Bill McKibben, an environmentalist at Middlebury College who co-founded 350.org to campaign for work directed against climate change, was attacked recently by Glenn Beck as being a communist. He writes with considerable humor about what that means, in "My Life as a Communist", Washington Post,com, Mar. 1, 2011, showing how fundamental values underlying the American experiment in democracy seem to get labeled "communist" these days--ideals such as supporting equality; basing policy on facts rather than mere opinions; or understanding the ways that special interests can negatively impact policy decisions; or even stepping back to assess just whose interests are being served by proposed "solutions" to problems.
He deals with all of those in his discussion of the negative impact of business lobbying that insists that millions of people should adapt to climate change rather than the 16 biggest companies funding the Chamber of Commerce having to adapt their business models. That section on the Chamber of Commerce is worth reading, so I excerpt it here.
[E]arlier in the week, I'd written a widely circulated essay that attacked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which on its own Web site says that as "the voice of business, the Chamber's core purpose is to fight for free enterprise." And yet I scourged them - because they've spent the past few years opposing any action on climate change. Indeed, they submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency arguing that it should avoid regulating carbon emissions because, in the event of global warming, "populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations."
To me that sounds absurd. Instead of the 16 companies that provided more than half the chamber's budget adapting their business models to a world of safe renewable energy, they wished all people everywhere and forever to change their physiologies. But now I see that my protests can be read as a gesture of support for human solidarity, with all that implies.
I should have known better than to go after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. After all, Mr. Beck just last year held a telethon on its behalf, encouraging listeners to send the chamber checks, and ponying up $10,000 of his own $32 million in earnings. "They are us," he'd explained - and indeed, an executive of the chamber called in to thank him.
The Chamber of Commerce spends more money than anyone else lobbying Congress. They dropped hundreds of thousands on the last state elections in Wisconsin, all of it for the side now standing up for union-busting, I mean human freedom.
Corporatism is on display here, in the way the Chamber of Commerce and Big Money like the Koch brothers work against ideas that support ordinary Americans while doing everything possible to further an agenda that favors the wealthy elite and corporate powerhouses. If ordinary people don't wake up and take back the power to set the agenda, I fear we will be doomed to a life little removed from serfdom to the corporate elite.