T.O. Weekly 44 Special Supplement: Global Warming: Where Do We Stand?
As a first contribution to the necessary discussion in the labor movement on the issue of climate change, we reprint in this Special Supplement a dossier of articles on global warming and “ecological transition.” This dossier — with the exception of the concluding statement by Socialist Organizer — was originally published by La Tribune des Travailleurs, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) of France. Portions of the dossier were reprinted in the IWC Weekly Newsletter. — The Editors
Will the Solution Come from COP26?
On November 13, COP26 concluded its meeting in Glasgow. COP is the Conference of the Parties that subscribe to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to the COP Charter, “every country in the world is supposed to be represented in meetings designed to achieve agreement on limiting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions so that the planet does not overheat and cause widespread damage to the environment, species, and human livelihoods across the planet.”
According to the UN, the top three priorities of the Glasgow COP26 were to: (1) keep the global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees celsius through “rapid, bold emissions cuts” and net zero commitments; (2) increase international finance for adaptation to at least half the total spent on climate action; and (3) meet the existing commitment to provide $100 billion in international climate finance.
The reality is that while a lot of lip-service was paid to these three targets, nothing was binding; the so-called agreements had no mechanisms of implementation, leading many leading environmental activists to speak of a COP-Out.
Let us recall that in addition to bringing together most of the world’s governments, COP is also a gathering space for major multinational corporations and hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the overwhelming majority of them financed by Big Business.
In 2015, the Paris Agreement resulting from COP21 was hailed as an historic event, setting drastic goals aimed at reducing the greenhouse effect, in particular carbon dioxide emissions, which are the cause of global warming.
Six years later, it is clear that no government, starting with those of the major capitalist powers, has respected the slightest commitment, even though the pledges were as solemn as they come.
Everyone has continued to do as they please. This does not prevent exactly the same people, six years later, from playing the card of the “last-chance summit” at which the commitments made are “decisive for the survival of the planet.” What is clear about COP26 is that the same cast of characters will not hold to their promises any more than they did six years ago.
And why is that?
First, because in the context of the global crisis of the capitalist system, whether it is a question of global warming or the economy or any other issue, it is the self-interest of the capitalist States that takes precedence, that is to say the self-interest of the ruling classes that dominate these States. Each group of national capitalists does what it wants, as it wants, to try to defend its own interests to the detriment of the others and of the whole.
Second, because in this honorable assembly, the law of the strongest prevails. L’Express (November 8), a magazine that cannot be suspected of being “anti-capitalist,” does not mince words: “Developing countries have lambasted what they consider to be the insufficient commitments of the richest nations, which are accused of sacrificing the lives of billions of inhabitants of the planet on the front lines of global warming.”
Finally, because, whatever the “solemn commitments” signed in Glasgow, the capitalist governments will not give up lining the pockets of a small minority, regardless of the consequences for humanity and its environment [see article below on deforestation).
So, as every year, they must give this summit the appearance of a counter-summit. Like every year, the youthful and very media-savvy Greta Thunberg gave a fiery speech to the “world leaders”: “They cannot continue to ignore the consequences of their inaction … and we will not accept it” — after which the crowds broke out in unison, chanting, “Climate justice!”
But the facts are stubborn, whether it’s COP21 or COP26: There will be no “climate justice” any more than there will be social justice without breaking free from the chains of capitalism. For it is the same system, based on private ownership of the means of production, that is at the root of the threats to humanity and its environment.
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Fighting Deforestation with Whom?
Before its conclusion, COP26 was the occasion for 133 governments to adopt a joint declaration to “stop deforestation by 2030.” This would mean, no more and no less, preserving 13 million square kilometers of forests, all ecosystems that have a crucial role to play in carbon sequestration.
But fighting deforestation with whom? With governments that, from morning to night, privatize public forest management agencies, for the benefit of capitalist predators, and that destroy one by one all public meteorological and fire-fighting services?
The governments of Greece, Brazil and France signed this declaration. What they are doing about forests speaks volumes about the sincerity of the “commitments” made by capitalist governments at the COP.
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GREECE: The Government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis Represses the Firefighters
In Athens, on November 5, firefighters from all regions of Greece responded to the call of their national union. Given that the lack of humanpower and resources has increased the devastation of summer fires tenfold in recent years, they demanded the recruitment of 4,000 additional firefighters, the transformation of seasonal contracts into permanent jobs for at least five years, improved working conditions, and better protective measures and gear.
In the afternoon, the police let the demonstration march. But in the early evening, they brutally attacked the demonstrators gathered in front of the Ministry of Environment and Civil Protection. The minister refused to discuss the workers’ demands. A firefighter was seriously injured by smoke bombs.
The government of Mitsotakis, with all its ministers, does not protect the environment or the majority of the population. For the working-class majority to win their demands, the government must be driven out. No sector of the population will be able to achieve this alone. The firefighters, the nurses, and the doctors are not alone! What is needed is the struggle for the unity of the workers of all sectors with their unions — report from our correspondents in Greece
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BRAZIL: Bolsonaro Delivers the Amazon to Agribusiness
The government of Jair Bolsonaro, many of whose ministers are representatives of agribusiness, suspended in 2019 the fines for companies responsible for illegal deforestation. It dismantled federal nature protection agencies and covered up the gigantic arson fires set by large landowners who want to take over parts of the Amazon.
Bolsonaro’s environment minister was forced to resign in June 2021 after being caught red-handed in a criminal timber-smuggling ring. But last February, Bolsonaro launched his “Adopt a Park” operation. This involves giving private companies the commercial label of “partner of the Amazon” in exchange for private funding for the “protection of the forest” – all outside of any public control. The French group Carrefour was one of the first to answer positively, with Bolsonaro greeting its “voluntarism.” “The Amazon is not for sale” is the answer of the workers and people of Brazil.
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FRANCE: Macron Privatizes the National Forestry Office (ONF)
In January 2020, based on the testimony of union leaders at the National Forestry Office (ONF), Reporterre, the daily newspaper of the ecology movement, was alarmed: “The government ratifies the privatization of the public office in charge of forests. This crucial measure will weaken their power to protect the forests. This is a new step backwards, even though climate change requires increased attention for the French massifs [mountain ranges].”
Over the past 20 years, the ONF has lost 5,000 positions, nearly 40% of the total number of jobs, according to the union coalitions. At the beginning of 2021, the unions were informed of the elimination of 95 positions. As for the ONF collective bargaining agreement for 2021-2025, it provides for the elimination of another 500 positions within five years. For the Synergie-Force ouvrière union, “the situation is as unacceptable as it is paradoxical at a time when climate change and forest dieback will require more and more work to ensure the health monitoring and renewal of the forests.
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The Scottish Daily Mail noted that nearly 400 private jets – a means of transportation that emits a high level of carbon dioxide – landed in Glasgow to bring to COP26, among others, Joe Biden (escorted by a squadron of planes and helicopters), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, European Commission Von der Leyen, and Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos. “High-flying Hypocrites,” ran the headline in the Scottish daily.
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Interview with Meteorological Engineer Charles Dupuy
[Following are excerpts from an interview with Charles Dupuy, retired meteorological engineer (former member of IPEF, the French state’s engineering Corps of Bridges, Waters and Forests). The interview was conducted by Amandine Vidal.]
Question: What can we conclude from the report of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?
Dupuy: The main conclusion is the repeated assertion that the catastrophic consequences of global warming are “unavoidable.” This is used as an argument to call for what the authors call a process of “creative destruction.” The plan is to allocate 2 percent of global GDP for 10 years to investment in new technologies and new means of production — at the cost of the widespread destruction of existing material and human capital.
This, the authors acknowledge, will lead to “a significant negative shock on the supply side” (i.e., the means of production), and “major negative effects on consumer welfare” (i.e., on the living conditions of workers). This argument allows the capitalists and the governments that serve their interests to “justify” the mass destruction of the means of production and their redoubled attempts to reduce household incomes and demolish public services. In other words, to impoverish the working population.
Question: Is it possible to approach the problem differently?
Dupuy: Faced with climate change of such magnitude, the reality of which seems to be confirmed, the main concern of a social and political system associated with the interests of the people should be to ask how to help the workers, the peoples and humankind as a whole to find the means to prevent and/or adapt to unpleasant or destructive climate change in the long term (although, let us repeat: forecasts, even in the medium term, are still difficult to define).
For it is indeed the breakdown of public services (forestry, firefighting, hydrometeorological authorities, protective infrastructures [dykes], etc.) in all countries that contributes greatly to worsening the consequences of those events! To be convinced of this, it is enough to compare the effects of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ida (see below).
A different approach involves, in the short-term, defending and strengthening all services for the prevention of and adaptation to extreme events, such as meteorology, hydrology, oceanography and civil security, rather than destroying them! It also involves the independence of scientific research from the capitalists and bankers.
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Katrina 2005, Ida 2021: From One Hurricane to Another
Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 29, 2021 at the mouth of the Mississippi River near New Orleans, Louisiana. It was classified as a Level 4 hurricane, one notch above its predecessor Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the same region 16 years ago (2005).
Then, after weakening into a “tropical storm” as it crossed the central and eastern regions of the United States, it regained strength when it hit the New York region on September 2, due to an unfavorable overall weather situation. It should be noted that the U.S. meteorological services (the National Weather Service and especially the National Hurricane Center based in Miami) forecast perfectly the trajectory and intensity of the phenomenon, with genuine foresight (despite the difficulties of such forecasts).
What is striking about Hurricane Ida is the double contrast in terms of economic and social consequences:
– between what happened in Louisiana and the north-eastern states (New York), on the one hand; and
– between the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and the more moderate nature of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida 16 years later.
Many political and media commentators have been quick to blame “worsening climate change” for what they have pretended to discover. This over-dramatization is very convenient for clearing the public authorities of their responsibilities, to make the whole population feel guilty, and to promote the “greening of the economy.”
Let’s take another look at the economic and social consequences of these extreme events:
– Katrina officially caused 1,800 deaths and several billions of dollars’ worth of damage! This was mainly due to the flooding caused by the failure of the dilapidated levees that were supposed to protect the city of New Orleans from the recurrent flooding of the Mississippi, but also because of the dramatic inability of the public services (at the federal and state levels) to evacuate a very poor, mainly Black, population in time and after the hurricane. In the meantime, a lot of humanpower was devoted to hunting down looters! As the former capital of the French slave planters, New Orleans is famous for its picturesque African-American traditions and culture. But in the past, it was constantly neglected and despised by the U.S. bourgeoisie.
– The relevant services, however, had provided perfectly adequate information on the forecasting and monitoring of the hurricane; in particular, by the National Hurricane Center in Miami (which rightly enjoys an excellent international reputation). What went wrong was the entire upstream prevention system, including the maintenance of dykes and infrastructure. Added to this was the notoriously inadequate preparation of the rescue and evacuation services.
Sixteen years later, after Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, there were seven deaths in New Orleans and perhaps 20 in all in the surrounding countryside. Fewer than 30 in all, compared to 1,800 in 2005! Admittedly, the damage is significant, particularly the destruction of the electricity network, but it is not comparable to 2005. How can such differences be explained? Simply by the fact that the local and federal authorities, spurred on not so much by the impoverished electorate as by the local bourgeoisie, have, in the course of 16 years, mobilized the material and organizational resources needed to deal with “a new Katrina”!
“Everyone still retains the painful memory of Katrina, the hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2005 — 16 years to the day before Ida arrived. More than 1,800 people were killed and billions of dollars’ worth of damage was done. “I was there 16 years ago for Katrina, the wind seemed worse this time,” Dereck Terry, aged 53, told AFP. “But the damage is not as bad, I think”, said the man in the Superman T-shirt, holding an umbrella. Insurance companies estimate that Hurricane Ida caused US$15 million to 20 million worth of damage, according to preliminary estimates.” (Ouest France, August 21, 2021)
But when the same Hurricane Ida hit New York City five days later, the residents found themselves – all other things being equal – in a state of distress comparable to that of Black people in New Orleans 16 years earlier. The infrastructure situation in New York and the city’s lack of preparedness for weather disasters were condemned in the following terms:
“We shouldn’t be surprised!” blasted Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future. “The city seems to fall apart with every major storm. Most of the infrastructure dates back to the 20th century,” Bowles told AFP. “The massive metro system, which was totally paralyzed on Wednesday night and further disrupted on Friday, saw stations completely flooded, with torrents of water pouring down the stairs to the platforms. An unheard-of fact, in the middle of the city, with the torrential rains that Ida brought, ‘the water accumulated so quickly that people were trapped in their own basements’, Mayor de Blasio lamented.” (Ouest France, September 3, 2021)
Particularly appalling is the fact that it was the poorest residents – often Latin American immigrants and Blacks – relegated to blind basements in the city center, at the foot of the arrogant skyscrapers, who were the victims doomed to drown. ”— Charles Dupuy
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“Ecological Transition”: A Business that Can Pay Off in a Big Way … But for Whom?
On October 18, the French Banking Federation announced that from January 2022 they would cease all financing of “dedicated projects and companies whose share of unconventional hydrocarbons in exploration and production is more than 30 percent of their activity with regard to shale oil, shale gas and oil sands.” What is behind this sudden environmental concern by the banks? According to the French financial daily newspaper Les Echos, the aim is to enable French banks to “take advantage of the business opportunities of ecological transition.”
Indeed, the objective of “carbon neutrality” by 2050 in Europe will require investment of 28 trillion euros. Reading Les Echos, we understand that these astronomical sums (the equivalent of two years of the combined gross domestic product of all the countries of the European Union!) will be used to destroy the traditional auto industry and all subcontractors, in order to fund recharging and electrification infrastructures for the vehicle pool, and to fund the reduction of energy costs in buildings.
It is noteworthy in particular that this investment will be aimed at funding “the renovation of ‘heat-leaking homes’ inhabited by elderly people who cannot afford the cost of the work.” In the near future, forced by law to carry out thermal renovation work on their house or flat, they will have no choice – given the amount of capital required – but to take out loans from banks, which will not be reimbursed during their lifetime (as the sums are far too high). The loan contract will therefore stipulate that the loans will be “repaid upon the resale of the property, or the death of its occupant.”
Someone had a great idea! The 28 trillion lent by the banks under the heading of ecological transition will bring them gigantic profits.
How will that 28 trillion euros be repaid to the banks; how will the interest be paid? As far as individuals are concerned, it will be by the looting and outright confiscation of the private homes of the elderly who, upon their death, will have to give up all their assets. Regarding infrastructures: the public funds of the State will be largely solicited to finance it (and, in passing, to destroy the entire productive sector that is deemed to be over-polluting).
To pay back that 28 trillion euros, companies will receive State aid drawn from the budgets of public services that are increasingly being deprived of funds and privatized. More classes in schools and beds in hospitals will be closed, and all public services will be privatized to allow the “ecological transition” to generate huge profits for the banks.
Marx once analyzed the way in which, once they have reached a certain stage of development, certain productive forces turn into “destructive forces,” citing mechanization (today: digital technology) and money (speculation). Rosa Luxemburg added to this list the arms economy and the war economy.
Perhaps we should now add a new category of destructive force: ecological transition. A transition that is deadly for workers and working-class families, but extremely profitable for the banks and big business. — Amandine Vidal
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In Search of an Impossible “Social Consensus”
Guy Ryder can hardly be called a dangerous revolutionary. He was a British trade union leader at the end of the last century, and later served as General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Today he heads the International Labor Organization (ILO, a tripartite body bringing together representatives of governments, employers and trade unions from around the world).
In relation to the question of ecological transition, Ryder is concerned about the reality of the “social consensus” (Le Monde, October 12). The forecasts made at COP21 suggested the creation of more than 100 million jobs, he recalls, before noting that “what has been done so far is wholly inadequate.” The only tangible reality is that “2.2 percent of the world’s working hours have been lost due to heat stress, which is equivalent to 80 million full-time jobs.” The forecast: promise to create 100 million new jobs. The reality: 80 million jobs destroyed.
This does not prevent Guy Ryder from continuing to hope for a “fair transition,” even if he regrets that “the States are not taking sufficient account of the social policies necessary for the implementation of this transition.” Hence this concern: “If nothing is done to prepare the ground, the populations will react negatively, and the transition will be blocked. Social consensus is needed for it to succeed. Without strong support measures, the situations on the ground could become dramatic.”
In line with what he has always advocated, Ryder is arguing for social dialogue mechanisms to be put in place in order to “exploit employment opportunities” and also to “strengthen social welfare systems in the context of climate change policies.”
Nice promises for the future, but … promises are only binding on those who trust them.
The reality is harsher: in addition to the 80 million jobs already lost, there will be “millions of workers [who] will lose their jobs because of the concentration of certain industries. … Other sectors that will not be as directly responsible for CO2 emissions will also be affected, such as agriculture.”
The reality, Ryder acknowledges, is that workers who are subjected to the devastating consequences of “transition” often see “no alternative to their activity.” This is why, he writes, “it is this alternative that must be prepared, which has not been done for the steel industry in France, for the mining sector in the United States, where two or three generations later, the families of the workers continue to live in difficulty. I fully understand that workers and their families are worried, but this is not the first time that a disruption of the world of labor has happened. It just requires a global collective response.”
The only problem – and Ryder cannot ignore this – is that the “global collective response” always goes in the same direction: it is the workers who pay the consequences of the imposed restructurings. Yesterday, it was in the name of economic competitiveness, and today in the name of ecological transition. It is not social consensus that workers need in the face of the destructive measures taken in the name of ecological transition.
It is the united struggle of workers and organizations to impose the only acceptable measure: not a single job cut, no attacks whatsoever on workers’ gains. It is up to the capitalists to pay the consequences of the crisis of their system, in all areas, not the workers! — Amandine Vidal
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Defending Humanity and the Environment: A Working Class, Socialist Perspective
Excerpts from a Statement by Socialist Organizer
Humanity is today facing an unprecedented crisis caused by the impasse of the capitalist system based on the private ownership of the means of production. The crisis has a specific environmental component that is intertwined with the general crisis affecting working people the world over, and this environmental crisis can only be dismissed or downplayed at humanity’s great peril.
In recent years, under the impact of the deepening environmental and social crisis, the desire to “save the environment” has caught the imagination of many young workers and students who, via this prism, have begun to question features of the capitalist system and its constant drive for profits, which is at the root of world’s current crisis.
Unfortunately, too much of the sentiment to “save the environment” has been channeled into anti-industry, anti-consumption, anti-worker perspectives pushed by NGOs and their more “Left” counterparts.
The Green parties globally and their environmentalist non-profits and NGO allies, for example, are totally wedded to the fake “Green capitalism” that everywhere supports the destruction of jobs and public services and provides no long-term solution to the environmental destruction wrought on the planet by capitalism.
Socialist Organizer puts forward a political perspective to win working people and youth concerned with the environment to the scientific and political perspective that the expansion, not destruction, of the productive forces, for human needs and not for profit, is the only solution for humanity and the environment.
So why hasn’t any meaningful action been taken in light of all the new “green” rhetoric of the governments and corporations?
The answer lies in the nature of the capitalist system, which puts profits above all else. Moreover, transitioning to an ecologically sound economy poses a massive social re-organization — that is, a break from the anarchy of the private ownership of the means of production and towards a rational energy plan based on the nationalization of the energy companies and transportation under worker-community democratic control.
Is Development Itself the Problem?
We think, as Marxists, that the advance of human civilization was, and remains, dependent on the development of the productive forces – i.e., how humanity provides for itself and develops via the labor and technology it implements vis-a-vis the natural world.
This process has progressively moved humanity from the drudgery of a primitive hunter-gatherer existence where small groups with extremely low life spans were under constant threat of starvation, death by disease or attacks by animals, to a moment in human history where the economic potential exists to meet the essential needs of all people on the planet, which would allow humanity to free itself from compulsory labor and move on to communism, what Frederick Engels called “the realm of freedom” and the real beginning of human history.
It is crucial to reject the view that working people are “living beyond their means,” that workers “consume too much” and that, therefore, we have to return to the “ways of the past.” This vision is reactionary through and through — if implemented, it would mean a return to barbarism, with devastating consequences for literally billions of people.
The environmental movement today is dominated largely, but not exclusively, by NGOs, many of which are directly connected to major sectors of the capitalist class. For instance, the Gates Foundation has partnered with Cargill and Monsanto to “help” Africa grow food, and the board of Acumen, a leading “social entrepreneurship” fund, is stocked with Wall Street elites.
These groups, among dozens of others, have pushed the belief that the environmental problem lies with the human species itself: humans, as consumers, simply use too much (energy, commodities, etc.).
These very middle class and Western-based NGO environmental groups talk about humanity as whole, ignoring both the different realities of dominant and dominated countries, as well as the class (and racial) divisions within the dominant countries.
Yet most people in the world — i.e., the populations in dominated countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America — still do not have access to sufficient amounts of energy. Basic rights such as access to regular electricity, potable water, sufficient food, etc. are still denied to billions of people on this planet.
Many in these NGOs praise the poverty of billions of human beings as something “noble”; they hold their lifestyles up as examples of “doing more with less.” Thus, they oppose development, any development, in the imperialist countries and in the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This sort of reactionary reasoning means explicit support for maintaining billions of human beings in conditions of disease and poverty. The fact remains that giving up on industrial civilization — including electricity, urbanization, etc. — could only mean a tremendous regression in the living standards of the vast majority of humans on our planet.
These movements and NGOs have put forward reactionary proposals and should be exposed as such. Of course, each group and movement should be judged individually, but the overall trend of these groups is towards “de-development.” Our view, as Marxists, is that only the planned expansion of the productive forces on an ecologically sound basis can provide a future for both humanity and the natural environment. A future ecologically sound socialist society is still going to need very significant energy production.
We will still need a lot of energy — at present well over 1.6 billion people on earth don’t even have access to electricity at all! Humanity will need more, not less, energy in order to address not only the issues of inequality between nations but to phase out fossil fuel energy production and usage. It is not a question of lowering consumption (and living standards), but of producing more to meet human needs, but on an environmentally sound basis.
We reject the argument promoted by many environmental organizations that humanity should subordinate its immediate and long-term interests to the so-called higher priority of “the defense of the planet.” An isolated “nature” unaffected by humanity does not exist anywhere on earth. The environment today is completely intertwined with class society and it is impossible to separate the environmental crisis from the social crisis caused by the decaying capitalist system. Thus, it is, at best, meaningless and, at worst, reactionary to counterpose “the defense of the planet” to the defense and development of humanity. They are inseparable.
As part of this “degrowth” offensive, the bosses, the heads of government, the U.N., and their various political relays in the apparatuses of the “Left” and the “Far Left” are using the pretext of climate change to push (and/or accompany) layoffs, de-industrialization, and the destruction of the gains working people and all the oppressed have won through bitter struggle.
The capitalist de-industrialization and de-growth policies make wide use of the “greening of the economy” terminology to destroy industry, jobs and all forms of productive forces. It is necessary to clearly oppose all such roundtables and “green industrial policies” that seek to use the global warming issue for reactionary purposes, with the help of all too many left activists. It is necessary to demand an end to all layoffs and the nationalization, retooling, and conversion of polluting industries under democratic worker-community control.
The neo-corporatist agenda is aiming to co-opt the unions into the implementation of this de-growth and deindustrializing agenda. Against this offensive, it is more urgent than ever to promote class independence and expose all attempts to forge a “national unity consensus” meant to co-opt independent workers’ organizations. To the extent that the various “eco-socialist” currents do not challenge such corporatism and de-growth policies, they serve as “left cover” for, and are accomplices in, this reactionary drive.
A Socialist Perspective for the Environment
In the spring of 2009, the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) adopted a resolution on the crisis in the auto industry that points to the combined solution of no layoffs, retooling of the auto industry, nationalization and worker-community control. It stated, in part:
“The financial crisis of the auto corporations was not caused by the auto workers any more than the financial crisis of Wall Street was caused by the working class. … We strongly reject the administration’s drive to make the unions a partner in the effort to resolve the corporation’s financial crisis. The unions were not created by the workers to join the employers in their corporate assault on workers’ jobs.
“There should be no layoffs. If the government can find trillions of tax dollars to bail out a handful of bankers, it can surely find the funds to prevent layoffs and put all laid-off workers back on the job. The U.S. labor movement must draw a line in the sand to say: ‘Not One Single Layoff in the Auto Industry!’
“The Obama administration must nationalize the Big 3 auto companies [Ford, GM and Chrysler] and place the management of the companies under the control of an elected labor-community board of directors, halt all further layoffs, retool the auto industry, retrain its workforce, and ensure that all laid-off workers can return to work immediately with union contracts at union scale.”
Likewise, the fight against capitalist pollution is integrally linked to the fight for oppressed nations, which are generally the most affected by environmental destruction, to regain national sovereignty via the re-nationalization of their natural resources. By taking back their natural resources from foreign companies (which generally impose irrational and unsustainable uses of the land and resources for the benefit of an export-oriented economy), dominated countries can advance their development and industrialization in a manner that benefits working people without decimating the environment.
The central transitional slogan in relation to capitalism’s assault on the environment and humanity is the call for the nationalization of transportation and the energy industry under workers’ democratic control, raising in turn the need for a planned economy and authentic workers’ governments. Without such nationalizations and democratic worker-community control, it will be virtually impossible to make a turn towards cleaner forms of energy generation in the interest of the masses of working people.
The only social force capable of successfully leading to victory in the fight against the devastation of the environment caused by decaying capitalism is the organized working class in alliance with the youth and all the oppressed.
Capitalism, in its final imperialist stage, is leading humanity to barbarism — and possible extinction as a species.
Only the world socialist revolution — the abolition of the private ownership of the major means of production — can open up a real solution for all of humanity and its environment. These two questions are inextricably linked; they cannot and should not be separated.