Tag Archives: class inequality

The end

This is the fifth post in this series. You can read about the first chapter here, the second chapter here, the third chapter here, the fourth chapter here, or the full series.

This final chapter starts on the same note that the last one ended on – with Scrooge in a bit of a frantic whimsy. As he opens his eyes and is definitely awake again for the first time in several chapters, Scrooge shows part of what’s changed in him. Even though none of the ghosts are visibly there with him, he still calls out to them, saying,

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future! […] The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. O Jacob Marley! Heaven and Christmastime be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!”

From the man who unfeelingly recounted Marley’s death and sought to interact with as few people as possible, Scrooge’s calling out to these spirits and Marley specifically shows the new leaf he has already turned over. It doesn’t stop there, however. He dresses himself a bit madly, and calls down to a stranger in the street, asking what day it is.

scrooge waking up

“Eh?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

“What’s today, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

“Today!” replied the boy. “Why, Christmas Day.”

“It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. […]”

His hours with the spirits were stacked one over the other, even as Marley warned him that they would be on proceeding nights, at progressively earlier times. That’s the funny thing about time travel, it’s awfully convenient.

Scrooge then races to make amends – in three major ways. Most film productions tend to focus narrowly on the first one, and edit it as well. He buys a prize-winning sized turkey and has it delivered to the Cratchits, to supplement their lean Christmas dinner. Often, he’s shown as coming with his delivery and, without revealing his generosity, spies on how it is received – none of that’s in the original story.

Someone else writing about the Cratchits’ meal and Scrooge’s purchase on their behalf delved into some of the class tensions at hand here. Turkey – in contrast to the Cratchits’ goose – was still at that time an imported and exotic food item in Europe, the way pineapple would remain further into living memory. The different meats are already distinguishing class status in terms of what one can afford, but adding onto that there’s “the ostentatious aspect of purchasing the ‘prize Turkey,’ an ostentation largely erased by Scrooge’s anonymity.”

Scrooge’s gift being unattributed is necessary to maintain in order to avoid self-aggrandizing and furthering his class status over the Cratchits, but that’s not the end of it. Avoiding making it known that he is their donor seems like a way of avoiding a sort of retrofitted noblesse oblige. What Scrooge is skirting around the edges of is the type of wealthy vision of the poor – one I think best examined in an article describing the philosophy of a modern storage tycoon.

At the core of it, there’s an ideology popular among some of today’s wealthy in which the rich can and maybe even should help the poor. That generosity comes with certain provisions – not only can they do so in whatever manners they choose but they can also selectively obscure or emphasize their role in helping someone with less. The conspicuousness of their kindnesses are at their disposal, with information about how they have helped withheld or doled out as they see fit. Worse yet, that can take the form of them seeing their donation at work, with a kind of one-way mirror, as they use it to look into the lives of the poor in a way that the poor cannot look back on them.

Spying on the Cratchits (without spiritual help) would be Scrooge confirming his spiritual well-being to himself, and making them being fed about his salvation. When he reveals himself to the family (as he does in most versions), there’s a moment of almost shaming, usually of Bob Cratchit’s wife, for ever having doubted him. Even without that particular ugliness, he inserts himself into a day of respite for that family, and makes his involvement about his spiritual fulfillment, rather than theirs (spiritual, or otherwise).

scrooge anonymityScrooge and the Cratchits, from here.

Scrooge breaks with that entire vision of how to help others, central as it is in our modern philanthropy, with the other two amends he makes. He moves away from the atomizing charity he’s performing for the Cratchits towards something more broadly reaching. In the middle of the day, he comes across one of the men he turned down for donations to the poor in the first chapter. He quietly tells him to call on him for a donation, which he implies to the reader would be quite large, which would be distributed to countless impoverished people.

The change in Scrooge is at once personal and political – he is altering his relationship with Bob Cratchit (and forging one with the broader Cratchit family) but also committing himself to helping a more anonymous and broader population whom he doesn’t know, and likely suffer more than the Cratchits. Weighing in on the personal side as well, however, he makes his third amends – to his nephew and his wife, whose dinner he goes to and enjoys with them all.

Finally, the day after Christmas he commits to helping Bob Cratchit, with a raise for starters, but without revealing it was him who gave his family the turkey. It’s a mix of professional, personal, and political commitments that he’s making all at once.

stave 5 b(From here.)

Throughout this series I’ve made several sharp remarks about how modern adaptations tend to alter this story. In many ways, A Christmas Carol was a key player in launching the modern preoccupation with charity, because it made the argument that helping others improves your life as well. It’s notable, however, that it never fully splits the two apart the way we so casually do today.

This is woven into the story. On the note that the fourth chapter ended on, Scrooge’s nightmarish vision ends when he simultaneously reaches out for comfort and pledges to help others – a fusion of those two. Scrooge’s salvation is an omnipresent issue, but so is the suffering, largely material, of so many people around him. Scrooge’s betterment of himself doesn’t eclipse their urgent needs.

Amid the beatitude in which this story ends, there’s a somber note. The focus on poverty and want, so keenly depicted in dire moments and in prolonged inadequacies, in many modern versions takes a backseat to Scrooge’s personal evolution. Even the nature of his change is recast in those, from a journey towards interaction and community into one from naughty to nice. It’s shrunk down and made into something else, and this holiday is the perfect day, in a free moment, to ponder why and recall what it originally was.

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But what about White people?

TW: racism, colonialism, apartheid South Africa, class inequality

The BBC decided to do a story recently on the poorer Whites within South African society. Their article honestly begins- “The question I have come to South Africa to answer is whether white people genuinely have a future here.”

Wouldn’t a better driving question be whether Whites should have a future in South Africa? Their presence in South Africa is a result and element of the colonial disinheriting of the the indigenous Black population. The same should be asked about many other colonized parts of the world, including where I live, but that the issue is particularly relevant in South Africa considering that nearly 80 percent of the population has near-exclusively indigenous African ancestry (whether Bantu-speaking or the purportedly even more historied indigenous non-Bantu groups).

Speaking of how an overwhelming majority of South Africans are Black… the article includes this chart of income aggregated into the four common racial categories in South Africa:

So, just to remember or at least check Wikipedia, people of near exclusively White heritage comprise under 10 percent of the population of the country, but have only just seen their demographic cease to control a majority of its wealth. Yes, there are poor White people, but talking about how less than a tenth of the population now only controls more than a third of it…? Really BBC?

That’s about 80 percent of the population at the lowest rung there – with less than 10 percent of the income. If wealth were distributed proportionately across racial groups in South Africa – that’s what White people’s share would look like. Keep in mind, the end of Apartheid allowed the development of a small Black economic and political elite, who have gained inclusion in the previously Whites-only halls of power. Removing those few from the Black category would likely cause it to deflate to an even more miniscule amount.

There’s a point to be made here about how indigeneity and blackness are still the surest symbols, even in a nominally democratic and predominantly Black country, of being an undeserving investment, unreliable hire, or always suspected to be overpaid employee. But you missed it, BBC, for what about the White people!?

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Turkey’s May Day

TW: violence against protesters, class inequality, 1980 Turkish coup, 1977 Taksim Square massacre

In light of what I’ve written about previously as being part of the political situation in Turkey, the government’s response to May Day protests in İstanbul suggests just how much of a pitfall it is to have broad political reforms without constitutional backing. As others have reported, May Day has unique significance in Turkey, where it is also the anniversary of the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in 1977. As a result of that date holding such importance for activists in Turkey, the undemocratic government in 1980 banned protests on May 1 in İstanbul’s Taksim Square, a restriction which was only just lifted in 2010.

Without a right to protest or free speech terribly well protected within the current constitution, the right to protest in that place on this day has seemed a fragile privilege, which the government could easily re-revoke. That’s precisely what the explanation that Turkish protesters wouldn’t be permitted to use the square this year, because of a distant construction project, was read as by many activists – an excuse to strip people of their right to participate in arguably the symbol of protest and freedom in Turkey.

There was a bit of immovable object meeting up with an irresistible force, today in Turkey.

(Electrical engineer union members walked into the neighborhood of the Taksim Square in protest of both the government’s protest policies as well as the economic conditions in the country. From here.)

This is actually something an established tendency in protest. While what initially motivates mass protest are often economic concerns (the bread and butter of May Day protests), movements in many countries become fixated on how the political process isolates, trivializes, and undermines their protests. Turkish protesters at the moment seem to be doing quite well at balancing both sides of the issue – why they want to go out in the street in the first place and how disastrous it is for their country that there’s restrictions placed on even that.

That said, there are limits to what they can accomplish with their protests – so it would be useful to consider in the days ahead, not only whether Turkish mass movements can enact change, but whether they’ll prioritize the immediate reforms that so far have only watered down the problem or systemic changes (namely to the constitution) that haven’t yet been enacted in the country.

(Water canons and tear gas were used to clear the protesters of Taksim and the surrounding area, from here.)

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Happy international women’s day

TW: sexism, racist criminalization, domestic violence, cissexist violence, class warfare

March Eighth has been traditionally celebrated as International Women’s Day in central and eastern Europe as it was originally put forward as a policy by German activist, Clara Zetkin, in 1911. It seems fitting to look at the ways gender intersects with the rest of US politics on this day. There’s so many different ways of doing that that it could be the exclusive subject of this blog and there would still be more to say. I highly recommend checking out Fannie’s Room for more commentary on gender politics in the US (and to a lesser extent, the world at large).

In addition to her excellent commentary, there’s one other argument that I can’t help but feel needs to be made, to pull back what I called “the unreality” of politics in the US on Wednesday: that there are at least three women in the US who are political prisoners.

I’ve written previously about Marissa Alexander, a Black woman who fired a warning shot at her abusive and threatening husband in her home in a state with one of the now notorious “Stand your ground” laws, but has since been sentenced to twenty years in prison (if she had accepted a plea bargain, it would have become three). Joy Reid over at The Grio long ago documented the extremely complex knots the state prosecutor has tied herself up in for publicly avoiding the concurrent Zimmerman case while prosecuting Alexander. This week the petition for her pardon on the White House’s petitions’ page expired without adequate signatures to force a response from the Obama Administration.

On the same day, it was announced that Cece McDonald, another Black woman, who is transgender, had been moved from one Minnesota prison to another. Her claims that she was killed a drunk attacker in self defense after one of his friends smashed a bottle on her face and they had otherwise begun hitting her apparently weren’t heard by the justice system, and so she was imprisoned. Her supporters have treated this transfer as good news, however, as it makes it easier for her family to visit her.

Tanya McDowell at sentencing
(Tanya McDowell as she was being sentenced in March 2012, from here.)

We’re also approaching the one year anniversary of the sentencing of Tanya McDowell, yet another Black woman, who took advantage of the fact that as a homeless person she had no effective address to enroll her son in one of the more favorable school districts in the territory within which they lived. She has been in prison for one year now, with four more to be served.

All three of these women are in prison for acts of either self defense or protecting their friends and family. In Alexander’s case, there are actual laws in the jurisdiction she was in that theoretically should have protected her. For McDonald, there are portions of federal law that should have been applied in order to understand her position. It’s not even clear how the “crime” that McDowell committed even remotely justifies a five year prison sentence.

It seems impossible to understand the events of their convictions and sentencing outside of a context of women’s (especially transgender women’s) testimony being treated as innately suspect and their status as Black individuals “proving” their criminality. In other words, it’s difficult to perceive of them as simply prisoners and not prisoners whose fates are intimately and intractably political in nature.

The United States is a country that doesn’t believe it has political prisoners. But perhaps that’s part of our unreality.

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The consensus on immigration still sucks

TW: dehumanizing nativism, class inequality

The build-up to the State of the Union address last night is pretty easy to define by a single feature – conflict. There mere fact that the president is a multiracial man has already led to nearly five years of racist screeds like this one, and his speech on Tuesday was a very explicit reminder to Republicans that they hadn’t been able to remove him, even with every dog whistle in their arsenal. What’s more, Obama’s speech was responded to not by a unified Republican party, but officially by Senator Marco Rubio and unofficially by Senator Rand Paul. The situation isn’t just filled racially-tinged partisan tensions, but also infused with a battle between different stylistic branches of the Republican party.

Something remarkable happened last night though – all three speeches talked about immigration in much the same way. The  national discussion, regardless of whoever of those three is doing the talking, is still fixed on immigrants being politically sorted based on perceived “usefulness” to the United States. It’s probably not terribly surprising that Senator Paul said that Republicans “must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities” but it is rather shocking to realize that seeing immigrants as subhuman investments is something lauded as pro-immigrant. That tells you something about both how accustomed we’ve become as a country to immigrants being commodified and how little it takes to be seen as praising immigrants.

But even from those we’ve been trained to expect policies that protect and empower immigrant communities, that sort of dehumanizing attitude crept into the open last night. Marco Rubio, whose grandparents left Cuba prior to the revolution, only briefly spoke about immigration policies, even if he extensively referenced his family history. He explained his position, saying,

We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest. We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.

While he does say that there should be some resolution of the undocumented status of many millions of people, he’s decided vague on what that should be. Likewise, he’s quite clear that he expects extensive security, but not terribly specific about what inadequacies have presented themselves during Obama’s presidency. Where he finally provides a clear and singular goal of policy is that our legal immigration system should allow us to attract those deemed useful to us on the basis of their skills and intelligence. It’s hard not to read this statement as implying a two-tiered system of easy access and immigration for those we deem worthy and a much more rigorous and arduous process if one at all for everyone else. It’s a bit strange to find such statements in an indictment that Obama is placing too much power in the hands of the government.

In any case, Obama is not much better, even after having made the Dream Act law by executive order, allowing thousands of undocumented immigrant children to naturalize as US citizens, provided they attend college or join the army. Again, on the margins, there’s a clear message that immigrants must be deemed useful to be granted privileges, like a legal right to live in what’s effectively their home country. His speech unfortunately was not much of a departure from that perspective.

In fact, Obama explained that he would continue his policy of all but militarizing the US-Mexico border and that naturalization for undocumented immigrants would only be possible as part of a larger plan that “includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.” His message was primarily about how little he would reform immigration to ease access to citizenship for those who wanted it, excepting that “real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods [and] reduce bureaucracy” in order to “attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.” There’s a bit of stunning classism buried in that statement, in that it ignores the millions of undocumented immigrants to do other work, from agricultural labor to cleaning homes and businesses to even building our infrastructure, that quite literally allows much of the United States function.

(Undocumented workers on a farm in central California, from here.)

Is the purpose of immigration reform really to only help immigrants who are “entrepreneurs and engineers”? Don’t the undocumented deserve dignity independent of their occupation? And doesn’t that entail listening to their needs, even if we think we don’t need them at all?

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Power rather than merits

TW: brief mention of sexual assault

It’s not great shock that power rather than merits determines what messages are widely disseminated, as several recent articles show. To live in a country with a less democratic government is to have your speech coerced if not outright monitored and controlled. Egypt’s President Morsi is pursuing a policy of rather intently shutting down parodies and satires that appear to reflect poorly on him, namely one extremely popular video satirist who has mocked his overuse of the word love in recent speeches and other mannerisms.

(He hasn’t seemed to consider not giving himself extensive political powers if he doesn’t want to be mocked as power hungry. Photo from here.)

Meanwhile, Chinese officials similarly shot themselves in the foot, as they initially allowed broad coverage of the sexual assault and subsequent death of a 23 year old Indian woman, as that fit into their narrative of India’s form of development as inferior to China’s. As protests erupted across India (TW: sexual assault as “defilement”, some less reasonable than others), however, internet users speaking anonymously asked questions including, “If such things happen in China, will we have a large scale protest?” Searching for articles or coverage on Chinese networks now turns up no results, as the state has now censored discussion of the incident or ensuing protests.

In contrast to those two other examples that have to swim upstream against their own governments, Howard Schultz’s interest in some sort of a deal on the “Fiscal Cliff” didn’t face state-based censorship within the US. But furthermore, it didn’t have to compete on an open market of ideas. As the CEO of Starbucks, he could simply demand that his employees propagate his message, no matter how nonsensical its content or unclear its meaning. So even in many comparatively open and uncensored media markets, what views are represented speak more to the power of those stating them than their own merits or popular appeal.

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Dan Savage: you’re on notice

TW: suicide, trans erasure/fetishization, bisexual erasure, female LGBT* erasure, poor LGBT* erasure, LGBT* of color erasure

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time now, you’ve probably noticed that I tend to help out with what some have called the left’s “circular fire squad”. I’ll appreciate a point by Andrew Sullivan but still call it erasive. I’ll quote Rachel Maddow at length, but I don’t think that means refusing to criticize her. So now it’s Dan Savage’s turn. If you don’t tend to watch Chris Hayes’ weekend show a few days ago, you probably missed a relatively uneventful interview. But if you did as always or for the first time tune into the show, you got a big helping of why Savage is the recipient of quite a bit of derision from liberals as well as conservatives.

(Yeah, I’m rooting for Black Dahlia Parton in this match, sorry.)

If manage to let the messages just role over you, you’ll notice a few interesting things in the interview, which are hopefully enlightening if you’re one of the people who looks to Dan Savage for advice:

He’s erasive of other gender identities and sexualities. In the interview, he pointedly avoids using the words trans/transgender or bisexual while listing gay and lesbian a few times in the show. Thanks to the acronym of LGBT*, when using the full names for those identities, it’s customary to at least list those four together. But Dan Savage has made it quite clear that he has his doubts about bisexuals, and his failure to mention genderqueer people until he starts talking about kinks is perhaps reflective of some parts of the oppression of trans men and women. He also decides that it’s an irrelevant extra bit to note that genderqueer people are still banned from military service in the US, while discussing DADT. He likewise is hardly conspicuous in speaking of “gay marriage” rather than “same-sex marriage” – which erases every part of the LGBT acronym other than, naturally enough, the one he identifies with.

He restricts the cause of further LGBT* liberation primarily to marriage equality. Part of the blame should lie with Chris Hayes for quite cheerfully encouraging and then perpetuating this throughout the interview, but Dan Savage, as a self-proclaimed advocate, should have known to challenge such narratives. You are more likely to become a homeless youth if you are LGBT*. Even for LGBT* people with the resources to house themselves without familial assistance, federal bans on housing discrimination on the basis of being LGBT* in the US are relatively new and not yet fully implemented. And that assumes that LGBT* individuals have a stable income, which is often called into doubt as protections from being fired simply for being LGBT* are not secure, but rather a patchwork of state-based initiatives that are not present in all places, do not always apply to private industries, and are not necessarily inclusive of genderqueer people. As a member of the comfortable socio-economic class, the dominant ethnic group, and the privileged sex and gender, Savage has seemingly never had to deal with these “complications” that very easily arise when combating anti-LGBT* biases as well as other inequalities.

He literally says “We are born into straight families” and that there’s nothing more straight than raising children. Queerspawn. We’re a thing. Sometimes we’re not straight or cisgender or either. Look it up. There’s no big speech prepared following this bit, because it’s just categorically erasive.

His remaining idea of how to further the cause of LGBT* liberation is suicide prevention. Now, that in and of itself is a sign of hope. Here is something that hasn’t personally effected Savage that he cares about. Until you realize that he’s unwilling to discuss suicide prevention in any sort of a context of mental health, but just “needing someone to talk to”. It’s showing that he’s not someone with training or much experience in how to assist people with mental health issues, but he’s continuing to comment on what people in that place should and shouldn’t do, as well as should and shouldn’t feel. It’s also worth noting that even if this is the first issue I’ve raised that doesn’t appear to affect Savage directly it does – he’s the founder of the It Gets Better Project, after all.

He automatically assumes his own child is straight and cisgender. The offensiveness of this is profound. Savage is a person who has made his fortune in discussing how damaging and difficult it was for him and his partner and people like him and his partner for their parents to assume that they were straight. Why is he going down that road with his own child?

Feel free to add to this in the comments if you saw anything else in their discussion that makes you want to put either of them on notice, because I’m just skimming the top honestly.

EDIT: I interpreted Savage as having implies his own child would be straight and cisgender when I watched the show live. That’s not coming up in the portions available on the website. Apologies if I misunderstood those or any other statements. That being, said, I found more to complain about, while reviewing the clips one last time. He admits the idea behind the It Gets Better Project was that he no longer needed to physically meet with suicidal LGBT* youth, but could just talk them out of acting on those feelings over YouTube. That immediately presumes that the youth in question have internet access, have means to use that internet access to a degree that they’ll come across his videos, and that they’ll be free enough from potentially hostile parents to watch the videos. That’s quite a bit of assuming, which will probably make the youth simply reached by his message wealthier among other pressures.

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Billions of people aren’t enough leverage?

The Hindu recently published a rather interesting opinion piece on Chinese foreign policy, that looked over the history of how China has annoyed almost every neighboring country in the past couple of decades, and consequently is feeling a little lonesome. While India is one of those countries, as the two have previously come to blows over a border dispute, a number of different international factors is driving the two to look past those squabbles and focus on the need for joint international action on various issues. Chief among those reasons to unite forces would be climate change.

But the fact that China and India must tactically coordinate in order to influence international policy actually leads to only further questions. Both nations are by far the largest single-state portions of the global population, and the coming decade China is predicted to outpace the United States as the world’s largest economy. While both superstates have per capita wealth that’s dwarfed by the US, Canada, Australia, and much of Western Europe, there’s clearly indications that their economies are actually more stable and in a sense more robust than those of “more developed” countries.

In spite of this, India or China acting independently on the issue of climate change would apparently get nowhere. There’s two potential explanations for that. For one, as individual countries they’re in such completely unique positions that their political views, while influential, fails to connect with the interests of others. Alternatively, their needs are at least somewhat similar to not only each other but many other countries. In spite of that, even when working collectively, their capacity to influence world affairs is disproportionately small. It seems as though both are highly plausible arguments.

For one, a frequently used socio-economic category for countries used since the fall of the Soviet Union and disintegration of the idea of a capitalist first world, socialist second world, and unaligned third world, has been that of BRICS. The steadily more democratic Brazil, ostensibly more open Russia, developing India, increasingly Western-friendly China, and post-apartheid South Africa represented to many analysts a confusing and new national category in the changed global landscape. They were unified by recent indications of growing prosperity and bright political futures in spite of past histories of violent repression and extensive concentration of wealth in a small elite. Likewise, they were all populous regional powers that contained diverse religious and ethnic groups. Occasionally, Mexico and Indonesia would be included within the category as similarly emergent powers.

(The BRICS countries, from here. They contain for approximately 2.9 billion people. If Indonesia and Mexico are included in the same category, they account for 3.3 billion people.)

As negotiations over the original Kyoto Treaty began to become more urgent in the late 1990s and early 2000s, they successfully pushed for the exemption of “less developed countries” (which included all of their categorical members except Russia) from stipulated cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The economic development of the poorest countries in the world, which to some extent still included the BRICS countries, was understood as an acceptable alternative to stricter environmental protections (especially since most of the historical emissions had been produced in wealthy developed countries).

That said, the classification of Russia as a developed country has led to it pushing for policies more in line with those proposed by Japan, the US, and Canada, rather than India or China. As Al Jazeera’s coverage of the discussions shows, the EU is essentially the lone voice within the “developed world” in even entertaining the idea of a second or additional periods of proposed cuts. India and China have disagreements between each other, and with the coalition of the poorest and most flood-prone countries, but have the beginnings of a consensus among “less developed” countries. The positions of South Africa and Brazil are unmentioned, but it’s unclear why they would disagree with those other nations.

Even assuming that the positions of India and China are unacceptable to their fellow BRICS-type countries, inadequately strict for the most vulnerable nations, and anathema for the developed world aside from the EU, those three collectively are 3 billion people of the planet’s 7 billion. Surely, a few additional millions can be found in places too poor to be considered “developed” and too secure from rising tides to be considered among the most at-risk. Reaching a plurality if not a majority of the world’s population in terms of signatory states to a new treaty is not some unthinkable prospect. But it’s still treated as a long-shot.

The only explanation is that not all countries’ votes count for as much. The treaties are non-binding and there’s not really any clear context for punitive measures for refusing to sign on. So the majority of the population of the “developed” world can burn what we want without a care, even if we number a noticeably minor portion of the world’s people. The oil-rich gulf states (another tiny minority) seem to gladly agree to our right to do that, since they can turn a tidy profit from it.

Not only does climate change spell out a future where your race and class within wealthier countries may determine your security, but the same factors play out across the entire globe. And China and India might be better situated than other nations, but their voices are still devalued in the current debate, even if their nations represent a third of the world.

Edit: I apologize for erroneously calling China the world’s current largest economy in the original published version of this article. I was confused by misleading representations of this argument, that China may have a much larger GDP than largely believed.

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