Breaking Green

Prepping Together for Climate Collapse with Dr. Tadzio Mueller

November 15, 2023 Global Justice Ecology Project / Host Steve Taylor Season 3 Episode 8
Breaking Green
Prepping Together for Climate Collapse with Dr. Tadzio Mueller
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Soon the attention of many environmentalists will be focused on the most recent UN Climate Conference in Dubai. But this in the 28th such conference and the climate crisis continues to worsen. What if Climate Collapse is inevitable?

In this episode of Breaking Green we will talk with long-time global and climate justice activist Dr. Tadzio Mueller. Dr. Mueller is a political scientist and activist who runs the blog Peaceful Sabotage.

He believes that there is no longer the possiblitly to avoid significant global warming benchmarks and that the physical and political realities necessitate a collapse of social systems in our not so distant future.

Dr. Mueller claims we cannot abandon this unfortunate future to the fascist powers that will rise as world systems degrade.

He has come under fire from fellow activists who claim his focus on prepping for a future of climate catastrophe is depressing and defeatist. 

But he argues that there can be hope and meaning as we find a way to advance our own values and bring light, hope and love into the darkening landscape. He has recently traveled to Sweden to study the Prepping Together movement which he says can be a model for how we chose to respond.

Dr. Mueller's blog is 

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Steve Taylor  0:00  
Welcome to breaking green, a podcast by global justice ecology project are breaking green, we will talk with activists and experts to examine the intertwined issues of social, ecological, and economic injustice. We will also explore some of the more outrageous proposals to address climate and environmental crises that are falsely being sold as green. I am your host, Steve Taylor. Soon, the attention of many environmentalists around the world will be focused on the most recent UN climate conference in Dubai. But this is the 28th Such conference, and the climate crisis continues to worsen. What if climate collapse is inevitable? In this episode of Breaking green, we will talk with longtime global and climate justice activist Dr. Tazio Mueller. Dr. Muller is a political scientist and activist who runs the blog peaceful sabotage. Dr. Muller argues that we cannot abandon this unfortunate future to the fascist powers that will rise as world systems degrade. He has come under fire from fellow activists who claim his focus on prepping for a future of climate catastrophe is depressing and defeatist. But he suggests that there can be hope and meaning as we find a way to advance our own values and bring light hope and love into a darkening landscape. He has recently traveled to Sweden to study the prepping together movement, which he says can be a model for how we choose to respond to this unfortunate future.

Dr. Tajfel Muller, welcome to breaking green. Thanks for having me. Very glad to be here. You run the blog, fleet lick, sabotage, peace, peaceful sabotage, you've been involved in a lot of movements, including the climate movement, and I was talking to one of my colleagues, Oren Lang gal, prior to this interview, and he told me a story, I think was cop 15 in Copenhagen, that that was that was a very

seminal our are a very significant event in his life. And he feels far the climate movement is well. So before we get to the point where we talk to you about climate collapse is inevitable, in your opinion. Let's talk about who you were then.

Tadzio  2:25  
So basically, so 2007 2008, a bunch of us were casting around for something new to work on, because that whole anti neoliberal stuff had run its course when neoliberalism, you know, apparently imploded, we now know it continues to exist as a zombie practice, but it changed 2017. And it looked like it was breaking down. It was a general sense, this shit is over. And at the same time, there was a sense of right, this climate crisis is really serious. And then I started engaging with the literature and started understanding tipping points. And I understood that this was an issue that was fundamentally different from all other issues that have defined my work as a leftist. And I would say I was always a kind of red and black type leftist, not so much across the street fighter, or crusty or Hardy, whatever you want to call them. But I was always kind of libertarian communist and, and really, like back in the days green issues, and like outside of the US where you had an environmental justice tradition. In the global north green issues were seen as elite, not as social issues, right? They were seen as mega fauna, right. Climate change was about bloody polar bears. I actually think I said on one, at one point on the podium, I said, Fuck the polar bears, I don't give a I don't give a damn about them. That was clever. But I lost half the room in two seconds. But so I started understanding then that this wasn't about polar bears. It was a justice issue. But that would make it a classic left issue. I understood that environmental issues introduce a totally different temporality to social struggle, then other social issues. Give you one example, our key issue in Europe right now. I mean, a key issue, like migration is an issue around the world. And Europe has the wonderful advantage of having the Mediterranean in which we can just let 1000s of people drown every year. So they don't come to our shores, because we're selfish Phox right. Now, the thing about that type of crisis, and that's a humanitarian crisis going on every day. But the thing about that type of crisis is that if to next year another million million people drown in the Mediterranean, and the year after that the million people and the year after that the million people and so on and so forth. Nothing will fundamentally change. Like this won't change the conditions of struggle for workers in China. It won't change the conditions of queer struggles in the UK. But if the climate tips, right, if the climate tips from that stable 12,000 year window, the so called Holocene that we had, in which literally everything we call humans, ever As a nation, and I always like to say, without any of the requisite irony, so without what we without any of the requisite irony is still called human civilization that will happen in 12,000 years of an unusual climatic stability, where mean temperatures did not deviate more than two degrees above, beyond above or below the mean value. If that period ends, we have no fucking idea what's going to happen, right? The whole like, for example, if you have climate chaos, because the climate system is a complex system, a complex system of state have to state stable and unstable. If the climate system tips into an unstable state, it will fundamentally transform conditions for all social struggles in the world, make them much, much worse, and create a much more conflictual society, which is something that basically, I now realize won't be able to deliver this promise of more, which both liberalism socialism, and in a way, conservatism have always given their basis. But that was me in 2008, I started getting involved in justice activism. And because and so this may sound a bit a bit complicated. But basically, why did we protest at the summits? Right, why did we go to the WTO? Why did we go to the IMF? Why did we go to the World Bank? I mean, there are a bunch of assholes. What did we did we just want to shut down their summits? Yes, because what they were doing was bad. They were pushing free trade, they were pushing investors bills of rights. They were pushing all sorts of policies that would improve the situation for capital and worsen it for regular people. If we shut down one of those summits, we intercede, intervened into their global power construction, and essentially improved a lot of lives of a lot of people in the world, but all rather prevented them from being made worse by neoliberal policies. The thing of course, with the climate stuff is that's not exactly the same way. Right? If we go to a summit and stop them from passing, which Copenhagen was about, they wanted to have a follow up to the Kyoto Protocol, which the older of us may remember, as the first set of significant global climate environmental treaty. When I say significant, I don't mean as in having political effects, I mean, significant as in being quite a big deal. So we took this idea that basically because we as movements have so I understood that we go to the summit's because we have moved as movements have very little power at the global scale, like our causal our ability to achieve effects. At the global level, something which I call globality, the ability to have global causal effects is super limited for our movements, the workers movement tradition, the communist movement, tradition, Catholicism are all institutions that have tried to build global institutional power, and it's fucking hard. It is very fucking hard, particularly as social movements, we are generally less well resourced actors. So we thought, okay, we saw this major problem, a problem that is created, literally every day in fossil capitalism, everywhere, everything we every time we work with, consumed, like every time a circle of capital is closed, everything fucks up the environment, right. But whether it's ocean temperatures, or co2 levels or biodiversity loss, right, every time the MCM prime money commodity, more money, the Marxist equation that sort of understands that describes capital best, every time that equation is closed, every time more money is added to the last, more energy, more resources, more labor power, more stuff has more world has gone into it more world has been eaten and transformed into something that moves on the circuit of capital rather than regular the circuits of nature. You know, we are not capitalism, capitalism doesn't function without us. So we reproduce it we are character masks, as Marx ones argued. So we reproduce this every day. This is not something that happens because somebody at a global summit decides it. It happens because the micro economic decisions of workers of capitalist of consumers, etc, everywhere all the time. So we as small lefty radical or eco radical movements didn't actually have the point of leverage to change anything. Why did we go to the cop, although we knew it was a bankrupt process, because we figured, hey, in the neoliberal phase, these global summits actually changed the world a bit. So if we build power there, maybe we can use them to change the world in a way that makes it that makes it a bit better. But Copenhagen, the court failed in two ways. Not only, I mean, the mobilization from the movements was powerful. But our actions were brutally policed, there was a lot of preventive around pre emptive arrests. And ultimately, we didn't have a kind of like moment of coming out of the climate justice movement like Seattle was, which had sort of been the hope of people like Naomi Klein and Patrick Bond and myself and certainly also Oren Langille. And but at the same time, the summit flopped, the summit found no way of regulating climate change. No, there was no Copenhagen agreement. There was a couple They're going to court but that's bullshit. If you ever hear of it just ignore it. It's like Sesame Street, twaddle.

Steve Taylor  10:04  
You mentioned pre emptive arrests. And according to Oren Lang gal, you were one of those pre emptive arrests.

Tadzio  10:10  
Yeah, exactly. No, we I sat in jail for four days, while I saw my comrades being arrested in the streets, it was fucking awful. 

Steve Taylor  10:20  
Right... but there was a time you were doing that, and you may not have been successful. But there was some strategies in play. But now, we're reading on your blog, that there's no hope you state, quote, Every climate strategy contains at least a bit of Magical Thinking. There is one day Ex Machina God Goddess out of the machine, and in every even mildly optimistic climate narrative that exists to bridge the distance between what is necessary from a climate perspective, and what is doable from a political perspective. So you're basically saying that it's just, it's, it's an intractable problem at this point, politically, economically, in every way, it's just not possible to address our global climate tipping points, we're going to blow through those, and that there's going to be a painful existence at best. And you talk about collapse. 

Tadzio  11:29  
So let's talk. Let's, let's take that bit by bit. So first, time has passed since 2009 14 years have passed. And in 2009, everybody said we have one decade to fix this problem to massively reduce emissions. Now, emissions have been rising. And the rate of increase has generally been rising in lockstep, basically, has been following the global development, the global economy. Particularly if you look at the massive expansion of fracking, you're looking at the sort of seeping out into the atmosphere of methane, which is it which is a climate gas that is much more powerful in changing the climate than co2, and works in a 12 year scale, not in a 50 year scale. And actually, you could look at the escalations of the climate catastrophe would start around 2018 2019 correlated with the beginning of the American shale revolution and you actually see a connection. Now. Even that time we have emitted much more than we should have, if you take that carbon budget approach, that carbon budget how much we can still emit, to maintain a What is it 50% chance to stay below two degrees warming, beyond which the tipping of the global climate system becomes essentially unstoppable. Right? We have emitted far more carbon, methane, co2, methane, then would be compatible with any path where we don't let don't see the climate collapsing two things. First of all, on a material physical level, the climate is currently collapsing. We know those individual tipping points, the West Antarctic ice shelf, the Amazon, the Gulf Stream or the what does it Amok the American Atlantic meridional, something circulation, oceanic circulation or whatever? The thing that pumps warm water to Europe, right? We know of those individual tipping points, but you can also hypothesize theoretically a macro tipping point where the climate tips into that unstable state that I mentioned before. And if you look at all the statistics from this year, the ocean temperatures, the air temperatures, we've got the melting of the melting of the ice caps, you actually see crazy breakout lines on those graphs, you see historical trend graphs, and this year is breaking all the historical trends. Zeke house father a not particularly Doom arrest, climate scientists refer to the current statistics as an I love this absolutely gobsmacking ly bananas, which is possibly the most English way to describe a clusterfuck wrapped in a shitshow thrown into a dumpster fire, which is about where we are in the climate right now. That's the material physical part, the thing is already tipping on a political level. We, on the one hand, have societies that have understood that growth and protecting the climate are inimical. And they're gonna go for growth. Now, there is of course, by the way, a justice I mentioned this, I speak from the global north, I recognize that countries in the south might require space to grow certain elements of their economy. But the global economy has to shrink, which of course involves massive redistribution from the north to the south, which is another total political non starter, right.

Steve Taylor  14:46  
So yeah, the colonial the climate debt to the global south might come in play there.

Tadzio  14:51  
Exactly. And that's, by the way, when I said before that we were always a Climate Action Movement, radical climate action. We've never read the climate justice movement, as I consider it. One of our Great failures. And by the way, in a way, guilt or blameless failures, just one of the things we did not manage, was to anchor the discourse around reparations and ecological debt in any way, even in progressive spheres. In the global north, it's been a, you know, since 2008, since I encountered the climate justice comrades, that's been one of the loudest calls from the south. And I get a little bit teary eyed when I think at how fucking little we've had, we've been able, sorry, how little we've been able to deliver for our comrades in the south on that on that count, just because of our massive national citizen, like I was going to nationally national egotism in the globe, nationalist egotism in the north. So materially, we're already I think, in climate collapse. So that's happening. And once that thing is tipped, you don't just put it back, right? It's, it's broken, it's like the feather cup that is tipped over the tables edge, once it's broken, you can't just put it back up and together. Secondly, we have the certainty that most societies are going to go for growth, over sustainability. Because in a capitalist system, that's what our reproduction depends on, you know, we need to work etc, we need to produce we need, we are part of this hamster race. And by the way, this is not a moral critique of individuals. And right, so I'm not criticizing us on a moral scale for doing this. But we haven't found a way to sort of break our collective addiction in in this system to growth and fossil fuels, etc. So we have no leverage anymore. Now I to the magical thinking.

Steve Taylor  16:36  
Well, let me interrupt you right there. So given your political analysis, we will not find a lever to to change policy and the direction in your blog, you use psychological terms. Do you really believe that as a movement, or as a society, we're kind of suppressing, in our minds? The ultimate reality that we're headed off the climate cliff?

Tadzio  17:03  
Right? Yes, I do. And let me explain how I got them. We generally believe that people act, even if they're not neoclassical economists, we believe that people act broadly, rationally, people like Paul do, or other social scientists called a bounded rationality. So if my rationality is I want to maximize my ability to party with gay men in Berlin, I will find ways to maximize my party with gay men in Berlin, depending on what my desires are, what my needs are, I will act right and what my social surrounding is, I will act broadly, rationally within now. We knew as the climate justice movement that the global north would be affected by the climate catastrophe later than the South. But we and therefore we knew that it wouldn't really we wouldn't really get leverage until the climate crisis arrived in the north. And then when it arrived in the north, we thought we had leverage, but we didn't get it. Right. We had societies that saw climate collapse, that are seeing climate collapse happening that at the same time are building 50 years and fossil fuel infrastructure to last 50 years. That's irrational. The more you point out that this is irrational and unethical, the less rational and the less ethical the responses will be. Because a this is where translation gets hard to fit. Hang on. Federico is a psychological term coined by Freud, that can be variously translated as repression. Sublimation, it's basically pushing away knowledge of something for doing or really means pushing away. So we're gonna think of it as active ignorance with a society of active ignorance. Now. There's somebody sent this, you're like a regular German guy, and you work wherever you just a regular guy living a regular life, somebody stands in front of you saying, hey, that regular life that you're leading in structures that you're living in, is destroying the planet is destroying the lives of people now is destroying the future of your kids. And in order to change that, we need to change a lot, a lot about the world. Plus, you will need to accept that chip will still get much worse in terms of climate, as you said before, so there will be a catastrophe coming, you will need to change a lot about your lives. And I mean, collectively and individually. In a way, by the way, just a parenthesis, we signed them first lockdown, and actually a policy that really reduced emissions to the point that would be relevant for the climate. And there we saw how much we had to change our lives. I mean, we had to shut them down essentially, right. Plus, there's another issue that folks in the Global North and I'm increasingly convinced to this are all on a subconscious level aware of the fact that we live like our lives are moral abominations, your and my life shouldn't exist the way they do that we you know, I'm not using this as a moral metric for an individual. But our lives collectively are moral abominations, we'd have to face the guilt and the shame that we feel everyday like when you look at your laptop, when I look at my laptop, I don't see the tortured bodies of the teenage slave miners in the Congo, who dug up the coltan in this in this laptop, I know that that they're there, I know that they are behind this laptop, under this laptop, in this laptop. But I don't I choose not to see it. Because if I did, and I this is, I have worked on this laptop, I watched TV, I organized dates on my lap. This is where I where I need to ignore, I need to push away the guilt and the shame associated with living on top of a global pyramid of exploitation, destruction and murder. We know this. And I believe that in a way, I think we feel ashamed that we live on top of this pyramid. So we're afraid of the future, that is going to happen, we're afraid of what we'll have to do. And we feel guilt and shame at what we have been doing and have not been doing. Now, subjects generally try to avoid negative sensations, fear, shame, guilt, these are negative sensation subjects try to avoid those climate activism forces you to confront all these things, we force we try to force society to confront the future that it's creating, to confront, it's not doing anything in order to change his behavior. But because it is so difficult to change his behavior to change behavior, which I said before, because it's so hard, even for the individual, especially for the individual, but also as collectors. They can't change their behavior. Basically, society wants to ignore that it has decided to just keep up business as usual. All the while knowing that business as usual, is an immoral asshole way to live.

Steve Taylor  21:58  
And then also, we have all these false solution narratives, right? You know, nature based solutions,

Tadzio  22:06  
the geoengineering, solar radiation management, yeah, in

Steve Taylor  22:10  
the science behind that just hasn't been promising. You also talk about, you know, to wake up, it's similar to going through a process of grief.

Tadzio  22:20  
All existing climate discourse, is pretty much a variant of either denial. That's widespread anger, look at the way people respond to the climate activists, bargaining, emissions trading, all of that is bargaining is literally like, oh, Doctor, I've understood that my lifestyle caused cancer. But can I maybe still vape rather than smoke, maybe not take, you know, maybe not take Angel Dust and PCP just take crystal meth, or maybe not cocaine to speed? Right, this is the kind of left bargaining and then we of course, have depression, which is something that many people who really engage with the subject will also know everybody who engages with the climate subject of a sociological crisis will know that an element of this is also just pulls you down, makes you sad and depressed. So the last stage in this is acceptance and saying, Okay, I accept, for example, that my life is going to be much shorter because I have cancer. I accept that the rise of fascism is a very, very real danger and possibility right now. I accept that the climate is collapsing, and that it is our job to fight for. Maybe not a better world, but a world in which there is still goodness and justice in that context, right. Everybody then says, okay, Todd, you You're depressing people, you're demotivating people that's defeatist, it's demotivating. It's disempowering. Because it's not hopeful, but hope cannot be based on bullshit, because then it's just bullshit. Yes, you do need positive stories, but they cannot come instead of grief. They can only come after grief after grieving that the future that you wanted for yourself and your kids won't be there, it just boat really, it's gonna get really fucking harsh, very quickly. It means that everything is going to change and that's not going to be in 50 years, but in the next 20 years, work mobility, food, water, the way you relate to the outdoors. What if you know it becomes too hot to do sports during the days and loads and loads of kids who are really from sports important suddenly lose that. When I say collapse, by the way, collapses systemic system theory term, it means that the system is sort of structure consisting of multiple different elements that inter intersect interact in such a way that they functionally reproduce that system, right? Collapse means that there's no functionality left. But from the individuals perspective, collapse looks different. We live our lives at the intersection of so many different systems, that collapse doesn't mean different from one One day to the next, everything is broken. It just means that more and more will be broken for longer and longer time. 

Steve Taylor  25:05  
You've put a lot out there. And a lot of people are really pushing back against it. But let's let's for the sake of exploration, not even just argument, but just for exploration, let's say there is no chance of avoiding this difficult future. Let's say people are willing to take that journey with you, Dr. Mueller, and say, I've been living in denial. But now I need to take a reality check. And I need to say, hey, it is happening. So Dr. Mueller is talking about the P T movement he's been to is it Sweden, and he's discovered the PT prepping together in English, English would be prepping together. I think it's something else in Swedish. And you've heard me butchered German enough prep prep up property sermons don't want to hear me attempt sweetie. So let's say we take this journey with you. And you're now saying, Well, what will activism look like? If we accept the fact that we've gotten a blow through these tipping points? Let's accept the fact that we're not going to win a systemic change in the next five years? What is the P T movement? And why should someone who's taking this journey with you now say, well, let's let's continue there is maybe not hope for for the future as we know it now our life as we know it now in the future. But there can be a basis for a rational, a rational way to live even

Tadzio  26:48  
even for I would say, even for hope. And the way and the way that journey works is first of all, anticipate a rocky journey like this, this process of accepting and of grieving isn't fun. Like there's a reason why there are psychological models about this. There's a reason why people say why there is therapists, I do not do this alone. The first thing is talk to people. If it's your therapist, only talk to your therapist or talk to your talk to your family. Talk to your friends. If you're an activist, talk to your comrades. I got through it actually, ultimately, because I reconnected to the movement. The moment when I actually started to get energy again was when a something really terrible happened. A Pride March was attacked in Germany. And what do you call them a steward, a steward. At the march a young trans man was beaten to the ground hit his head hit the ground, and he died a few days later. It was a really fucking like, you know, basically our safe space, a Pride March being attacked by a queer hater. And I remember saying, Dear fellow queers, we need to start defending ourselves. In 20 2211, Pride marches were attacked in 2021 was only two this year, I stopped counting at 13. Right. And that's a collapse of security. Like, I hope that most listeners would agree that that shouldn't happen, right? But it happens, and it's not going to end. So I can just say, Hey, police, police, police protect us. But if they don't, I have to start organizing this security myself. And the interesting thing is that it is actually in working with people to prepare for catastrophes, like say, an attack on queer structures. That's a sort of catastrophic breakdown of security, or catastrophes like there being no running water in our neighborhood, or what I'm anticipating actually happening quite soon, our area of Berlin where I live being really heat stress, and there's a lot of homelessness nowadays in Berlin, because a lot of migrants and refugees don't find flats. And I believe we will have to create heat shelters. I think people will die in the streets. If we don't do that. And I think they should, you know, within several years, we will have to have the capability as activist movements to essentially be some type of and my friend parents we'd call it. He said, we are always the first responders, you know, who calls first responders. There's always somebody who makes a call to 911. That person is the first responder right. Now what if say, take a situation where due to a widespread flood, social first, like first responder services are stretched emergency services really stretched? Imagine that nobody is prepared for this. They have to find every single person and pull them out of our house. That means a lot of people will die, particularly the older ones, particularly the weaker ones. What if those who can in that situation have already organized structures to get people out of their homes? Right maybe They won't find everybody, because they're not professionals. But that's what the SIP that the bloody emergency services can do, then they can focus on the actual emergencies. Now, Sweden is a country where generally think we think of wealth and liberal and comfort. But 150 years ago, Sweden was a deeply agricultural society, which suffered a devastating famine of a bit like the Irish Potato Famine, think of it think of it as the Irish Potato Famine, like deep scars in the national psyche. So today, highly industrialized, Sweden, still has a historical memory of collapse, because from that famine emerged a peasant democracy movement, because they were like, well, if we had something to say, maybe we wouldn't have starved as badly, you know, a reasonable point. So modern Swedish democracy, in its DNA actually contains memories of collapse of ecological collapse. Not a social collapse, like German memory remembers collapse, you know, the Nazi title and occupation. But this is an ecological collapse. So in Sweden, almost 1/10 of the population are involved in networks where you create direct agricultural, consumer and producer connections, a 10th of the population. That'd be like 32 million Americans being in like, sort of solid, like, like, sort of, kind of agricultural coops. And that's a, that's a crazy number. And I went to Sweden to investigate that preparedness tradition, like what does it what can we learn from it? And I learned a number of really, really important things I learned, first of all, that prepping, which I know we use associate that term with individual right wing nutters, but by the way, the prepping just means preparing for catastrophe. Right. And we are social beings. There's the term political from from Aristotle is and our understanding that we live in relations, ironically, therefore, our response to collapse will also be social, we are a society and therefore we will in social and collective ways to respond to catastrophe. Now, those may be asshole exclusionary ways, like heat, shelter, or water only for Germans, or for straight people, or for white people. Or that organization can happen in Germany, you can put solidarity into an adjective, which you can't, then you can show that it's going to solid, the rest Zoli Dalgliesh, it can happen in solid Ristic ways. We can have sheet heat shelters and water, provide water for everybody. Or we can say leave that to the Nazis, who are just going to provide it to the Germans, or the white people or the Americans or whatever, whatever, wherever you are in it. And this is the point, these things are gonna happen, right? Floods are gonna happen, we're gonna get massive heat stress, water will become more scarce drinking water. So, right, so we have a state that's a degraded, and be an agent that we never really should have trusted in the first place. Or we have right wing networks that are actively preparing for collapse. Now, why are they doing that? Because that's what's going to happen. We continue to live in our leftist quite an often bourgeois bubble, where things are not actually going to turn out ship because for us, and I guess I mean, I come really from the upper class for us privileged people, things usually don't turn out yet. But that's exactly the point about collapse about collapse. That will affect everybody. The question is how will affect them. So the first thing is, the first responders are ourselves. The second thing is prepping isn't about supplies. It's about relationships. Because basically, if you look at like, evolutionary theory, Darwin says, competition, what's it called the survival of the fittest? Well, Kropotkin, the famous Russian anarchist, the prince was also a student of evolution. And he actually argued totally convincingly or showed that among the more highly evolved and more socialist species, the more survival depends on your ability to act in that social, to generate social cohesion, to act socially, not competitively. At a higher level of development, that's what ensures survival.

Steve Taylor  34:11  
So what I hear you saying there's, there's a lot there, but what I hear you saying is we either surrender the future, to the fascist vision, or exactly are as you state in one of your blogs, what would what could we do to constitute a viable progressive politics within collapse? 

Tadzio  34:35  
Okay, I'm going to take a really dark point, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Now I'm German, I carry the heritage of the shit that my people did to Jews and gays and all this stuff. And so it's complicated for me to reference that that resistance and yet I find myself more as a communist than the German and I believe that the tradition of fighting for a better world has always And that's the tradition I see myself in. And then I look at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. From the perspective of Jewish life. The ghetto was the second lowest level of hell, the camps were the lowest level. But the ghettos were already designed to corral and destroy Jewish life. So they were held. And even though they were in hell, Jewish partisans managed to create a fighting front that even for a few days, or a week got nothing. And how convenient with the Warsaw Uprising is to uprisings one, one by that sort of entire Polish population, one just in the ghetto, but for several days, these Jewish fighters create militant affirmative Jewish life, in hell, in Fucking hell. And if they could create, and that's, and that few survived, and they, they've spoken to this very eloquently, like how they felt alive again, and they felt their lives had meaning in a doomed resistance, they knew they were doomed. The allies were way too far away. At that point, they knew they were doomed. And yet the few survivors say that that was the most the most they had ever lived, in a way. And so when I realized that, and no matter how dark it gets, there's always the possibility of getting together with people and say, let's make it less dark. But to fill that place with love, and light, and warmth. That is what activism in the future will be about. It will be about creating defendable spaces of love, and life and solidarity. 

Steve Taylor  36:40  
As we move into this new future, if we take this walk with you and say, Here it is, the new future is coming. And it's going to be much different. Because we've blown past these climate tipping points, there's going to be a lot of a lot of possible futures, seen by different people and and the Fascists are there, the billionaires are there just just to confused and muddled people that most of us are there. So what you're saying is, basically, we need to wake up, throw off this idea that there may be a Gretta, there may be a god in the machine, or something that's going to save us right. And that we need to envision how we can live in that space, and, and bring forth our political, personal and human values.

Tadzio  37:33  
Live and be powerful to build power, industrial building power is that one phrase that movements we learn from them in the world, learn from the Americans that movement activities were building power, and power, really is your ability to be effective in and shape and influence the world with sort of. That's what people are afraid of losing. And that's what the fascists, by the way, that's their easy pitch. They have a fascist speed up some foreigners or dark skinned people and feel powerful. That's their pitch right. Now, how do we avoid losing too many people to the other side? Because really, this is going to be a struggle about will the right the hard right, gain social majorities in the Global North? And in which case, we won't just be fortresses? I mean, how will a fascist electric car building Germany acquire the resources, right? That's going to be even nastier than the way they're doing it now? Because they're going to be fascist, right? So I would the Anti Fascist struggle, by the way, for me remains a global justice struggle, I will never abandon the lens of the global justice struggle. And I know that at this point, having failed to stop fossil fuels in the north, and that we failed to put reparations on the agenda. I believe that preventing fascism in the north is now our key Justice Task. Because northern fascist governments, they're nasty to people on the inside, but then on the those on the outside, they just want to kill or ignore, and whatever. So they're going to build fortresses. And it'll be our job to tear down the walls of these fortresses. We're going to try and build open, open floats, maybe. And they're going to try and shut them down. It'll be our task to defend them. It'll be in a very concrete way, like when a catastrophe strikes, let's say right now really concretely, you live somewhere and some kind of climate catastrophe happens or whatever the water like in Flint, you know, a situation where Flint Michigan, right when when was that when the water system was basically collapsing and you got just led out of the taps? To be able at that point to provide people with what they need water and what they want. belonging. A home like community is what We'll tie these people together to us and together. And I believe that there we have different lions. It's like my father. He's quite the neoliberal lawyer. And he would never join me in a climate protest. But if I were to say, okay that the synagogue in Frankfurt is under attack by Nazis, and there's, you know, a call to stand outside, I think my dad would join me. Like, if I said, our pride march is being attacked by Nazis, I know that I'll have many more allies than if I say, Hey, let's go shut down a coal plant. And this is where I'm, my, my, my, one of my other lines is not everything has to be completely Anti Fascist. But everything also has to be Anti Fascist, every bit of activism that we engage in now has to ask itself, does it strengthen the fascist offensive or not? Because and I'm saying this because in Europe as a debate about these road blockades by climate activists, and I, by the way, do not blame climate activists for the rise of fascism. But for example, if you have a right now, the European climate movements need to reject their strategies, because just trying to blockade and force society into protecting the climate is just react, generating more and more brutal counter reactions. Right? What if, during a climate catastrophe, you actually have people in white hazmat suits and these orange vests, which are strongly social attackers, actually doing work that the state isn't doing in New Orleans, when Katrina struck? The very first public clinic, common ground was opened by anarchists who had organized the Seattle protests six years before that. I think something very similar happened with Hurricane Sandy in New York. Like maybe we're not particularly good at providing external defense. But for example, like providing health care, or some type of social welfare work, like a lot of leftists are you know, that I know a lot of my friends are in some type of social work, right? That's a relevant activity. And a needs based politics is different than a conviction based politics, just like a profit based economic system is different than a needs based economic system. And I am doing a sort of late anarchist turn, I think, generally one in one's late 40s. That one doesn't do so many, it's normally the other way around. But I'm doing a sort of late life late in life, anarchists turn, and starting with community building a needs based politics and looking at what kind of needs can you and your people your comrades fulfill in the communities that you live in? Because that's where these new politics will start, they will start from fulfilling basic needs, that due to multiple intersecting collapse dynamics will no longer be as easily provided or full satisfied by the regular channels, state market, capital, etc, and so forth. As therefore, the periods where certain necessary inputs security, medical attention, water, food, whatever heating, the periods and locations in which that won't be easily available will grow by these unnecessary inputs, therefore, they will be somehow organized. And again, will they be organized by fascists, excluding many from what is necessary? Or will they be organized by folks who say everybody can have what is necessary because that's what being human is. The reason why the Fascists are better at talking about this and preparing for this is because the reactionary worldview has always entailed the idea that things are going to collapse, and then just the righteous or the white or the strong will survive, right. We on the left have never had an idea of collapse, because our project is antithetical to that it wants to have the opposite of collapse for everybody. But if we don't prepare for that future, we leave it to those who will make it so much darker than it would be if we had more and more people kept working to create light and warmth and love in a darkening world.

Steve Taylor  43:58  
Dr. Tajo Muller, thank you for joining us at breaking green.

Tadzio  44:04  
Yeah, no, thanks for the thanks for that intellectual journey that was really, really enjoyed that.

Steve Taylor  44:10  
You have been listening to breaking green, a global justice Ecology Project podcast. To learn more about global justice ecology project, visit global justice Breaking green is made possible by tax deductible donations by people like you. Please help us lift up the voices of those working to protect forests, defend human rights, and expose false solutions. Simply text give g i v e to 1-716-257-4187 That's 1-716-257-4187

Transcribed by

Introduction to Breaking Green
Episode Introduction
Tadzio's Movement Background
Climate Catastrophe Unavoidable
Magical Thinking and Repression
Prepping Together
Abbandoning the future to fascism.
Bringing our values