiosa che ricorda da vicino la qualità del granito del Monte Bianco.

Si affronta il magnifico e grande pilastro rosso con un primo, impegnativo, diedro di 60 mt solcato da una fessura (svasata) che si spegne su una placca (attenzione ultima protezione piuttosto lontana). In tutto sono 60m di 6b+/c che noi in apertura abbiamo superato con un solo tiro, ma che converrebbe spezzare in due per evitare i fortissimi atriti.

massimo “Max” Farina sull’8° tiro, 6b

Si prosegue con la 7a lunghezza che percorre un diedrino cieco (in foto), quello che non sai mai come prendere, quello che non riesci a mettere niente per proteggerti. Uno spit metterebbe a posto un sacco di cose, ma dobbiamo seguire attentamente lo stile della zona, così abbiamo lasciato trapani e spit a 500 km di distanza, e armeggiamo con chiodi, camalot e nuts. Massimo, comunque, riesce a mettere una buona protezione, e dopo 25m di tiro è ancora a batter chiodi per la sosta (6b).

Il tiro successivo – forse il più bello di tutta la via – parte attraversando una placca (6b, chiodo) per raggiungere una fessura, dove i camalot dal 3 al 4 la fanno da padroni. Un vero spettacolo: fessure così è una fortuna poterle salire, per di più in un ambiente come questo, bello, solare, con il rifugio a due passi, dove gli avvicinamenti sono brevissimi e una moltitudine di itinerari sono a disposizione a chi volesse cimentarsi sulle pareti di questa magnifica valle.
Ritornando alla nostra via: superata la fessura, altri due facili tiri conducono alla cresta e in altri 5 minuti alla cima del Badile, da cui si scende per la via normale.

Un’altra bella giornata che la montagna ci ha concesso. E’ stata una fortuna aver incontrato della gente che ho associato a quelle della Valle d’Aosta. Forse perchè tutta la gente che vive e lavora in montagna vede le cose nello stesso modo, le gioie e i dolori sono comuni anche a centinaia di km di distanza.

Uniamo le montagne, uniamoci noi, abbiamo la grande fortuna di poter fare qualcosa che ci è concesso, andar per montagne, se insieme a tutto ciò riusciremo a creare una cultura e un pensiero, allora avremo aperto qualcosa di veramente importante, di unico.”

Ezio Marlier

Pizzo Badile – parete sud est
prima salita
Ezio Marlier, Massimo Farina, Herve Barmasse, Massimo Datrino
TD+ ; diff. max 6c; diff. obbl. 6b (3° e 7° tiro) – I gradi naturalmente sono indicativi e un eventuale ripetizione darà la certezza.
soste parzialmente attrezzate, alcuni chiodi indicano la via, necessari friend fino al n° 3.5 per il terzultimo tiro.
dal Rif. Gianetti raggiungibile in 3h da Bagni di Masino
lungo la normale al Pizzo Badile in 1h e 30′ riporta al Rif. Gianett

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Buyouts, not bailouts: public banks as a solution to the next crisis

This article is part of ourEconomy's 'Preparing for the next crisis' series.

In July, a series of earthquakes hit the US state of California. After a relatively quiet few years, they were a jolting reminder that parts of the region are prone to seismic activity and overdue for the “big one.” So too has the recent announcement of a yield curve inversion (and other poor economic news from around the world) reminded us that we are now overdue for another financial crisis – which have, in the neoliberal era, typically happened on average every ten years.

It has been a little more than ten years since the US financial system imploded in 2008, ushering in the worst economic crisis in 80 years. Globalization, and the interconnectedness of many economies, ensured that the crisis spread rapidly, engulfing much of the world. We often forget now how existential the threat really was. There was genuine fear amongst the world’s political and financial elite that capitalism as they knew it was over. In the end, however, they managed to save the existing system through a series of massive government economic interventions. Specifically, rescuing major financial institutions and pumping trillions of dollars into capital markets. For a great number of people, though, the threat was very real. Millions lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, and their retirement funds. Tens of thousands lost their lives.

Despite the severity of the crisis, very little was subsequently changed in the structure of the American financial system. Already weak regulatory reforms have been systematically picked apart by financial industry lobbyists. Too-big-to-fail banks are now even bigger. Fraud and scandals continue to plague the industry. The shadow banking sector has grown in size and complexity. And the US financial system (and broader economy) is still tightly interwoven with the rest of the world. When the next financial crisis comes – and it will come because, like earthquakes, only the when and how severe is ultimately up for debate – it seems all but inevitable that once again the public will be called upon to step in and bailout the big financial institutions.

There is, however, another option. Instead of panic-driven handouts to corporations and temporary quasi-nationalizations, a plan should be in place for cleanly and transparently taking failing financial corporations into genuine public ownership. Ultimately repurposing them, and shifting their activities away from financialization, speculation, and extraction and towards supporting healthy, prosperous, and equitable local economies as well as a sustainable planet.

The response last time

Back in 2007 and 2008, very few people saw the financial crisis coming. Even fewer had any idea what to do once its true severity was revealed. The US government’s immediate response was to pull out all the stops to save the failing banks. This included providing more than 700 banks with capital injections through the Capital Purchase Program (CPP), part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In return, the government (through the Treasury Department) received preferred securities with limited (or non-existent) voting rights as well as warrants to buy company stock equal to a fraction of the overall government investment. This approach has confounded many experts. At the time, Bo Lundgren, the former Swedish Minister of Fiscal and Financial Affairs who had engineered his own government’s response to the 1990s financial crisis in that country, stated “for me, that is a problem. If you go in with capital, you should have full voting rights.” The government also took a more active role with several companies, essentially nationalizing Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, and GMAC (and taking a 36 percent ownership stake in Citigroup).

The US government went out of its way to emphasize the time-limited nature of its interventions into the financial sector. “The government was more interested in exiting these investments promptly than in earning a return,” Steven Davidoff Solomon writes. Ultimately, what the banking industry learned was that there was nothing to fear from the government and everything to gain. All the banks had to do was wait out the initial public outcry, allow the government to retreat from the sector, and get back to business as usual.

Failed reform

As the immediate threat from the financial crisis began to subside, attention in the United States turned to reform, the centerpiece of which was the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank was, ultimately, a weak piece of legislation. It made very few structural changes to the financial sector (an amendment to break up the biggest banks was voted down, for instance) and many experts have deemed it insufficient and unlikely to prevent another crisis. In 2012, for instance, Richard Kovacevich, the former CEO of Wells Fargo, commented that “there’s nothing in Dodd-Frank that would have prevented the last financial crisis, nor will it prevent the next crisis.” More recently, Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, has stated that “the biggest banks are still [too-big-to-fail] and continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy.”

Moreover, since its passage even those reforms that made it into the final legislation have been systematically stalled, blocked, and dismantled. The political influence wielded in Washington by the finance sector is legendary, and Dodd-Frank has been firmly in their cross-hairs for most of the last ten years. In 2014, for instance, Congress repealed the regulation requiring banks to trade certain risky derivatives contracts in separate affiliates with higher capital requirements and no government protection (the so-called “pushout” rule). The repeal was included in a spending bill required to keep the government operating (causing outrage among Congressional Democrats) and was written almost entirely by Citigroup, the bank that received one of the largest shares of government bailout funds during the crisis.

Former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson has recently commented that the reforms enacted after the financial crisis “were serious; but they did not go far enough, and they can be rolled back without much difficulty. The Trump administration is poised to do exactly that. The big banks will get bigger. Capital levels will fall. And reasonable risk-management practices will again become unfashionable. Powerful people do well from booms and busts. The rest of us can expect deeper inequality and more crisis-induced poverty.”

And the big banks have, indeed, increased in size since the financial crisis. “Of the 15 banks that received the most bailout money, 11 are now bigger than they were before the recession, even after adjusting for inflation…” Philip Bump reported in the Washington Post in early 2016. “The recession was a blip on a steep upward climb.” Moreover, repeated scandals and investigations during the past decade suggest that the financial sector has not yet adequately tackled the internal dynamics and incentives that led to the excessive risk taking, speculation, and fraud that was at the heart of the financial crisis. “The last decade has seen a steady stream of financial scandals and crises: mortgage frauds, insider trading, the illegal fixing of global interest rates, money laundering, and the rigging of the Treasury bond market. This is a partial list,” author and former hedge fund analyst Sheelah Kolhatkar wrote in 2016.

Lastly, the shadow banking sector – essentially opaque and un- or under-regulated financial institutions that offer a variety of often risky financial services and instruments – has grown, now accounting for at least $13.8 trillion in assets in 2015, or around 75 percent of the country’s total GDP. The shadow banking sector is intricately entwined with the regulated banking system, raising the prospect of substantial contagion and damage to the rest of the economy when another crisis occurs. “A collapse in the shadow banking sector cannot be contained to the shadow banking sector,” former Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig warns.

The public ownership alternative

When the next big financial crisis occurs, one or more of the large financial institutions will likely once again become reliant on public support for their survival. In such a moment these companies can be de-privatized rather than simply bailed out. During the 2008 financial crisis, various commentators and experts actually came out in favor of short-term nationalizations (forms of which were implemented in several cases), but were generally emphatic in their rejection of long-term public ownership. For instance, economist Adam Posen stated in 2009 that “nobody in their right mind wants the government to be in the banking business any longer than it needs to be.”

Such offhand judgments, however, deliberately ignore the extensive, and often highly successful, experience with public banking both in the United States and around the world. Recently, Thomas Marois has estimated that there are nearly 700 public banks operating globally with some $37.7 trillion in assets. In Germany, for instance, there are close to 400 publicly owned municipal savings banks (Sparkassen) with more than €1.2 trillion in assets and approximately 210,000 employees. Unlike some of the larger banks, the Sparkassen, according to The Economist, “[came] through the crisis with barely a scratch.” In North Dakota, the publicly owned Bank of North Dakota (BND) just celebrated its 100 year anniversary. The bank, which has $7 billion in assets and a loan portfolio of $4.5 billion, has been widely credited with helping the state weather the last financial crisis by backstopping local banks with liquidity (thereby ensuring that the state had the lowest foreclosure rate and lowest credit card default rate in the country, as well as no bank failures for more than a decade), and making loans to consumers while private banks were freezing credit, all while continuing to contribute its revenues to the state’s budget.

One of the few prominent finance experts who engaged seriously with the question of long-term public ownership during the financial crisis was former Goldman Sachs advisor (now chief economist at Citigroup) Willem Buiter, who wrote in September 2008:

"Is the reality…that large private firms make enormous private profits when the going is good and get bailed out and taken into temporary public ownership when the going gets bad, with the tax payer taking the risk and the losses? If so, then why not keep these activities in permanent public ownership? There is a long-standing argument that there is no real case for private ownership of deposit-taking banking institutions, because these cannot exist safely without a deposit guarantee and/or lender of last resort facilities, that are ultimately underwritten by the taxpayer."

Beyond this, there are several reasons why long-term public ownership in the financial sector can be beneficial. According to Marois, these can include economic and regional development (and specifically, financing public policy priorities such as renewable energy and climate change mitigation), providing financial services to sectors and individuals that are ignored or underserved by the private sector, stabilizing the economy during times of crisis, taking the lead on setting social and environmental standards, generating public revenue to cross-subsidize public services and projects, and operating without the need for profit-maximization (therefore reducing costs for users and helping to “minimize the effect of hyper-competitive global financial imperatives on society”). Public banks could also be restricted from engaging in many of the types of speculative activity that have been driving increased financialization, systemic risk, and economic instability in recent decades.

If and when a public takeover actually occurs, one option is for the new publicly-owned entity to be kept largely intact and tasked to specific large-scale public policy needs and goals, such as investing in badly needed infrastructure improvements or financing the transition to renewable energy (and a just transition for workers and communities affected by the move away from fossil fuels). Another would be to break up the entity into a network of regional and local public banks that could focus on taking deposits from public entities (such as local governments), backstopping small community banks, providing banking services to low-income populations, extending low-interest loans to students, small businesses, and those recovering from disasters, and/or financing the conversion of businesses to worker ownership. Profits would flow to state and local governments, providing a valuable source of revenue to pay for social services, infrastructure, retirement obligations, and other important areas of need.

In either scenario, the internal governance and oversight of the new, publicly owned entities could (and should) be reformed and democratized. This may include using deliberative and participatory processes to set the overall long-term structure and mission of the bank(s); establishing appropriate metrics of success and efficiency for each public bank beyond pure financial measures (such as social and ecological benefit); enabling robust stakeholder participation (in the form of multi-stakeholder boards, worker assemblies, empowered trade unions, and the like); increasing transparency and accountability requirements; and enshrining equity in internal governance procedures (such as limiting executive pay, increasing racial and gender diversity, and gender pay equality).

Planning for next time

Bailing out Wall Street and the big financial corporations was unpopular ten years ago, and has only become more unpalatable since. One poll in 2012 found that 84 percent of Americans opposed any future bank bailouts (an extraordinary number given that these days you would be hard pressed to find any issue that nearly 90 percent of all Americans can agree on). In fact, there are indications that Americans actually prefer public ownership to bailouts. A 2009 Newsweek poll, for instance, found that 56 percent of Americans thought it better to have “nationalization, where the government takes temporary control” versus 29 percent who thought “government financial aid without any government control of the bank” was better. Similar sentiment also exists in the UK. In 2017, the Legatum Institute, a right-wing think tank, was surprised to find that 50 percent of Britons favoured nationalizing the banks (amidst strong appetite for public ownership more broadly).

Moreover, since the financial crisis ten years ago, interest in public banking has taken off like wildfire across the United States and around the world as activists, community groups, and politicians have begun to recognize the importance and potential of asserting public control over finance. It is likely that during the next crisis, there will be similar (if not greater) public support for public ownership rather than no-strings-attached corporate bailouts. Such sentiments can naturally be deepened into widespread support for longer-term public ownership in the sector if a developed, viable, and vetted plan is available. It is imperative that the hard work of developing such a plan starts now. We simply cannot know how much time we have until the next big crisis hits.

Thomas M. Hanna is Research Director at The Democracy Collaborative, a US based research and development lab for a more democratic economy. He is author of Our Common Wealth: The Return of Public Ownership in the United States. This article is adapted from his 2018 report The Crisis Next Time: Planning for Public Ownership as an Alternative to Corporate Bank Bailouts.

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What the rise of ‘mothers behaving badly’ in the media reveals – and what it obscures

The way motherhood is represented in the media is changing. From recent TV comedies line Motherland, The Let Down and Catastrophe, to films like Bad Moms and A Bad Mom’s Christmas to the stick-figure cartoons of Hurrah For Gin, mothers are increasingly depicted in the midst of domestic chaos, intermingled with bouts of extreme hedonism.

We see mothers confronting incessant demands of frenetic home and work lives by toppling off their bar stool drunk; falling off their bed whilst high and trying to use a breast pump; and chatting with drug dealers in parking lots late at night, with their baby beside them in a car seat. Cutting back on home baking, they are cutting loose and partying hard.

I call this the rise of the ‘mother behaving badly’. The widening array of media representations of motherhood since the early 2010s is a healthy and liberating development. A broader range of ways to publicly inhabit the role of motherhood is now on offer to women. But there are caveats.

Representations of mothers as either demonised villains or perfect saints have ingrained media track records in the British media, particularly in the right wing press. On one side we have the vindictive scorn heaped on the ‘welfare queen’ and ‘chav mum’; on the other we have mothers that are venerated as ‘yummy mummies’ (who look glamorous almost instantly after childbirth) and ‘mumpreneurs’ (who launch businesses from their kitchen tables whilst their children crawl beneath them).

The ‘mother behaving badly’ sits somewhere in between the extremes of vilification and veneration. Rose Byrne’s character yells at her partner in the film Bad Neighbours, before joining a party next door: “I’m allowed to be just as irresponsible as YOU!”. Bad Moms involves mothers rejecting the strictures of perfect PTA (Parent Teacher Association) motherhood to party together; the title of Hurrah for Gin doesn't need much explanation.These characters engage in behaviour more stereotypically associated with men, or women without children. It marks a transformation of the ‘ladette’ (the female version of the new lad, popularised in the 1990s by celebrities like Sara Cox and Zöe Ball). But the ‘lad mom’ cannot afford to ‘behave badly’ as a perpetual lifestyle choice. She engages in temporary bouts of hedonism; she has childcare responsibilities.

Both Bad Moms and Motherland begin with over-stressed women driving their kids to school. One arrives late, covered in pasta with a limping dog, the other shows up at a school closed for holidays. Both are shown overworking whilst their male partners do little or swan around on boats.

These productions often scathingly dramatise how the greater burden of childcare, household responsibility and ‘mental load’ continues to fall on mothers – how they are repeatedly positioned as what writer Rebecca Asher has termed the ‘foundation parent’. These women are royally pissed off with the patriarchal gender regime into which they are flung.

These frenetic multitasking mothers also reflect the current crisis in the ability to care amidst rising inequality, precarity and overwork as a result of neoliberal economic policies. A key goal of second-wave feminism was for men and women to share equally the pleasures and pains of childcare and work in the public sphere. This required a shortened working week and sufficient social support structures.

Instead, over the past 60 years, an increasingly savage, neoliberal form of capitalism has twisted the aims of the feminist movement, making a full-time dual income the baseline norm and ripping away social infrastructure from playcentres for children to libraries. The global north has moved from the single to double income family without meeting the feminist demand for reduced working hours.

The recent spate of media representations of mothers behaving badly echoes this overburdened reality. ‘I’m sorry that we live in a patriarchy and that modern economics is skewed in favour of men!’ the character Julia shouts at her mother (a grandmother avoiding childcare being dumped on her) through the letterbox in Motherland.

Yet these liberating media representations of mothers letting loose and partying hard usually stop short of providing structural social solutions to the problems they reflect, leaving their implicit prescriptions for change within the limited realm of small female friendship squads. What’s more, ‘behaving badly’ is an option only available to certain mothers.

The mother behaving badly in these productions is usually white and middle-class; the working-class mother may help her party, but doesn’t receive as much narrative attention. Rarely is she black or an ethnic minority. Amidst police brutality and racism in the US – where many of these TV shows and movies are made and take place – it’s hard to imagine the transgressive pleasures of raucous and barely legal behaviour being offered to black mothers in the same register.

To really challenge the issues they point to – and create better lives for other people as well as individual mothers behaving badly – productions would need to better reflect the structural causes of their exhaustion too.

They would need to include more characters and themes which relate to what we might call ‘Parents Behaving Politically’: feminists, politicians and campaigners for a reduced 3-4 day working week; extended maternity and paternity leave policies; fully public funded and cooperative childcare provision; caps on high as well as low pay; the end of, and reversals to, public welfare cuts. Now, if creative media were to shine a spotlight on these political themes, that would call for a party.

* This article is based on a longer academic paper, ‘Mothers behaving badly: chaotic hedonism and the crisis of neoliberal social reproduction’, published in Cultural Studies online in July 2019.

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