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New Article in The American Prospect

My latest American Prospect piece is online now. This is my latest take on the "Death of Environmentalism" essay that I wrote about here a few months ago, more specifically on its relevance to non-environmentalists.

And for a funny story that combines the Reapers (as the "Death of Environmentalism authors are called) with another of my favorite targets, the overhyping of "framing" guru George Lakoff, see this amusing account from Amanda Griscom Little.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on March 30, 2005 | Permalink


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Finishing your Prospect article I began thinking about the German railroads. Year after year they persevered in the process of defining a problem, assembling the expertise to solve the problem, and then solving it. Bismark, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler came and went, and none of them basically derailed the railway establishment. The same can certainly not be said of the ad hoc groupings of equally perfivid citizenry who actively and directly opposed the powers-that-be.

Maybe we need both types.

Posted by: serial catowner | Mar 30, 2005 6:06:25 PM


One of the things that enviros need to get better at is articulating the economic side of their arguments. Since the environmental awareness movement got off the ground in the 60's we have been trapped in this unfortunate situation where there is a common presumption that enlightened environmental policy is at odds with economic progress. Re-framing that dynamic would go a long way toward the goal of building a more effective environmental movement.

Posted by: peter jung | Mar 30, 2005 10:28:38 PM

Your brief criticism of the use of the danger/opportunity/crisis cliché is most welcome, especially in that you point out that the cliché is incorrect.

Unfortunately, however, in the process of helping debunk one myth, you reinforced another by using the term "ideogram." Despite the popular impression, it is a myth that Chinese characters are ideograms or ideographs.

Posted by: Mark S. | Mar 30, 2005 10:34:55 PM

I wonder what percentage of the people who were at those meetings subscribe to AdBusters. There are organizations of people who are deeply skilled in the art and technique of persuasion. They work in advertising agencies and they aren't all corporate hacks. Many of them are Democrats.

Hiring a linguist such as Lakoff to put together an advocacy program is like asking a talented musicologist who plays trumpet on the side to teach piano.

Posted by: ozoid | Mar 31, 2005 3:14:07 AM

I thought the recent WSJ story on environmentalists teaming up with conservative security foundations who are concerned that oil dependence is threatening our national security was another interesting take. First, it's true, and second, it's another creative response to building a more general frame for some core environmental issues.

Posted by: cw | Mar 31, 2005 11:08:35 AM

Thanks for the Prospect article and for your constant reminders that the Budget is the overarching issue for this year and next. If the Bush tax cuts are perpetuated, there is no money to do much of anything; yet, the budget issues are poorly understood and no one is getting mobilized for this summer's fights. Discovering your blog has been a treat, for which I thank Kevin Drum.

Posted by: Mimikatz | Mar 31, 2005 4:54:25 PM