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BRICS lessons in (un)sustainable urbanisation

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance takes on climate, BRICS, Transnet, truckers and big oil.

By Patrick Bond

November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What is to be done, in the wake of Warsaw climate summit’s conclusive failure to cap CO2 emissions last weekend? The answer: walk out of the United Nations process when it needs de-legitimation, and work much harder to curtail pollution in your home sites of struggle, everyone in civil society agreed. 

The struggle for ecology under socialism

Models of Nature
By Douglas R. Weiner
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000, 1988.

Review by Ben Courtice

November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The USSR was not known, in the West, as a pioneer of ecology. Unfortunately, it was known more for the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident, for acid rain and air pollution, and oil spills and the pollution of unique environments such as the Aral sea.

What if the USSR had been different? What if it had tried to preserve its natural ecosystems, after the tsar was overthrown?

It is little known today, but there was a small yet promising movement of scientific ecology and nature preservation in Russia, with roots in the tsarist order of the 19th century, which flourished in the revolutionary USSR of the 1920s.

Poland: UN climate talks go nowhere -- yet again

By Chris Williams

November 22, 2013 -- Climate & Capitalism -- “The smell of inaction” is how Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth Mozambique’s international program director for climate justice and energy, summed up the atmosphere inside the giant Narodowy Stadium after the first week of the latest round of international climate negotiations, Conference of the Parties, otherwise known as COP 19, taking place November 11-22, 2013, in Warsaw.

Given that this is the 19th consecutive year of annual negotiations and with a meaningful global treaty more distant now than it was almost two decades ago, Bhatnagar’s olfactory deduction seems likely to be highly accurate.

As the pervasive smell of inaction seeped like a suffocating gas throughout the inside of the conference, outside, the choking effects of coal smoke waft from all corners of a country that obtains 90 per cent of its electricity from coal and whose government has pledged to keep it that way until 2060.

General Vo Nguyen Giap (1911-2013): Military hero, revolutionary intellectual, environmentalist

General Vo Nguyen Giap, second from left, with Ho Chi Minh, in 1957.

By Michael Karadjis

October 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Few people from the 20th century can really claim to have changed history. One of them without a doubt was General Vo Nguyen Giap, who led the Vietnamese people to defeat the French and US empires.

Giap died on October 4, aged 102.

While mainly remembered as a military leader, Giap was also one of Vietnam’s most significant political leaders, a revolutionary intellectual, an environmentalist and a campaigner for progressive change within his own country.

John Bellamy Foster: The epochal crisis -- the combined capitalist economic and planetary ecological crises

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology. For more by John Bellamy Foster, click HERE.]

By John Bellamy Foster

Parts of this argument on epochal crisis were presented in three overlapping keynote addresses in: (1) Esslingen, Germany on May 30, 2013, at a conference on Marxist thought organized by the Berlin Institute of Critical Theory (InkriT) and the Historisch-Kritisches Wörterbuch Des Marximus; (2) New York City on June 9, 2013, at the closing plenary of the Left Forum; and (3) Dublin on June 27, 2013, at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. The argument has been revised and updated based on the original notes for these talks.

Ecuador: Some observations on the controversy over oil development in Yasuní-ITT

An aerial view of part of the Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador's northeastern jungle. Photograph by Dolores Ochoa/AP.

[En español.] 

By Gerard Coffey

September 16, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The remarkable proposal by Ecuador to leave about 900 million barrels of heavy crude in the ground in exchange for international contributions amounting to about half its value, was recently abandoned by President Rafael Correa.

The myth of ‘environmental catastrophism’

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]

By Ian Angus

September 2013 -- Monthly Review -- Between October 2010 and April 2012, over 250,000 people, including 133,000 children under five, died of hunger caused by drought in Somalia. Millions more survived only because they received food aid. Scientists at the UK Met Centre have shown that human-induced climate change made this catastrophe much worse than it would otherwise have been.1

This is only the beginning: the United Nations’ 2013 Human Development Report says that without coordinated global action to avert environmental disasters, especially global warming, the number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050.2 Untold numbers of children will die, killed by climate change.

Simon Butler: Marxism and the ecological revolution (audio)

Simon Butler.

September 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Australian Socialist Alliance national executive member Simon Butler gave this speech, "Marxism and the ecological revolution", at the Marxism 2013 conference, which was held in Melbourne, Australia, over March 28-31. The conference was organised by Socialist Alternative.

In the talk Butler explores Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' much neglected insights into the anti-ecological dynamic of capitalism, a system based on the dual exploitation of labour and nature. He also discusses the relevance of Marx's ecology for meeting today's crises and makes an argument for why 21st century socialists should also be ecosocialists.

Extreme weather, more extreme greenhouse gas emissions beckon urgent activism

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 28, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The northern hemisphere summer has just peaked and though the torrid heat is now ebbing, it is evident the climate crisis is far more severe than most scientists had anticipated. The latest report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a notoriously conservative research agency – will be debated in Stockholm next month, but no one can deny its projections: “widespread melting of land ice, extreme heat waves, difficulty growing food and massive changes in plant and animal life, probably including a wave of extinctions.”

'Rocking the Foundations' -- the story of Australia's pioneering red-green trade union

August 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An outstanding historical account of the "Green Bans" first introduced by the communist-led New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) in the 1970s in response to community demand to preserve inner-city parkland and historic buildings. One of the first women to be accepted as a builders labourer, filmmaker Pat Fiske in 1985 traced the development of a union whose social and political activities challenged the notion of what a union should be.

More on the BLF from the Green Left Weekly archives below.

Essential viewing for unionists and environmentalists

Review by Ben Courtice

[This review appeared in Green Left Weekly, March 12, 1997.]

This film, an old favourite of radical activists, charts the rise of the NSW branch of the Builders Labourers' Federation. Beginning as a corrupt bosses' union in the 1940s, by the 1970s it was a powerful force for progressive social change and is now famous for placing "green bans" on building sites that were environmentally and socially destructive.

The old, corrupt leadership of the union was voted out after a 10-year campaign by a group of rank-and-file members who then reoriented the union to establish a high level of accountability for officials.

Oil, energy and capitalism: An unpublished talk by Barry Commoner

Barry Commoner

Barry Commoner.

“Oil companies do not operate for the purpose of producing oil. They operate for the purpose of producing maximum profit. To solve the energy crisis, we have to reorganise our economic system.”

July 30, 2013 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Dr Barry Commoner was the best-known ecologist in the United States in the late 1960s and 1970s. His picture appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1970, and his 1971 book, The Closing Circle, was a best-seller and remains a classic of radical environmental analysis. As this talk shows, he was also an ecosocialist, before that word was created.

Commoner gave this talk at the Community Church of Boston on February 22, 1976, just before publication of his book, The Poverty of Power, when the “oil embargo” and energy crisis were still central political issues.

BRICS lessons from Mozambique

Floods in Mozambique have worsened.

By Bobby Peek

July 24, 2013 -- Pambazuka News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Just across the border in Mozambique there is neo-colonial exploitation underway. It is not Europe or the United States that are dominating, but rather countries that are often looked up to as challengers, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). This is a dangerous statement to make but let us consider the facts.

South Africa is extracting 415 megawatts of electricity from Mozambique through the Portuguese developed Cahora Bassa Dam, which has altered permanently the flow of the Zambezi River, resulting in severe flooding on a more frequent basis over the last years. In the recent floods earlier this year it is reported that a women gave birth on a rooftop of a clinic, this follows a similar incident in 2000, when Rosita Pedro was born on a tree after severe flooding that year.

Green Party USA: Economic/ecological crises of the 21st century -- A deep green alternative

Document of the Greens/Green Party USA, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Don Fitz, national committee member of the Greens/Green Party USA. It is posted in the interests of discussion.

July 22, 2013 -- Why should we work longer hours in order to …

  • put our neighbours out of work,
  • produce fall-apart products that poison our children and grandchildren, and
  • have less time to enjoy life?

People are losing their jobs and homes. Many throughout the world are without food, medical care and transportation. Instead of addressing real needs, governments and international financial institutions are designing “austerity programs” that cut back on basic services and privatise everything from education and mail delivery to pension plans and public health.

Simultaneously, climate change intensifies before our eyes as summers warm, droughts expand, polar ice caps melt, and those who live in coastal areas are threatened by rising waters. This occurs amid heightened use of radioactive and other toxic chemicals, the destruction of biodiversity and a drive to pull the last resources out of the Earth so that nothing will be left to future generations.

Why we need an ecosocialist revolution (with video)

This is the text of Ian Angus'  talk at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago, June 29, 2013, organised by the international Socialist Organization (USA). The video and audio of Angus' talk is also available, thanks to Wearemany.org.

Ration consumption or ration production?

Review by Don Fitz

Any Way You Slice It: The Past, Present and Future of Rationing
By Stan Cox
The New Press, 2013

June 3, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Climate & Capitalism -- Stan Cox got quite a few folks a bit hot and bothered when his book Losing Our Cool critiqued air-conditioning during the middle of the 2010 heat wave. Now, in the middle of massive joblessness and economic downturn, his new book, Any Way You Slice It: The Past, Present and Future of Rationing, is based on the assumption that humanity needs to massively reduce consumption if it is to have any chance of surviving.

Is the guy nuts? Does he hate the working class and poor? Or does he have very keen vision into a topic that few progressives and socialists have even thought about? Peeking beneath the surface, Slice It has the potential to spark serious discussion about the role of social wages in challenging climate change as well as control over production during the transition to a post-capitalist society.

Away with confusion

Australian socialists: `Take back the wealth! Put mines, banks and energy in the hands of the people!'

Election broadsheet of the Socialist Alliance, Australia

May 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Bring the mining industry, the big banks and the energy companies under public/community ownership and control, so that they can be run in a way that respects Aboriginal rights, the environment and social justice. The urgent need to address climate change alone demands that these industries be immediately taken out of the hands of the billionaires and their global corporations and operated as not-for-profit public services under the democratic control of the majority.

From Greece to Australia, the whole world has witnessed the moral bankruptcy of capitalism as it has destroyed the lives of billions of people through the wholesale privatisation of our collective wealth and socialisation of their losses.

We cannot afford to leave our future to the likes of Australian mining billionaires Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer, and the faceless bankers. If we do so, we won’t have a future worth leaving to future generations.

‘There are no recipes for socialism’: interview with Hugo Moldiz, Bolivian Marxist

Hugo Moldiz interviewed by Coral Wynter and Jim McIlroy

April 24, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Hugo Moldiz is a respected Marxist journalist and author living in La Paz. He has written several books, including Bolivia in the Times of Evo, published by Ocean Sur in 2009. He is editor of the weekly La Epoca and has also contributed many articles to the magazine America XXI. We interviewed him during a recent visit to La Paz, Bolivia. Translation from the Spanish by Coral Wynter.

* * *

What is the significance of the election of an Indigenous president in Bolivia?

Mauritius: Flash flood hits Lalit de Klas’s offices and archives

By Lindsay Collen

[Please contact Lalit de Klas at lalitmail@intnet.mu to offer solidarity or assistance.]

April 5, 2013 -- Lalit -- Mauritius' revolutionary socialists, organised in the Lalit de Klas party (Lalit), have been in total crisis mode after the terrible flash floods in and around the capital Port Louis, floods in which people lost their lives in the centre of town, caught in underpasses and underground parking garages. Others were stranded on top of their houses or left hanging on to mango tree branches in the flood waters. Others still were trapped inside vehicles carried away like Dinky toys, all ending up jumbled up in a mess. There was 153 mm of rain in two hours in Port Louis.

Declaration of the Social Movements Assembly of the World Social Forum, Tunisia 2013

 

 

By the Social Movements Assembly of the World Social Forum, Tunisia, 2013

March 29, 2013 -- We are gathered here to affirm the fundamental contribution of peoples of Maghreb-Mashrek (from North Africa to the Middle East), in the construction of human civilisation. We affirm that decolonisation for oppressed peoples remains for us, the social movements of the world, a challenge of the greatest importance.

Through the WSF process, the Social Movements Assembly is the place where we come together through our diversity, in order to forge common struggles and a collective agenda to fight against capitalism, patriarchy, racism and all forms of discrimination and oppression. We have built a common history of work which led to some progress, particularly in Latin America, where we have been able to intervene in neoliberal alliances and to create several alternatives for just development that truly honors nature.

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