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“From New Deal to Green Deal:” socialist series draws attention to climate change

Every Thursday at 12:30 p.m., the University of Maine’s Socialist and Marxist series meets in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union with a presentation meant to inform and inspire. This series specifically tackles controversial topics. On their docket, they plan on discussing racism, decolonization and our relationship to the world itself. This week’s topic was climate change, specifically the Green New Deal.

In their presentation, Professor of History Nathan Godfried and Associate Professor of Paleoecology and Plant Ecology Jacquelyn Gill compared Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal to Franklin Roosevelt’s original New Deal in 1933. In order for the original New Deal to work, it required years of the working class being pushed to absolute loss. The deal was made to help resolve the Great Depression, but the initial deal was a “top-down approach,” and, because of that, the needs of the working class were overlooked. 

“It wasn’t without a peoples’ movement that the people ultimately received the proper accommodations,” Godfried said. 

It was after the failure of the first deal that people’s protests began. Work strikes started taking place across the country, the unemployed organized themselves and, over the next two years, the government worked to repress the peoples’ movement. In 1935, Roosevelt was forced into an ultimatum: either continue to suppress the people or accommodate them. So, the Second New Deal was made and the Social Security Act was passed. The Green New Deal requires, then, a push for a more comprehensive deal than those of the past. 

The challenge that comes with wanting to reach climate reform is reaching out to known support. However, in response to an audience question, Gill posited that climate change has friends in high places.

Climate change is seen as a threat to public safety. Public safety is a key issue when it comes to climate reform, as there’s the worry that the solution that gets made will impact those at higher power, which Gill states, “isn’t being very well addressed.”

“Who has a seat at the table when we come up with these plans? We’re not trying to repeat prior damage,” Gill said. “A lot of it comes down to representation. We need to hear from people what they need. It’s frustrating not having politicians’ support. However, it’s up to us to speak with our votes and be the change we want.”

The Socialist and Marxist series explores contemporary problems, proposes a solution and starts a conversation. The floor opens for discussion and inquiry at the end, and the presenters provide feedback and an informed perspective to the group. The Socialist and Marxist series encourages new faces at their meetings, which occur every Thursday from 12:30-1:45 p.m. in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union.


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