The global ecological crisis

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Outline

Part 1. Why ecosocialism

  • Why do I call myself an ecosocialist - and why does my organisation do the same - why did the FI adopt the same description at the last world congress ?
  • Tanuro says we use the term "in order to make clear that we have really changed, that we have broken with productivism and a non-dialectical conception of progress".
  • Marx understood a number of essential truths about the alienation between humanity and nature developed by class society and capitalism in particular - as John Bellamy Foster argues the concept of "social metabolism" between humanity and nature is particularly key. On the other hand other concepts such as abundance and productivism, what we mean by use value and how we weigh it against exchange value need to be at least questioned and maybe rethought fundamentally in todays reality.
  • It's an ongoing process to enrich our understanding of the concrete reality we face in order to better meet the challenges. Same challenges as feminism - doesn't negate the essentials of Marx (and the other classics) - uses their method but doesn't set them up as infallible prophets.
  • This necessity is reinforced by the crisis - a crisis which is not only economic but also ecological, social, political. The inability of capitalism to ultimately protect its own interests is at a particular peak... As Richard Smith recently observed : “the logic of insatiable growth is built into the nature of the system, the requirements of capitalist production. (...) Each corporation, acting rationally from the standpoint of the owners and employees seeking to maximize their own self-interest, makes individually rational capitalist decisions. But the result is that in the aggregate, these individual rational decisions are massively irrational, indeed ultimately catastrophic, and they are driving us down the road to collective suicide”. (Löwy on ecosocialism quoting Robert Smith, "The Engine of Eco Collapse", Capitalism, Nature and Socialism, 2005).
  • In calling ourselves ecosocialists we are at the same time saying no socialism without environmentalism - because it is materially impossible and because we want to challenge consumerism politically - but we are also putting forward an alternative to those greens who think the market is fine...(and this has been the majority of those in positions of power in Europe in particular...)

Part 2. Climate change the biggest challenge

  • The catastrophic climate change that we face today is a result of capitalism and profit motive
  • Technological alternatives to dependence on fossil fuels have existed or had the capacity to exist for over 100 years but their development was not in the interests of the oil lobby and their allies in government - rise of the car
  • Warnings from scientists ignored by government over long period of time - 40 years and by the media - more recently promotion of climate sceptics.
  • Given all these facts- which themselves show the fact that capitalism as a system doesn't plan - the only measures that can rescue humanity are radical anticapitalist ones - carbon trading and similar market mechanisms are useless
  • This also means addressising other iniquities of late capitalism so
    • The south and particularly the indigenous pay the first and deepest cost.
    • Women are particularly affected - as farmers/gathers of crops, as mothers, as the poorest.
  • Our tasks - build the movement, fight for our methods, make sure we are developing our ideas on an ongoing basis

Part 3.

  • Other environmental issues are intertwined - again increasingly so in the crisis
  • Biodiversity - relationship between humans and other species - soil erosion, climate chaos
  • Role of the multinationals and especially the oil lobby shown so clearly in the Gulf.

(Watch movie for 2 minutes)
(First question for the language groups: Big NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have called a demonstration against BP. Design 3 different placards for your ecosocialist youth group to take along.)

  • Debt - and ecological debt is about the subordination of the south (and within this indigenous and women in particular) to the interests of imperialism
  • Soil erosion - result of monocultures - debt - meat industry - agribusiness - now climate change makes it worse - reference esthers work on food sovreignity
  • Climate disasters in Pakistan, China and E Europe - we can not say anything is natural - has been going on a long time - worst El Nino was 1998
  • Resistance is international though things may sometimes be named differently - Cochambamba made the global south more visible.

Questions

  • Write a 100-200 words outline for a workshop on ecosocialism at next years youth camp.
  • Big NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have called a demonstration against BP. Design 3 different placards for your ecosocialist youth group to take along.
  • How do you think the FI should strengthen its profile as an ecosocialist organisation.

Readings