Tuesday 29 October 2019

The UK General Election is a Crucial Crossroads for Greens

Written by Allan Todd

“So, let’s draw out the connections between the gig economy, which treats human beings like a raw material from which to extract wealth and then discard, and the dig economy, in which the extractive companies treat the earth with the very same disdain.”

Naomi Klein, On Fire: The Burning Case For A Green New Deal (2019)

“May you live in interesting times!” is said to be an ancient Chinese curse. Whatever its origins, it makes the point that the ‘uninteresting’ periods in History are the safest ones to live through: those with no wars, no famines, no economic crises, and no destructive natural disasters.

With that in mind, it's painfully clear that we’re certainly living in ‘interesting’ times! At present, the 99% are victims of an increasingly harsh, exploitative and destructive neoliberalism - or what Naomi Klein describes as a ‘gig and dig economy’.

One other thing that is also increasingly clear is that the next general election - whether it comes before or after Christmas - will be the most crucial one we’ve had for more than a generation: crucial for the UK as a whole, and crucial, too, for the Green Party. It will also be crucial for me.

For the UK

“Austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits - it is bad economics. It is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”

Prof. L. King, Cambridge University, 2017.

What is beyond doubt is that, since Johnson became prime minister, we are facing a neoliberal Tory government even more vicious than the Thatcher governments of the 1980s. One of the most disturbing factors is that, prior to becoming PM, Johnson had several meetings with Bannon, one of Trump’s erstwhile advisers. Just like, after becoming Leader of the Tories in 1975, Thatcher and her team held many meetings, in the years running up to 1979, with ‘New Right’ ideologues from the USA.

Thus Johnson wasted no time in appointing a hard-right cabal as the core of his government. Johnson, and the likes of Rees-Mogg and Gove, have been calling for years for the destruction of all that EU ‘red tape’ that binds the free market with workers’ and consumers’ rights and environmental protections. Which is precisely why those rights and protections have been taken out of the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement and, instead, placed in the non-binding Political Statement:

The Tory hard-right cabal

As well as wanting a hard Brexit in general terms, it is now clear that our NHS will be on the table in any post-Brexit trade talks with the US. In addition, Johnson’s government will almost certainly continue supporting the dirty energy companies - including those wanting to roll out fracking across the country. There have already been indications that the ‘traffic lights’ controls on earth tremors will be relaxed once Brexit is out of the way. Thus in no way will Johnson’s government be taking any serious steps to counter the growing Climate Crisis:

The reality of current ‘reductions’ in carbon emissions

On top of all that, Johnson is most unlikely to take steps either to reverse the vicious austerity that has, since 2010, been imposed on the 99% by the Tories - and the LibDems - or the accompanying massive tax cuts for the 1%. Nor will he be closing off the various tax loopholes that enable the wealthy to avoid paying even the small amount of tax for which they are, technically, liable.

As shown by an academic study - carried out by medical researchers from Cambridge and Oxford Universities and the University College of London, and published in BMJ Open, in November 2017 - that austerity has, since 2010, led to an estimated 120,000+ austerity-related excess deaths:

Professor Lawrence King, of Cambridge University, one of the report’s authors, actually referred to these deaths as “economic murder”.

Austerity DOES kill!

Apart from all these negative aspects, Johnson has also shown he is more than prepared to break the law in order to push his policies through. For all these reasons - and more - the next election will face the people of this country with an incredibly crucial crossroads: make the wrong choice, we - and future generations - will pay a dreadful price.

For the Green Party

However, the next election will also face the Green Party with a crucial crossroads of its own. For sometime, the Green Party has had a programme which combines both environmental, and social and economic justice, policies. This holistic stance is summed up well by our slogan, “For The Common Good”:

For The Common Good

That slogan reflects that the fact that the Green Party has recognised that attempts to protect and restore the health of our planet will only succeed if we also tackle the issues of poverty and gross inequalities that are destroying the social cohesion of our society. It is also a reflection of the understanding that all our major problems - the Climate Crisis, austerity, an under-funded NHS, a cash-strapped educational system, and racial and gender inequalities - all stem from one source: the neoliberalism forced on us by the 1%.

That radicalism offered by the Green Party has undoubtedly played a significant role in helping, since 2015, to move the Labour Party towards more progressive positions on both the Climate Crisis and on ending austerity. It is something we should rightly be proud of - and something which we should preserve at all costs.

Sadly, however, there are signs that the whole Brexit issue may lead the Green Party to put that entire radical stance at risk. Earlier this year, there seemed to be a serious attempt to form a ‘Remain Alliance’, which would agree just one ‘Remain’ candidate in certain seats. In practice, that would mean, in many seats, the Greens working with - and standing down in favour of - the LibDems.

Whilst Brexit is an important issue - I voted ‘Remain but Reform’, à la Another Europe Is Possible, in which our party rightly played a leading role - it is not the most important issue. Whether we are in or out of the EU, the Climate Crisis, neoliberalism and the rise of the far right, will all still have to be dealt with. So what the Green Party must avoid at all costs is playing any role which will place yet another neoliberal government in power.

As 2010-15 showed only too painfully, the LibDems are led by neoliberals who were more than prepared - for 5 full years - to back the harshest of austerity policies. The LibDems also voted for the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which parcelled up our NHS into bite-sized chunks for future sale to private health companies - and which forces the NHS to give more service contracts to private company vultures like Branson’s Virgin Health Care.

Those who thought that the LibDems had, since 2015, ‘changed’ their positions on such issues had a rude ‘wake-up’ call on Wednesday 23 October, when all 19 LibDem MPs abstained on a motion which would have forced Johnson’s government to keep our NHS off the table in any future post-Brexit trade talks with the US:

Our NHS - not safe in LibDem hands

Yet, the very next day, Green Party members received a communication from HQ which seems to indicate that such a ‘Remain Alliance’ may still be on the cards. If the Green Party forms any pact with the neoliberal LibDems in the next general election, it will completely wreck its radical street cred. So, when that crossroads is reached, our leadership will have to think very carefully indeed.

A personal crossroads

Apart from being a crucial election for the future of this country, and for the Green Party, the next general election may also prove to be a very crucial one for me.

In the 2015 general election, I was happy to stand as the Green Party candidate for Copeland - which, at that time still had a Labour MP - as we were the only mainstream party totally opposed to austerity. Even Ed Miliband’s Labour Party - no doubt listening to Ed Balls and co. - was offering an ‘austerity lite’ programme. Despite this, Labour held the seat, with a 2500 majority over the Tory candidate - and the Greens came last out of 5, with 1179 votes.

However, the political situation began to change significantly after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader of the Labour Party later that year - most notably, with Labour rejecting any more austerity.  The existing MP for Copeland, Jamie Reed, was strongly opposed to Corbyn and was, in fact, the first Shadow Bench MP to resign after Corbyn was re-elected as Leader in 2016. Then, in December 2016, Reed resigned as an MP, thus sparking a by-election in February 2017.

As Labour’s vote in Copeland had been declining for several years, making it a marginal seat, I argued that our local Green party - Allerdale and Copeland - should stand aside and call on our supporters to vote Labour, in order to reduce the Tory majority in parliament.

That suggestion lost by one vote, and we stood a candidate. Despite losing the vote over whether or not to stand a candidate, I both campaigned and voted for our candidate, Jack Lenox. The result of the by-election was a Tory gain from Labour - with Copeland becoming even more marginal than it had been before. When it came to the 2017 general election, I argued again for us to stand aside - this time, the suggestion was overwhelmingly supported - though the accompanying decision, to call on our supporters to vote Labour, was not, in the end, carried out. Although the Tory MP was nonetheless re-elected, her majority was reduced to 1695 votes.

Since then, my view about not standing has not just remained the same - it has become stronger. There are, of course, many reasons for most ordinary people - not just eco-socialists - to see a Labour government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, as being considerably better for them than yet another Tory government or, almost as bad, another Tory-LibDem coalition. Some of those reasons include Labour’s commitments to:

•           adopt a Green New Deal
•           end austerity
•           ban fracking
•           stop and reverse the privatisation of our NHS
•           bring back into social ownership the main public utilities

There are clearly several aspects of Labour’s current policies and stances - for instance, on Brexit, nuclear energy and PR - that still leave much to be desired. But, even with such caveats, a Labour government under Corbyn would be a distinct improvement over the hard-right Tory government we currently have.  For me, a Green government - or a Red-Green coalition with Labour - would be the ideal outcome of the next election. But the unfair voting system we have makes both of those scenarios unlikely.

We thus have to deal with where we are now - and that, for so many reasons, means trying as hard as we can to end the reign of neoliberal governments.  That means, in the 80+ marginal seats that Labour needs either to hold (such as Workington, the other seat covered by our local Green party) or win (such as Copeland), the Green Party should stand aside and call on their supporters to vote for the Labour candidates. In such marginal seats, the most practical and effective ‘green’ vote is to vote Labour.

Ideally, in return, Labour should agree not to stand in Caroline Lucas’s seat, and should also stand aside in the Isle of Wight - where, had they done so in 2017, a Green Party MP would have been elected, instead of the Tory who is the current MP. But, even if - as in 2017 - Labour makes no concessions to the Greens, we should still not stand in those key marginals.

There are those in the Green Party who argue that, because Labour gave us nothing in 2017, they should be ‘made to hurt’ in the next election, so that they’ll come on board in the subsequent one. Two wrongs have never made a right - especially with regards to this issue: for those who will be hurt the most if Labour fails to form the next government will be the most vulnerable in our society.

That alone is reason enough for eco-socialists to do all we can to get a Labour government elected. Our local party has already selected candidates for our two seats. When an election is called, we will then have to decide whether or not to stand. Whilst I fully appreciate that it will be disappointing for Green supporters in Labour’s marginal seats not to have a Green candidate to vote for, my view is that - given all that will be at stake in the next election - it would be an unjustified indulgence to insist on having a Green candidate, regardless of its impact on the national outcome.

Thus, as in 2017, I shall be arguing for us to stand aside - and to call on our members and supporters to vote Labour.  However, this time - unlike in the February 2017 by-election - if that vote is lost, I have already decided what I will do. I shall neither campaign nor vote for our candidate - instead, I shall, ‘For The Many, Not The Few’, campaign and vote for the Labour candidate:

 For The Many

I have had friendly advice that, if I do so, I may well be expelled from the Green Party. I shall be sad if that happens - especially as there is no other party that I wish to join; plus I’ve only just been elected as Keswick’s first Green councillor! However, in the end, I feel I have to do everything I can to prevent yet another neoliberal government - whether that be a Tory one, or a Tory-LibDem one.  

Allan Todd is a member of Allerdale & Copeland Green Party, an anti-fracking activist and a Green Left supporter

Editors note: I do hope that Allan does not leave the Green party over this. He is a fantastic activist both within the party and outside as an anti-fracking and Extinction Rebellion activist.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Achieving an Ecological Civilization - an Introduction

Written by Charles Posa, McFadden and Karen Howell McFadden and first published at Green Social Thought

We begin by way of a conclusion.

The now globally dominant system through which we make our living in nature is capitalism.

But capitalism is in process of self-destruction, now rapidly undermining the natural and social conditions for its own and humanity’s further existence. If we are not to go down with it, we must construct an ecological alternative – democratic, science-based, imaginative and sustainable.

In other words, a system of relations between people and with the rest of nature that is more compatible with our continuing existence. Unlike the limited forms of democracy under capitalism, we need a system that engages us all in the political-economic decisions that shape our relations with each other and with nature.

We do not have to look far to find an alternative. Outside of the capitalist market economy, we already engage informally in relationships of reciprocity, continuing those practices that define our species as a social one. The moral alternative to globally dominant capitalism, including its customary and legislative commitment to the right of private wealth accumulation, is a moral, and therefore customary and legislative commitment to sustain and expand the commons, including a healthy natural environment and life-affirming social relationships.

This moral and practical alternative necessarily includes much that capitalism’s supporters have long promised, while ultimately delivering the opposite. To engage human capacity for addressing the existential challenge we now face, we need more than ever to enhance

·       Democracy, not oligarchy.

·       Scientific inquiry, not dogmatism.

·       Imagination, not mindless bureaucracy and conformity.

The resistance to the life affirming aims of enhancing democracy, scientific inquiry and imagination originates in the attachment to and aspiration for the personal wealth only available on a finite planet to a minority. To prevail over these egoistic aspirations, our main tools for achieving an ecological civilization are education, organization and political action that model and institutionalize ecologically sustainable relationships among people and with nature. 

In the face of barriers erected by a ruling minority, the people have a moral right and today an urgent responsibility to exercise and support peaceful disobedience to the barriers placed in the way of democracy, science, imagination, education and corresponding political action for a more just and ecologically sustainable society.

Arguments for these conclusions and their elaboration constitute the body of this work. It will be the people themselves, organized in political movements and organizations, who will through their experience, learning and action construct an alternative to a moribund capitalism, if there is to be one. Ours is a contribution to this process, drawing from our own experience and what we have so far been able to learn from associated reading and discussion.

What follows in this preface is a brief introduction to the theoretical framework, research methods and communication standards we have adopted for this series of articles. It is likely that some of these will be unfamiliar if not unconventional to many readers. While each of the authors has prior experience writing both scholarly and journalistic work, we have adopted standards here we believe better suited to the needs of those engaged in political action for a more just, democratic and sustainable society, which today, we hope, will ultimately include everyone.

We offer breadth, rather than depth of analysis. Throughout this effort we refer the reader to some of the more accessible sources of the in-depth presentations of the science upon which we have drawn. We focus here on the forest, even while knowing that practical action also requires knowledge of the relevant details. These latter, however, are specific to the diverse communities in which we live, a reason why bottom-up forms of democracy are essential to achieving an ecologically sustainable global society.

The political challenge

Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990 claimed that “there is no alternative” to a capitalist market economy. She made this argument to buttress her advocacy of neoliberal policies. As noted in her biography, Thatcher’s “political philosophy and economic policies emphasized deregulation (particularly of the financial sector), flexible labor markets, the privatization of state-owned companies and reducing the power and influence of trade unions.” Hers was an articulate statement of the aims of the capitalist class globally. The environmentally and socially destructive results are now horrifically evident.

We began the research and writing that led us to this present argument ten years ago. After a politically tumultuous period since the global economic collapse of 2008, it is easy to forget that as recently as January 2010 there was still very little public doubt within the core capitalist countries about the permanency of capitalism. Not only was capitalism the seeming victor in the Cold War, but there was seemingly no viable alternative social system.

It was easy to believe that capitalism represented the end of history, given that the “socialisms” of the 20th Century had apparently proven unworkable. Certainly, it was easy to agree that dogmatism, bureaucracy, conformity and kleptocracy did not represent the kind of outcome wanted and needed by humanity. But what has capitalism delivered in the meantime, if not its own variants of dogmatism, bureaucracy, conformity and kleptocracy?

It has also delivered growing wealth and income inequality within and between countries, a global race to the bottom in wages, working conditions and environmental regulations, the greatest global economic crisis since the Great Depression, and rapidly developing global ecological crisis. As if that were not enough, capitalism once again seeks salvation through a resurgent arms race that again includes further development and deployment of nuclear weapons.  

The intellectual challenge

An effort to identify and contribute to the emergence of an alternative was the impetus to our research and writing. We searched from scientific accounts of the origins and development of humankind to the present struggles of the people for a more just, democratic, peaceful and sustainable existence. 

We are of course limited to our own direct personal experience and activity, to the shortfall in the number and diversity of those from whom we have learned, and by our inability to do more than sample a wide range of relevant and burgeoning literature and other forms of recorded knowledge and opinion.

It helped that one of us (Karen) has focussed in the arts and humanities, including as a teacher, researcher, artist and poet, and that the other (Charles) has similarly been engaged in research and teaching in both the natural and educational sciences and that as partners, we have collaborated in the student, peace, labor, environmental and other social movements of the people for over fifty years.

Evidently, our greatest shortfall in relation to the publication of this series of articles is in the social sciences, which has received the lion’s share of our attention over the past decade and will likely continue to do so in our remaining years.

Among academics and journalists preoccupied with advancing original formulations that merit claims to personal intellectual property, it has become popular to invent and propose alternative social systems, suggesting that the options in that respect might be as diverse as their authors. This is NOT our intention.

Anything in this argument that could be claimed as unique to us should on that account be dismissed. In the first place, ALL ideas are socially constructed, evident in the fact that we each must use socially constructed language to communicate our ideas. Intellectual property rights will have no place in any society that claims to be an advance over capitalism, nor will any other claim to private ownership over the Commons, defined here as the shared heritage of humanity.

Moreover, we hold to the wisdom that the new invariably emerges out of the womb of the old, a process in which either the old system replicates itself or, in the case of a moribund system, a new one ultimately replaces it. One task of social science research, in our view, is to identify the new system as it emerges from the old. The empirical evidence by which to judge the results of such social science research is convergence in social theory and practice on the features of the new system, leading to the replacement of the old system by the new one.

We expect to be successful in identifying most, but not likely all the characteristic features of the emergent system. We encourage critical review of each of our arguments. Our aim is no more than to contribute to the process of identification and action towards the replacement of the current, moribund capitalist system. Its successful replacement will be a system which proves itself capable of liberating the latent potential of the people to move past the obstacles created by capitalism to humanity’s continuing existence. There is, of course, no guarantee that capitalism will not be the last human social system on Earth. Time is of the essence.

The principal objective of this contribution to discussion, therefore, is to identify a viable path out of the present existential crisis, a crisis created by the convergence of wealth and income inequality and the destruction of an otherwise supportive natural environment. Such a path necessarily includes a more equitable distribution of resources as part of a more conservative, sustainable relationship with nature.

Co-equal objectives are the advance of democracy, education, scientific inquiry and imagination, which we argue constitute the foundation for achieving a healthy human society and a sustainable relationship with nature. Having found a limited role within emergent capitalism, these foundational elements of any society fully committed to the full and free development of the people require vigilant popular development and support in the face of a now moribund, self-destructive capitalism.

The main premise of this series of essays, argued at some length, is that capitalism, once a relatively progressive system, liberating humanity from the constraints of a moribund feudalism, is today the principal cause of growing wealth and income inequality and of human destruction of an otherwise supportive natural environment. As such, capitalism is itself a moribund system, its defenders increasingly engaged in constraining the development of democracy, education, science and imagination.

Historical materialist theory

While we rely almost exclusively on the existing consensus within the scientific community on the state of knowledge in most fields of scientific inquiry, we make an exception in the field of social science, where there is no acknowledged scientific consensus on the fundamental issue of the nature and laws of societal evolution.  Here, our theoretical viewpoint must be considered presumptive.  

We subscribe to the Marxian theory of evolution of human society, often identified as historical materialism, thereby emphasizing both its scientific content and the methodology it shares with all other fields of scientific inquiry. Materialism in philosophy acknowledges that the subject material under investigation has an empirical existence independent from our ideas, theories and conjectures about it.

Like every other scientific theory, historical materialist theory must be judged by its ability to explain the corresponding empirical evidence. We do not examine that evidence in detail in this work. Rather, we presume the validity of historical materialist theory. 

Marxian historical materialist theory contends that capitalism did not always exist, but rather came into existence historically recently, probably first during the late middle ages, initially confined to mercantile capitalist trading relationships between a few European city-states, but ultimately extending (by the twentieth century) to an international network of capitalist nation-states, dominated by a few whose reach assumed globally imperial dimensions, such as the imperial reach of the United Kingdom and the United States.

Only within the past few decades has this international system reached its present global dimension, in which the global marketplace, including supply chains and corresponding international political structures, are now dominated by a network of the largest transnational capitalist corporations, their directors and chief political and academic representatives (the transnational capitalist class).   

According to Marxian historical materialist theory, incompatibility between the “mode” and the “forces” of production drives the struggle for reform or revolution of the social system, the latter corresponding to a qualitative change in the mode of production to enable better utilization of the new technologies and ideas and the creation of corresponding institutions. The change from feudalism to capitalism was an historical precedent for the current struggle within capitalism for socialism.

The transition from one mode of production to another is characterized both by the development of technology and the associated attempts to reform or replace the relations of production with new ones. These changes can be either historically progressive (the use of more advanced technologies and, in the case of the transition from capitalism to socialism, more cooperative relationships of production, and associated ideas and institutions) or regressive, towards the social relationships and hierarchical ideas associated with feudalism and slavery (the principal other examples of once dominant hierarchical social systems).

Increasing personal indebtedness (debt slavery) for securing necessities of life (including education, accommodation, communication, transportation, healthcare, potable water, and food) is evidence of this regressive trend.

We also recognize as an enduring, progressive, but currently subordinate mode of production, the communal mode that characterized most of human history from the time of our origins as a species. This is the cooperative mode of production based on voluntary sharing of resources and non-monetary exchanges of goods and services, commonly found today within families and local communities.

If there is to be a social system beyond capitalism, it will, in our view, necessarily correspond to a reversal of the trend towards privatization in the ownership and management of resources and tools of production and distribution and an expansion of the commons. Building on the remaining commons, the new system will correspond to the transformation of most social means of production and distribution into communal property under communal management, decentralized to the extent feasible, that is, into a more just, democratic and sustainable relationship between people and with nature.          

The most recent developments within the capitalist mode of production include the greater mobility of capital, the spatial extent of its dominance – now global, and the transnational character of the dominant capitalist corporations. Imperialist rent continues to be paid, but in the form of a transfer of wealth from a globally distributed working class to a globally distributed owning and managerial class, mainly and increasingly to the oligarchic billionaires within that class. To be enduring, system change will likewise need to be global.  

Contemporary global capitalism and the theory of historical materialism

Capitalism is a dynamic system. As such, its behaviour can be explained and predicted by scientifically discoverable laws. As applicable to capitalism today as they were when Marx articulated them, they nevertheless need to be applied with recognition of the changing historical circumstances and the adaptations that the capitalist ruling class has made to those conditions, especially constraints. These include the spatial dimension over which capitalism operates, the extent of monopolization and financialization of capital, and the removal of nation-state barriers to the mobility of capital while using these barriers to control labor.

For a contemporary account of capitalism in its now global dimensions, we recommend William I. Robinson (Cambridge University Press, 2014 Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity. For an account of Marx’s laws of value, accumulation and the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and their application to the 2008 financial crisis, see Michael Roberts (2018, Lulu.com) Marx 200: A Review of Marx’s Economics 200 Years After His Birth and his (2016, Haymarket Books) The Long Depression: How It Happened, Why It Happened, and What Happens Next.

Distinct from the more predominant form of Marxian analysis, however, we neither ignore nor attempt to fully explain capitalist societies by application of Marx’s three laws of capitalism’s behaviour. All social systems are dynamic and interactive, including the continuing existence of communal, slave, feudal and capitalist social relationships.

Any attempt to explain and predict the behaviour of a society in which capitalism predominates through the laws governing capitalist behaviour will at best be a first order approximation. While communal, slave and feudal modes of production are no longer dominant over any part of the Earth, they continue to contend within predominantly capitalist societies as subordinated alternatives.

The crisis within contemporary capitalism has fostered the re-emergence of feudal and slave relationships as means by which the ruling capitalist class and its court jesters endeavour to maintain their class privileges even while the basis for capitalism (the surplus produced by industrial wage labour) rapidly declines as a proportion of capital investment with continuing automation (replacing manual labour with automated machines) and the emergent application of so-called artificial intelligence (replacing learned skills and managerial capacity, that is, need for a substantial capitalist managerial class).

On the other side of the coin, despite pro-capitalist efforts to privatize everything, there remains the commons shared by all of humanity. Those looking for a model for a society beyond capitalism need look no further than communal behaviour within families, between friends, and in every community. 

Before the onset of more temperate climate conditions characteristic of the Holocene era (the last ten thousand years), non-class societies appear to have prevailed over the inhabited parts of the Earth (that is, for well over 90% of human history).

Thankfully, some communally organized societies have survived to the present day, notwithstanding the genocidal behaviour of their class-divided neighbors and invaders. In consequence, the First Nations have much to teach the rest of us about stewardship responsibilities and usufruct rights that portend an ecologically sustainable society beyond capitalism.

Our solar future

While physical laws, notably the second law of thermodynamics, have as a consequence the inevitable devolution and death of all existing forms of the current organization of matter and their replacement by the birth and evolution of new forms, there is nothing inherent in natural processes that dictates such an early demise of life on Earth, including prospectively of human life, as is now associated with the continuing expansion of the capitalist mode of production. 

The complex forms of organization of matter that have given rise to human life and human civilization are a product of the energy that continues to bathe our planet from the Sun (a process expected to continue for billions of years more) and the materials that will continue to be present in the Earth’s biosphere for an indefinite future.

A premature end to human civilization on Earth could only be the result of our failure to act as agents for the building of a replacement to capitalism, that is to create a new social system, one in better harmony with nature and human existence.

Revolutionary voice

The title of an essay by Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” contains the principal lesson to be learned from past failures to move beyond capitalism. Our revolutionary voice is not male, but gender-neutral, not hegemonic, but collaborative, not competitive, but cooperative, not violent, but demonstrably peaceful, not aggressive, but forcefully diplomatic.

In this work, we identify this effort to find our revolutionary voice with democratic ecosocialism, thereby linking it with those green, social, and democratic movements that envision our future as the extension of what remains of our global commons, the expansion of the global commons at the expense of private property, the growth of the voluntary, non-market exchange of goods and services found within families and local communities at the expense of the capitalist market-place, the practice of democratic decision-making at work and in the community at the expense of management and leadership rights. 

Our voice expresses our task, that of replacing the primacy of private profits with the primacy of the health and welfare of people and nature. Our revolutionary voice is to be found in those who prioritize our cooperative relationships and voluntary exchanges of services and goods over participation in the capitalist marketplace.

Methods of research and communication

Our methods of research and communication flow from recognition that knowledge, like language itself, is socially created, not the product nor “intellectual property” of individuals, especially not the property of for-profit corporate media. The method of research adopted in the development of Achieving an Ecological Civilization (the first drafts of which were titled Towards a Green Social Democratic Alternative to Capitalism) is iterative, meaning that each draft is for discussion and further development, by either the initial authors or anyone else who wishes, with each new contributor taking responsibility but not credit for their revisions.

That is our intention in any case. Constrained by the dominant practice of for-profit publication, we do need to place obstacles in the way of publication of this work as private for-profit property. The result is a Creative Commonwealth license, modified in practice as may be needed by the intent expressed here.

All significant changes are the work of those who make them. A global democratic ecosocialist alternative to capitalism will necessarily be the work of hundreds of millions. But time is of the essence.

Charles Posa McFadden and Karen Howell McFadden

Fredericton, New Brunswick, CANADA

Saturday 26 October 2019

UK Anti-Fracking Green Mondays: Going,… but not yet gone

Written by Allan Todd

Monday 21 October was a special day at Preston New Road, Lancashire, England, for two reasons: it was our 101st Green Monday - and it was also our last Green Monday of 2019.

A celebration

The weather was perfect - dry with sunny intervals - and we had a day crammed full of ‘goodies’! Those ‘goodies’ included our speaker, Martin Porter of Manchester Greenpeace, and an excellent array of performers: the Brigantii Border Frack-Free Morris Dancers, the Nanas’ Samba Band, and the brilliant folk group, Mobius Loop:

Mobius Loop in action

For those unfamiliar with them, here are some links:

In addition, there was plenty of vegan food, including Greggs’ vegan ‘sausage’ rolls and their accidentally-vegan Belgian buns - along with 2 magnums of Booths’ vegan prosecco! So, all in all, we all had a really lovely time - as you’ll be able to see via these links:

Pausing, not ending

However, to be absolutely clear - this decision to pause Green Mondays is NOT because we are giving up and going away! We’ve decided to have a pause as, since August - when Cuadrilla’s most recent attempt at fracking triggered an earth ‘tremor’ that registered 2.9 on the Richter Scale - fracking has been suspended at the Preston New Road site. In addition, Cuadrilla’s current licence expires at the end of November, so it’s unlikely that there’ll be any further fracking attempts until the New Year.

By pausing, we’ll be giving our anti-fracking activists a bit of a rest, after over 2 years of turning up for Green Mondays. It’ll also give a rest to our fantastic Green Monday speakers, who have given so much of their time and energies to the anti-fracking campaign.

Since we first began, on 14 August 2017, a list of those speakers reads like a list of ‘The Great & the Good’! They include: Caroline Lucas, George Monbiot, Jem Bendell, Marina Prentoulis, Mike Berners-Lee, Amelia Womack, Romayne Phoenix, Asad Rehman, Clara Paillard, and the brilliant Kate Raworth (of Doughnut Economics fame):

Kate Raworth, at the Green Monday of 4 June 2018

As well as many other national Green Party speakers, we’ve also had a variety of speakers from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth: from the very beginning, Green Mondays were ‘green’ in the very broadest sense. Consequently, we’ve had speakers from Global Justice Now!, Another Europe Is Possible, Stop The War Coalition, Unite Against Fascism, CND, Left Unity and the Labour Party. 

Because, in the end, as our struggle against fracking has developed, it has become clear that those responsible for driving us towards a catastrophic Climate Breakdown are the same people and corporations that are responsible for so many of the other injustices that so many people are facing. Green Mondays have thus been, in some broad ways, an example of intersectionality in action.

The campaign so far

To date, Green Mondays - and all the other days of protest and resistance at Preston New Road - have had to cope with a lot: apart from many wet, windy & cold days, there has often been a heavy police presence:

Lancashire Police turn out in force to ‘protect’ one of Preston New Road’s many truck surfers!

which, at times - especially during the period when Lancashire Police received ‘Mutual Support’ from other police forces - was, to say the least, less than professional in dealing with peaceful protesters.

Despite these negative aspects, we’ve also seen some brilliant examples of peaceful civil disobedience and no-violent direct action. In addition to lock-ons and the very effective fracking ‘sport’ of truck surfing, there have also been plenty of mass sit-downs or blocks in front of the gates to Cuadrilla’s fracking site:

One of the mass ‘blockings’ at Preston New Road

At the moment, Cuadrilla’s plans are in limbo - so lots of fracking equipment (mostly rented) has been removed from the site. But it’s important to know that the site has by no means been abandoned. Consequently, I’m very ‘Brexit’ about where things currently are at: 48% optimistic that fracking here (and elsewhere) is on its last legs; but 52% pessimistic that Cuadrilla will be planning to come back.

They - and the other fracking companies - are clearly hoping for the next general election to be won by Johnson and his hard-right cabal of Tories. If that happens, Cuadrilla will get their application to have their licence extended approved - and such a Tory government will undoubtedly also weaken the current ‘traffic light’ restrictions on earth ‘tremors’.

However, Cuadrilla’s hopes would be dashed if a Labour government - headed by Jeremy Corbyn - were to win the next general election. In July this year, Jeremy Corbyn visited anti-fracking protesters at Preston New Road and confirmed Labour’s commitment to ban fracking: 

Jeremy Corbyn, talking to some of the anti-fracking activists at Preston New Road, 30 July 2019

Thus this general election will be crucial for the fight against fracking - as it will be for the struggles against austerity and poverty, the privatisation of our NHS, and the rise of the far right. Given the recent decision of the LibDems to abstain on a vote designed to keep our NHS ‘off the table’ in any future post-Brexit trade talks with the US, it is clear that only two parties can be truly trusted to ban fracking: the Green Party and the Labour Party.

Which is why I hope that, in all the key marginal seats that Labour either need to hold or to win to form the next government, local Green parties will stand aside - and encourage all their members and supporters in such seats to vote Labour.

Allan Todd is a member of Allerdale & Copeland Green Party, an anti-fracking activist and a Green Left supporter

Wednesday 23 October 2019

To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough

Written by Rainer Shea and first published at The Ghion Journal

As I’ve watched young people around the world take part in the climate actions of the last month, I’ve gotten the sense that I’m watching a spectacle which has been orchestrated to create the illusion that we’re still in an earlier, more stable time for the planet’s climate. 

Legitimate as the passion and commitment of this generation of teen climate activists is, their efforts are being packaged by the political and media establishment in a way that encourages denial about our true situation. These ruling institutions neither want us to recognize the real solutions to the crisis, nor do they want us to see the irrecoverable and massive damage that’s already been done to the climate.

We’re told that if we restructure capitalism with the help of the “green” corporations and NGOs that are backing Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, a catastrophic outcome can be prevented. Supposedly radical politicians like Bernie Sanders promise that by making an appeal for corporations to partially reduce emissions within a capitalist framework, we can save the world. People want to believe the claims of these “green” capitalists because they want to believe that our living arrangements won’t fundamentally need to change in order for humanity to survive.

These sources of false hope let Western capitalist society continue to ignore the primary role that imperialism and militarism have in the climate crisis, to view the capitalist governments as legitimate, and to not try to break away from the philosophy of capitalism and endless growth. 

The lifestyle tweaks that we’re told will save the planet—eating less meat, carpooling, flicking off the light when you leave the room—won’t be able to solve the problem even if society were to largely adopt them. The climate solutions that the capitalists present to us are designed to make us feel better while we keep letting the system move us closer to apocalypse.

To survive, we must recognize two truths about this crisis: that it’s no longer possible to avert a substantial catastrophe, and that global capitalism must be toppled in order for the human race to have a future. Once we understand the former fact, it becomes easy to accept the latter.

When you examine the state of the world, it’s not hard to see that something needs to drastically change. Extreme inequality amid neoliberal policies and rampant corporate power has made the Western countries in many ways part of the so-called Third World. As American power declines, the imperialist wars are continuing and tensions between the most powerful countries are escalating.

Another global recession looms at the same time as a stable and comfortable life has become impossible even for most Americans to attain. Refugees are fleeing the worst dangers in their home countries, and are being met with inhumane treatment by the reactionary governments of the core imperialist nations. All of these capitalist crises are intertwined with the climate collapse that’s threatening the foundations of civilization.

The goals of the Paris climate agreement, which require reducing emissions by around 45 percent before 2030 so as to avoid a 1.5 degree Celsius warming, most definitely aren’t going to be met. Global greenhouse gas emissions hit a record high in 2018, indicating that we’ll 1.5 by 2030. 

The climate feedback loop will quickly turn this into 2 degrees in the following years, which will turn into somewhere between 3 and 5 degrees by 2100. It’s estimated that with just 2 degrees of warming, sea level rise will engulf 280 million people, earthquakes will kill 17 million, and over 200 million will die from droughts and famine.

Just ten years from now, this transition will be far enough along that the basic structures of capitalist society will no longer be stable. In June, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights issued a report which said that more than 120 million people could be forced into poverty by 2030 due to the destroyed property and resource scarcity that climate change-related disasters will cause. In response, more social services will be cut, society will become more militarized, and more immigrants will be deported, imprisoned, or left to die in disease-riddled concentration camps.

Such cruelties against the victims of climate change are realistic, and are all already being carried out because in a world that’s falling to pieces, the feeling of desperation drives a survival instinct that makes people devalue the lives of their fellow human beings. 

Capitalism, with its fixation on competition, is a key driver behind this impulse to exclude and eliminate the immigrants who seek to share in the West’s relative stability. This is why Philip Alston, the author of the U.N.’s June report, said that barring radical systemic change, “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”

As the warming continues, increasing food and water scarcity, flooding, deadly heat waves, epidemics, and inequality will set off wars and civil unrest. Where stable states still exist, the prevailing paradigm will range from heightened government vigilance to outright martial law. 

Otherwise, borders will become less clearly defined and the existing governments will lose their power, making for a global version of the Middle East in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Syria. The vacuum will be filled with militant groups. In the Arab world these new monopolies on violence have been ISIS and Al Qaeda, and in North America they could easily become white supremacist paramilitaries.

None of this can be prevented by voting for Democrats, or changing one’s personal lifestyle, or participating in climate demonstrations that are sanctioned by the corporatocracy. The momentum of the climate’s destabilization is unstoppable, and the fascistic political forces that have emerged amid the crisis aren’t going away. However, my message with this essay isn’t to become apathetic in the face of what’s happening to us, but to embrace a worldview of realism that allows us to actually combat the problem.

We in the Western world must take guidance from the colonized people who are struggling for their liberation from imperial control and the capitalist carbon economy. Our goal should be not to reform capitalism, but to overthrow the capitalist centers of government and replace them with ecosocialist power structures. 

This is what the Chavistas are trying to do in Venezuela, which is moving towards an ecosocialist revolution where the country weans itself off from dependence on oil markets. Bolivia, whose socialist president Evo Morales has given the environment legal protections that are equivalent to human rights, provides further inspiration for the new systems that we’re capable of building.

The path to taking over the power of the state and seizing the means of production, as the socialists in these countries are trying to do, requires building mass movements that aren’t co-opted by the influence of the capitalist class. Our objectives need to be unambiguous: an end to capitalism and an end to all forms of imperialism, which entails decolonization.

The people of Venezuela and Bolivia are lucky to have been able to use electoral means to install a government that attempt to pursue these goals. In the U.S., where electoral politics are rigged against third parties and a deadly police state has been created, freedom will only be gained by working to usurp the authority of the capitalist state. 

India’s Maoist gurriellas (or the Naxalites) are doing this by taking territory away from their region’s government, as are Mexico’s communist Zapatistas. These groups are building strongholds for the larger movements to take down capitalism, which gain greater potential for victory the more that capitalism’s crises escalate; capitalist regimes that are under threat of being overthrown can already be found in Haiti and Honduras, whose U.S.-backed governments may well soon be ousted through sustained proletarian rebellions.

To replicate these liberation movements worldwide, we must stop denying the extremity of the crisis and fight capitalism with the knowledge that we’re fighting for our survival. To commit to their battle against India’s corporate-controlled government, the Naxalites have had to experience the desperation of living in a severely impoverished underclass that’s increasingly suffering from water shortages amid the climate crisis. We Westerners can’t be kept complacent by the fact that our conditions are marginally better than theirs.

In the coming years, we’re not going to be living out a scenario where capitalism changes itself into something sustainable. We’re counting down to the collapse of civilization’s current configuration and, in my view, all that can save us now is the construction of a new ecosocialist civilization in its place.

If you appreciated this article and believe in empowering truly independent journalists who can present analysis without worrying about upsetting corporate sponsors or losing access to mainstream media platforms, consider contributing on my behalf.

Rainer Shea uses the written word to deconstruct establishment propaganda and to promote meaningful political action. His articles can also be found at Revolution Dispatch.