Bill Mckibben

Deep Straights: Is there a Solution?

Deep Straights: Is there a Solution?

By Damon Griffin

In Bill Mckibben’s book Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, every hot-button issue of environmental and economic decline is touched on: Global Warming, income division, the food crisis, Healthcare crisis, Corporate Lobbying, Globablization and Over-Spending. The book spends a large amount of time talking about the first issue in particular; McKibben’s advocacy of a more homespun, communal approach to managing the economy and everyday life in the United States is framed as an attempt to fix Global Warming more than any others. McKibben’s theories (about how a culture of selfishness and individualism inadvertently leads to environmental damage is well argued and his admonishing views of how the common population simply has the wrong mentality could turn in to condesenscion, but instead provides grounds for optimism. But what is truly an area for debate and controversy in the book is the way it touches on general politics.

The books rhetoric, never explicit, brings to the forefront of one’s mind two words: one is Capitalism, and the other is that always-feared word ‘Socialism.’

Uh-oh. Is McKibben really advocating a Socialist society? He does write of a trip to Cuba, where he advocates their farming system and production of food over the U.S system. One poster on wrote that McKibben is advocating ‘Outright Communism.’ He is not trying to do any such thing, although it could be concluded that his view of the way American society should be is more of a Social Democracy that what we have now: a Capitalist Democracy. McKibben writes that his ideas are not ‘Liberal or Conservative,’ though even he realizes that his idea of a communal, less individualistic society relates to Liberal, Social-Democratic politics, in opposition to the every-individual-for-himself economy we have today, which leans closer to a Conservative, Libertarian model. A blog post does not have much room for an in-depth Political Science discussion, but there certainly is a major discussion Deep Economy can provoke: the upsides of a communal economy and society as opposed to a global, Capitalist economy, and its’ downsides as well. This same discussion could provoke a shallow, misunderstood controversy as well; ‘Socialism’ versus ‘Capitalism,’ ‘Radicalism’ versus ‘The Establishment.’