Sunday 20 November 2016

Final Manifesto: Third International Ecosocialist Encounter

First published at Systemic Alternatives

We, the organizations convening the Third International Ecosocialist Encounter, held in Bilbao from 23-25 September of 2016,

  1. That capitalism has been developed despite and in the face of the two basic dependencies that make human life possible. First, it ignores the fact that, like all other living species, we obtain the things we need in order to live from nature; second, it obscures the fact that our survival depends greatly on the care and time we receive from others from the moment we are born up until death.
  1. That this ignorance and concealment stem from the fact that capitalism assigns economic value only to that which can be measured with money. It is impossible to analyze from the point of view of money activities such as photosynthesis, natural cycles like the water or carbon cycle, all the tasks associated with reproduction and human care. Hence, they are invisible to the capitalist economy.
  1. That, ignoring the limitations resulting from these dependencies with regard to nature and people, the capitalist mode of production, distribution and consumption which seeks only private profit and accumulation bases its reproduction on continuous and unlimited growth.
  1. This unlimited growth clashes with the biophysical limits of the planet. We are witnessing a growing depletion of natural resources (scarcity of potable water, an imminent end to the era of cheap oil, growing scarcity of strategic minerals, the collapse of fishing, deforestation…), an evident degradation of the Earth’s ecosystems (accelerated loss of biodiversity, contamination of soils and hydrological reserves, the degradation or overexploitation of ecosystem services…) and an unprecedented alteration and deterioration of the natural balance, not just in local or regional environments as in the past, but now also in the global environmental system, the most obvious manifestation of which is climate change: ECOCIDE. This state of ECOLOGICAL URGENCY also causes millions of environmental refugees year after year.
  1. That, despite official speeches, the UNFCC Conference in Paris has been incapable of finding a route to efficiently and urgently confronting the devastating consequences of climate change, because, among other reasons, it allows polluters to continue using fossil fuels and enables the corporate assault on renewable energy.
  1. That also, and particularly in the neoliberal phase of capitalism, the prevailing mode of production and consumption has created an enormously unjust and unequal global society in which overconsumption, pillaging and the enrichment of a small few are rooted in scarcity and the poverty of the majority, as well as in the confiscation of the time which, in these patriarchal societies, women in particular must dedicate to social reproduction and everyday efforts toward wellbeing. A society in a state of SOCIAL EMERGENCY as a consequence of strikes, precariousness, the destruction of social rights and worker’s rights, the erosion of public services and social protections with the subsequent transfer of care into the home and privatization of common goods: AUSTERICIDE.
  1. That the hunger, environmental problems and armed conflicts that currently displace millions of people from their countries of origin are caused by the structural conditions that configure international relations among actors that compete in the global market.
  1. That this situation of clash with the biophysical limits of the planet, staggering decline of social rights and worker’s rights, and enormous social injustice, can only be imposed through denying the capacity of peoples for self-governance in defense of the rights of citizens and through less democracy (misinformation, dictatorship of markets, governments of unelected technocrats, changes to the Spanish constitution, systematic noncompliance with campaign promises, the open interventionism of the European Troika in countries that have been bailed out), the spread of fear (the “shock doctrine”), misinformation from the mass media, cheating and lies by governments, and as if all this were not enough, increased repression (recent years have seen record numbers of assassinations of environmentalists and other dissidents). In the false statement of European Commission President Jean-Claude Junckner, “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
We declare:
  1. That a future reconciled with nature and humanity itself requires a RADICAL CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE, a radical change in the modes of production and consumption, that put at the center of life the basic needs of all peoples, democratically determined and adjusted to the biophysical limits to the planet (ECOSOCIALISM).
  1. That, hence, the solution cannot be A CAPITALISM that, even if it is disguised as GREEN, reproduces the same model of consumption and the same economic and social structures that caused the current situation. It is necessary to change the capitalist mode of production based on private ownership over the means of production. The fundamental questions are certainly those of what to produce, for what reasons and for whom, as well as who participates in the decisions and how they should be made.
  1. That in the face of the capitalist system’s generalized offensive against life, we believe it is essential to construct an alternative which includes, in conditions of equality, all the liberation agendas (feminism, unionism, indigenous and farmer’s movements, environmentalism, etc.) for which it is necessary to reinforce dialogue between the different emancipatory subjects, with an internationalist perspective and an integral view of the different arenas (including bodies, memory, different forms of knowledge, common goods, etc.).
  1. That, like it or not, we are facing a process of ecosocialist transitions that guide us to degrowth in the material sphere of the economy. These transitions are economic (of the model of production, energy…), social (the social organization of citizens), cultural (education…), legislative and territorial (municipalities in transition…) and should be adapted to serving people and communities, environmentally balanced and democratically chosen. Otherwise, they will lead to a model of society in which a small group of people (the big powers) are able to maintain their current lifestyle thanks to the fact that the majority goes without meeting their basic material needs which guarantee a dignified existence.
  1. That is essential to guarantee access to the conditions for a dignified and autonomous life for all peoples.
  1. That, for that, we advocate transitions that are capable of responding to the ecological urgency, simultaneously facing the problems derived from social emergencies, which we believe requires contrast and collaboration between these two arenas which have not always walked hand-in-hand. A central objective of these three Ecosocialist Encounters has been to offer both arenas a broad and diverse audience in which labor unions have played a central role.
  1. That in the face of the myth of unlimited growth or the neo-Keynesian illusions that do not take into account the clash with the limits of the planet, the encounter between these two arenas can only happen if we seriously take up the issue of DISTRIBUTION, both of wealth and of productive and reproductive labor.
  1. That this distribution should be accompanied by a rethinking of the notion of work, such that the whole set of socially necessary work is put at the center and in contrast to the dominant thinking today which disregards the nature of production, as long as it is economically profitable, and only considers work that which is carried out in the arena of paid labor, making invisible all those people whose work is linked to human reproduction.
  1. That public authorities should promote socially necessary sectors, such as those that are linked to energy rehabilitation for buildings, renewable energies, public transportation, agroecology, community services related to citizens and free time, health, and education. Sectors that consume less energy and materials that, on the other hand, are labor intensive and that hence will help compensate for inevitable job losses in economic sectors that should experience regrowth or disappear in ecosocialist transitions.
  1. That for these transitions to be fair and sustainable, it is essential to infuse our societies with a feminist vision that is capable of extending to all arenas the right of women to equality, breaking the bonds of patriarchal oppression and the violence it perpetrates against them; and promote popular empowerment (democracy and sovereignty) against these monopolizing and insatiable elites that occupy the centers of power and sequester from them the will of the majorities. For this, we reassert the right of communities to decide on important issues that affect them, both in the arena of politics as well as the economy. With all its possible contradictions, we believe that this route will better promote the basic needs of people in these communities and their balanced relationship with the environment than that of the blind market or the dictatorship of technocrats.
  1. That this empowerment should be manifested as well through community or collective management of natural resources and common goods (re-municipalization of electricity grids…), through the recovery of public banks which are essential to addressing said transitions, and through the denouncement of illegal debt, a pretext for austericide.
  1. That a decisive pillar of these ecosocialist transitions should be education; education as paideia, a process of collective and personal self-construction throughout life as the eco-dependent and interdependent beings that we are. That we should reject the instrumental focus of neoliberal education and trade competition for cooperation, individualism for collaboration, results for processes… That we should contribute to change that does not reproduce the content and practices of a culture that is unsustainable and ask ourselves questions that remove that culture, making school into an institution that does not reproduce, but rather, transforms.
We vow to:
  1. Extend ecosocialist and feminist consciousness throughout the world.
  1. Promote the creation of an international ecosocialist network, linked to platforms such as Via Campesina, Plan B for Europe… or movements in favor of climate justice, or human rights for all peoples, without distinctions or categories…
  1. Promote exchange and collaboration among different social and political agents that work in the area of ecological urgency and social emergency, to seek popular majorities in favor of a change of model.
  1. Present to government institutions legislative proposals that favor the necessary ecosocialist transitions. Priority areas should include safeguarding economic, social and cultural rights in constitutions, and protecting our common goods while guaranteeing equal access to their management and enjoyment.
  1. Participate in, promote or distribute all struggles against environmental deterioration, particularly against major investment projects in the fossil fuels industry, and against the privatization of natural resources and common goods.
  1. Work actively in movements confronting international treaties such as TTIP, CETA and TISA that pose grave threats to the environment, labor relations, our health, and generally the conditions of life.
  1. Support all experiences that seek to build embryos of a democratic, equitable and sustainable economy; fair and responsible consumption; and an alternative culture that strengthens human relations based on equality and mutual support…
  1. Take up “the revolution in our daily life.” While no amount of changes in individual consumption habits can substitute for the needed structural changes, we might recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “To live simply, so that others may simply live.” This perspective, prioritizing life over possessions, should help us to let go of less sustainable practices, to promote those that are more healthy and environmentally sound and carry out in an egalitarian manner all the tasks of care for persons.
Bilbao, 25 September 2016

Signing groups: LAB, ESK, ELA, EHNE Bizkaia, Steilas, Ecologistas en Acción, Ekologistak Martxan, Hitz & Hitz, SolidaritéS, Mugarik Gabe, Sortu, Podemos, Alternatiba, Aralar, Antikapitalistak.

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