Sunday 28 March 2021

The Struggle for Ecological Sanity


Written by Carl Boggs and first published at Political Animal Magazine

At this particular juncture of history, fraught with new dangers and new challenges, it is time for humanity (or crucial sectors of it) to being exploring the intersection between politics and ecology, between the requirements for radical change and unprecedented challenges posed by the global crisis.  For many reasons, this dialectic has rarely been addressed, even among progressives and leftists.  One dimension of this failure – central to the key arguments that follow – is the declining relevance of the Marxist tradition, in all of its variants, to provide intellectual substance for any future anti-system politics. 

The extreme gravity of what humanity now faces – not only global warming but a world of shrinking natural resources and drastic food shortages – means that time for creating a viable strategy is running out.  The problem worsens once the momentous tasks at hand are taken into account:  a revitalized politics, sustainable economic development, popular shifts in both cultural behavior and natural relations.   Sadly, in the world to date we encounter no movements, parties, or governments that even remotely meet this challenge.

For at least a century after the deaths of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – that is, the end of the nineteenth century – Marxism in one expression or another was viewed as foundational to any prospects for a transition from capitalism to socialism.  Central to that transition was always faith in a proletarian-based revolution, the logical outcome of industrializing (but crisis-ridden) capitalism.  Historical development was expected to generate deepening systemic contradictions ultimately leading to economic breakdown and social upheaval, though the distinctly political elements of this process usually remained vague, ill-defined; strategy was always a point of intense difference across the entire trajectory of Marxism. 

For reasons nowadays abundantly clear, however, the potential linkage of theory and action within the tradition – the source of political agency – has essentially vanished.  Marxism no longer shapes or informs any viable opposition to capitalism, in any locale.  Indeed it has been a full century since the last widespread working-class insurgency against capitalist power, the 1919-20 Biennio Rosso in Italy, which ended in crushing failure.

Prospects for overcoming the modern crisis will depend on the capacity of counter-forces to build and carry forward an ecologically-sustainable world system, and that means effective social control over the instruments of economic and political power.  Without a concrete strategy for winning such power, however, there can be no hopes for revolutionary change.  This great conundrum revolves around the question of power pure and simple.  And today the dynamics of power are shaped, more and more, by the incessant (seemingly irreversible) process of capitalist rationalization first thoroughly charted by Max Weber roughly a century ago. 

Among its vast consequences, rationalization serves to recast the entire realm of politics, or governance, in ways widely familiar into the present.  Those consequences are nothing short of epic: convergence of economic and governmental power, an increasingly state-centered system of rule, strong oligarchical tendencies, expanded technological rationality, corporate globalization.  One result of this process has been ongoing solidification of corporate-state capitalism that prevails in the United States and a few other industrialized countries – a rather different pattern from that anticipated by Marx or even Weber.  Never in history have ruling elites been able to exercise such overwhelming power over economic development, state governance, social life, and the global ecology.

Nether Weber, leading Marxists of the early twentieth century, or later theorists of capitalist power such as C. Wright Mills could have foreseen the degree to which later fortresses of domination would impede prospects for revolutionary change.  The broadening matrix of power explored in the following chapters has been (especially in the U.S.) concentrated along three fronts: technology and the surveillance order, militarism and the warfare state, intensification of globalized power.  None of these dynamic historical forces was ever seriously analyzed in tandem by Marx or Weber, nor indeed by most other twentieth-century theorists.

The recent dramatic growth of technological corporations, mostly centered in North America, Europe, and Asia, can hardly be exaggerated.  What is best described as a Big Tech oligarchy – Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Apple, etc. – now amounts to the largest, most powerful assemblage of capitalist giants in history, its influence over communications, the economy, government, and culture without parallel.  

Ostensibly forums of free speech, social interaction, and diversity of views, these bastions of technological modernity have become just the opposite: centers of ideological monoculture where much-celebrated diversity and inclusion rarely extends to the domain of thought or ideology, where censorship is more and more common.   While social media has virtually overnight become indispensable to public life in the U.S. and elsewhere, communication flows are increasingly governed by algorithms generally congruent with elite interests.

By the 1950s Mills had identified yet another component of postwar American state-capitalism, a prelude to President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 warning about the “military-industrial complex”.  That “complex” has grown steadily throughout the decades, now comprising several enlarged sectors: the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, law enforcement, Homeland Security. 

For the world’s leading superpower since World War II, this apparatus has been rooted in several interrelated phenomena – pursuit of global supremacy, endless wars, military Keynesianism, empire of bases, a massive nuclear complex.  In the U.S., at least, we have seen how this institutionalized order has become a state within the state, largely outside the routine flow electoral politics.   As a clear roadblock to oppositional politics, this could not have been imagined by Marx or Weber, or even Mills.

Aligned with Big Tech, the intelligence apparatus, and warfare state, a vast global network of corporate and financial interests has taken on a life of its own.  Transnational capitalism has seamlessly given rise to such international organizations as the World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organization, G20, and NATO, all presiding over a system of concentrated wealth and power, including 17 financial enterprises in control of more than $40 trillion of wealth.  As of 2020 this staggering accumulation of power appeared fully out of reach of the local populations, national communities, labor unions, and social movements.           

At this moment in history anyone concerned about the future of planetary life faces a pressing question: could such a globalized behemoth possibly be transformed into a sustainable world order?

Viewed against the larger historical backdrop, Marxism winds up diminished as a political force – a predicament unlikely to vanish.    A proletarian revolution today, however defined, seems more out of reach today than it did a century ago.  Among three strategic alternatives within Marxist politics – social democracy, Leninism, council communism – only Leninism ever gave rise to what might be viewed as successful revolutions, starting with Russia at the end of World War I. 

The ultimate fate of Leninism in that country, however, was Stalinism which eventually led to ideological decline before the final collapse in 1991.  Other Communist regimes (China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea) currently exist as harsh authoritarian departures from anything Marx (or indeed Lenin!) had in mind.  Neither social democracy (an appendage of liberal capitalism) nor the council tradition has generated anything close to a proletarian revolution or transition to socialism.

Could something akin to Leninist strategy make sense today as a political mechanism bringing about the transition to a new order consistent with ecosocialist values – or is that strategy more likely to reproduce authoritarian outcomes?   What is often forgotten about Lenin’s classic theory of revolution, in my opinion rather distinct from its later Stalinist deformation, is its actual rejection of classical Marxism, starting with its assertion of the “primacy of politics” over the earlier “primacy of economics”.  Seeing that workers and other subordinate groups would never achieve revolutionary consciousness through everyday material struggles, Lenin’s well-known impatience led him to embrace the vanguard party as agency of both mass mobilization and conquest of state power. 

To succeed, the Bolsheviks would need crucial political advantages: centralized organization, a coherent ideology, creative leadership from a stratum of intellectuals, readiness to win state power and attack the main centers of established resistance.  This very approach had been dismissed by Marx and Engels, who believed any form of “Jacobinism” or “Bonapartism” – a premature seizure of power – was ultimately doomed.

In the end, a modified Jacobinism (defined further in the text of this book) might offer a distinctly political solution, one way out of the crisis, but that would pose a huge threat to liberals, social democrats, and others fearful of genuine change. Communist parties in the West that once might have been regarded as agencies of anti-system change long ago succumbed to the pressures of deradicalization, and there is probably no reversing that outcome.   A similar dynamic has overtaken other erstwhile oppositional forces, most recently social democrats and Greens.  

One alternative would be to build a Gramsci-style Jacobinism from the ground, bypassing the failed counter-forces inherited from the past.  Another prospect might be a tectonic radicalization of larger Green parties in Europe, which have (in varying degrees) already subscribed to a project of ecological rationality.  Whatever the path ahead, we know (or should know) that time is running short.  A future global food calamity alone, rendered likely by shrinking land and water resources, ought to be warning enough.

Given twenty-first century realities, on the other hand, it might seem that any Jacobinism is destined to be negated by the spread of postmodern culture, where oppositional tendencies are increasingly fragmented and dispersed, broken into multiple interests, outlooks, and identities.  Insofar as Jacobinism signifies a global aspiration, a grand narrative of the first order, it would be forced to move directly against the main historical currents.  There are plenty of reverberations to this actuality, all the more so for many industrialized societies where contemporary identity politics around race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality dominate the landscape. 

Indeed distinctly “global” issues such as imperialism, war, and ecology – not to mention class politics rooted in the Marxist tradition – now appear marginal, secondary at best.  In the U.S., perhaps more than elsewhere, identity politics has for many years prevailed over agendas that might be congruent with Jacobinism or indeed any project of radical change.

The fatal deficit of identity politics, however, is a built-in failure to envision societal-wide change; its very logic is partial, fragmented, conservative.  It is built around warring groups doing essentially horizontal battle while ruling elites continue business-as-usual.  As such, identity politics can only impede oppositional movements.  Its “strategy” (or lack thereof) is accompanied by a debilitating ethos of anti-politics. 

The modern crisis, on the other hand, demands full-scale political commitment along lines of “climate Jacobinism”, a mechanism serving two distinct purposes: to achieve a planetary or ecological set of objectives, while also creating a counter-force that could overturn the global power apparatus.  If such a Jacobin force winds up the price of reversing a descent into uncharted horrors, could the bargain be worth the investment?

Carl Boggs is the author of many books in the fields of critical social theory, American politics, U.S. foreign policy and military history, film studies, and ecology.  After receiving his Ph.D. at U.C., Berkeley he taught at Washington University in St. Louis, Carleton University in Ottawa, UCLA, USC, and U.C., Irvine.  He is currently professor of social sciences at National University in Los Angeles.  He is a regular contributor to the magazine CounterPunch, is a member of the executive board of the Global Studies Association, and is involved with such journals as Theory and Society, Fast Capitalism, and New Political Science.  He is recipient of the Charles McCoy Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association, as well as several other awards in teaching and writing.  His new book Facing Catastrophe: Food, Politics, and the Ecological Crisis, is available from Political Animal Press.

Saturday 20 March 2021

Green Party Members Go on Strike – An Interview with one of the Strikers


Activists from Bridgwater and West Somerset Green Party have gone on strike. Caitlin Collins the local party Co-ordinator, talks to London Green Left Blog’s editor Mike Shaughnessy about why her local party felt they had to take this unusual step.

First of all, can you tell me a bit about yourself and your Green Party activism?

Having been a Green Party supporter for many years, I became an active member about 10 years ago when I moved to Somerset and joined the Bridgwater and West Somerset branch.  I've stood as a candidate in two district council elections and supported our candidates in two general elections.  I've been the Co-ordinator of the Bridgwater and West Somerset group for nearly two years.

You and your colleagues from your local party are on ‘strike’ (your letter is reproduced below), can you tell me why you decided to take this strike action?

Like many local groups we generally focus more on local issues, but some of us had been becoming increasingly concerned about what we saw going on in the Green Party at a national level.  There was a series of events.  I had attended last year's Autumn conference, held on Zoom, and had been alarmed by the aggressive behaviour of some of the trans ideology supporters and disturbed by some of the motions proposed at that conference, including gender self Identification for trans people, which were either very poorly thought through or a blatant attack on women's rights.  It was also worrying to observe that so few voters were present that it was easy for a small single-issue group to have a disproportionately large influence.  

Then came the disgraceful incident in which a man who wishes to be identified as a woman became Co-Chair of the Women's Group.  At this year's Spring conference, again on Zoom, there were similar problems with aggression from trans rights extremists and low voter turnout, and this time the gender self ID motion was passed while a motion to protect women's rights was voted down.  

When I reported on the conference to my local colleagues there was unanimous alarm, with three people saying they would resign in protest.  So you could say we were on the brink of insurrection when we received the news of Emma Bateman's suspension!  The idea occurred to me to go on strike rather than resign, because I believe it is better to stay in the Green Party and fight for it; I am not prepared to let a small group of extremists hijack our party.  So we all agreed to strike – but then our Acting Secretary received an aggressive communication that he found so offensive that he resigned from the Party.

What does it mean practically, what kind of party activity has been halted by the strike?

Having been rather quiet over the past year, due to the Covid restrictions, we were looking forward to resuming local campaigning, and all the things that entails.  Somerset local government is undergoing change, with the creation of a new Unitary Authority to replace the existing County and District Councils, and we were all set to join other Green Party groups across Somerset in preparing for the local elections due to be held early next year.

What are your demands to call off the action?

As a minimum requirement, we want Emma Bateman's suspension withdrawn.  More than that, how the Green Party officers respond to our letter, whether or not they take our concerns seriously, will be a big factor.  We are angry, and we are determined. 

What has been the reaction from members in other local Green parties to your taking this action?

I have received dozens of emails from representatives of Somerset Green Party branches supporting our action.  Two people have said that they share our concerns but are worried in case publicity about the problems in the Green Party adversely affects our local election results.  I agree with this fear – it is a risk, and it would be a great pity if it were to happen.  At the branch level, the Green Party is wonderful; all over the UK communities are benefiting from the contributions of Green Party members who are County, District, Town and Parish councillors.  The fact that Green Party members are doing such positive work in their communities gives me hope that we can turn the Party around and get back to focusing on what matters – the planet is in crisis and environmental issues should be everyone's priority.

Reports from the recent Green party conference suggest that it was acrimonious with attempts by the party leadership to cynically manipulate what was allowed to be debated. What is your take on this?

I know this is being said, but I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about the inner workings of the party at a national level to be able to comment on this.

Given the ecological crisis at present, do you see the Green party’s focus on identity/lifestyles issues as a distraction?

Yes.  The Green Party matters.  It's the only party that challenges the prevailing dogma of economic growth.  Labour is all about business as usual, the same old model that has brought us to the brink of catastrophe: pro-growth, pro-nuclear, pro-Trident, and pro-first-past-the-post voting.  The Tories are the same but even more so – just this week we've seen them promoting GM food and nuclear weapons and of course they are championing the eco-disasters of HS2 and Hinkley Point nuclear power station.  The Greens offer a true alternative.  At the grass-roots level the party is still great, but at the top of the hierarchy and in the internal democratic systems there are problems.  I care about the Green Party.  If I didn't, I'd just walk away.  We can't let a bunch of 300 or so single-issue extremists hijack a party with 50,000 members.  We need to get our party back. 

Letter sent to Green party regional officers

To: Ewan Jones, Guy Poultney, and representatives of Green Party branches in Somerset

Subject: Bridgwater and West Somerset Green Party Strike

Date: March 18th 2021 

Dear Ewan, Guy, and everyone

Thank you for an excellent zoom meeting of Green Party Somerset groups on Saturday March 13th.  I came away full of enthusiasm for helping with whatever local elections we have in the new Unitary Authority Somerset next year.  I reported about this to our meeting of Bridgwater and West Somerset officers and key member activists on Tuesday March 16th, and we were all set to take part in the campaign.

However, on Tuesday evening we received the news about Emma Bateman's suspension from the Green Party, allegedly for making the unremarkable factual observation that transwomen are not female.  As I'm sure you are all aware, Emma is / was Co-Chair of the Green Party Women's Group.  Her fellow Chair is Kathryn Bristow, who is a man who wishes to be identified as a woman.  Because the Women's Group had been forced by Green Party HQ to accept men who wish to be identified as women, Kathryn was able to join the group, whereupon he put himself forward for election as Co-Chair, was elected, and took up the position.  Kathryn has been criticised for his role in working for Gender GP, the company that was exposed by a recent Daily Telegraph investigation published in the paper version on 27th February (see below) that demonstrated it was selling puberty blocking drugs to children, with no medical supervision.  (The company is run by a doctor who was struck off in the UK and is now based in Spain, and the prescriptions are issued by a doctor in Romania; the only check the company makes on the children is to ensure they can pay.)  Kathryn has recently stated that he intends to lie on the census form, which is an offence liable to a fine of £1000.  Kathryn is enthusiastically supported by the Green Party leadership.  Emma is suspended for telling the truth; Kathryn is applauded for practising deception.

This was the last straw for me.

It follows the debacle of our Spring conference, which demonstrated the catastrophic state of internal democracy within the Green Party.  Out of a membership of over 50,000, very few vote in internal elections or at conferences.  Fewer than 1% of the members voted at the recent conference.  This lack of member involvement allows any determined single-issue splinter group to form the majority of the voters, so they can not only push through contentious motions, they can also elect their preferred officers and control the elected officers whose positions depend on their votes. 

At the recent conference, a gender self ID motion was passed: only 493 people voted, of whom 281 were in favour of it.  281 people out of 50,000 have imposed a policy supporting gender self ID on the entire party.  What would the 50,000 have said?

A motion proposing that the GP should support women's sex-based rights, in accordance with the United Nations CEDAW agreement (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) was voted down.  Only 491 people voted, or whom 289 people voted against women's rights, and the motion failed.  What would the 50,000 have said?

Because so few people vote, a splinter group can control elected officers, who need their votes to keep their positions.  Whatever their personal views may be, none of the Green Party leaders dare to say or do anything to displease the members of the faction.  The views of the non-voting 50,000 are disregarded because the 300 or so members of the splinter group must be appeased.

At a national level, Green Party democracy is so catastrophically compromised that it permits the leadership to be kidnapped and the party hijacked by a single-issue group.  The system is flawed: it is vulnerable to exploitation by any such group – just now it is the trans rights lobby, but it could have been a pro-Brexit group, or a pro-nuclear group; anything.  One solution to this problem might be to raise the quorum for conferences to a higher percentage of the total membership; there could be campaigns at the local branch level to encourage more members to engage in the democratic process.

Many of you will have read the resignation letter from Dom Armstrong, our only Councillor in Sunderland.  I am including it below for those who have not yet seen it because it sets things out with admirable clarity and because I share his views.

As a result of all of this, I am going on strike.  Not just me: the officers of the Bridgwater and West Somerset branch, along with those active members with whom we work closely on a day-to-day basis, are going on strike.  Our acting Secretary, Tony Seaman, has this morning taken the further step of resigning altogether from the Green Party.  We are not willing to represent the Green Party in its current dysfunctional state; nor are we willing to ask others to stand as candidates or to take part in election campaigning for the Green Party.  This strike will last until, as a minimum requirement, Emma Bateman's suspension is lifted.

With all good wishes to all of you

Caitlin Collins

Co-ordinator, Bridgwater and West Somerset Green Party

Monday 15 March 2021

RiseUp4Rojava Spring Offensive 2021 - Unite In Resistance


1. What is RiseUp4Rojava about?

The goal of the campaign is to create an internationalist front against Turkish fascism and to defend the revolution of North-East Syria, widely known as Rojava, with the pillars of women’s liberation, radical democracy and social ecology. Therefore, different organisations from different countries have come together under a common platform for almost two years now to defend Rojava’s achievements, making the revolution their own.

We identify ourselves with the revolution in Kurdistan, a main struggle against the most developed fascism of our time and for the liberation of women and society. The enemies of the revolution in Kurdistan and in Syria are also our enemies. We oppose the intervention and occupation policies of the NATO-countries and the Russian Federation in the Middle East.

We are different organizations with different views and perspectives on different topics, but we have decided to come together under the umbrella of riseup4rojava by the principals of building an anti-fascist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist alliance in solidarity with the revolutionary struggle in Kurdistan against Turkish fascism. The differences between all the organisations as part of the campaign are not something that is in the way of our work together, but something that will push everyone further.

As organisations, groups, and individuals that are not directly part of the campaign, we come to you to present to you the upcoming Spring Offensive; but let us provide a bit more background first. 

2. How has the campaign started and what are recent developments?

Our campaign started about one and a half years ago. On 25th April 2019, the day of liberation from fascism in Italy, we presented the campaign for the first time in many Italian cities, and on 1st May 2019, the campaign was present at many demonstrations in several countries.

With the start of the campaign, our goal was to put the key elements of the campaign, the struggle against fascism, against imperialism, against capitalism and the internationalism of revolutionary struggles, into a historical context, making them visible.

The campaign achieved a lot. Through our global resistance and with hundreds of actions in many countries in the form of demonstrations, blockades, occupations, information events, seminars all around the globe, we together forced countries to position themselves regarding the crimes committed by the Turkish fascist state, leading to some countries suspending arms exports to the fascist regime in Ankara. At the same time, by working together, we also contributed to spreading the hope and the practical alternative Rojava shows and fights for daily.

We have shown this together in the last year, for example, in more than 250 actions overall in over 30 countries during the action weekend around 19th Julythe anniversary of the Rojava revolution, and during the action week which started on 1stNovember, World Kobanê Day – which commemorates that on 1st November 2014, millions of people were on the streets worldwide to express their solidarity with the heroic resistance of Kobanê against the so-called Islamic State, and as a result, a global movement of solidarity, resistance and common struggle has grown – that the Rojava revolution is our common revolution. 

Together with the local structures in Rojava/Northeast Syria, as well as with the Kurdish umbrella organisations in Europe and, among others, with the campaigns Women Defend Rojava, the Internationalist Commune of Rojava, Make Rojava Green Again we have shown and we are dedicated that the achievements of the revolution must be defended and that the continuation and intensification of the war must not be accepted in silence, but must also be prevented by all means.

The war on Rojava has never stopped and the enemies of the revolution – above all the fascist Turkish state – are in constant preparation for the next major invasion into Rojava, also by attempting to further occupy other parts of Kurdistan and by attacking the democratic forces that are resisting this.

Recently, on 10th February, the Turkish fascist state launched a new invasion to occupy new parts of Southern Kurdistan – with the aim to install a buffer zone between South- and North-Kurdistan, and launching a new offensive onto Rojava – by attacking the Garê-region, which is part of the guerrilla controlled Medya Defense Zones, which ended in a devastating defeat for the Turkish army already on 14th February due to the heroic resistance of the guerrilla forces. 

The attack against Garê needs to be understood by everybody as an attack against the whole revolution and against all of us, which aimed at the heart of the revolution and the anti-fascist resistance in the region. The guerrilla’s resistance in Garê was a historic victory, but the Turkish fascist state is forced to launch a next big attack with operations against the Medya defense areas, Şengal, Maxmur, and Rojava still being on the agenda. That is why we must continue the resistance against Turkish fascism and against the occupation with all our strength regionally and internationally.

After all, the attacks against the revolution by the fascist Turkish state are only possible because of military, diplomatic, economic, political, technological cooperation of the opportunist imperialist governments, especially of the USA, Western European, and other states, which is why a spring offensive with the aim of strengthening the antifascist struggle globally against fascist rule, capitalist exploitation and imperialist devastation of our livelihoods is so important in our internationalist struggles. 

3. Spring Offensive in Solidarity with the Revolution and the Anti-fascist Resistance in Kurdistan from 13th March to 8th May

As RiseUp4Rojava, we call for a Spring Offensive in the time from 13th March to 8th May to take a clear stance against Turkish fascism, in solidarity with the revolutionary forces in Kurdistan and to directly fight against the international collaborators of Turkish fascism. Besides this, we want to highlight the struggles that unite and move us globally. Our slogan is “Unite in Resistance – Dem Dema Azadi ye (The Time for Freedom is Now)”.

As part of the Spring Offensive, and to unite in our continuing resistance against Turkish fascism with all our strength, we also call to take action for the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, and all political prisoners, which includes also the practical show of solidarity with hunger strikers (see for example, the connection between Dimitris Koufontinas and the hunger strikers in Turkish prisons). Crucially, the revolution in Kurdistan is a women’s and ecological revolution. Apart from highlighting the femicidal politics of Turkish Fascism, and taking action to smash patriarchy, we also call upon the international ecological movement to practically show the necessity to be antifascist and anti-capitalist. 

Moreover, the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for this revolution to survive have not died; they live on in our hearts and show us the way. Let us internationally commemorate together the fallen ones of the struggle for freedom and dignity. After all, the Kurdish people do not stand alone, but our international solidarity shows that the revolution in Kurdistan is a source of hope and inspiration for the oppressed and the united antifascist struggle worldwide.

With the RiseUp4Rojava action line to "Disturb. Block. Occupy." we will protest, demonstrate, discuss, and we will directly go against arms companies, the tourism sector benefitting the fascist Turkish state, governments and financial institutions, and we’ll put them under pressure!

At the same time, there will be large scale events at some of the main dates (see below), ranging from demonstrations, rallies, assemblies, and conferences. Take part in the planned actions or become active yourself. Every action counts! Whether information events; webinars; seminars; reading groups; banner, billboard, graffiti, letter and poster actions; demonstrations; blockades of weapon companies; or a flashmob in front of a government building or in a bank. There is a lot that can be done. 

If you announce your action in advance, please send us the information by mail: 

The HASHTAGs for the action week are:




Main events:

- 18 March: Political Prisoners Day

- 19 March: Global Climate Action Day

- 19-21 March.: Newroz celebrations and large demonstrations for Newroz

- 21-28 March.: Week of Our Heros (commemorating and remembering martyrs)

- 27-28 March: Regional commemoration marches for martyrs

- 04 April: Abdullah Öcalan's birthday (Creative actions for the freedom and the meaning of Abdullah Öcalan)

- 25 April: 2 year anniversary of RiseUp4Rojava

- 01 May: International Worker’s Day

- 08 May: Antifascist Action Day 


The joint call with Women Defend RojavaMake Rojava Green AgainInternationalist Commune, and Tevgera Ciwanên Şoreşger (Revolutionary Youth Movement) for the Spring Offensive can be found here: 

Flyers, posters & stickers:

Link for posters, stickers, flyers etc can be found here: 

Please also make your own flyers and posters, following the concept here, and send it to us, so that we can upload it onto our website for material accessible to everyone. 

4. Outlook

We understand the campaign RiseUp4Rojava as a chance and an opportunity to come together as anti-fascists, anti-capitalists and anti-imperialists internationally. On the one hand, to express our solidarity with the revolution in Rojava, the struggle of the revolutionary people in Kurdistan and the Middle East, and on the other hand, to strengthen our alliance internationally, to oppose Turkish fascism and fascism worldwide. For that reason, we will continue to organize, mobilize and take action.

The Spring Offensive, concluding with the Antifascist Action Day, will be an important part of that and for that reason we invite you to join the planned actions and events, and if possible to organise and get active for this by yourselves. This is important given that the war in Rojava and in all of Kurdistan is ongoing, and a new/continued invasion on Rojava by the fascist Turkish army and their mercenaries is a constant threat. 

While we write these lines, the local forces and population in Rojava/North-East Syria show everyday resistance against the war at the frontlines in Ain Issa, in Til Temir as well as in the occupied areas from Afrin to Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê, knowing and showing that without this resistance the continuous build up of the revolution will not be possible. Turkish fascism will be smashed on two frontlines, one in Kurdistan, the other one internationally. The revolution in Rojava and Kurdistan will be defended on two frontlines, one in Rojava and Kurdistan, the other one internationally. 

With revolutionary greetings and respect,

RiseUp4Rojava Coordination






Friday 12 March 2021

Women and Nature: Towards an Ecosocialist Feminism


Written by Jess Spear and first published at Rupture

It was hot outside that day. In the remote area of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa a young man watched as five men approached him on the porch. “Could we have a drink?” one of them asked. As they finished the water they asked if they could go inside and thank the woman that lived there. The young man led them in the front door. Moments later shots rang out as the men gunned down the young man’s grandmother and environmental organiser, Fikile Ntshangase, and raced out.

The death of Ntshangase removed a thorn in the side of the Tendele Coal mining company. They had been pressing for over a decade to get the small number of remaining families to vacate their land so their mining operation could expand. Like Berta Cárceres before her, the resistance of Ntshangase and her community is part of a long history of people defending nature as part of defending themselves, their history, their culture, and their future. The role of women like Ntshangase and countless others in defense of nature and with it, life, illustrates the connection between the exploitation of women and the exploitation of nature.  

The rise of ecofeminism

Wherever the forces of destruction attempt to cut down trees, pollute our air and water, and rip away the earth for minerals, women have been leading the resistance. In the cities and communities, women have fought for clean water, air, and land for their families to flourish. From the very first “tree huggers” in the Chipko Movement in India and the Comitato dei danneggiati (Injured Persons’ Committee) protesting pollution in Fascist Italy [1] to the peasants in La Via Campesina, the people of Appalachia fighting mountaintop removal and indigenous defenders of the Amazon, women have been and are today leading communities in struggle against capitalist destruction of our environment.

The rise of second-wave feminism alongside environmental movements in the 1970s led to the emergence of ‘ecofeminist’ politics which saw “a connection between the exploitation and degradation of the natural world and the subordination and oppression of women”. [2] The term ‘ecofeminism’ was coined by the French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne in her book Le Féminisme ou la Mort (Feminism or Death) published in 1974. One of the first ecofeminist movements is the Green Belt Movement - aimed at preventing desertification by planting trees - in Kenya started by Wangari Maathai in 1977. 

Of course, many men are also fierce campaigners against capitalist destruction, organising mass movements to defend the forests and land, like Chico Mendes in the Amazon and Ken Saro-Wiwa in the Niger Delta, who were both tragically murdered for their activism. However, the most well-known environmental activists today are undoubtedly women: Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Naomi Klein, and Vandana Shiva. Even here in Ireland, Maura Harrington helped to lead the Shell to Sea campaign and today the most well known radical environmental activist is arguably Saoirse McHugh. 

That both women and nature are dominated and exploited is undeniably true. The question for ecofeminists and ecosocialists is why and what can be done about it?  

Ecofeminism, patriarchy & capitalism

For some ecofeminists, women’s affinity to nature comes from ‘their physiological functions (birthing, menstrual cycles) or some deep element of their personalities (life-oriented, nourishing/caring values)’. [3] In this way they “understand” nature, whereas men do not and cannot. Women have a spiritual connection to “Mother” earth. These ecofeminists locate the exploitation and oppression of women and nature in patriarchy, where men control, plunder, rape, and destroy both. Climate change is literally a ‘man-made problem that requires a feminist solution’. The feminist solution, in this case, is more women’s voices, more women in positions of power, and more women at the table discussing their experiences and their ideas on what to do about environmental problems. 

Undeniably society is patriarchal (see below). We know it from the statistics and we women know it from the million and one experiences we’ve had that reinforce the idea that men are better, stronger, smarter, and overall more capable.  

Capitalism & Patriarchy

Capitalism emerged from a patriarchal feudal society in which male private property inheritance demanded women’s bodies and lives were subordinated to the needs of the family. All kinds of sexist ideas supported women’s supposed inferiority to men, though the forms of oppression women experienced was of course uneven across class and racial lines. Peasant women certainly weren’t forced to learn multiple languages and the basics of etiquette to attract a husband. 

They worked in the fields and in the home. But they were nonetheless affected by the ideas and culture that emanated from the top of society because as Marx explains, “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas...The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas…”

Patriarchal norms and behaviors, and crucially the laws that enshrined men’s right to own property (including the women of their family), meant that men would become the first capitalists, not women. While rich women were confined to stuffy drawing rooms, crocheting and waiting for the day they would marry and ensure property inheritance continued along the male line, working class women and peasant women, who had no property, laboured as mothers, carers, and domestic servants, regardless of how much they had to work outside the home to survive. 

Today this continuation of social reproductive labour by women means that even though in many countries they’ve gained political and civil rights - through persistent struggle by countless women as well as LGBTQ+ people and men - the ability of working class and poor women to exercise these rights continues to be restricted. It is hampered by both capitalism’s dependence on the free labour they perform in the home, the undervalued care work and often precarious, part-time work they do in the formal economy, and the sexist ideas that persist and ensure the gendered division of labour is reproduced year after year, generation after generation.

Patriarchal ideas, norms, and behaviours have devastating impacts today on women. Not only from the discrimination, abuse, and violence they face from men as well as the state and state-supported institutions. The highly gendered division of labour in society means women are not only working outside the home to ensure their families have all they need to live, they are also putting in on average three times more hours than men at home. In Ireland, women labour in the home an extra 11 hours a week compared to men. This impacts the kinds of jobs they can take, which affects salary and wages, working conditions, and whether they are free to fully develop their interest and talents.

Women are also at the frontlines of environmental destruction, toxic pollution, as well as climate and ecological breakdown. In Flint, Michigan it was the women in the community who raised their voices when the effects of lead poisoning became clear, and who today, six years on, are still fighting for clean water. As subsistence farmers, producing half the food globally, and in the global South, planting and harvesting as much as 80% of the food, women are forced to reckon with desertification, lack of nutritious food, access to clean water, and destruction of nature in general more than men. In a natural disaster, women are also 14 times more likely to die

The experiences of these women, who make up the majority of the poorest people on the planet, who have and will be more impacted by the pandemic and its aftermath, should be brought to the centre of discussions about solving climate change and ecological breakdown. Not only because they are most affected, but also because they have unique knowledge and skills that will be key to planning how we can establish a more harmonious interaction between society and nature. Vandana Shiva explains that, 

“In most cultures women have been the custodians of biodiversity. They produce, reproduce, consume and conserve biodiversity in agriculture. However, in common with all other aspects of women’s work and knowledge, their role in the development and conservation of biodiversity has been rendered as non-work and non-knowledge.”[4]

The involvement of women in farmer and peasant organisations expanded the struggle for food sovereignty to include combating gender-based violence and equality for women. The women within La Via Campesina for example ‘defend their rights as women within organisations and society in general...and struggle as peasant women together with their colleagues against the neoliberal model of agriculture’. They help organisations understand the many obstacles preventing women from joining and contributing to movements, in particular ‘the division of labor by gender [which] means that rural women have less access to the most precious resource, time...  

Central to ecofeminism is a rejection of human domination and control over nature in favour of a recognition of ‘...the centrality of human embeddedness in the natural world’.[5] As John Bellamy Foster[6] and other metabolic rift theorists have contended, this is also a central point in Marx’s critique of capitalism. Marx wrote that “[human beings] live from nature...nature is [our] body, we must maintain a continuing dialogue with it if we are not to die. 

To say that [our] physical and mental life is linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself, for [we] are a part of nature.” Unless we struggle for a complete transformation of our society-nature interaction, where production is organised in an ecologically balanced way, the rift between nature and humanity will worsen with devastating consequences for human health, environmental destruction, climate disruption, and irretrievable biodiversity loss. 

Ecosocialist feminism

While ecofeminists rightly point out the subordination and domination of women and nature as having a common cause, Marxist ecofeminists (or what I would call ecosocialist feminists) disagree that women’s connection to nature is rooted in their reproductive biology. The essentialism of some strands of ecofeminism leads us down a path of biological determinism that so much of second-wave feminism was fighting to destroy, and we are still struggling against.[7] We also need to reckon with the revolution in the gender/sex binary demanded by trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people who do not and will not fit into the simple male/female categories and all the cultural baggage that goes with it. 

While we recognise the unique knowledge women have in care work, for families and for nature, we don’t accept that it’s inherently female or feminine, as some ecofeminism suggests. Cleaning the house, cooking meals, raising children, farming to feed your family, or gathering the daily water is not “women’s work”, but rather the needs of society forced onto their backs. “Saving the planet” is not inherently women’s work or responsibility either. We want to end the gender division in and outside the home and we demand this work is organised amongst the wider community, for example through free public childcare,  community laundromats and canteens. 

This would have the effect of freeing women from this work now, but would also opens the door to a society in which the community is responsible for organising social reproductive work and sexist ideas about “women’s” vs. “men’s work” can begin to wither away. Women will then be free to choose what work they want to engage in, including the farming, environmental/ecological work so many already perform, enriching all of society by their contributions. 

In contrast to “essentialist” ecofeminism, ecosocialist feminism sees women’s “connection” to nature and our environment as socially constructed and reinforced for material reasons. “[W]omen are not ‘one’ with nature...[we’ve] been ‘thrown into an alliance” with it.[8] 

Capitalism treats nature and women’s social reproductive labour as ‘free gifts’, completely outside the formal economy (and therefore without value) and yet absolutely central to its ability to generate profits. For example, the value of an old-growth forest is not accounted for when the trees are felled and the wood used to make furniture. Under capitalism, the value of a commodity (whether it’s a shirt or a house) is based on the average amount of labour power used to make it, including the work that went into acquiring the materials, but not the “value” of the raw materials in themselves.  

It’s the same for domestic labour. Labour in the home - the cooking, cleaning, and shopping - ensures workers are fit and able to labour in the workplace day after day;and the labour required in birthing and caring for children ensures a new generation of workers is prepared to enter the workplace and create wealth for the capitalists. This is all done primarily by women and for free as far as capitalism is concerned. These ‘free gifts’ - from nature and women - are ‘expropriated’ by capitalism. They are taken and consumed in the process of capital accumulation without compensation, cheapening the cost of production and externalising the real costs onto the rest of society.[9]  

For Marxist ecofeminists, the domination of men over women in society and nature at large is therefore not a result of patriarchal ideas alone. Their continuation and utilisation by capitalism maintains divisions between women and men (alongside black/white, straight/LGBTQ, cis/non-binary) workers and poor people to ensure profits continue and their rotten class system endures. 

Most importantly, ecosocialist feminists underscore the crucial difference between working class or peasant women and women who make it to the top echelons of power. Ecofeminism can sometimes “over-romanticiz[e] women and women’s history...” and “[assert] a ‘totalizing’ image of a universalized ‘woman’,... ignoring women’s differences”.[10] While all women experience sexism, the needs and demands of “women”, even working-class and peasant women, are not uniform. 

Not all working-class women were forced into the role of housewife. As black revolutionary socialist Claudia Jones explained in her essay ‘An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!’, capitalism’s structural racism meant that black women in the 1940s were often the main breadwinner in the family and had to work long hours, usually cleaning or childminding for white families, before they came home to labour for their own.[11] 

We also need to keep in mind that the call for more women’s voices is all too easily met within capitalism with the Josepha Madigans, Angela Merkels and Ursula Von Der Leyens of the world. The new Biden administration in the U.S. is the most recent case in point with the first black and Asian vice president and the first indigenous woman to lead the Department of Interior. 

The rise of the new women’s movement alongside a growing climate justice movement gives impetus to ecofeminist ideas, which is overall positive (despite the essentialist arguments, which must be strongly countered). Yet, as long as private property rights are upheld for corporations to do basically whatever they want to the forests, land, and water with impunity and as long as states act in their interests against ours, whether it’s by the hands of men or women, nature will continue to be destroyed, the climate disrupted, and women will disproportionately suffer (with poor, black and brown and marginalised women suffering the worst). 

We must go much further and demand an ecofeminism that is unflinchingly anti-capitalist and socialist and move towards an ecosocialist feminism that sees our labour as the beginning of the way out. Under patriarchal and racial[12] capitalism, working women and peasants labour in and outside the home. This dual role gives them an insight into the unsustainability and destructive character of capitalism. It’s why so many movements for radical change are led by women, despite the extra barriers in our way. But it is in our labour in the workplaces and where we produce for capital that we have the most power to fight and win. 

Like fuel to the engine, profit is what powers capitalism, and all profit comes from our labour in the workplace. Whether we’re cleaning the floors, staffing the till, or operating machinery in a production line, our labour is what keeps the capitalist system going. If we decide to take collective action, to slow down our work or even go on strike, for an hour, a day or indefinitely, it would bring businesses, cities, and even whole countries to a grinding halt. This means workers, which comprise the exploited and oppressed majority, actually have tremendous potential power when we are organised. 

Women workers alongside the men in their workplaces have used their power to fight back against the sexism they experience - as McDonald’s workers did - and to go after big oil - as teachers in West Virginia did. When the INMO went on strike in 2019 they made clear that their demands for pay and retention directly impacted the inadequate healthcare we all receive, and while they didn’t win everything they demanded, they won more than the government was originally offering. 

We need to build on these examples and countless others from history, strengthen our ties in workplaces as well as the community and get organised to challenge patriarchal capitalism wherever it attacks life, in society and our environment. 


1. Ledda, Rachel, 2018. Women’s presence in contemporary Italy’s environmental movements, with a case study on the Mamme No Inceneritore committee, Genre et environnement. 

2. Mellor, M. (1996) ‘The Politics of Women and Nature: Affinity, Contingency or Material Relation?’, Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 1, no. 2. 

3. Ibid 

4. Mies, M. and Shiva, V., 2014, Women’s Indigenous Knowledge and Biodiversity Conservation” from Ecofeminism, Zed Books, New York. 

5. Mellor, M. (1996) ‘The Politics of Women and Nature: Affinity, Contingency or Material Relation?’, Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 1, no. 2. 

6. See Marx’s Ecology (2000) by John Bellamy Foster and Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism (2018) by Kohei Saito. 

20. Marx, Karl, 1845-6, The German Ideology, Part I: Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook B. The Illusion of the Epoch. 

7. That is, reproductive ability should determine (and in many cases, limit) your role in the home and in the workplace to those deemed “women’s” work - childminding, cooking, cleaning, teaching, nursing, and so on. 

8. Mellor, M. (1996) ‘The Politics of Women and Nature: Affinity, Contingency or Material Relation?’, Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 1, no. 2. 

9. See 

10. Mellor, M. (1996) ‘The Politics of Women and Nature: Affinity, Contingency or Material Relation?’, Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 1, no. 2. 

11. See Spear, Jess, ‘Lesser-spotted comrades: Claudia Jones’, Rupture, Autumn 2020. 

12. ‘Racial’ capitalism denotes the history of capitalism’s development was a history of brutal chattel slavery, the genocide of indigenous peoples, and immense destruction of the natural world. “Capital” Marx wrote in Capital Volume 1, “[came] dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt”.