Big respect to Ian Angus. In his short time down-under he has attended climate marches, been the speaker at trade union conferences (see below) taken interviews on the radio (click the link under the vid) launched his new and very important book written with Simon Butler (Too Many People?) and is currently lining up for the big 'world at a crossroads' conference speech; the topic being 'ecosocialist revolution'. In addition he has also managed to keep his website 'climate and capitalism' ticking over.
Ian Angus; from me and I expect from ecosocialists all over the world; Good on ya!
Trade unions must join the fight against climate change
September 29, 2011“If we leave this issue to the bosses, to the corporations and politicians who profit from the existing system, the changes will be inadequate – and they will put the entire burden on working people.”Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, is currently in Australia to speak at the Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne, September 30 – October 3.During his pre-conference speaking tour, he was invited to address several meetings of trades union members. The following is a lightly edited transcript of the opening comments he made at union meetings in Melbourne and Geelong.
Thank you for inviting me to speak today.
This week, in Canada, hundreds of people gathered on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, to support a civil disobedience action against the environmental crime known as the Alberta Tar Sands, and the related Keystone XL pipeline.
The action was supported by the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union, the National Union of Public and General Employees, the Indigenous Environmental Movement, Greenpeace, the Council of Canadians and other groups.
One of the first of more than a hundred people arrested for crossing the police barrier was Dave Coles, president of the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union.
This is just one example of the participation of trade unionists around the world in the fight against global warming. I’d like to start off our discussion today with some comments on why a growing number of working people are coming to see global warming as a trade union issue.
A few weeks ago, a headline in the New York Times
read, “Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves.”
The article was about the shopping habits of the very rich, in the midst of the Great Recession, at a time when official unemployment in the U.S. is over 9%, and real unemployment is at least twice that high. Here are some excerpts:
Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price.
Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin “Bianca” platform pumps, at $775 a pair.
Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in theUnited Statesthan it had in any July in five years. …
Tiffany’s first-quarter sales were up 20 percent to $761 million.
Last week LVMH, which owns expensive brands like Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, reported sales growth in the first half of 2011 of 13 percent to 10.3 billion euros, or $14.9 billion. …
BMW this week said it more than doubled its quarterly profit from a year ago as sales rose 16.5 percent; Porsche said its first-half profit rose 59 percent; and Mercedes-Benz said July sales of its high-end S-Class sedans — some of which cost more than $200,000 — jumped nearly 14 percent in the United States.
The article notes that while this is going on, Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the U.S., has started selling toilet paper one roll at a time, because many customers cannot afford the usual multi-roll packages.
For me, that New York Times
article calls to mind a vitally important word that is missing from almost all of the hundreds of books that have been written about global warming and the global environmental crisis.
The word is class
In the world’s richest country. a handful of people buy nine thousand dollar coats and two hundred thousand dollar cars, while millions can’t afford toilet paper.
That’s a sign of the deep class divide
that separates rich from poor, powerful from powerless, exploiters from exploited, bosses from working people.
- The richest 5% of Americans own more than everyone else in the U.S. combined.
- Here in Australia, eleven very rich individuals own more than the country’s 800,000 poorest households combined.
- The 147 richest people in the world have total wealth equal to the total annual income of half of the world’s entire population.
And yet one of the most common themes in articles about the environmental crisis is that WE are all in this together, WE are all responsible for destroying the earth.
You know, whenever someone says “we are all in this together,” you can be sure that they want you to suffer and pay for a problem that someone else caused. And that’s the case today with global warming.
The huge BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred while Simon Butler and I were writing our new book, Too Many People?
Almost immediately there were articles in major newspapers claiming that WE were responsible for the disaster, because WE love cars and WE are addicted to oil.
We couldn’t resist paraphrasing one of Bob Dylan’s early songs – “No, No, No, It ain’t WE, babe.”
Global warming and environmental destruction are not caused by working people.
They are caused by the rich, both as super-consumers and, even more importantly, through their control of the corporations that produce the immense majority of greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution.
Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environmental Institute, puts it this way
The 3 billion poorest people … emit essentially nothing.
In contrast, the rich are really spectacular emitters ….
The top 500 million people [about 8 percent of humanity] emit half the greenhouse emissions.
These people are really rich by global standards.
Every single one of them earns more than the average American …
And yet many environmentalists insist that working people are the cause of global warming, that the solution is for us to lower our living standards, give up our cars, and pay carbon taxes.
In reality, individual activity isn’t driving climate change, and changes in individual behavior – however morally appropriate – will not save the world.
Let me illustrate this with an example from my home country.
75% of the electricity produced in Alberta, the third largest Canadian province, comes from five coal-fired plants.
Those five plants together produce more greenhouse gas emissions every year than four million automobiles
If those plants were replaced by renewable energy sources – if Alberta implemented the Beyond Zero Emissions plan that has been recommended in Australia – Alberta’s total emissions would drop dramatically.
And what’s more, the emissions attributed to individuals and households would fall dramatically, because they would be getting their electricity from green sources.
But if the electricity business continues as usual, individuals and families in Alberta can not possibly live carbon-free lives.
Alberta is also the site of what has been called the biggest ecological crime in history, the Tar Sands.
In addition to physically destroying an area twice as large as Tasmania, poisoning the land and the Athabaska River, this project generates more than 3 times as much greenhouse gas per barrel as conventional oil.
Our Conservative federal government, which isn’t given to pro-environmental exaggeration, estimates that by 2020 the Tar Sands will produce more greenhouse gases than every car and truck in all ofCanada.
So long as the Tar Sands projects exist, trying to solve global warming by persuading individual drivers to ride bicycles is like fighting cancer by getting a haircut.
It may make some cosmetic difference, but it leaves the disease untouched.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to live greener lives. Of course we should. But we must understand that while there are things that individuals can do, global warming is a social problem, and it can only be solved by social change.
To prevent disaster, we need a new industrial revolution, a new energy revolution. We need to change what we make and how we make it.
Entire industries need to be eliminated and others need to be transformed.
If the necessary economic and social changes are not made, our lives, and even more our children’s lives, will be much harder, much poorer, than they are today.
Our grandchildren may not have an inhabitable world to grow up in.
And that means that global warming is a trade union issue. It is an issue that directly affects working people, and it can only be stopped if the workers’ organizations join and lead the fight to end it.
If we leave this issue to the bosses, to the corporations and politicians who profit from the existing system, the changes will be inadequate – and they will put the entire burden on working people.
The rich will reap the profits, they’ll continue to live in gated communities and air conditioned mansions, while we pay the price.
The trade union movement must take this challenge on – or working people will be the victims of climate change.
One powerful example is in Britain, where trade unionists in the climate change movement are promoting a call for One Million Climate Jobs.
Not just loosely-defined “green jobs” that clean up the mess while leaving the causes untouched, but specifically climate jobs.
- Jobs building new energy sources and a new energy grid.
- Jobs retrofitting homes and offices for energy efficiency.
- Jobs expanding public transport and railroads.
- And more
In their document calling for One Million Climate Jobs
they have documented just what has to be done, and what it will cost. They have shown that it is possible, and affordable, and essential.
This campaign takes the concept of a “just transition” into new territory – not just protecting current income, but actually fighting for a union-initiated transition to a new kind of economy.
The campaign is supported by the Public and Commercial Services Union, the University and College Union, the Communication Workers Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association.
The pamphlet describing their plan is available online
(PDF) – I encourage you to read and circulate it.
It’s a realistic and practical plan – but it won’t happen unless working people fight for it.
I won’t presume to tell you what tactics or demands are appropriate in Australia– you know your situation far better than I. But I will say that theGreen Bans
of the 1970s were an inspiring example and precedent for green left labor activists around the world.
Whether or not those specific tactics are appropriate today, the simple fact that you carried out that inspiring campaign convinces me that trade unions in Australia can be leaders of the global fight against environmental destruction, that you understand that climate change is a trade union issue and will act accordingly.
As the old song Solidarity Forever
says, there can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun.
If we unite and mobilize that power, we can save the world.
"Anyone with eyes open knows that the gangsterism of Wall Street — financial institutions generally — has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power. That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called “a precariat” — seeking to survive in a precarious existence. They also carry out these ugly activities with almost complete impunity — not only too big to fail, but also “too big to jail. The courageous and honorable protests underway in Wall Street should serve to bring this calamity to public attention, and to lead to dedicated efforts to overcome it and set the society on a more healthy course."
(personal email from Danny Garza,who has been on the ground of the Occupy Wall Street movement since day one. He has been in contact with Professor Chomsky and have updated him on all the actions of the Wall Street movement.The email source from Chomsky was sent to Garza, which we have here. After he read the letter at the General Assembly, he requested permission from Professor Chomsky to publish it on their website, which was granted. )
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/311959#ixzz1ZHuQZAGl
Great Letter by Arun Gupta.p.s. I lied in my title this doesn't mention the London Stock Exchange but why not imagine the invitation extends to there too (Sat Oct 15th)The Revolution Begins at HomeAn Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation
By Arun Gupta
What is occurring on Wall Street right now is truly remarkable. For over 10 days, in the sanctum of the great cathedral of global capitalism, the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police army.
They have created a unique opportunity to shift the tides of history in the tradition of other great peaceful occupations from the sit-down strikes of the 1930s to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 1960s to the democratic uprisings across the Arab world and Europe today.
While the Wall Street occupation is growing, it needs an all-out commitment from everyone who cheered the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, said “We are all Wisconsin,” and stood in solidarity with the Greeks and Spaniards. This is a movement for anyone who lacks a job, housing or healthcare, or thinks they have no future.
Our system is broken at every level. More than 25 million Americans are unemployed. More than 50 million live without health insurance. And perhaps 100 million Americans are mired in poverty, using realistic measures. Yet the fat cats continue to get tax breaks and reap billions while politicians compete to turn the austerity screws on all of us.
At some point the number of people occupying Wall Street – whether that’s five thousand, ten thousand or fifty thousand – will force the powers that be to offer concessions. No one can say how many people it will take or even how things will change exactly, but there is a real potential for bypassing a corrupt political process and to begin realizing a society based on human needs not hedge fund profits.
After all, who would have imagined a year ago that Tunisians and Egyptians would oust their dictators?
At Liberty Park, the nerve center of the occupation, more than a thousand people gather every day to debate, discuss and organize what to do about our failed system that has allowed the 400 richest Americans
at the top to amass more wealth
than the 180 million Americans
at the bottom.
It’s astonishing that this self-organized festival of democracy has sprouted on the turf of the masters of the universe, the men who play the tune that both political parties and the media dance to. The New York Police Department, which has deployed hundreds of officers at a time to surround and intimidate protesters, is capable of arresting everyone and clearing Liberty Plaza in minutes. But they haven’t, which is also astonishing.
That’s because assaulting peaceful crowds in a public square demanding real democracy – economic and not just political – would remind the world of the brittle autocrats who brutalized their people demanding justice before they were swept away by the Arab Spring. And the state violence has already backfired
. After police attacked a Saturday afternoon march that started from Liberty Park the crowds only got bigger and media interest grew.
The Wall Street occupation has already succeeded in revealing the bankruptcy of the dominant powers – the economic, the political, media and security forces. They have nothing positive to offer humanity, not that they ever did for the Global South, but now their quest for endless profits means deepening the misery with a thousand austerity cuts.
Even their solutions are cruel jokes. They tell us that the “Buffett Rule”
would spread the pain by asking the penthouse set to sacrifice a tin of caviar
, which is what the proposed tax increase
would amount to. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to sacrifice healthcare, food, education, housing, jobs and perhaps our lives to sate the ferocious appetite of capital.
That’s why more and more people are joining the Wall Street occupation. They can tell you about their homes being foreclosed upon, months of grinding unemployment or minimum-wage dead-end jobs, staggering student debt loads, or trying to live without decent healthcare. It’s a whole generation of Americans with no prospects, but who are told to believe in a system that can only offer them Dancing With The Stars and pepper spray to the face
Yet against every description of a generation derided as narcissistic, apathetic and hopeless they are staking a claim to a better future for all of us.
That’s why we all need to join in. Not just by liking it on Facebook, signing a petition at change.org
or retweeting protest photos, but by going down to the occupation itself.
There is great potential here. Sure, it’s a far cry from Tahrir Square or even Wisconsin. But there is the nucleus of a revolt that could shake America’s power structure as much as the Arab world has been upended.
Instead of one to two thousand people a day joining in the occupation there needs to be tens of thousands of people protesting the fat cats driving Bentleys and drinking thousand-dollar bottles of champagne with money they looted from the financial crisis and then from the bailouts while Americans literally die on the streets
To be fair, the scene in Liberty Plaza seems messy and chaotic. But it’s also a laboratory of possibility, and that’s the beauty of democracy. As opposed to our monoculture world, where political life is flipping a lever every four years, social life is being a consumer and economic life is being a timid cog, the Wall Street occupation is creating a polyculture of ideas, expression and art.
Yet while many people support the occupation, they hesitate to fully join in and are quick to offer criticism. It’s clear that the biggest obstacles to building a powerful movement are not the police or capital – it’s our own cynicism and despair.
Perhaps their views were colored by the New York Times
article deriding protestors for wishing to “pantomime progressivism” and “Gunning for Wall Street with faulty aim.” Many of the criticisms boil down to “a lack of clear messaging.”
But what’s wrong with that? A fully formed movement is not going to spring from the ground. It has to be created. And who can say what exactly needs to be done? We are not talking about ousting a dictator; though some say we want to oust the dictatorship of capital.
There are plenty of sophisticated ideas out there: end corporate personhood; institute a “Tobin Tax” on stock purchases and currency trading; nationalize banks; socialize medicine; fully fund government jobs and genuine Keynesian stimulus; lift restrictions on labor organizing; allow cities to turn foreclosed homes into public housing; build a green energy infrastructure.
But how can we get broad agreement on any of these? If the protesters came into the square with a pre-determined set of demands it would have only limited their potential. They would have either been dismissed as pie in the sky – such as socialized medicine or nationalize banks – or if they went for weak demands such as the Buffett Rule their efforts would immediately be absorbed by a failed political system, thus undermining the movement.
That’s why the building of the movement has to go hand in hand with common struggle, debate and radical democracy. It’s how we will create genuine solutions that have legitimacy. And that is what is occurring down at Wall Street.
Now, there are endless objections one can make. But if we focus on the possibilities, and shed our despair, our hesitancy and our cynicism, and collectively come to Wall Street with critical thinking, ideas and solidarity we can change the world.
How many times in your life do you get a chance to watch history unfold, to actively participate in building a better society, to come together with thousands of people where genuine democracy is the reality and not a fantasy?
For too long our minds have been chained by fear, by division, by impotence. The one thing the elite fear most is a great awakening. That day is here. Together we can seize it. Arun Gupta is the editor of The Indypendent
Don't think I really need to write anything here, uhh see you there!
We live in a world where soil erosion, desertification and famine is an ever-increasing reality for millions of poor people. At the same time the profits of large landowners and supermarkets continue to soar.
The issues of food production and food sovereignty – who controls the production, sale and distribution of food – have never been more crucial.
In November 2011 Socialist Resistance and Green Left will be hosting a national tour to let audiences in British cities hear an activist for whom this is a matter of life and death.
Our keynote speaker will be Maria Neri B. Pampilo from Mindanao in the Philippines. Maria is a longstanding activist and ecosocialist. She will share her powerful experiences in the struggle for land reform and ecologically sustainable food production.
Monoculture – the industrial growing of a single cash crop – is a major contributor to soil erosion and desertification along with forest clearance for farming multi-nationals.
Agribusiness calls for ever-increasing yields that may give short-term benefits but at a devastating long-term cost including pesticides polluting rivers and oceans.
The cost to human communities is also immeasurable – peasants are thrown off their farms as land reform is reversed in the insatiable search for profit. Millions are forced to migrate to unsustainable cities – living in shantytowns with no infrastructure.
Samir Amin, the economist and writer on development issues, has argued that agriculture is one of the new frontiers for capital. Over the last few years appreciable amounts of speculative capital has moved into food production forcing food prices up. At the same time there has been a massive expansion of an unprecedented phenomena – the land grabbing, particularly in Africa, by both private and state capital, for the production of both food and agrifuels.
There is resistance – from the growth of militant peasant and indigenous organisations in many parts of the globe, the pioneering of organic agriculture in countries as diverse as Cuba, Venezuela and the Philippines and of guerilla gardening in the deserts of post-industrial cities in the United States such as Chicago.
The opportunity for ecosocialists in Britain to explore these topics in depth doesn’t come often and we hope you won’t miss this opportunity
For further information contact:
Leeds Thursday 10 November
London Saturday 12 November, University of London Union, Malet Street
Brighton Monday 14 November
Birmingham Tuesday 15 November
Cambridge Thursday 17 November
Manchester Saturday 19 November
Wigan Tuesday 22 November
Oxford Thursday 24 November
Ecosocialists should fight for a ‘green new deal'"Like the original new deal, it has to be about mass participation, about people power and about riding the wave of protest that has resonated around the world since the Arab spring. To acknowledge this, is to acknowledge the prospect that many will become ecosocialists on the journey"
’Sunday, September 25, 2011
By Martin O’BeirneGreen Left Weekly 897
Newly released figures confirm unemployment is going through the roof, austerity measures are causing global unrest, huge strike action has occurred recently in places like Chile and the biggest strike in Britain since 1926 seems increasingly likely in November with plans for sustained industrial action into the new year.
At the same time, we are becoming desensitised to news of whichever freak weather condition, flood, forest fire or natural disaster has just occurred in whichever country.
In the Pacific Ocean, small islands are disappearing under rising seas, oceans are acidifying and greenhouse gases are being pumped into the atmosphere apace.
The miserably inadequate cap-and-trade system, a new market that commodifies the atmosphere, was supposedly designed to deal with harmful emissions and avert catastrophic climate change.
But designed by whom? By the Wall Street money men that caused the economic collapse and the mass transfer of wealth from the public purse to the parasitic elite.
These parallel trends (environmental and social) show no sign of slowing.
So is there a strategy that seeks real solutions? Yes, its called ecosocialism, but generally ecosocialists are better at pushing the desired outcome of the movement than they are the transition.
The goal is a world in which the state eventually withers. A free association of producers, where use value replaces exchange value. A society geared to an ecological rationale and the restoration of the commons.
But outside of this appetising prospect, what can we embrace here and now? How do we move forward?
There are no hard and fast rules, but the seeds of ecosocialism are finding increasingly fertile conditions within various social movements and political groupings. Talk has began of a fightback against austerity in Britain involving coordinated industrial action that may involve 6 million or more workers, including various unions.
Many of these unions are waking from relative slumber: notably the British Medical Association, which balloted members on industrial action
and received overwhelming support (87%).
Neoliberal austerity is pushing unemployment in Britain
to more than 2.5 million — out of a total population of 60 million. Similar trends are taking place in many “advanced” countries.
This increase is in large part due to youth unemployment. The outlook for young people is increasingly bleak with debt, housing, job insecurity and climate change all worsening.
All of this has been handed down from the earlier, profligate generation. Many of those that have secured higher education have found that their striving has worsened their financial woes.
Student debts have risen to up to £30,000 and few jobs are available. The myth of meritocracy is being laid bare.
It is not just the youth — the suffering is across the board. Many older workers face the prospect of long-term or permanent unemployment.
This has other, extra-economic effects. The clinical symptoms of unemployed people are so surprisingly uniform that medical professionals have adopted the term “unemployment depression”.
When we consider all of these factors, it seems appropriate to draw on lessons from history and talk about a “new deal” — as was the response to the great depression caused by the Wall Street financial crash in 1929.
But there is, of course, a difference. The 21st century new deal would have address both the social and ecological crisis.
At the dawn of the current economic meltdown in 2008, Green Party of England and Wales leader Caroline Lucas used the great depression of the 1930s and subsequent new deal to introduce the idea of a green new deal
She said: “First, strictly regulate the cause of the problem — the greedy and feckless finance sector; second, get people back to work” and “finally, fund this in part by an increase in taxes on big business and the rich — a measure which also has the positive effect of dramatically decreasing inequality …“A ‘carbon army’, recruited from those in the region who are at present unemployed or wanting to improve their existing skills, could be trained for the low to high skilled jobs required.“To reduce carbon dramatically will require skills ranging from energy analysis, design and production of hi-tech renewable alternatives, large-scale engineering projects such as combined heat and power and offshore wind, through to work in making every building ‘energy tight’, fitting more efficient energy systems in homes, offices and factories.”
My feeling is that ecosocialists must embed the fight for a green new deal as a core strategy.
No, it’s not the whole picture, and in isolation it will not achieve the ecosocialist vision. But it is an important part of the transition and it is something we can fight for here and now.
And lets face it, some of us (me in particular) can talk all day about topics like how capitalism is no way to run a planet, what an ecosocialist world would be like or manifestations of 21st century socialism in Latin America.
However, when it comes to advancing concrete strategies for transition something is often lacking.
Unions and political parties are pressing ahead with green new deal initiatives but they need support.
Many of us feel a more natural affinity for grassroots movements. I know I’m not the only one. The truth of the matter is that the transition to ecosocialism will be multi-focal — and that’s fine, the question is when will it become systemic.
Caveats aside, this transition will come sooner if we engage with unions and political parties: green or socialist (ideally green-socialist).
Major alarm bells ring when we consider the fact that despite massive and hard fought gains for the new deal of the 1930s, with several million jobs created, in essence the project provided a crutch for capitalism.
That is, a green new deal is not how we overthrow capitalism. It is a near-term strategy made more significant by the decreasing time available to make meaningful changes.
As David Schwartzman said in the September Capitalism Nature Socialism
journal: “What the green new deal can accomplish is very significant, indeed critical to confronting the challenge of preventing catastrophic climate change.
“Humanity cannot afford to wait for socialism to replace capitalism to begin implementing this prevention program.”
Also, we must heed the consequences of the Jevon’s Paradox, which readers of John Bellamy Foster will be well acquainted with.
William Jevons was an English economist, a pro-capitalist who argued in his 1965 book The Coal Question
: “It is a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth.”
Foster gives examples of how, under capitalism, more efficient refrigerators lead not to fewer being made, but more, with increased demand and with each unit increasing in size.
The history of the automobile industry is similar. More energy-efficient cars have led to an increase in the demand for driving, which has led to higher fuel consumption and more cars being made.
In this regard, various green sector jobs could also play into the hands of that mother of contradictions, green capitalism.
In addition, wasteful sectors that would be virtually redundant in an ecosocialist world such as advertising may still benefit under a green new deal.
The success of a green new deal project depends on the trajectory it takes: on what jobs are created and what purpose they serve, on how products are made and how much in total is produced.
There would be need for constant re-evaluation to deal with the prospect of overproduction and waste.
The renewable energy sector is key. But the most powerful application of the green new deal would be to re-appropriate jobs from the military, to “retool” military personnel.
It is easy to forget when we consider the human cost of war that the military — whether its engaged in occupations, terror campaigns or on training missions — is the single biggest emitter of CO2.
Dealing with the cessation of the military could be considered a “green new deal plus”, with the prospect of peace but also of enormous funds and skills that could be diverted toward the fight against climate instability.
Another potential benefit is that during the struggle for the green new deal a significant parts of the population (such as the unemployed, although not exclusively) could be engaged in green political action for the first time. Or rather, they will get involved if we push it hard enough.
If successful, vast numbers of workers will be directly engaged in the green movement, increasing education and awareness. This is vital if we are to transition to ecosocialism. In turn, it is also vital that ecosocialism becomes mainstream.
The original 'new deal' occurred because it was embraced by the masses. It created jobs and significantly improved conditions for working people. The green new deal adds to this a strategy to avert potentially catastrophic climate change.
The concept is powerful but will also likely be subject to “greenwash”. It is not about a think-tank making a proposal and delivering it to a neoliberal government that may or may not deliver some minor changes. The notion of the 'new deal' is not theirs to own.
Like the original new deal, it has to be about mass participation, about people power and about riding the wave of protest that has resonated around the world since the Arab spring.
To acknowledge this, is to acknowledge the prospect that many will become ecosocialists on the journey toward an ecologically and socially rational world.
Not everybody agrees with the idea of a green new deal and, as I said earlier, it’s constraints as a strategy need to be appreciated. But it is undoubtedly a debate that ecosocialists should engage in.
In Britain, a green new deal
— headed by the 1 million climate jobs campaign — was embraced by the Green Party at the recent conference.
[Please add your name to the petition site here
. A US initiative the blue-green alliance can be found by clicking here.
Take a look at this week's Green Left Weekly by clicking the link below
Sep 21st 2011, by Hugo Chavez
Miraflores, September 17, 2011
His Excellency, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
Mr. Secretary General:
Distinguished representatives of the peoples of the world:
I address these words to the United Nations General Assembly, to this great
forum that represents all the people of earth, to ratify, on this day and in
this setting, Venezuela’s full support of the recognition of the Palestinian
State: of Palestine’s right to become a free, sovereign and independent
state. This represents an act of historic justice towards a people who carry
with them, from time immemorial, all the pain and suffering of the world.
In his memorable essay The Grandeur of Arafat, the great French philosopher
Gilles Deleuze wrote with the full weight of the truth: The Palestinian
cause is first and foremost the set of injustices that these people have
suffered and continue to suffer. And I dare add that the Palestinian cause
also represents a constant and unwavering will to resist, already written in
the historic memory of the human condition. A will to resist that is born of
the most profound love for the earth. Mahmoud Darwish, the infinite voice of
the longed-for Palestine, with heartfelt conscience speaks about this love:
We don’t need memories/ because we carry within us Mount Carmelo/ and in our
eyelids is the herb of Galilee./ Don’t say: If only we could flow to my
country like a river!/ Don’t say that!/ Because we are in the flesh of our
country/ and our country is in our flesh.
Against those who falsely assert that what has happened to the Palestinian
people is not genocide, Deleuze himself states with unfaltering lucidity:
From beginning to end, it involved acting as if the Palestinian people not
only must not exist, but had never existed. It represents the very essence
of genocide: to decree that a people do not exist; to deny them the right to
In this regard, the great Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo is quite right when
he forcefully states: The biblical promise of the land of Judea and Samaria
to the tribes of Israel is not a notarized property contract that authorizes
the eviction of those who were born and live on that land. This is precisely
why conflict resolution in the Middle East must, necessarily, bring justice
to the Palestinian people; this is the only path to peace.
It is upsetting and painful that the same people who suffered one of the
worst examples of genocide in history have become the executioners of the
Palestinian people: it is upsetting and painful that the heritage of the
Holocaust be the Nakba. And it is truly disturbing that Zionism continues to
use the charge of anti-Semitism as blackmail against those who oppose their
violations and crimes. Israel has, blatantly and despicably, used and
continues to use the memory of the victims. And they do so to act with
complete impunity against Palestine. It’s worth mentioning that
anti-Semitism is a Western, European, scourge in which the Arabs do not
participate. Furthermore, let’s not forget that it is the Semite Palestine
people who suffer from the ethnic cleansing practiced by the Israeli
I want to make myself clear: It is one thing to denounce anti-Semitism, and
an entirely different thing to passively accept that Zionistic barbarism
enforces an apartheid regime against the Palestinian people. From an ethical
standpoint those who denounce the first, must condemn the second.
A necessary digression: it is frankly abusive to confuse Zionism with
Judaism. Throughout time we have been reminded of this by several Jewish
intellectuals such as Albert Einstein and Erich Fromm. And today there are
an ever increasing number of conscientious citizens, within Israel itself,
who openly oppose Zionism and its criminal and terrorist practices.
We must spell it out: Zionism, as a world vision, is absolutely racist.
Irrefutable proof of this can be seen in these words written with terrifying
cynicism by Golda Meir: How are we to return the occupied territories? There
is nobody to return them to. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.
It is not as people think, that there existed a people called Palestinians,
who considered themselves as Palestinians, and that we came and threw them
out and took their country. They didn't exist."
It is important to remember that: from the end of the 19th century, Zionism
called for the return of the Jewish people to Palestine and the creation of
a national state of its own. This approach was beneficial for French and
British colonialism, as it would later be for Yankee imperialism. The West
has always encouraged and supported the Zionist occupation of Palestine by
Read and reread the document historically known as the Balfour Declaration
of 1917: the British Government assumed the legal authority to promise a
national home in Palestine to the Jewish people, deliberately ignoring the
presence and wishes of its inhabitants. It should be added that Christians
and Muslims lived in peace for centuries in the Holy Land up until the time
when Zionism began to claim it as its complete and exclusive property.
Let’s not forget that beginning in the second decade of the 20th century,
Zionism started to develop its expansionist plans by taking advantage of the
colonial British occupation of Palestine. By the end of World War II, the
Palestinian people’s tragedy worsened, with their expulsion from their
territory and, at the same time, from history. In 1947, the despicable and
illegal UN resolution 181 recommends dividing Palestine into a Jewish State,
an Arab State, and an area under international control (Jerusalem and
Belem). Shamefully, 56 percent of the territory was granted to Zionism to
establish its State. In fact, this resolution violated international law and
blatantly ignored the will of the vast Arab majority: the right to
self-determination of the people became a dead letter.
From 1948 to date, the Zionist State has continually applied its criminal
strategy against the Palestinian people with the constant support of its
unconditional ally, the United States of America. This unconditional
allegiance is clearly observed by the fact that Israel directs and sets US
international policy for the Middle East. That’s why the great Palestinian
and universal conscience Edward Said stated that any peace agreement built
on the alliance with the United States would be an alliance that confirms
Zionist power, rather than one that confronts it.
Now then: contrary to what Israel and the United States are trying to make
the world believe through transnational media outlets, what happened and
continues to happen in Palestine —using Said’s words— is not a religious
conflict, but a political conflict, with a colonial and imperialist stamp.
It did not begin in the Middle East, but rather in Europe.
What was and continues to be at the heart of the conflict?: debate and
discussion has prioritized Israel’s security while ignoring Palestine’s.
This is corroborated by recent events; a good example is the latest act of
genocide set off by Israel during its Operation Molten Lead in Gaza.
Palestine’s security cannot be reduced to the simple acknowledgement of a
limited self-government and self-policing in its “enclaves” along the west
bank of the Jordan and in the Gaza Strip. This ignores the creation of the
Palestinian State, in the borders set prior to 1967 with East Jerusalem as
its capital; and the rights of its citizens and their self-determination as
a people. This further disregards the compensation and subsequent return to
the Homeland of 50 percent of the Palestinian people who are scattered all
over the world, as established by resolution 194.
It's unbelievable that a country (Israel) that owes its existence to a
general assembly resolution could be so disdainful of the resolutions that
emanate from the UN, said Father Miguel D’Escoto when pleading for the end
of the massacre against the people of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.
Mr. Secretary General and distinguished representatives of the peoples of
It is impossible to ignore the crisis in the United Nations. In 2005, before
this very same General Assembly, we argued that the United Nations model had
become exhausted. The fact that the debate on the Palestinian issue has been
delayed and is being openly sabotaged reconfirms this.
For several days, Washington has been stating that, at the Security Council,
it will veto what will be a majority resolution of the General Assembly: the
recognition of Palestine as a full member of the UN. In the Statement of
Recognition of the Palestinian State, Venezuela, together with the sister
Nations that make up the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America
(ALBA), have denounced that such a just aspiration could be blocked by this
means. As we know, the empire, in this and other instances, is trying to
impose its double standard on the world stage: Yankee double standards are
violating international law in Libya, while allowing Israel to do whatever
it pleases, thus becoming the main accomplice of the Palestinian genocide
being carried out by the hands of Zionist barbarity. Edward Said touched a
nerve when he wrote that: Israeli interests in the United States have made
the US’ Middle East policy Israeli-centric.
I would like to conclude with the voice of Mahmoud Darwish in his memorable
poem *On This Earth*: We have on this earth what makes life worth living: On
this earth, the lady of earth, Mother of all beginnings/ Mother of all ends.
She was called… Palestine./ Her name later became… Palestine./ My Lady,
because you are my Lady, I deserve life.
It will continue to be called Palestine: Palestine will live and overcome!
Long-live free, sovereign and independent Palestine!
Hugo Chávez Frías
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Yesterdays 'occupy wall street' protests turned hostile. Over 50 arrests were made. There were reports of kettling and unconfirmed reports that mace was used. It is difficult when you see video clips in isolation to know quite how many conclusions can be drawn, and there is a danger of being propagandist, but in this video which is a response to a more widely publicised version, footage has been annotated and slowed down and at-least some initial observations can be made.
Clearly mace or other noxious substance was used against a small group of female protestors. This group had already been kettled using temporary fencing and a heavy police presence is evident. Whatever led to the kettling is uncertain but surely once detained and in the context of so many passers-by and indeed other officers in close proximity; I find it very hard to imagine that this could be judged as an appropriate response.
What do you think?
Thanks to Lisa Jenson for spreading the word.
Ongoing analysis can be found here:
The 2011 floods were the worst in Pakistan's history. Twenty million people were affected and about 2000 lost their lives. This is the second consecutive year or unprecedented flooding. This statement is in support of actvists rallying against the consequences of climate instability and the subsequent corruption and oppression they have faced.
Free Baba Jan and all political prisoners!In support of this statement please send it with your name (& Organisation if possible) to this email: email@example.comFollow updates of the struggle inhttps://www.facebook.com/groups/124069531026580/?ref=ts. Click here for more background.]
Last August 11, Pakistan police used live bullets against people demanding payment of compensation allowances following a devastating landslide which had happened a year before in the valley of Hunza, on July 4, 2010. This landslide, in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, destroyed several houses and important roads. The local administration abandoned the affected community and pocketed compensation payments intended for several affected families.
When villagers demonstrated on August 11, on the occasion of the arrival of the minister for the province, police responded with lethal violence, killing Afzal Baig (22 years old), and his father, Sher Ullah Baig (50 years old).
In reaction, the population of Aliabad and other localities of Hunza rose up, and for four days the population took control of the city. To calm the people, authorities claimed that prosecutions had begun against the police officers responsible for the killings and granted financial compensation to the grieving families. This was only a manouvre to prepare a new wave of repression. On August 19, 36 people were arrested, among them 10 members of the Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP), six of whom remain in detention. A new wave of arrests began on September 16, with 33 arrests.Baba Jan
, a member of the federal committee of the LPP and a leader of the Progressive Youth Front, was very involved in the popular protests. He initially escaped arrest on August 19 and went underground. However, he was in danger of being summarily executed (“disappeared”)
if found by the police. The area of Gilgit-Baltistan is well known for violations of human rights by the authorities. Baba Jan chose to give himself up to the authorities, a month after going underground, but not before holding a press conference so that no one could be unaware of what might happen to him. According to information obtained by the LPP, Baba Jan was removed from his cell by the Pakistan secret services – the ISI – and tortured for two days: suspended by ropes, and severely beaten
Jan Baba and others are the targets of repression because they played an important part in making known the scandal of July 4, 2010, and its sequels. The authorities are now using violence and repression to try and cover up their abandonment and cheating of the victims of the July 4 landslide and the killings commited by its police.
We strongly condemn the Pakistan government for using violence, arrest and intimidation as a method to try to silence people's just demands and the people's protest against its repressive policies.
We call on all socialist and progressive movements and human rights organisations, in South East Asia and the world, to give solidarity to the political prisoners and condemn the human rights violations commited by the Pakistani security services.
- That the government of Pakistan immediately and unconditionally release Baba Jan and all other political prisoners.
- That the government of Pakistan compensate the victims of the July 4 landslide and police violence.
- That the government of Pakistan prosecute the police and intelligence officials responsible for human rights violations.
We fully support the people's movement in Gilgit-Baltistan in their struggle.
1. People’s Liberation Party of Indonesia
2. The Centre of Student Movement for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN), Indonesia
3. Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party, Philippines)
4. Indonesian Labor Movement of Unity (PPBI)
5. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) / Socialist Party of Malaysia
6. Democratic Association of the Youth (SDK), Philippines
7. Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Woman), Indonesia
8. International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE), Manila, Philippines
9. Revolutionary Workers Party-Mindanao, Philippines
10. Nouveau Party Anticapitaliste (NPA, New Anticapitalist Party), France
11. Socialist Alliance, Australia12. Socialist Resistance, Britain
13. Socialist Alternative Politic (SAP), NetherlandsThis Statement from Britain's Socialist Resistance
Please find below a letter I just sent to the Pakistani High Commission
Baba Jan is in prison together with around 33 other activists for defending climate victims. He and his comrades need the support of activists across the world:
For the attention of Mohammed Nafees Zakaria and Raheel Tariq
We are writing to ask for your urgent intervention with the government of Pakistan to secure the release of Mr Baba Jan and five other political prisoners currently detained in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr Baba Jan is a leader of both the highly respected Labour Party Pakistan and the Progressive Youth Front in the region.During a peaceful demonstration on August 11 by local residents of Gilgit-Baltistan demanding the payment of compensation allowances due to them following the devastating flood and landslide in the valley of Hunza on July 4, 2010, the police opened fired on the protesters, killing Afzal Baig (22 years old), then his father, Sher Ullah Baig (50 years old) who was trying to protect him. The following day, the population of Aliabad and other localities of Hunza rose up, clashing with the police. On August 19, in an attempt to silence the protesters and conceal these murders from public view, 36 people were picked up by police, then another 33 were picked up on September 16.
After initially avoiding arrest, Baba Jan gave himself up to authorities – not because he has committed any crime, but under threat of being “disappeared” if he was captured, a victim of an “extrajudicial execution”. The judge had sent Baba Jan to prison on judicial remand. However, he dragged from his by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and tortured for two days - suspended by ropes and severely beaten – in an attempt to extract false confessions from him.
We are aware that these events in Gilgit-Baltistan have featured on the front pages of Pakistan’s national press, as they should have: the inhumane treatment of Baba Jan and the other prisoners, whose only “crime” was to speak up for the basic human rights of fellow Pakistanis, has outraged all those who respect democracy and justice.
We in Britain have joined the international campaign to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Baba Jan and the other prisoners.
We also join with the Asian Human Rights Commission in calling for an end to the repression in Gilgit-Baltistan, and insist that the government of Pakistan prosecutes the police and intelligence officials responsible for these violations of human rights.
We ask you to insist to your government that the false charges against the demonstrators be dropped, and that full compensation be paid to all the people affected by the landslide of July 4, 2010.
We look forward to your swift response on this issue, and to receiving your reply.
Look out; The ecosocialists are coming...!.
This exciting ecosocialist conference in Melbourne will feature 80 speakers and 40 workshops, covering just about every topic imaginable; See document below or visit website here for more details.International guests speakers include Ian Angus, John Bellamy Foster and via webcam UK ecosocialist Derek Wall.Green Left Weekly has set up a live feed (also available below) which will broadcast selected meetings. You can visit the GLW homepage to learn more.,
Ian Angus and Simon Butler will also be introducing the long awaited new book 'Too Many People' which readers of this blog are likely already familiar with.
Have just sent off my cash to join the Green Left. It means you have to join the Green Party first which is OK, but if not for the green left I may not have joined.There are several groups i'm involving myself in and as a rule I feel more at home with the grassroots.but hey its all good. If you are not familiar with the green left read this intro written by Simon Butler editor of Green Left Weekly from 2009
, and a brilliant article from 2010 below it by Ian AngusBritain: Greening the reds, reddening the greens
Saturday, July 4, 2009 - 10:00By Simon Butler
Green Left, an eco-socialist current within the Green Party of England and Wales, held its annual general meeting on June 20 in London. It discussed the work of the network over the past year in struggles against war, racism and environmental decay and in winning support for eco-socialism as a solution to the economic and climate crises.
Green Left co-convener Joseph Healy reported on the results of the European elections. The Green Party retained seats in London and south-east England. Overall, the party's vote was up by 44% from the 2004 result.
The worrying election of two candidates of the racist far-right party, the British National Party was discussed.
The meeting assessed the campaigns Green Left has been involved in. These include campaigns against New Labour's school privatisation agenda, support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, and solidarity with the recent student occupation against the deportation of cleaners at the University of London's School of African and Oriental Studies.
The meeting also noted Green Left's success in getting progressive economic and immigration policies adopted at the last Green Party conference.
Green Left was formed in 2006 by Green Party members convinced that an "ecological, economically and socially just and peaceful society has to be based on an anti-capitalist political agenda".
It seeks to win support for eco-socialist ideas and encourage activism within the Green Party. It also seeks to build stronger links with anti-capitalist forces outside the Green Party, in Britain and internationally.
Green Left's focus on coalition-building, and its engagement with anti-capitalists of various traditions, is part of its goal of "greening the reds and reddening the greens".
Its founding statement, called the Headcorn declaration, argued: "Since the activism of William Morris in the Social Democratic Federation and Socialist League in the late nineteenth century, there has been an eco-socialist tradition in Britain.
"Green Left believes that eco-socialism provides an alternative to a society based on alienation, economic exploitation, corporate rule, ecological destruction and wars. Our analysis demands that in the best tradition of the historic left we 'agitate, educate and organise' to build such an alternative."
Ecosocialism’s global challenge
Sunday, September 12, 2010
By Ian Angu
In 2007, immediately after the founding of the Ecosocialist International Network (EIN), I wrote aCanadian Dimension
article on the challenges facing ecosocialists.
In it, I discussed two trends that seemed to indicate a new wave of anti-capitalist and pro-ecology action:
• Some socialists were moving away from the left’s abstention from the environmental movement, and trying to develop a distinctly socialist approach to the global environmental crisis; and
• Some greens were growing disillusioned with the pro-corporate agenda of the mainstream Green parties and NGOs, and expressing interest in radical alternatives.
Those trends have sped up and deepened in the past three years. The left’s ability to respond effectively to this development will determine whether ecosocialism lives up to the promise those of us who formed the EIN saw three years ago.
The most important development has been the rapid growth of the climate justice movement, raising the possibility of a global mass movement against climate change.
This potential was demonstrated powerfully in Copenhagen during the United Nations climate summit in December 2009. The largest climate change demonstrations ever held in Europe challenged the business-as-usual policies of the world’s largest polluters.
Militant actions by 100,000 people — double the number expected by the organisers — showed it was possible to develop mass mobilisations on the issue of global warming.
The sequel to Copenhagen — the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth — brought more than 35,000 people to Cochabamba, Bolivia.
It forged unprecedented unity between mass anti-imperialist movements in Latin America, indigenous activists from around the world, and the burgeoning climate justice movement in the global North.
The conference adopted the most radical program put forward by any significant section of the environmental movement in decades.
The Peoples’ Agreement adopted by the summit declared: “Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are…
“Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.”
Cochabamba and Copenhagen were initial expressions of a new alliance that includes indigenous groups, radical environmentalists, justice campaigners, trade unions, socialists and a host of other fighters for social change.
If that alliance continues, it could pose a real challenge to the power of the climate vandals.
At the same time, most socialist groups that once dismissed the environment as a middle-class diversion have reconsidered. Today, it would be hard to find a socialist organisation anywhere that hasn’t published a statement, pamphlet or book describing the environmental crisis and explaining its roots in capital’s insatiable drive for profit.
But it’s one thing to analyse the causes of environmental destruction. It is quite another to translate that understanding into action.
In my 2007 article, I wrote: “Most socialist writing about climate change does a good job of analyzing the nature and causes of the problem, and a terrible job of explaining about what to do now.
“All too often, a stirring condemnation of capitalism is followed by a simple assurance that socialism will solve the problem. How socialism will come about and what socialists should do about climate change now, those are unexplained mysteries.”
This continues to be a weakness of left commentary on the environment, but in an increasing number of countries socialists are playing key roles in building the movements against climate change.
The entire global left can learn much from Australia, Britain and those countries in continental Europe where real red-green alliances are growing.
What, then, of the organisation that seemed so promising three years ago? The EIN, said the group’s initial announcement, is “united in the belief that if we are to have a worthwhile future, the whole world needs to come together to drive capitalism from the stage and create an alternative society based on principles of social and environmental justice as well as popular participation”.
Where is it today?
Since 2007, EIN supporters have organised successful sessions at the World Social Forum in Brazil and the alternative KlimaForum in Copenhagen, and this year at the Cochabamba conference and the US Social Forum.
The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration is available in six languages and has been signed by activists from nearly 40 countries. Though far from perfect, it offers a workable basis for unity among the wide range of people who call themselves ecosocialists.
In general, these successes reflect the activity of ad hoc groups of activists acting in the EIN’s name rather than any coordinated effort by the EIN as such. The organisation’s very loose structure has limited its ability to decide on actions and carry them through.
There appears to be broad agreement on the analysis and political perspectives outlined in the Belem Declaration, but no apparent consensus on what practical activities the EIN should initiate or support, or whether it should initiate any at all.
Given the failures of many other socialist “internationals”, many ecosocialists believe the EIN should not try to be more structured, but should provide an open framework for discussion and communication and leave actions to local initiatives.
As well as meeting an important political need, such an approach seems realistic in view of the EIN’s still limited resources.
An EIN session held during the US Social Forum in Detroit in June discussed some of these questions, and took initial steps towards the formation of chapters in North America.
An international organising meeting, planned for Paris in September, may provide more clarity about the EIN’s long-term direction.
The most important issue facing ecosocialists is not whether a specific organisation succeeds or fails, or whether a given resolution passes some socialist purity test.
The real question is: Will ecosocialists support the Cochabamba program and similar initiatives to build a global climate justice movement, or will we remain on the sidelines?
As we expected three years ago, the mainstream NGO-dominated ecological movement has lost its way and a growing number of activists now understand that the “market-mechanism” approach is an anti-ecological fraud.
At the same time, the urgent need for a mass movement for climate justice on an anti-capitalist axis has been given life by Copenhagen and Cochabamba. A real anti-capitalist green movement is being built outside the traditional socialist movement and outside the established environmental groups.
The climate justice activists, whatever their weaknesses and inadequacies, have begun the hard work of building a global mass movement against capitalist ecocide.
Socialists who actually want to change the world need to understand, as Canadian ecosocialist Steve D’Arcy wrote in an August 2009 Zmag.org article, that taking part in building such real social movements is the only way forward: “It is there — at the point of intersection between struggles for social justice and economic democracy on the one hand, and struggles for ecological sustainability and other broadly ‘environmental’ issues on the other hand — that ecosocialism must take root.
“It is these struggles that will pose the questions, in the minds of activists, to which ecosocialism can begin to suggest answers. If ecosocialism is to be a living political current, it will have to live within the ‘medium’ of mass struggles for social and environmental justice.”
Karl Marx famously wrote that, “every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programs”. As Copenhagen and Cochabamba showed, a real movement is stepping out, right now.
[Reprinted from www.canadiandimension.com
. Canadian socialist Ian Angus edits Climateandcapitalism.com and is www.socialistvoice.ca