How/when to criticise environmental activists for being “stupid, unhelpful, lazy.” (spoiler: it’s not when they refuse to join cheerleading for aggro-capitalism)

This is going to be sweary. If you are all Omar Little, and don’t like swearing, then look away now.

For fucking fuckity fucking fuck’s fucking sake. What kind of fucking clueless muppet chides environmentalists when they are lukewarm about some rapacious purveyor of salt, sugar, fat and protein getting in on the fake meat act? I mean, are you for fucking real? Srsly.

For the avoidance of doubt, and in keeping with the title of this short (but not short enough) blog post, there ARE circumstances when environmentalists can and should be called out for their stupidity, unhelpfulness and laziness.

If I didn’t stand by that position, I’d be a(n even bigger) raging hypocrite because a good portion of my energy and time these last 15 years has been taken up with pointing out the environmental “movement”‘s failings – see terms like the smugosphere, the emotacycle, ego-fodder, potemkinclusivity etc etc. And I have also gone into detail about what is underlying those failings (emotional needs, unexamined privilege – especially around class) – and, crucially, WHAT WE COULD AND SHOULD BUT PROBABLY WON’T DO DIFFERENTLY.

Environmental activists (self-included) absolutely are “fair game”. I am not one who subscribes to what a friend calls ‘the love and light brigade’. We are not going to “get there” (where the hell is ‘there’?) by pretending that any activity is good activity, that good intentions add up to anything. To pretend we are is to lack – to choose a phrase entirely at random – “emotional and intellectual honesty.”

But to chide other activists because they aren’t down with your ecological modernisation bollocks? I mean, that is some next-level stupid, unhelpful laziness.

5 thoughts on “How/when to criticise environmental activists for being “stupid, unhelpful, lazy.” (spoiler: it’s not when they refuse to join cheerleading for aggro-capitalism)

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  1. My main argument against this post would be a tu quoque. So you could dismiss it. But maybe it shouldn’t be entirely dismissed.

    1. Sure, but I flagged that in the post itself, no?

      The point is surely (he says, perhaps too sure of himself!) that there are good and bad reasons to criticise other activists. I don’t ever recall criticising anyone for not being as enthusiastic about capitalism’s ability to reform itself. We are all, of course, to a greater or lesser extent hypocrites, but getting hung up on those hypocrisies, their size, shape and feel, is a bit like getting hung up on other people’s carbon footprints – a distraction from the quality (or lack of quality) of their proposals for What. We (as activists) Actually Fucking Do DIFFERENTLY? And on the question of what to do differently, how, and why, I think I have something worth saying…

  2. I didn’t explain the basis of my tu quoque and I should probably have done so to start with. So it was maybe unfair to expect any response.

    The problem you identify is someone critiquing others for ‘lazy, unhelpful, stupid’ behaviour in a case that you don’t think warrants it.

    You then call out that critique as lazy, unhelpful, stupid, plus swearing. It’s more evidently directed at an individual than the original, as it’s a pretty obvious thing for anyone who spends time on twitter and follows prominent people posting about climate.

    If the words lazy, unhelpful, stupid weren’t used in the original, would you have objected? It would have been a point of view saying let’s celebrate a win even if we don’t like big corporate fast food, and it’s still not enough, yada yada. Would you have reacted?

    That would have been a difference of strategy which we might disagree with, but it’s not objectionable in itself to post about strategy. Quite the opposite, surely. The objectionable thing is the slur.

    So the tu quoque applies to the reproduction of the slur.

    I wouldn’t have minded calling it out but I don’t think reproducing the objectionable language is warranted for this case.

    I hope that makes some more sense.I’m not sure there’s a right answer here. Just trying to think it through and better explain my reaction. I’m aware of this being a reaction partly informed by too much attachment to class based norms of conventional mannerisms!

    1. Hi Robbie,
      struggling here a bit, tbh.

      “If the words lazy, unhelpful, stupid weren’t used in the original, would you have objected? It would have been a point of view saying let’s celebrate a win even if we don’t like big corporate fast food, and it’s still not enough, yada yada. Would you have reacted?”

      No, probably not. I muted (unfollowed? I can’t remember) the person in question a while back. The “offending” tweet was drawn to my attention by a good friend (whom you know), with the suggestion that I blog about it. So everything is clearly THEIR fault, obvs, not mine….

      I don’t have a problem with robust fucking language, usually, and on the question of “professionalism”/reproduction of slurs – did you see this tweet?

      I think polite language can be overrated.

      Am I adding more heat than light?

  3. Thanks for replying. Yes perhaps it’s hard to see the light for the heat on this occasion. So, probably enough said on the topic for now at least.

    Yeah I saw the tweet from Karen Gibbs. It’s a belter.

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