This article first appeared on Substack.
Last week the Biden team delivered their first press conference on the Democrat’s much-anticipated Climate Plan.
The good news is that Climate Envoy, John Kerry and Advisor, Gina McCarthy are talking about the Climate Plan delivering “Good paying Union Jobs”.
All hail to that ambition.
The bad news is that this ain’t no Rooseveltian New Deal.
Roosevelt confronted Wall St from the get go. His administration systematically drained the Street of power, and made it servant to the economy and ecosystem. Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary could rightly boast:
We moved the financial capital from London and Wall Street right to my desk at the Treasury. (Rauchway, 2017, p. 227)
John Kerry on behalf of President Biden did the reverse. With breath-taking haste he genuflected to Wall St. by paying homage to the CEO of Blackrock, and then implied the mighty United States government was dependent on Wall St titans to deliver those “Good paying Union Jobs”.
Kerry began the press conference by welcoming CEO Larry Fink’s recent letter and
the new awareness among asset managers about the need to be putting resources into this endeavour.
Remember readers, that Larry Fink presides over assets valued at $8.6 trillion. Blackrock’s clients include pension funds, insurance companies, charities, endowment funds and central banks. Tucked into that basket are your pensions, your insurance, your charitable donations – and your taxpayer-backed central bank.
And just this weekend, Gillian Tett of the Financial Times reminded us, in an article titled – Wall St.’s New Mantra: Green is Good – that Blackrock
Exploded in size and power this century by amassing exchange traded funds and “passive’ strategies that automatically track mainstream indices, such as the S&P 500 – which include fossil fuels… to which Blackrock is heavily exposed…
In other words, this private company uses the world’s savings to make massive capital gains from ‘passive’ almost effortless investment strategies. Worse they use their power to accelerate the climate crisis by investing “heavily” in fossil fuels.
All that is bad enough. But Blackrock is able to amass their vast, global power because economists and politicians (including ‘the Left’ of the political spectrum) have conceded that power to them.
John Kerry is our witness. After paying homage to CEO Fink, Kerry placed the United States government in the role of humble supplicant – and effectively begged Wall St. to come to the rescue of the Biden Climate Plan. He could not have addressed the Street more plainly:
What the financiers, the big banks, the asset managers, private investors, venture capital, are all discovering is that there is a lot of money to be made in the jobs to be created in these sectors…
Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor, drove home the point:
The question won’t be, will the private sector buy into it? The private sector is going to drive it…
Blackrock’s Fink, one of “the greatest greenwashers of them all” is clearly delighted to be put in the driving seat of Biden’s Climate Plan. As he excitedly told Gillian Tett:
“This (climate story) reminds me of the formative years when I was a mortgage-backed securities trader…In five straight years we elevated it to becoming a dominant component of global capital markets. It might take ten years, not five years, for sustainability. But the underlying potential is huge.”
Ignore the fact that Fink’s activities “went to crazy extremes this century, triggering the 2008 crisis.” Focus on the words: “the underlying potential..in ten years…is huge”. This is raw power asserting itself – once again.
The mighty United States government is conceding its great power to transform the economy, to fix humanity’s and nature’s life support systems, to create jobs and to strengthen trades unions – to private financial institutions like Blackrock.
Why are we in this mess?
I have a straightforward answer to this question: we’re in this mess because the American Left – including Green New Dealers – will not confront, challenge and disarm Wall St.’s immense power over the survival of humanity. Bill McKibben’s corporate divestment campaign is an exception – but has not dented Wall St.’s power in any meaningful way.
The world – and our ecosystem – is effectively governed by speculators and investors in global capital markets. States and their electorates have been neutralised, lobotomized, castrated and left powerless in the face of the power of global capital markets.
Yet social movements and climate activists continue to promote The Green New Deal as if the raw power of Wall St and the City of London are not in real, unaccountable control of our destinies.
Recently I re-listened to – and cheered on – Adam Curtis’s 2019 interview with Chapo Trap House.
As he traced the rise of Finance’s power, he did not mince his words:
In the 1980s politicians were reeling in the face of the rise, above all, of Finance as Power. The Left could not deal with it, and retreated into the utopian idea of a space outside time…where there is no power.
He described how progressives, including those that led the Occupy protests, retreated into the online world
Where the counter-culture could flourish, free of governments… a system where all individuals could connect online with each other through feedback, no one would be in charge, and somehow out of that would come this stability – including ecosystems, with nature as a model – with no one in charge. They borrowed those ideas from cyberspace utopianism….and created
a picture of a world without power….
Take note Extreme Rebellion.
Raw power, Curtis said, has shown itself again and again over the last 30 years. But the Left has failed to mobilize in the face of the vast power of Wall St. and the City of London.
To change the world. you have to bring power into focus, engage with it – and disarm it.
That is our mission.