J500 Media and the Environment

Warbly Werbach by vincemeserko
February 5, 2008, 2:11 pm
Filed under: Society + Media

Adam Werbach kind of reminds me of a fading star, an ex-boy wonder trying to reassert himself into a debate he no longer recognizes. I found his speech, while provocative, to be laced with irony and inconsistency. He laments environmentalists inability to forge a list of consistent values to oppose the right’s stranglehold on the “American narrative,” yet he calls for expansion of his own values which is a stranglehold in itself. He is arguing inclusiveness and divisiveness simultaneously. He’s urging environmentalists to create “interdependence” while asking forcefully for certain conservatives to “stay out of the movement.” I think Werbach is falling into the same kind of trap so many social movements fall into. They become about the movement itself rather than what the movement is about. Which, ironically, is the exact thing he’s hoping this speech will avoid. He’s essentially advocating a new American consciousness built on the eradiction of “-isms” while arguing it is time to “take over the Democratic party.” Progressivism is still an “-ism” and the way it becomes visible, at least in Werbach’s mind, is by never claiming neutrality on anything. He says “neutrality is death,” but how can you work toward compromise if your demeanor is so politically uncompromising that you neglect the nuance of differing values altogether? How will Werbach reach Rush Limbaugh if he’s already dismissed him outright? Consensus building and “finding shared values” are all nice things to talk about, but in reality people have very real and very different values and conceptions of progress. He uses a focus group to demonstrate the bubbly optimism that comes with this consensus, but as anyone with experience in strategic communications knows, focus groups so often suffer from a flawed design that simply reinforces what the designer expected to find rather than gleaning any type of new insight. While there are certainly things we can all agree on, I highly doubt the sort of militant overhaul of values that Werbach advocates can be accomplished through his bizarre “inclusiveness through divisiveness” method. As mentioned in this podcast: www.rusiriusradio.commaking a true difference on climate change issues could require a scary amount of coercion which is something I doubt Werbach is advocating.

-Vince Meserko


3 Comments so far
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On the contrary, Vince. Werbach is working with an entity some would call the enemy – Wal-mart. Here’s more. What do you think?

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

I think this is a great start if this is the sort of progressivism that will replace the environmentalism that he hopes to bury. I think it’s more of the political exclusion that bothers me. In one of the last paragraph of his speech he tells some (far-right conservatives) to simply “stay out of the movement.” I believe the link to his speech is broken on the Adbusters site unfortunately. It is interesting that he is an insider with an outsider image as he says in the Wal-Mart article. I think that perspective may actually resonate more with non-environmentalists who maybe have a stigmatized view of the label anyway. Werbach is uniquely positioned to find those shared values. Working with Wal-Mart seems to have already ruffled feathers within his own movement but that might be the exact thing he hopes to do. The political exclusion may be warranted if he feels certain groups will hopelessly bog the movement down. The sort of change he’s advocating also does not necessarily hope to work with policy makers in the first place.

-Vince Meserko

Comment by vincemeserko

Why would someone who claims to care about the environment have their proverbial feathers ruffled by Werbach working with a corporate entitiy like Wal-Mart to make them greener?

Is the environment only an environmentalists concern?

Who cares who is making strides to curb green house gas emissions? So long as the strides are being made. If people are going to fight over who is fighting the good fight…. we are doomed.


Comment by acbowman

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