Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 13, 2019

If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?

Filed under: Counterpunch,Ecology — louisproyect @ 5:56 pm

COUNTERPUNCH, DECEMBER 13, 2019

In just over 6,500 words, Time Magazine  makes the case for Greta Thunberg being 2019’s Person of the Year. For much of the left, this confirms that she is a corporate tool. Founded in 1923 by Henry Luce, Time was the flagship of the Luce empire. Print newsmagazines have gone into a steep decline with the advent of the Internet. Despite a steep decline in circulation, Time remains the second-largest weekly after People.

Henry Luce was one of the most powerful Republican Party supporters in the 20th century, the Rupert Murdoch of his day. Luce was a member of the China Lobby that sought the overthrow of Mao Zedong. He also urged JFK to invade Cuba. Unless he did, Luce planned to imitate William Randolph Hearst and push for war, even if involved the big lie. These odious policies and others fell within the rubric of the “American Century,” a concept Luce articulated in Life magazine, another part of his empire. Through such magazines, he shared the dominant view of the American ruling class during its “globalization” phase. He had close social ties to men like John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, and his brother, director of the CIA, who worked overtime to overthrow any government that dared to defy Washington’s will.

So, why should the left celebrate Greta Thunberg being named person of the year given this background?

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29 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    Is Greta a corporate tool? It bears remembering that Time magazine has always been the mouthpiece for the Wall Street oligarchy.

    Comment by stuartbramhall — December 13, 2019 @ 6:55 pm

  2. “So, why should the left celebrate Greta Thunberg being named person of the year given this background?”

    Because she’s young (thus having a greater claim to “the future”), committed, absolutely correct about climate change, witheringly clear, endearingly free of emotionalism and self-promotion, and more effective at public advocacy and consciousness-raising about the need for profound and immediate socio-economic transformation than anyone else on the planet. How she did this is immaterial but the fact is it’s done and she’s using it to maximum advantage for her (and our?) cause. She’s on the cover of Time Magazine for the same reason Obama wanted to shake her hand, TV hosts want her on their shows, and UN conferences invite her to speak: because they all want to attach themselves to her authenticity to make up for the deficiencies of their own. Many people high, low, right, left and center are envious of her, and that envy merely illuminates the extent of their bullshit.

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — December 13, 2019 @ 9:12 pm

  3. We should realize that the “long 20th century” is over. Lenin ,Mao, Ho Chi Min and Che Guevara who inspired mass movements are history (hey.only men??) . In my life time at least I never saw a single person ,a woman (not a little child) suddenly popping up in Sweden?? And inspiring a world movement of millions in less than a year.And this movement will go by its nature against the heart of the capitalist mode of production. Because this mode of production is on principal not able to save the world population of human beings ,not to speak of other species,And everyone feels or will feel it.There is no escape to Mars from extermination. I watched most of Greta Thunberg´s public appearances, and she is amazing. Always going one step further, never retreating, always in a speed the movement can follow .And in talk shows she refuses to answers questions which will lead into a trap..Greta Thunberg is THE Revolutionary of the 21. century!: I hope she will not go down in history like Che Guevara .And I like to quote the German conservative canceller Helmut Kohl : the dogs bark but the caravan moves on .This is for the “true anti capitalists”.

    Comment by Theo Völkl — December 13, 2019 @ 11:00 pm

  4. Good piece. At the end, though, perhaps we should strive to make sure there are no Amazon-like warehouses. They’re filled with tons of rather useless goods. Not all, of course. And really, maybe too try to eliminate the distinction between labor and leisure.

    Comment by Michael D Yates — December 14, 2019 @ 12:41 am

  5. 1. “In only a year, [Thunberg’s] activism led to mass actions across the planet, with 250,000 marching in New York and 1.4 million people on the streets of Germany.” Yes and, with all due respect to the commenter above, it absolutely matters how that happened, and that’s one of the things Morningstar examines. For example, I am almost sure that if I started sitting out in front of my state capital building every day with a sign saying “US out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria… $700 billion out of the pentagon,” I wouldn’t end up in a year with thousands of followers. Most likely I’d wind up unemployed and maybe in jail. If I try it, I’ll let you know.

    2. You didn’t demonstrate what’s wrong with “Follow the Money.” It is, as far as I know, still an extremely useful investigative tool.

    3. The argument that Cory Morningstar somehow is wrong to use the internet or technology to post her journalism because she’s against industrial capitalism simply does not make sense. It reminds me of the people who said (to me) that, because I’d gone to Standing Rock in a car, my “protest” was hypocritical. (Which ignores the fact that standing rock was about many many many more things than gas–it was about Indigenous Sovereignty, police brutality, WATER pollution of Indigenous lands and downstream settler farmers, in addition to “global warming”). It is also akin to an argument that if you are a consumer in this society, you cannot protest or even examine capitalism too closely. Strange argument.

    4. “tedious” prose and “conspiracist” are convenient below the belt disses and essentially empty.

    5. I like Greta Thunberg. I am autistic too, and proud of her. But that in no way wipes out Morningstar’s important critique, which, if you read it, does not attack Thunberg or her strongly held convictions. Follow the money IS the correct analysis here. Your article seems to intend not to bolster Thunberg, as much as to smear Morningstar. Bolster Thunberg on her own merits. She’s doing fine anyway, up there on Time.

    Best
    G. Trachta

    Comment by Glena — December 14, 2019 @ 12:44 am

  6. Tubularsock doesn’t really care what Time Mag puts on its’ fucking cover.

    However Greta is kicking butt and just maybe she will wake enough people up to REALLY do something.

    Tubularsock suggests, in the mean time, START WALKING America.

    Comment by tubularsock — December 14, 2019 @ 1:35 am

  7. Follow the money IS the correct analysis here.

    —-

    Yeah, and because the USA funded the White Helmets, Russia had the right to bomb hospitals? Give me a fucking break.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 14, 2019 @ 2:57 am

  8. I think I will let time and tide (not Time Ragazine) speak for Greta, her following and how much of her message is being massaged into another aspect of corporatism, the side that sees inevitable change coming and wants to capitalize on it. When Greta accepted the utterly hypocritical greet and meet with OBomber, she lost my support, even though I keep reminding myself that’s she’s awfully young and may just not be up to par on the realities of big politics. Shaking hands with a mass murderer didn’t bother her… at her age it would have bothered me. Sorry Greta, take what you can get. If the oligarchs support you, then they won’t murder you, esp. if they can profit from your message. Follow the money? You’re already bought and paid for, Greta, you just don’t know it yet.

    Comment by Sha'Tara — December 14, 2019 @ 3:47 am

  9. I haven’t followed this as closely as I should have, but I have noticed that Greta seems to make a lot of powerful people uncomfortable. Naturally, I take that as a positive, and it makes me hopeful that, within a few years, she will have been reduced to being a smaller part of the movement, smaller because the movement has become exponentially larger in confronting climate change as an essential feature of capitalism.

    Comment by Richard Estes — December 14, 2019 @ 6:18 am

  10. I agree that we should hold out hope for a positive outcome. However when I see names like Al Gore, Bill Gates and particularly the king of hypocrites, Obama, show up in the image, I question the camera. I’ve been around the block too many times to let a pretty face or “the power of youth” sway me. But as I said, time and tide…

    Comment by Sha'Tara — December 14, 2019 @ 6:34 am

  11. In general “follow the money” is quite useful: But when it comes to popular or even revolutionary movements this approach can be seen as wrong and leading to wrong conclusions. You had this type of discussion already when the Bolsheviks took a German train from Switzerland to Russia. And Ho Chi Min got help from the US when he was fighting the Japanese occupiers . Always Powers and Money will meddle . It is clear that the conditions and the timing are the most important for the sudden emergence of a mass movement and the relevance of an initial individual action. The Cuban revolutionaries sized such moment when they started the Guerilla war in Cuba. But in Bolivia this moment was not given when Che Guevara tried the same there. The Arab spring started when a young man burned him self in Tunisia ,and only since around 8 weeks there is a huge movement on the streets in Italy , the “Sardines” against Salvini and his fascists ,started by one man who posted to his friends to protest against Salvini at one of his campaign events. By nature the relevance of such impacts can only judged afterwards.So, sparking and moving forward with this movement will be the legacy of Greta Thunberg .
    By the way: in most parts of the world a “Time” cover means nothing.

    Comment by Theo Völkl — December 14, 2019 @ 10:56 am

  12. Designating a child the leader of anything is a decadent display of resignation and surrender.

    Comment by Janet Avery — December 14, 2019 @ 12:56 pm

  13. Sha’Tara, you wrote two posts saying exactly the same thing. Don’t be a repetitious bore, if you don’t mind.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 14, 2019 @ 1:41 pm

  14. I tire of the nazi-like claims of “the young” that “the future belongs to us.” I’m over seventy and still working a fifty-hour week, which I intend to continue for at least another two years. Under neoliberalism, I and many like me have no choice.

    With “modern medicine”–although this will mean something very different when England loses its health service under Johnson–I could (God help me) have in excess of twenty years to live. During most of this time, given family history, I may well remain compos mentis and capable of intellectual and even physical effort.

    This future belongs to me as much as it does to “the young” although in truth it belongs to all those who are willing to fight for socialism and not at all in any sense to those who fight against it. (Such people, young or old, have no right to any future at all, but that is a subject whose time has not come ….)

    I don’t see Thunberg as a tool, though she can be used and may become one. She reminds me in a way of Bernie Sanders, who for all his faults made the word “socialism” temporarily acceptable in everyday talk. She has made “the environment” at present something that anybody can fight for–as once did the otherwise reactionary Al Gore, who could never spark mass awareness as Thunberg has done.

    It is up to all of us to capture that fight for socialism, without which, IMO, the crisis cannot be finally mitigated. It seems unlikely that Thunberg will help much with this, but perhaps she does not have to.

    Such moments have a certain time to live and then vanish from the pages of history–it appears certain, after the triumph of the ultra-right n the Brexit election, that Scotland will secede and Britain itself will cease to exist as a political entity. At all events, the Labour Party will lose all of its historical connection to the left. As Labour is annihilated they will take with them Britain’s exemplary, if struggling, National Health system (the great achievement of social democracy) and also pave the way for the extermination of the word “socialism,” which will again become unthinkable and unutterable in the English-speaking world. Fox News is already crowing about this.

    The war is on and barbarism is winning. This is why for now all of us should stand behind Thunberg on the environmental crisis. That doesn’t mean we should be blind to the dangers of co-optation, lip-service, and the probably inevitable Johnson-like landslide that will return the Republicans to total power in Trump’s second term.

    But those things are another story. If the left fails to organize for its survival and not for the Democrats in 2020, the extinction of the human species may be inevitable. The climate change crisis has to remain loudly speakable during that time. Viva Thunberg pro tempore.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 14, 2019 @ 2:16 pm

  15. Indeed – perfectly stated. What a cowardly and lazy bunch of “adults”.

    Comment by Sha'Tara — December 14, 2019 @ 3:27 pm

  16. If Sha’Tara was in fact replying to my post, I thank her for her compliment, but I wasn’t aware of attacking a “cowardly and lazy bunch of ‘adults’.”

    I hate all the child saint crap around Thunberg, but don’t blame her for that. Climate change is far more important than that. It isn’t about the eternal innocent fucking wisdom of the fucking child, for fuck’s sake.

    Screw the generation gap. It’s a classic liberal obfuscation of class struggle. I thought it was, like, bullshit in 1968 and I think it’s bullshit now. OK Millennials? OK Xers?

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 14, 2019 @ 5:21 pm

  17. No problem, Louis. I just unfollowed to ensure it doesn’t happen again…

    Comment by Sha'Tara — December 14, 2019 @ 6:25 pm

  18. It is disgusting too read this comments degrading younger people and refusing to accept younger people as equals. My mother was given away when she was 7 to work as a house maid because there were 12 other children to feed. with 16 she run away and learned to become a nurse without any permission, 500km from her home. And still some would dare to call her a “child” to belittle her thoughts and actions ? I`m 59 and ashamed of many of the old left men and of the younger “real” revolutionaries who think reading a little bit of Lenin is enough to judge new movements THEY did not forecast and build .

    Comment by Theo Völkl — December 15, 2019 @ 12:06 am

  19. “Such moments have a certain time to live and then vanish from the pages of history–it appears certain, after the triumph of the ultra-right n the Brexit election, that Scotland will secede and Britain itself will cease to exist as a political entity. At all events, the Labour Party will lose all of its historical connection to the left. As Labour is annihilated they will take with them Britain’s exemplary, if struggling, National Health system (the great achievement of social democracy) and also pave the way for the extermination of the word “socialism,” which will again become unthinkable and unutterable in the English-speaking world. Fox News is already crowing about this.”

    I know that this is off topic, but the scale of the Labour defeat in the UK, along with the Syriza disaster in Greece, are catastrophic for the left. Both represented mass movements for the revival of social welfare policies against the neoliberal consensus, and both have been shattered.

    It may turn out that, in its own way, Corbyn’s defeat in the UK will have the same historical significance as the 1973 coup in Chile.

    Comment by Richard Estes — December 15, 2019 @ 12:51 pm

  20. Farans Kalosar, I think Sha’Tara was responding to my post, no. 12.

    Comment by Janet Avery — December 15, 2019 @ 1:00 pm

  21. We are not impressed by your attacks on Greta Thunberg. You and I have ten years left before the Methane sets off the Positive Feedbacks that will create the runaway global warming.
    I hope you have given yourself at least a minute to think about your own death.And how you feel about it. .Its always old men who seem so threatened by a 16 year old Greta,now why is it that i wonder. We are ready for death here ,are you.A little compassion goes a long way. goodbye and good luck.

    Comment by chris massey lynch — December 15, 2019 @ 4:58 pm

  22. We are not impressed by your attacks on Greta Thunberg.

    —-

    Obviously you did not read my entire article. Instead, it was a defense of her against attacks from the “left”.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 15, 2019 @ 5:24 pm

  23. Chris Massey Lynch–“not afraid to die.”

    What the hell does that mean? Many, many people will be killed directly and indirectly by climate change, but not because they dared to fight it. It will kill–indeed is killing–impartially.

    Normally when some poser scorns death it’s on the eve of some fight in which s[he] might be killed in the fighting. Can’t you smug idiots get anything straight?

    As far as I know at present–doubtless with the exception of the usual Republican inbreeds and whack jobs who want to kill everybody–nobody is seriously threatening to kill Greta Thunberg. That is not the problem.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — December 15, 2019 @ 6:58 pm

  24. Jonathan Cook has a really good piece on left scepticism of Greta Thunberg: https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2019-09-24/greta-thunberg-doubt/

    Comment by sails — December 16, 2019 @ 10:27 am

  25. “Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employments for my time and strength, than such arguments would imply … At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed … The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes … must be proclaimed and denounced,”

    — Frederick Douglass, 5 July 1852, in a speech titled ”What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

    We can thank Greta Thunberg for rousing the conscience of the youth worldwide.

    She has brought a sense of *ethics* into the arguments that previously was either missing or dismissed easily out of hand, by using gradualist explanations of what can be done. Anything CAN be done if humans put their political will into it. And if the ruling classes keep claiming that not much can be done, they’re exposing their own complicity, which is exactly what Greta Thunberg’s activism is exposing.

    Comment by Reza — December 18, 2019 @ 12:33 am

  26. “Obviously you did not read my entire article. Instead, it was a defense of her against attacks from the “left”.”

    There’s no way to ascertain that from your article. You went off-track pretty quickly.

    Comment by Janet Avery — December 19, 2019 @ 1:07 pm

  27. “Its always old men who seem so threatened by a 16 year old Greta, now why is it that i wonder.”

    I prefer the 16 year old whose name no one knows, who she understands that capitalism is a mode of production, not of consumption, and she doesn’t go around attacking consumers for choices they have no control over.

    Comment by Janet Avery — December 19, 2019 @ 1:33 pm

  28. Louis “it is difficult to ascertain what sort of world within she wants to live. It is certainly not a socialist world. Looking for a reference to socialism in the hundreds of thousands of words she has written against Thunberg, you will find none. ”

    You Criticize Morningstar for not once referencing Socialism … but when has Greta Thunberg ever once mentioned Socialism, or provided anything resembling a Socialist or even broadly Leftist critique of any kind?
    Marb

    Comment by mmmhphhhrrrahh — December 21, 2019 @ 11:40 pm

  29. You Criticize Morningstar for not once referencing Socialism … but when has Greta Thunberg ever once mentioned Socialism, or provided anything resembling a Socialist or even broadly Leftist critique of any kind?

    For the same reason I wouldn’t criticize the Stoneman Douglas High School students who launched the movement against automatic rifles or the young Blacks who were in Black Lives Matter. These are movements, not bloggers.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 22, 2019 @ 12:43 am


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