When I started this blog, I thought my book, Climate of justice, An Ethical Foundation for Environmentalism, would appear sometime in 2020. Due to the pandemic, I am still waiting, but I do expect its publication this year.
My argument is simple enough. We must change our social climate in order to save the planet. Still, it took a whole book to lay out the argument and its implications. Composing short posts that are responsive to current issues and also explicate the ethical meaning of our social climate has actually helped me understand what I thought I knew when writing the book.
Last year, the pandemic and “Black Lives Matter” exposed social injustices for all to see. These injustices were not only traced to “bad individuals,” but also to social structures and cultural frameworks. The struggle against injustices, of course, is also a struggle for justice. The question, however, is whether success in fighting the injustices we see will bring about the justice we seek.
It may seem strange (even I find it a bit strange) to say that white supremacy is not the real problem. White supremacy is a barrier that prevents us from solving the problem. It’s a case of thinking “A” will solve “B,” when in fact, “A” prevents us from taking on “B.” The climate of injustice rose out of European crimes against Africans and American Natives. If we pay attention to the conflicts between Whites, we will miss what needs our attention: the repair of unjust relationships.
A basic principle of my book is the principle of coherence: If you cannot understand “A” without understanding “B,” then you cannot understand “B” without understanding “A.”
“If you cannot understand the conditions of Africa without understanding Europe, then you cannot understand Europe without understanding Africa” Coherence requires that we switch from writing European history to writing European/African (and American) history.
It’s the same for America. “America” does not exist except in some kind of “dual consciousness,” to use the words of W.E.B. DuBois. We don’t need to erase this duality, but we do need to acknowledge it and to “set it right.” Differences can be just if they are based on reciprocity, and in our case, reciprocity requires reparations.
Whites fighting whites is incoherent. It doesn’t make sense once we overcome our social amnesia. The story we must tell is a White/Black story, or more accurately, a White/non-White story. We should not let the white nationalists and their antics prevent us from working on repairing the relationships that could actually move us from a climate of injustice to a climate of justice.
People are working on this. Click here to see what is happening in San Francisco