Monday, 6 July 2020

Interview – Shahrar Ali Candidate for Leader of the Green Party



Shahrar Ali the Green Party’s Home Affairs spokesperson talks to Green Left’s Mike Shaughnessy about why he is standing to be Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Tell me a little about your background and why you joined the Green party?

I joined the Greens some 18 years ago now – after doing a stint in the European parliament as a researcher and being mightily impressed with the work of Green Group MEPs. I was drafting briefings on science and technology options for policy and researching into environmental risk of GMOs. I had already been campaigning to halt the spread of GMOs into the environment in the late 90s and it was great to be able to make a small contribution towards adoption of a precautionary principle and successive moratoria across Europe. 

My background is in education and I have been a lifelong advocate of affordable lifelong learning – having taught at WEA, City Lit, Birkbeck and as a founder member of a philosophy school set up to help buck the stem of private HEI colleges. I currently work in medical education and have been part of a team involved in some of the challenges of providing student medic support in COVID environments. 

It’s fair to say I really took to the policy, ethos and campaigns of the party – having stood in some 20 plus local, regional, parliamentary and European elections. I’ve written two popular election books in Green politics and was Deputy Leader of the party 2014-16, at the time of the Green surge. However, I feel deeply frustrated, as I know others do too, at our lack of organisational focus and electoral progress.

If you are elected as Leader, what will be your priorities?

Climate Justice.

Ten years is the time remaining for the Green Party to play a meaningful role in securing the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a net zero carbon economy by our target date of 2030. Globally, it is the poor and those least responsible for climate change who are most suffering their harmful impacts – deforestation, disease, malnutrition, food insecurity – today. 

We should be front and centre of this battle for the future of our country and of our planet and all the beautiful species and nonhuman animals we share it with. Yet our political communications do not convey how we can achieve our own 2030 net zero target and our leadership team appear subdued. 

My priority number one would be to fix this by helping to consolidate and energise the party internally and externally. As the Party’s primary spokesperson I would be bold and unapologetic about our vision and the system change required to do what’s scientifically necessary to avert climate catastrophe. 

Shahrar Launching the UpRising Environmental Leadership programme in 2018

What can the Green party do to get more support from BME communities? 

We need to be reaching out by all necessary means – vocalising and campaigning to combat the daily oppression and lack of opportunity faced by BME communities. I have been campaigning for years for the rights and wellbeing of these communities against successive governments’ hostile environment policies – from Guantanamo, the Windrush scandal and Islamophobic Prevent to stop and search and racist van slogans. 

·       I’m a regular speaker on anti-racism demonstrations for the party, especially against the rising tide of xenophobia. 

·       In 2015, I launched the Party’s first BME manifesto in an attempt to broaden our appeal. 

·       I’m active in building BAME community leaders such as the launch of UpRising’s environment leadership programme. 

As the first BME deputy leader, I well understand the impact that having an ethnic visible face has and can continue to have on the increased credibility of our party. I’ve had many conversations with voters who felt they could vote for us as a result. The single most important thing we could do to reach out to those communities would be to elect a BME leader – now. 

Nor can we be seen going round the media studios singling out Muslims by calling for the banning of halal meat that resulted in public condemnation from the Muslim Council of Britain and our own Greens of Colour, two weeks before the election. 

At a time when Black Lives Matter has taken on momentum and systemic racism is being confronted like never before, it simply is not enough to present our solidarity with a white face. We have to mean it in action, on the ground, in our Local Councils and our neighbourhoods. I believe that local party members should be given the training and support they need to get more involved with the Black Lives Matters movement and mobilise for the delivery of the concrete anti-racist policies BME communities are campaigning for. 

What is your opinion of the electoral pact between the Greens and Lib Dems at last year’s General Election? 

This was a total disaster. If it wasn’t bad enough to cause wholly avoidable conflict internally, we also upset core Green voters, nationally. One of our co-leaders was a benefactor of a pact and this was cited as a reason for “Green Party losing members over their alliance with Lib Dems”. 

Nor can we be proud of an election result in which the Green Party once again failed to achieve any significant breakthroughs, and lost our deposits across vast swathes of the country. Compare and contrast this record to the party’s record when I was last a member of the leadership team. In 2015, the Green Party won over a million votes, and kept our deposits in 123 seats. In 2019 the Green Party won 800,000 votes but only kept our deposits in 31 seats. 

What I really can’t fathom is, how, after the disastrous failed experiment of Progressive Alliances in 2017 we tried a variation on the theme some two years later. Our current leadership supported these initiatives through conference both times; and here’s a reminder of just how badly we managed to squander our hard-won political capital. 

It is likely that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism will brought back to the Green party’s autumn conference for adoption. You have been a vocal critic of this definition, can you explain why? 

Anybody who looks at this definition with intellectual honesty, and studies the history behind it, will see it for what it is: a cynical attempt to restrict legitimate criticism of Israel which would also have a chilling effect on free speech and is actually beginning to succeed in that. 

Greens are anti-racist to their very core, fight anti-Jewish racism to the last, and should have no truck with this definition, especially because of the prevalence of anti-semitism smear campaigns against known lifelong antiracists based on adoption of this definition. 

Our leadership have not exactly covered themselves in glory regarding the means by which they would seek to adopt this definition and I believe that is because the grassroots members understand as I do. You can hear this for yourself if you playback my speech to 2018 conference where we averted a late motion by the leadership to adopt something like the definition. 

The final agenda to the planned Spring 2020 conference, which had to be cancelled due to lockdown, had a motion, to the contrary, which would have seen the Party firmly reject the IHRA definition and another from Les Levidow reaffirming our support for BDS (which the definition would prohibit). The leadership-sponsored motion was ruled out of order, as was a wrecking amendment to my motion. I have already begun the process of submitting my motion to next conference so we can state our opposition to the IHRA and move on. 

I have survived numerous attacks upon my character. Members rightly condemned such attacks at the last leadership election. Still I was subjected to an antisemitism complaint from the CAA sponsored by a party member and that, too, was dismissed. 

We must not repeat the mistake of the Labour Party, either under Corbyn or Starmer, of capitulating to this definition. It has resulted in internal strife then injustice against anti-racist campaigners. The Campaign Against Antisemitism, whose staff member boasted about destroying Corbyn’s election in the most despicable terms (“slaughtered”), is currently the subject of a Charity Commission investigation referred by myself, “Charity faces election bias investigation”. We must clean up our politics. 

In all my actions around this topic, I’ve been driven by the urgency of wanting to hold Israel to account for its unconscionable actions against the Palestinian people. Year after year Israel has added to its international violations, lately with their annexation plan, and I have seen the Green Party become increasingly timid, or completely silent, on this matter. As Leader, I will continue to speak for the rights of the oppressed against their oppressor in the best tradition of the Green Party.

How do rate the government’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic? 

Where to begin with the missteps and mishaps? Late lockdown; no PPEs for NHS and Care Homes staff; moving frail elderly into Care Homes without testing them – resulting in 25,000 early deaths. No plans for a safe return to schools; no testing capacity to meet the needs to regularly test all key workers; no Test and Contact Tracing programme at community or local level. 

In other words: criminal negligence on an unprecedented scale. Not to mention misplaced loyalty in Cummings! 

As we know Covid deaths disproportionately impact BME communities and the real issue is structural inequality – see my BAME life chances, inequality and death. 

We should have been far bolder about the opportunity for making system-wide change during lockdown – about our overconsumptive lifestyles, about UBI and economic overhall.

How do you think the Green party should position itself electorally in the immediate future? 

I’ve not seen our report from the last election results to enable us to have a better informed conversation. Why isn’t it published yet? If elected, I will make sure that all our members are sent a copy to discuss and learn from it in their local parties. There is not enough accountability nor transparency in the Green Party and we all deserve better. 

Still our electoral positioning is clear: true Green. With Corbyn gone and Starmer in post, our socialist credentials will shine through more brightly. Our environmental appeal is across the board. Let’s not sell ourselves short. 

On electoral reform, Molly Scott Cato is justifiably furious with Labour’s refusal to consider scrapping FPTP. Local party members can make the case for PR by targeting Labour Party constituencies and affiliated organisations as of priority. Labour will struggle under FPTP as it would need to secure an additional 124 seats – and that is not taking into account any potential boundary changes which will favour the Tories even more than they are now. 

What is your vision for the Green party over the next few years? 

When we are interviewed about the economy we should be talking about an ecosocialist transformation, not simply reform. When we are asked about jobs we should be talking about redeployment of arms manufacturing towards wholesale renewable energy plant production. When we are asked about injustice, we should be making the link to the millions of families in the UK living on the bread line and the starving populations of the world who are dying as we speak, due to agricultural intensification, capitalist injustice and climate degradation. 

As a party of radical and transformational change we are simply not conveying these messages. We have become much too timid and risk averse. I will be bold and unapologetic instead. 

Let’s move beyond our comfort zone and elect the first BME leader of a main UK party, too.

Green party members will be voting from 3-31 August.

Website

www.electshahrar.co.uk

Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/ShahrarAliGreenParty 

Twitter 

https://twitter.com/ShahrarAli

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Interview - Andrea Carey Green Party Candidate for Deputy Leader



Andrea Carey of Lewisham Green Party, a Green Left supporter talks to Green Left’s Mike Shaughnessy about why she is standing for Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Tell me a little about your background and why you joined the Green party?

My background is working for charities - e.g The Red Cross & a charity for people with learning disabilities, and working as an advocate for community organisations supporting people to have a voice - advocating for mental health services users, disabled people, older people looked after children, asylum seekers/refugees, and currently empowering Deptford through the creation of a Neighbourhood Plan.

I joined the Green Party because it is the only Party which properly addresses Climate Change, and also because it had the best policies across a whole range of issues which fitted well with my own views on these issues.

Why did you decide to join Green Left?

To join others who support eco-socialism - and push for things like the citizens income.

If you are elected as Deputy Leader, what will be your priorities?

Improving Democracy and Equality issues within the Green Party - particularly supporting disabled people's rights and bringing forward a women's rights policy.

Climate Change cross-party women's event to push the GP Green New Deal across to the other parties.

Get the draft motion to suspend the right to buy in all English Cities put forward by Caroline Lucas or by Natalie Bennett.

What is your opinion of the electoral pact between the Greens and Lib Dems at last year’s General Election?

It didn't help and it didn't work as the Lib Dems position on the EU was too polarised!  The only thing that will help us going forward is a change in the voting system to proportional representation.

It is likely that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism will be brought back to the Green party’s autumn conference for adoption. Do you support this definition?

No - I was a co-proposer of Les Levido's policy motion opposing the IHRA 'definition' of antisemitism and reaffirming BDS (Boycotts Divestment Sanctions against Israel), in January 2016:

"Title: Reaffirm support for BDS and oppose a key IHRA example

Synopsis: The GreenParty reaffirms its long-standing support for the BDS campaign, which aims to end international support for Israel’s regime of settler colonialism and apartheid. On those grounds, the phrase ‘apartheid Israel’ is anti-racist – not antisemitic, as falsely implied by an example in the IHRA Working Definition of antisemitism.

Text of motion:

1. TheGreen Party reaffirms its commitment to promote active participation in the Palestinian-led campaign for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and companies complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. (See motions passed at the spring2008 and autumn 2014 conferences, ‘Israel’ ground Invasion’ in upper right-hand corner, (https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ip). We further endorse the BDScampaign’s peaceful aim: ‘to pressure Israel to comply with international law and to end international support for Israel’s regime of settler colonialism and apartheid’ (https://bdsmovement.net/call) 

2. For several years the UK government has attempted to prohibit public bodies from boycotting Israel and companies complicit in its violations of international law. It now plans new legislation for this purpose, as well as for a reverse boycott: to prohibit local authorities from contracting with companies that divest from Israel. We will work with other groups to oppose such government restrictions on organisations exercising their democratic right and ethical responsibility. 

3. On the website of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA),a Working Definition of Antisemitism includes several examples, e.g. ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’. This contentious example has been deployed for false accusations of antisemitism against the BDS campaign and its keyphrase ‘apartheid Israel’, especially to deny venues for public events or to restrict speakers. The Green Party asserts that the BDS campaign’s aims are anti-racist and rejects the above example of supposed antisemitism.

How do you rate the government’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic?

They should be put on trial for corporate manslaughter!  Compare BJ with the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and you have a complete analysis of everything the UK government did wrong:  We should have closed our airports in February.  Following the Pandemic WHO announcement in January - stocks of PPE should have been ordered and plans drawn up for the closing of schools/businesses and the introduction of social distancing.  

If Airports/bus stations/train stations had been disinfected from the start (early March) and flights stopped or people put in quarantine before 14th March we would have very few deaths just like NZ.  There was a callous and deliberate policy to accept 20K deaths as if this was OK - knowing full well that the brunt of this would be borne by the elderly - hence the Government's total lack of concern with dispatching elderly people from hospitals back into the community without testing them.

It makes me want to scream with rage and cry with sorrow that over 43,000 people have died due to the sheer incompetence and total disregard for the health and well-being of the nation this Government has shown!

How do you think the Green party should position itself electorally in the immediate future?

On the Left - As the only Party promising real action on climate change and offering social justice and a kinder more compassionate society - a society based on collaboration and care of people and planet - the only international party that will do this.

What is your vision for the Green party over the next few years?

Get support for the suspension of the Right to Buy.

Push all the MP's to get the Government to - support the recovery of the economy with the GP Green New Deal - build 250,000 council social homes per year over the next 5 years to meet the demand of the 1.5 million waiting for homes -support Proportional Representation-Introduce a Citizen's income-Stop selling arms around the world and particularly to Israel and holding arms conventions in the UK - Start working towards multi-lateral nuclear disarmament to begin the process of world peace.

Green Party members will be voting throughout August. 

Links

Website:

andreacareyfuller.com

Andrea speaking on Tidemill Garden after Lewisham Council approved the plans to demolish Reginald House (2-30A Reginald Road) and Tidemill Wildlife Garden. Campaigners have asked the Mayor of London to call in the application.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGofuzaVB7Y

Monday, 29 June 2020

The Future will be Ecosocialist – Because without Ecosocialism there will be no Future



I have recently been reading ‘The Emergence of Ecosocialism,’ a collection of essays written by the now sadly departed Joel Kovel. Edited by Quincy Saul, and published in 2018. The book is reviewed more fully here.

In Kovel’s essay which goes by the same title as this post, first published at Ecosocialist Horizons in 2011, he compares the state of the world with how it was in 1848, when the Communist Manifesto was published, written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, which called for “an association in which the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all.”

Kovel acknowledges that the world has changed a great deal since 1848, not least with the ecological crisis we find ourselves in, caused by an economic system which needs ‘productivism’ to grow, in order to increase accumulation. This productivism requires the changing of nature, which can and does have benefits to humanity but also disregards the impact on nature of these changes, which are not good for humanity or nature itself. He writes:

Our generation has inherited a world both transformed and deformed, to a degree that raises the question of whether humanity can continue to produce the means of its own survival… Homo sapiens, a species that has triumphed over nature to build the mighty civilization that now rules over the earth, has also prepared the ground for its own extinction.

Kovel laments this is not generally understood though, with dominant opinion largely addressing the problem with ‘environmentalism’ which separates humanity from nature, seeing it as something around us, rather something we are part of. Environmental problems therefore, are dealt with by pressure for legislation for individual ecological issues, seeking technological fixes, encouraging personal lifestyle changes and buying ‘green’ products.

He says that there is nothing wrong with environmentalism except that it completely ignores the root of the ecological crisis by focusing on the external symptoms rather than the underlying disease. He likens this to treating cancer with aspirin for the pain and baths for the discomfort. This failure to understand the crisis on the deepest level, and so make the necessary changes to our relationship with nature is doomed to fail.

This deeper level, Kovel suggests, is capitalism’s prioritisation of economic expansion, or put another way, growth. This growth is converted into monetary units, also known as accumulation. This occurs by creating commodities, to be sold on the market and the profits are then converted into capital. He quotes Marx writing in Capital – “Accumulate! Accumulate! This is the Moses and the Prophets” of the system. 

This leads to the exploitation of finite resources, as well as labour, which destroys ecosystems upon which the system depends. Kovel puts the failure to make this connection largely down to the huge propaganda operation put in place by the forces of capital, that is, capitalists and state governments, to deny its responsibility for the ruination of the planet. Once this realisation dawns, the need for a different economic system becomes obvious.

The test of a post-capitalist society is whether it can move from the generalized production of commodities to the production of flourishing, integral ecosystems. In doing so, socialism will become ecosocialism.

Ecosocialism does not begin with efforts to change the external environment, but with the liberation of human beings, who are able to make the rational choices necessary to restore and preserve the integrity of nature. Kovel believed that ‘freely associated people’ free from the ideology of consumerism, can break loose from the ‘rat-race’ of trying to fill inner emptiness with commodities. Kovel also relates this to the ‘population problem’ suggesting that freely associated people, women in particular, can easily regulate reproduction.

In the interim period ‘Commoning’ should be practised, meaning collectively owned production, as in the ‘commons’ which existed pre-capitalism, and what is left of it is under threat, so should be defended. This can be seen as a prefiguration of ecosocialism, giving a concrete example of an alternative way of living. 

Ecosocialism:

Sets forth from multiple points of resistance, notably combining North and South by bringing together a coalition of ecosocialists, radical climate activists and specialists in renewable energy…The best science tells us that this is the only path of survivability. But the best science cannot be implemented within existing capitalism. It will take freely associated labor, motivated by an ecocentric ethic and organised on a vast scale, to effect these changes in terms of resistance to the given carbon system and forcing through its alternative.

The choice is stark, carry on as we are, and risk extinction, or change our pathway to an ecologically rational one. Challenging though it is, the second option is our only hope. Kovel signs off by asking us to:

Imagine the creative possibilities inherent in an ecosocialist energy pathway.

Imagine indeed, and fight for.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The affluent are consuming the planet to death - study


Written by Matthew Rozsa and first published at Salon

A new study published this month in the academic journal Nature Communications argues that, despite all of the talk about using green technology to address man-made environmental problems, the only way for human consumption to become sustainable is if we rein in the affluent.

"The key conclusion from our review is that we cannot rely on technology alone to solve existential environmental problems – like climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – but that we also have to change our affluent lifestyles and reduce overconsumption, in combination with structural change," Professor Tommy Wiedmann from the University of New South Wales Engineering told that college's newspaper regarding the study.

The paper itself argued that "the affluent citizens of the world are responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions." 

The authors added that "existing societies, economies and cultures incite consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change" and advocated "a global and rapid decoupling of detrimental impacts from economic activity," pointing out that the efforts made by global North countries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are "highly unlikely" to occur rapidly enough on a global scale to stave off catastrophic environmental impacts.

"This is because renewable energy, electrification, carbon-capturing technologies and even services all have resource requirements, mostly in the form of metals, concrete and land," the authors point out. "Rising energy demand and costs of resource extraction, technical limitations and rebound effects aggravate the problem."

After observing that "the world's top 10% of income earners are responsible for between 25 and 43% of environmental impact" while "the world's bottom 10% income earners exert only around 3–5% of environmental impact," the authors say that environmental damage is largely caused by the world's "affluent" and therefore needs to be confronted by demanding lifestyle changes among the wealthy.

In other words, the world's poorest have a negligible effect on overall environmental devastation; focusing on their consumption or behavior is a fool's errand when it comes to environmental policy.

"Considering that the lifestyles of wealthy citizens are characterised by an abundance of choice, convenience and comfort, we argue that the determinant and driver we have referred to in previous sections as consumption, is more aptly labelled as affluence," the authors point out. 

They advocate reducing avoiding or reducing consumption "until the remaining consumption level falls within planetary boundaries, while fulfilling human needs," with the wealthy abstain from purchasing overly large homes and secondary residences, large vehicles, excessive quantities of food, and engaging in leisure activities that require a great deal of flying and driving.

The authors also argue for consumption patterns "to be shifted away from resource and carbon-intensive goods and services, e.g. mobility from cars and airplanes to public buses and trains, biking or walking, heating from oil heating to heat pumps, nutrition — where possible — from animal to seasonal plant-based products." In addition, they call for "the adoption of less affluent, simpler and sufficiency-oriented lifestyles to address overconsumption — consuming better but less." 

This approach would need to include "addressing socially unsustainable underconsumption in impoverished communities in both less affluent and affluent countries, where enough and better is needed to achieve a more equal distribution of wealth and guarantee a minimum level of prosperity to overcome poverty."

The authors acknowledged that there are several schools of thought regarding how to best meet these goals.

"The reformist group consists of heterogeneous approaches such as a-growth, precautionary/pragmatic post-growth, prosperity and managing without growth as well as steady-state economics," the authors write. "These approaches have in common that they aim to achieve the required socio-ecological transformation through and within today's dominant institutions, such as centralised democratic states and market economies."

By contrast the second group, which is "more radical," posits that "the needed socio-ecological transformation will necessarily entail a shift beyond capitalism and/or current centralised states. Although comprising considerable heterogeneity, it can be divided into eco-socialist approaches, viewing the democratic state as an important means to achieve the socio-ecological transformation and eco-anarchist approaches, aiming instead at participatory democracy without a state, thus minimising hierarchies."

Salon interviewed several scientists and scholars earlier this month about how the coronavirus pandemic has illustrated many of the sustainability problems inherent in capitalism. One problem with capitalist economic systems is that they rely on constantly increasing consumption in order to maintain periods of prosperity. If unexpected disasters interrupt that consumption — such as the pandemic requiring an economic shutdown — the whole system grinds to a halt.

"Going with the structural metaphor concept, there always huge cracks underneath the facades of capitalism, and the huge weight of this pandemic has widened those cracks," Norman Solomon, co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org and a Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, told Salon. After pointing out how the poor wind up being hurt the most, he added that "the entire political economy is geared to overproduction and over-consumption to maximize corporate profits."

Michael E. Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, told Salon that "I think that there are larger lessons and messages here about the sustainability of a global population of nearly 8 billion and growing people on a planet with finite resources."

He added, "And what COVID-19 has laid bare is the fragility of this massive infrastructure which we've created to artificially maintain consumption far beyond the natural carrying capacity of the planet. And continued exploitation of fossil fuels, obviously, is inconsistent with a sustainable human society."

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Ecosocialism from the Margins


Written by Sabrina Fernandes and first published at Taylor & Francis Online

Hope for revolutionary change requires urgent climate action now. The energy transition must be as radical as possible to ensure the conditions for future struggles to overcome capitalism.

The 21st century is a century of crisis. Capitalist economic collapse dovetails with dire inequality, international and civil wars drive displacement and humanitarian catastrophe, xenophobia creeps into laws, and rising biodiversity loss imperils the planet’s equilibrium. Climate change threatens to worsen every other aspect of these interlocking crises, making decarbonization the most urgent task on our to-do list. It’s hard to fathom successfully tackling all other socioeconomic problems—let alone the gargantuan undertaking of overcoming capitalism—without coordinated international action.

A deep civilizational change, as Michael Löwy puts it, is needed to craft a truly just and free society within the ecosocialist paradigm. Such a transformation will not be possible unless we guarantee the material conditions on which to build any and all revolutionary prospects. Ecosocialists are well aware that only a revolutionary path can take us beyond the capitalist system. But they also understand that other clusters of change and reforms must garner support in their radical forms before a pre-revolutionary scenario appears on the horizon.

Climate scientists agree that we must take radical action by the end of this decade to prevent global temperatures rising over the 1.5°C limit. Leftists organizing around ecological issues share a similar consensus, but the situation changes when we consider the Left more broadly. As I write from Brazil, it is evident that the far-Right’s recent gains in the continent put everyone at risk of sinking deeper into climate emergency. The Bolsonaro government is openly anti-environment—he is even intent on allowing industrial mining in Indigenous territories.

When nature is perceived only through the lens of exploitable natural resources, biodiversity becomes easily commodified. It is no coincidence, then, that the largest and most impactful social movements in Latin America are tied to land and territory, environmental protections, food sovereignty, and a strong opposition to multinational corporations, foreign investment, and their history of harmful dealings with right-wing—and sometimes moderate left— governments. These movements demonstrate that ecosocialism must be based on praxis. Those suffering the most from capitalism’s exploitation know all too well that full commodification of nature means private profits and socialized impacts.

Political projects rooted in developmentalist and productivist ideologies are still common in socialist circles. Many in the progressive and even socialist Left in the countries at the periphery of capitalism, or the Global South, perceive their development and lifting millions out of poverty as antithetical to a rapid, clean energy transition and climate action. Current resources only enable one or the other, their logic suggests.

However, even if developed countries take the lead by zeroing out their carbon emissions and helping finance an energy transition in the South, a true great transition depends on fostering and organizing peripheral countries’ will to change as well. Those who have contributed the least to the crisis are most likely to suffer the deepest impacts. This contradiction makes social movements, collectives, unions, and political parties at the margins of capitalism important voices in the call for change. It is paramount that we listen.

Building Ecosocialism in and from the South

Ecosocialism, a recent development in socialist history, first emerged to tackle modern environmental issues, as articulated since the 1970s. It promoted a critique of productivist perspectives and experiences within socialism, proposing that the socialist view of abundance prioritize quality over quantity. Later, in what political economist Kohei Saito calls the second stage of ecosocialism, the tradition incorporated the foundations of Marxist Ecology and Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism’s metabolic rift. This perspective offers a Marxist analysis of the profound way the current mode of production has altered nature, explicitly identifying that it is impossible to confront the ecological crisis—also a crisis of human society—within the capitalist system.

Now, the third stage of ecosocialism is being built from praxis that deals with the contradictions from the current system, pushing for alternatives to begin right away. Within this conversation, dispossessed peoples at the margins of the system have a lot to teach us in terms of values and organizing practices. As the far-Right advances in Latin America, it is valuable to understand how grassroots campesino, Indigenous, and ecosocialist movements have boldly denounced human exploitation as inseparable from the exploitation of nature. Pushing for radical alternatives, these marginalized groups ought to be protagonists in constructing ecosocialist praxis.

In contrast, the ecocapitalist way, also known as “green economy” solutions, proposes a false path for protecting the environment. It aims to reverse some of the impacts of climate change while maximizing profits through the creation of new markets and the generalized commodification of ecological transition. Institutional spaces tasked with negotiating the terms of climate change mitigation have normalized ecocapitalism, including by promoting the market-friendly REDD+ approach to forest management and carbon trading as solutions, by encouraging the participation of business and industry NGOs in UN climate change events, and by supporting the idea that the private sector ought to be a crucial—if not the crucial—partner in reducing emissions. The result has been a very slow crawl toward decarbonizing energy, amounting to less of a proper transition than a diversification of the private and public infrastructure of energy provision.

This is particularly evident in countries that have promoted new investments—both public and private—in renewable energy sources while continuing to exploit dirty fuel in the name of trade and economic growth. For example, in January 2020, Germany announced a plan to phase out coal, but the end date is 18 years from now. China has grown its solar and wind capacity steadily for years, but investment recently dropped due to cuts to public subsidies. China also has invested in hundreds of new coal plants at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, the private sector is eager to market itself as the provider of “clean” energy, a variation of what anticapitalist activists have long slammed as greenwashing. Elites are cashing in on the renewable energy market— expected to hit a global value of $1.5 trillion by 2025—by selling technology to governments and private citizens.

Ecosocialism criticizes market-based solutions, but it also condemns the slow pace of transition—if any—set by governments that still prioritize traditional, dirty industries as sources of GDP growth. This entails critiquing developmentalism and productivism as national ideologies. Ecosocialism breaks apart the meaning of development in order to rid it of its capitalist and colonial facets and enrich it with qualitative—rather than merely quantitative—notions of a good life. It also aims to scrap productivism—whose influence may limit socialism to a change in the ownership of the means of production without changing the paradigm of production—by eliminating planned obsolescence and by fostering democratic planning of production around the questions of why, where, what for, how much, and for whom.

However, much of the theoretical development around ecosocialism has taken place among intellectual-activists of the North. Although there are ecosocialist organizations throughout the world, the majority of the Left, including the socialist Left, remains far from an ecosocialist synthesis in the South. Even discussions around buen vivir and Pachamama in Ecuador and Bolivia must simultaneously consider these concepts’ limits and political appropriation.

Campesino and Indigenous social movements, whose values are deeply linked to the metabolism of nature, are well-respected and can be great leaders for change. Yet, when it comes to the economy, most of the Left in peripherical countries continues to rely on the separation between humans and nature in order to secure an image as the representative of the urban proletariat, champion of industry, and master of local natural resources.

However, dependency theory shows us that perceiving nature simply as a source of commodities makes workers in places such as Brazil and Bolivia more vulnerable. Worse yet, movements that stand up to large, socioeconomically destructive projects led by leftist governments—as is the case of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Brazilian Amazon— are commonly vilified by leftist parties and unions that promote a productivist perspective of progress and job creation. Coal and oil continue to be major elements in leftist depictions of social and economic development, which is unsurprising when underdevelopment still deprives millions of working-class people around the globe of electricity, sanitation, and other basic infrastructure and services.

Although developmentalism and productivism remain the norm, the impacts of the climate crisis push the dispossessed to confront how the global economic system has pressured nature to an unprecedented level. Suffering the bulk of the negative consequences, the working classes at the margins of capitalism have the most to lose from ecological collapse—and the most to gain by leading the world towards a braver stance. The Left must pay attention and give enough room to groups that have long denounced the impending disaster. Certainly, there can be no socialist struggle without Indigenous struggle.

So far, most underdeveloped and developing countries have tried to catch up with developed ones through the rules of the capitalist system. This has produced a continuously dependent relationship. A radically different, ecosocialist-driven, development program that focuses on quality of living, full employment, carbon-free activities, and economic autonomy can rescue these countries from the margins and set an example for the big players that continue to pit their financial targets against the planet’s future.

The challenge for the third stage of ecosocialism is to lead the way by developing through decarbonization while strengthening public sector and working-class organizations to create the material foundations for overthrowing the capitalist system once and for all.

21st Century Metabolism

A key ecosocialist discussion revolves around Karl Marx’s concept of the metabolic rift, which demonstrates how the inherent logic of the capitalist mode of production is unsustainable. The true “realm of freedom,” ecosocialists argue, must overcome this dynamic through the rational regulation of nature’s metabolism. It is impossible to really grasp capitalism’s impacts on the global ecosystem without deep consideration of colonial extraction and plunder.

To take Brazil as an example, the rise of the far-Right, embodied in Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency, clearly is entangled with agribusiness and industrial mining. As soon as he took office, Bolsonaro reduced the budget for climate change mitigation by 95 percent. The Ministry of the Environment is headed by Ricardo Salles, previously convicted of environmental fraud. Deforestation is on the rise, and environmental officers struggle to do their jobs without proper resources.

When thousands of barrels of oil from an unknown source contaminated beaches across 11 states in 2019, the Brazilian government largely neglected the disaster. Bolsonaro even tried to blame the spill on a Greenpeace boat, alleging sabotage. The government only took action when most of the damage was done, leaving response efforts up to local volunteers who risked their own health to remove oil and rescue animals. It is also well-known that Brazil’s 2006 discovery of its rich offshore pre-salt oil reserves has affected geopolitical pressures, especially around the national oil company Petrobras.

Like many other developing and underdeveloped countries, Brazil experiences a dependency dynamic. Resource extraction accounts for a large share of the economy and attracts superpowers looking to profit off cheap primary goods, from crops to oil. Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, and even the previous Workers’ Party (PT) government in Brazil have had contradictory approaches to environmental issues, pursuing economic growth through extractivism and tying social redistribution to the influx of commodity revenues. 

Their perspectives, common across the Pink Tide, fluctuated between a greater respect for nature compared to right-wing governments and an unbalanced focus on an idea of sustainable development that treated environmental costs as an after-thought to large projects and economic production. This type of negotiation with extractive interests can keep traditional national elites in a comfortable position of economic power while compromising national autonomy due to the economy’s overreliance on commodity exports.

Such countries are uniquely positioned when it comes to resistance and the construction of radical alternatives. In most cases, if not for their dependence on the resource extraction that fuels the economic superpowers, these countries would contribute little to climate change. This dependency—the root of their contribution to climate crisis—impedes real development that moves away from environmentally degrading practices and builds resilient, climate-ready infrastructure. In a country as unequal as Brazil, the cities are not made for the people, but divided by class and the interests of each local elite.

The result is too many cars, precarious public transit infrastructure with expensive individual fares, and so much concrete that rain inevitably leads to flooding, illness, and death. Business as usual means that as long as the multinational mining company Vale can extract iron ore, the economy is relatively safe, and the social and environmental impacts— including dam collapses unleashing floods of mining waste—are just the expected externalities.

Thus far, the Left in such countries has taken the wrong approach to overcoming dependency by thinking it possible to challenge capitalism while maintaining its logic of production. Some have intensified extraction to take advantage of commodity prices but have failed to make the necessary gains in domestic industrial capacity. Others have invested in such a capacity, but they still fall prey to a few dire consequences of continuous reliance on extraction: the continuous enrichment of old elites, over-specialization that maintains dependence and conflicting geopolitical relations, and the perpetuation of the metabolic rift, whereby the unregulated use of nature leads to an array of short-, medium-, and long-term impacts.

A different approach to development—focused on autonomy and the creation of favorable ecological conditions for further organizing working-class interests—could help overcome dependency while leading the way towards a global ecological transition. This transition, then, could have the power to reconcile and unite all oppressed people around the ecosocialist paradigm.

Decarbonize and Organize!

Ecology is a pivotal point of convergence for the world’s oppressed and dispossessed. Environmental impacts fall disproportionately on the poor. Women are more likely to take on extra social reproduction burdens after environmental disasters. Cities designed around capital lack infrastructure in their peripheries and are very racialized. Ecological connections foster not only solidarity, but deep syntheses between struggles.

The banner of food sovereignty, for example, connects landless workers to healthcare professionals to animal liberation activists. Climate activists, policymakers, and every labor union interested in full employment, training, and better jobs all share a concern for radical change in the energy system. Ecosocialists understand the power of organizing the working class in a metabolic way—that is, through an understanding that if class and oppression are inseparable from ecological conditions, then struggles must act accordingly.

Rather than different struggles simply marching alongside each other, the horizon calls for making connections around the ecological underpinnings of the material conditions for survival—and even revolution. We can no longer separate labor organizing from feminist, anti-racist, LGBTQI+, animal liberation, prison abolition, anti-imperialist, and self-determination struggles. The metabolic ecological view shows that they don’t simply share similar interests, but root causes.

As environmental concerns become ever more pressing, a few sectors of the Left have finally realized their importance. We must be strategic. Higher sensitivity to environmental issues presents an opportunity for politicization so that we can, at the same time, reject inherently flawed “green” capitalist proposals and learn to build the conditions for a radical horizon.

At some level, this requires ecosocialists to consider reform and revolution. Ecosocialism is a revolutionary perspective, yet it must be aware of the mediations required to guarantee the ecological conditions for a revolution. The urgency of climate change calls for decarbonization while still under capitalism. This does not mean, however, accepting such a plan on capitalist terms. The logic must be to decarbonize fast, with a focus on the public system, fighting privatization at all costs, and strengthening popular movements and organizations. A decarbonized mode of production is necessary to ensure that when workers are ready to overthrow capitalist structures, there is still a healthy planet on which to build socialism.

This is why projects aimed at outstripping the carbon economy, such as the Green New Deal, propose a transition from a carbon-based economy to renewables. This transition requires change in many areas, but it is not what socialists call a transitional program, let alone a socialist revolutionary endeavor. Decarbonization is both an immediate necessity and a material prerequisite for any transitional program and the very prospect of organizing to abolish private property.

To be successful, decarbonization efforts need to be highly coordinated, but in a bottom-up fashion. Third-stage ecosocialism calls for mobilizing entire working-class sectors while also growing the Left by attracting those concerned about the viability of life into the next century.

Of course, green capitalists have also tried to present their own version of decarbonization. This vision revolves around private property and profit margins, allows for more extractivism, takes a slow pace, and demonstrates a dangerous optimism for undeveloped technologies that may solve our carbon problem one day without altering production. Unless matters such as pollution and biodiversity loss can be commodified, these approaches neglect elements of the ecological crisis other than carbon.

The ecosocialist task in the face of the Green New Deal is to make the proposal—its goals, speed of implementation, and involvement of workers and their interests—as radical as possible. This also demands an internationalist perspective that considers the transfer of financial resources—as an incentive but also as a kind of reparation—to support colonized and affected countries in transitioning away from carbon. This process must also ensure local autonomy, making way for the South’s political contributions to ensure that the system will indeed change.

The challenge is how to bring the whole Left to this understanding—and not just in terms of convincing arguments, but as praxis. Brazil’s Petrobras offers an important example. It is paramount that the oil reserves in the pre-salt layers—found thousands of yards deep in the ocean’s subsoil and very expensive to extract—stay as put as possible. Foreign, private sector pressure aims to weaken the state’s role in Petrobras, and this has affected the company’s workers as well as consumer prices for oil and gas.

A common perspective, shared by the Petrobras union, argues for complete nationalization of the company so that the reserves support national sovereignty— rather than imperialist interests—by guaranteeing Brazil 100 years of energy autonomy. From a standard developmentalist perspective without any ecological regard, this sounds like a dream workers’ sovereignty argument. It is, however, unrealistic, as it puts the whole world in danger of a sped-up climate catastrophe. This demonstrates the importance of fostering ecosocialism in Brazil and the urgency of developing a decarbonization program.

Privatization evidently would lead to intense extractivism without any rewards for the workers or the country, so it must be fought on all fronts. Yet, it is also important for countries like Brazil to produce their own decarbonizing “deal” so that labor unions in carbon-based industries can become involved. Only a fully nationalized, worker-controlled Petrobras will be able to posit the necessary steps for a just transition based on: a moratorium on new explorations, fast diversification of the company’s activities into renewables, and job training, compensation, and a jobs guarantee.

This is not entirely novel—Norway’s national oil company Equinor has expressed a commitment to bringing the country’s emissions close to zero by 2050. Petrobras invested in renewables in the past as a way to “prepare the company for a low-carbon economy future,” but it is currently disinvesting from those sectors, including by selling its wind power plants in early in 2020. Private interests in the pre-salt layer and the government’s privatization intentions have set Petrobras back.

A radical decarbonizing program that includes the national oil company, with new priorities led by unionized workers, would have the potential to not only reclaim Petrobras’ earlier renewables plans, but also go even further than Equinor’s targets. This change would empower other national oil companies in the region as well and could help to reroute the future of Mexico’s Pemex, among others.

As the authors of the 2019 book A Planet to Win put it, a just transition depends on seizing public control of energy resources, and it will only be just if it focuses on improving people’s lives. Besides averting climate collapse, this kind of decarbonizing deal contributes to the ecosocialist horizon: There can be no just energy transition without organizing, and the fruits of this organizing can move towards overcoming capitalism. Restructuring the economy away from carbon while centering the working class makes it possible to dream of cities with efficient housing, better modes of transportation, preventive health care, an agricultural system built on food sovereignty, industry without planned obsolescence, and more time for leisure and rest.

We cannot decree or simply vote the capitalist system away. To ensure an ecologically and politically sustainable post-capitalist society, we must build the conditions to make such a future possible and enduring. A viable revolutionary alternative takes the conditions it can build under capitalism, preserves the gains, changes what is necessary, and then transcends the barriers capitalism has imposed on emancipation.

In sum, to truly abolish capitalism, we must make it obsolete. A society whose mode of production attends to peoples’ necessities and quality of life without exploitation or destruction renders the capitalist way outdated, irrelevant, and undesirable.

Organizing away from carbon can be a valuable step towards wide, international organizing away from capital, too. A just energy transition in the South will push us in this direction by hitting capitalism at the root of extraction, exploitation, and colonization—none of which have any place in an ecosocialist society. Coordinated action from the margins may be just what we need.

Sabrina Fernandes is an ecosocialist activist based in Brazil. She is the lead editor for Jacobin Brasil, a postdoctoral fellow at the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and the University of Brasília, and she runs the radical left YouTube channel Tese Onze.

Monday, 15 June 2020

UK Government Announces ‘Jet Zero Council’ but is it Really Possible or Just Greenwash?


Airbus E-Fan X Hybrid Aeroplane

UK transport minister, Grant Shapps, announced on Friday at the daily coronavirus press conference, that flights across the Atlantic will be carbon neutral ‘within a generation.’ Shapps said. ‘So we're bringing together leaders from aviation, environmental groups and government to form the Jet Zero Council. This group will be charged with making net zero emissions possible for future flights.’ The idea is part of the government’s plans for a ‘green recovery’ for the economy once the pandemic is brought under control.

Carbon emissions from commercial aircraft only amounts to about 3% of global emissions, but were rising before the pandemic and are expected to account for 25% by 2050. And because of the height at which fuel is burned in jet aircraft, it causes two to four times the amount of damage to the planet's atmosphere.  

The greenhouse gas emissions of one person flying round-trip from New York to London is the same as what it takes to heat a single-family home for a year. It is certainly important to reduce these emissions if we are to keep to the under 1.5 C rise in temperatures commitment of the COP21 made in Paris in 2015.   

So, what are the options that this council will likely look into and how realistic are they? Shapps confirmed fresh government funding is to be provided to Velocys in support of its plans to build a major jet biofuel plant in Lincolnshire, so this seems to be the currently favoured way to achieve zero carbon emissions. There are a number of problems with this approach though.

As always with biofuels, the main problem is of being able to produce enough fuel from land that will be in competition with our food production needs. Biofuels can be produced from waste food but it is much more expensive compared to oil based fuels. 

It might be possible to mix biofuels with conventional aircraft fuel, making some savings in emissions, and then using some kind of carbon offsetting scheme, like planting trees to absorb the remaining emissions. This is controversial though, as it is unlikely to get to a net zero position. Some trees don't get planted, and others only for a few years before they are felled. It is the easiest route, but not likely to be very effective. 

Electric powered aircraft is another option. Instead of using traditional fuel to power a plane, which releases large amount of pollution, electric planes use large batteries that are chargeable and provide a powerful and clean flight. Electric planes currently are only good for trips less than 1,000 miles, which do produce 40% of all aviation emissions, but are still short enough to ideally travel on a single charge.

And here lies the problem with electrically powered planes. That New York to London trip, which is a very busy route, and of course, ‘across the Atlantic’ is 3,459 miles. To make this distance an aircraft would need a battery 3 or 4 times the size of a 1,000 mile battery, and so make the plane heavier, using more electricity, This would not really be economically viable, since the number of passengers able to be carried as well, would probably be about fifty at most.

Of course the electricity will need to be produced somehow, and I think it is unlikely that renewable energy could produce enough, for air and road travel plus that for domestic homes and workplaces.

Again a hybrid system seems more viable. Aviation giants like Boeing, Airbus and Raytheon are also experimenting with 'eco-friendly' airplane designs. Boeing is working on the SUGAR Volt plane that uses both electricity and fuel, similar to a hybrid car.

The idea was first created in 2006, and Boeing is working with NASA to deliver results by 2040. Airbus is building E-Fan X, a battery-powered plane that replaces one of its four traditional engines with an electric motor that has the equivalent power of 10 cars. The E-Fan X is expected to take its first flight in 2021, and Airbus hopes to use it as a commuter plane within 20 years.

Could hydrogen powered planes be viable, as hydrogen is much lighter than large batteries? With hydrogen as a fuel, there is no physical reason that planes can’t go larger and longer. Liquid hydrogen is an established technology and it would allow a threefold improvement in flight range. But there are problems associated with hydrogen as a fuel for aircraft.

The majority of hydrogen (95%) is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming or partial oxidation of methane and coal gasification with only a small quantity by other routes such as biomass gasification or electrolysis of water. Even though hydrogen itself is essentially non-polluting when burned (some nitrogen oxides may be formed), there is a carbon footprint associated with it.

Obtaining hydrogen from the electrolysis of water is in the process of being studied as a viable way to produce it domestically at a low cost, but it not here in large amounts at present. But there is another problem with hydrogen as air fuel.

Hydrogen fuel is hazardous because of the low ignition energy and very high combustion energy of hydrogen, and because it tends to leak easily from tanks. We have had an illustration of this susceptibility to combustion when in 1937 the Hindenburg airship, with a massive balloon carrying hydrogen caught fire and crashed spectacularly in New Jersey, in the US. There were 35 fatalities (13 passengers and 22 crewmen) from the 97 people on board. Passenger confidence never recovered, and these type of airships were abandoned.

So there we have it. The UK government’s aim is highly optimistic to say the least. It does fall into a pattern with these ‘green’ plans which always are set well into the future, without a feasible plan to achieve success.

Carbon Capture and Storage technology comes to mind, which may well be part of this plan, but has never been achieved on any kind of large scale. All of these things want to carry on with business as usual, rather make real cuts to emissions and so reduce the danger from global warming. Will we have carbon zero flights across the Atlantic in twenty years time? I don't think so. In short, it is greenwash.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

The More I see of Starmer the More like Blair he Seems – Without the Charisma


Keir Starmer, the UK Labour party leader, made much of his left wing credibility in his political youth, no doubt to appeal to the largely left wing membership in his successful campaign to win the leadership. With some justification it seems, as he was on the editorial board of Socialist Alternatives magazine, a small-circulation Trotskyist-linked red/green journal that billed itself as ‘the human face of the hard left’. He also, as a lawyer, defended poll tax protesters and the ‘McLibel Two,’ in court cases.

Since Starmer became leader of the Labour party though, the signals coming out from himself and shadow Cabinet colleagues is all rather cautious, and definitely ‘centrist’ in nature. Any kind of radical politics have been nowhere to be seen.

He has kicked into the long grass an inconvenient issue, by announcing an investigation into the leaked party report of the sabotaging of Labour’s chances of winning the 2017 General Election, by party officials. It will be chaired by Martin Forde QC, who currently acts as an independent adviser to the Home Office on the government's Windrush compensation scheme, and is seen as a Starmer ally. The pro-Israel lobby inside and outside of the party has been courted too. 

Then we come to Starmer’s response to the toppling and throwing into the harbour of the statue of Victorian era British slave trader, Edward Colston, at the Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol. Interviewed on LBC radio about the incident.

He said: "It shouldn't have been done in that way. Completely wrong to pull a statue down like that.

"But that statue should have been taken down a long, long time ago.

"This was a man who was responsible for 100,000 people being moved from Africa to the Caribbean as slaves, including women and children, who were branded on their chests with the name of the company he ran.

"20,000 died on route and they were chucked in the sea.

"He should not be a statue in Bristol or anywhere else."

Most people would agree with the second part of this answer, including the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who later blamed the long-time Labour run council for not removing the statue sooner. Her advisers were obviously listening to the Starmer interview. But what struck me most was, the Janus like attempt to cover off the criminal activity, but probably of a popular act, and to not be seen to condone it, but at the same time make an anti-racist statement of solidarity, with those who suffered and died.

It immediately brought to mind Tony Blair’s catchy soundbite, ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’, from his early years as Shadow Home Secretary and in time leader and Prime Minister. He was a better communicator than Starmer, who has a rather slow and dull style, effective though it is, against our blustering Prime Minister in Parliament. Blair, of course was a member of CND in his youth, and look where that went?

Starmer’s answer had the same kind of feel about it, trying to appeal to both sides of opinion, those appalled by what went on in Bristol, and those who broadly supported it. The old triangulation trick. All in all though, the feeling I get so far from the new regime in the Labour party, is very much a back to the future, if you get what I mean.

You could say this is clever politics, at a time when the government are trying to paint the opposition as ‘unpatriotic’ whenever the government's handling of the pandemic crisis or anything else is criticised. The Tories have been whipping up nationalistic sentiment over Brexit, and doing the same thing with all other issues it seems. Which is all very well, but where are the principles? 

Campaigners in Bristol have been trying the legal route of removing the statue for 30 years, to no avail. No one was hurt, just an odious statue removed. No one listened to the suffragettes until they started breaking windows etc.

Most Labour left members as far as I can see are staying with the party, although some have left, waiting to see if the policies change from the last manifesto, and to what extent. That remains an open question at this stage, but the ‘centrist’ signs elsewhere, do not bode well in my opinion. What will happen to policies like the ‘green industrial revolution’ promised by the Corbyn led party, for instance? Will it be watered down to something less radical so as not to scare the horses?

It does look as though this has been mirrored in the US, with Joe Biden gaining the Democratic party presidential nomination. Biden won’t have any kind of radical Green New Deal if he wins the presidency. Bernie Sanders and perhaps Elizabeth Warren were the only hope of that. Maybe, more radical thinking in the big leftish parties in the UK and US has had its albeit brief day?

For any kind of an even small move in the direction of ecosocialism, in the UK and US, it doesn’t look good. The Green party in England, offering some ecosocialist type polices may win one or two more seats in Parliament, in a hung Parliament, which is surely the best Labour can hope for, which could possibly yield some useful environmental and social concessions, but that is about all I can see.

It could be that action outside of electoral politics will be much more important than what happens in Parliament, once we get through the pandemic. The momentum of the climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests has been lost now with the lock-down - it will need to be ramped up again, if we are get any meaningful action on environmental and social justice.