The twenty-first century opens on a catastrophic note, with an unprecedented degree of ecological breakdown and a chaotic world order beset with terror and clusters of low-grade, disintegrative warfare that spread like gangrene across great swathes of the planet — viz. In our view, the crises of ecology and those of societal breakdown are profoundly interrelated and should be seen as different manifestations of the same structural forces. The former broadly stems from rampant industrialization that overwhelms the earth's capacity to buffer and contain ecological destabilization. The latter stems from the form of imperialism known as globalization, with its disintegrative effects on societies that stand in its path. Moreover, these underlying forces are essentially different aspects of the same drive, which must be identified as the central dynamic that moves the whole: the expansion of the world capitalist system.
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On the eve of the Peoples Climate March, we look back at three major statements that have shaped the global ecosocialist movement. The hard right U. Climate change deniers, big oil executives, and finance capitalists now occupy pivotal positions in an array of state agencies and apparatuses directly impacting these portfolios. Some of the first decisions of the new administration have been to expand pipeline development of both the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL , further open spaces for fossil fuel extraction, and gut the Environmental Protection Agency.
Indeed, the U. The damage to the Great Lakes cleanup, wilderness protection and endangered species, control of pollutant discharges, and much else from the EPA cuts is not yet clear but potentially of enormous consequence. But the policy practice with respect to climate change is more notable for its continuities with the Harper period than its break.
The administrative processes with the National Energy Board, First Nations consultations on pipelines, and environmental assessments largely carry on as they were.
They remain vehicles for negotiating and smoothing-out pipeline expansions and further tar sands development. The platform of demands for social and economic justice, indigenous sovereignty, green jobs, renewable energy support and immigrant rights, reflect the resistance that has been growing against the array of neoliberal governments. It is of vital importance that ecological activists, unionists, community groups, and socialists, come out, to build and widen the resistance to the authoritarian neoliberalism that continues to gain ground, and now threatens to undermine even the tepid steps taken so far to address climate change.
It is remarkable, given the urgency of the ecological crisis and after so much scientific evidence and debate, that a critique of capitalism — and for the most part, even the word — does not figure in the main build-up to the demonstrations.
The main North American environmental non-governmental organizations ENGOS made their peace with capitalism and markets in the s, and they are yet to reverse course, whatever the ecological chaos that surrounds us.
But there is no market-centred ecology, or green work, or localist green capitalism, or environmental justice, able to overcome the class relations and forms of production of capitalism. Endless accumulation, the commodification of everything, permanent war, continual ecological damage: this is the inner core of capitalism and the agenda now, each in their own way, of the Trump and Trudeau governments.
To this end, we recall here several of the key manifestoes of the ecosocialist movement of the last period as this movement finds a central place in the remaking of the global working class and socialist movements. I took this path because I believe that it will lead us all to this permanent sweetness. Ecosocialism is not a utopia with which reality should comply.
It is the reasoned human answer to the double impasse in which humanity is now locked because of the modes of production and consumption of our times which are exhausting human beings and the environment. This calls for radical thinking and political action, in the sense that we must go to the root causes.
We are thus fighting the two driving forces of the current system: capitalism and productivism. Capitalism imposes the commodification of everything for new sources of profit. It is therefore responsible for widening the gap in social inequality and for the ongoing globalization, liberal and destructive of liberty.
Social and environmental dumping prevail, with the relocation of pollution and damage to ecosystems. Productivism seeking ever greater production depletes natural resources and disrupts the climate. The consumerist ideology is its corollary.
It raises material accumulation to the rank of a law, with big publicity stunts to generate needs which can never be satisfied. On the other side, ecosocialism is an alternative to overcome the crisis and pose human interest as a priority: sharing wealth without delay, founding a new economy based on real needs and the moderation of consumption, preserving the climate, the ecosystem and its biodiversity.
In reality, human beings are an integral part of the ecosystem in which they live, even before they have started thinking about it. The two cannot be separated. There is only one global ecosystem compatible with human life.
Therefore, we are all alike in our dependence on the ecosystem. This truth applies to everyone, despite all our differences. There is thus a human interest which is linked to that of all the other species: the protection of the ecosystem that makes human life possible. How can we identify it other than by free collective deliberation? And how can it be free if some dominate others, if revealed truths are imposed first? The environmentalist paradigm calls for democracy, social equality, secularism and feminism.
These are the essential conditions for public debate to take place without oligarchic, dogmatic or patriarchal intrusion. Finally, in the discussion to determine the general human interest, it is for each of us to say not what is good for him or herself, but what is good for all. This establishes the universality of human rights, citizenship as a duty and the Republic as a necessity. Such is the reasoned link that unites political ecology and the universal social Republic.
It is this global political theory that we call ecosocialism. It is about humanism and about a socialist and concrete universalism. Ecosocialism is a new political project unifying a necessarily anti-capitalist ecology and a socialism freed from the logic of productivism that is the false need to produce and consume ever more. It allows the junction of the main currents of the Left into a new political paradigm.
We need this as an alternative project of society to capitalism. It draws a perspective in the struggle for a society of emancipation and progress in which the destruction of the environment and the exploitation of man by man will be wiped out.
Our ecosocialist project takes into account human needs and the limitations of our planet. It gives new thinking to the social utility of production, the way in which we consume, our real needs, the purpose of what we produce and how we produce it. Socialism has always sought the emancipation of the human being. This implies the sharing of wealth, the democratization of power and global education of every person. This remains our programme. But we now know that emancipation can not be achieved through endless growth: the ecosystem that makes human life possible does not allow for it.
This observation requires us to define a new model of progress which breaks with the capitalist system. The system of production and exchange needs to be reassessed, but also the contents of production and consumption patterns. Therefore this approach involves the whole social and political organization. It forces us to think in a new way of what human progress really means in the context of the preservation of the ecosystem. Accordingly, we propose a new set of liberating strategies for the future of humanity.
Our ecology is social. It continues the historical battles of the Left. We reject the deception of a vision of ecology which would make it compatible with liberal economics. Such positions turn away from the fight against capitalist modes of production and consumption and refuse to acknowledge that they exploit the most vulnerable and plunder developing countries.
We reject that kind of drawing-room ecology cut off from the working classes, devoid of a serious critical approach of the global economy and of a social vision, and therefore also devoid of environmental efficiency. Our ecology addresses environmental issues by systematically linking them with criticism of the economic system and social struggles, and by involving all citizens. We reject the social democratic doctrine according to which any redistribution of wealth should depend on a prior boost of the GDP and on increased overall material consumption.
This is double nonsense. What is at stake is the hoarding of this wealth by capitalistic plundering. On the other hand, the social democratic doctrine is based on a model of infinite growth which is suicidal for human civilization.
Of course, stimulating activities of general interest is also essential. However, boosting blind economic growth is not the answer to social emergencies. It is even less bearable or desirable from the point of view of preserving the ecosystem, the natural resources and the climate. Therefore we hope neither for the resumption of growth, nor for the beneficial effects of austerity. We believe in neither. Ecosocialism wants to put the economic and productive systems at the service of human needs.
We reject this productivist logic which consists in producing everything and anything under any condition simply in order to sell on the market by massive spending on advertizing. It is obvious that with such an objective, and in order to raise profits, the system is selling us products programmed to break down or become obsolete sooner and sooner.
On the contrary, our collective decisions must instead be guided by the satisfaction of our real needs. This is the meaning of ecological planning.
It reverses the logic by being based on real needs, on our duty to preserve the ecosystem and the right of all to live in a healthy environment. It makes the productive system compatible with those requirements. Ecosocialism challenges the dictatorship of vested interests and of the private ownership of the means of production.
It questions the relationship to work. We advocate social ownership of the means of production and alternative proposals for social economy in terms of self-management and cooperatives. We uphold fiscal sovereignty and nationalization as tools of public policy, particularly in the fields of banking and credit.
Indexation of human progress, de-globalization and social and ecological protectionism, basic income guarantee, socialized salaries, and maximum allowed income are among the many perspectives we have in mind to get off the beaten tracks and to avoid the trap of lending support to the system.
There is no point in working longer than necessary to produce what we need. With rising unemployment and the social crisis, the need to create or preserve jobs is too often put forward against the imperative of environmental protection. It is absurd. Here is one of the economic and social costs of liberal laissez-faire policies. On the contrary, relocation and ecological transition would allow to preserve, transform or create many jobs, both local and sustainable, in all countries.
It aims at ensuring our responsibility to humanity and its ecosystem by phasing out the ecological debt. It combines the need to reduce the consumption of certain material commodities and the necessary boosting of other activities, their resulting ecological footprint being systematically taken into account. The damage already done by the emission of greenhouse gases and the loss of biodiversity must be made good.
Our goal is to push it back to December 31, that is to say, to neutralize our ecological footprint. This implies drastically reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and also phasing out nuclear energy, which produces unmanageable radioactive waste and carries unacceptable risks to humans as well as to the ecosystem.
Our goal of a civilization break requires that the largest number of people be implied in political action. It is a question of gathering and acting together, and not simply of being in the right among those holding similar views, or worse still, of setting the ones against the others.
We stand alongside the workers and those left out by the system who are fighting for alternative social and environmental projects. Ecological restructuring cannot be achieved without them, much less against them.
Three Manifestos: Climate Struggles and Ecosocialism
To the barbarities of the last century, years of war, brutal imperialist plunder and genocide, capitalism has added new horrors. Now it is entirely possible that the air we breathe and the water we drink will be permanently poisoned and that global warming will make much of the world uninhabitable. The science is clear and irrefutable: climate change is real, and the main cause is the use of fossil fuels, especially oil, gas, and coal. The earth today is significantly hotter than it was a few decades ago, and the rate of increase is accelerating. Left unchecked, global warming will have catastrophic impacts on human, animal, and plant life.
Ecosocialist manifesto: 2nd draft
The capitalist system, driven at its core by the maximization of profit, regardless of social and ecological costs, is incompatible with a just and sustainable future. Ecosocialism offers a radical alternative that puts social and ecological well-being first. Contemporary capitalist civilization is in crisis. The unlimited accumulation of capital, commodification of everything, ruthless exploitation of labor and nature, and attendant brutal competition undermine the bases of a sustainable future, thereby putting the very survival of the human species at risk. The deep, systemic threat we face demands a deep, systemic change: a Great Transition. As people increasingly realize how the economic and ecological crises intertwine, ecosocialism has been gaining adherents. Ecosocialism, as a movement, is relatively new, but some of its basic arguments date back to the writings of Marx and Engels.