Politics for the end of the world

New Statesman

History right now shifts with dizzying speed. Anatol Lieven’s new book is about climate change and the nation state. Lieven wants us to think about the kind of politics that should accompany a comprehensive approach to the climate crisis. In particular he addresses himself to the idea of a Green New Deal that held so much currency on both sides of the Atlantic in 2019. Like the Green New Dealers, Lieven is convinced that fighting the climate crisis will require a comprehensive reconstruction of politics and society.

But what is the political future of the Green New Deal? In the British general election of December 2019, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour was badly defeated. This does not mean an end to climate politics, but it will not take the form that Britain’s Green New Dealers once imagined. In climate politics, time really matters. The clock ticks towards the upper limit of the carbon budget. The option for a UK Green New Deal, as envisioned last year, was thus permanently foreclosed. In the US, Bernie Sanders, the chosen candidate of the Green New Dealers, is still in the race for the Democratic nomination. But he faces an uphill battle. And Sanders barely figures in Lieven’s book. Joe Biden not at all.

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