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21st century Marxists need to return to Marx’s ecological critique

By Simon Butler

March 23, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Do oil spills make good economic sense? A witness called by Canadian firm Enbridge Inc.— which wants approval to build a $6.5 billion pipeline linking Alberta’s tar sands with the Pacific coast — told a recent hearing in British Columbia (BC) that the answer is yes.

He said oil spills could benefit the economy, giving business new opportunities to make money cleaning it up. He told Fishers Union representatives that an oil spill in BC might indeed kill the local fishing industry, but their lost income would be replaced by compensation payouts and new career prospects, such as working for oil cleanup crews.

Upon reading this, some readers might protest: “That’s just not fair! How come British Columbian communities reap all the economic gains of a potential oil spill disaster, when we have to live in relative safety?”

It’s easy to laugh at this kind of thinking, to write it off as a desperate ploy by a greedy oil company.

Senior Chinese communist: `Industrial civilisation is unsustainable'

A group of volunteers wave green handkerchiefs as they ride their bicycles in Beijing on November 21, 2012, for the launch of a world-tour to promote low-carbon lifestyles.

[This article originally appeared in Chinese in Red Flag Manuscript, no. 22, 2012. This text is from the English edition of Qiushi Journal (vol. 5 no. 1, January 1, 2013), a publication of the Communist Party of China's central committee, via the Online University of the Left. The author is a former vice-chair of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress of China. Note: this article is also a slightly abridged version of the preface of the book Saving the Earth’s Biosphere — Concerning the Transformation of Human Civilization, which was edited by the author and published by Xinhua Press in September 2012. It indicates that despite the Communist Party of China's headlong rush to embrace environmentally unsustainable capitalism, there is some questioning of this course.]

By Jiang Chunyun

Reducing production: How should socialists relate to struggles against capitalist growth

By Don Fitz

March 19, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The question is not should we advocate reducing production within capitalist society but rather: How do we best relate to those struggles that are already occurring? Activists across the globe are challenging the uncontrollable dynamic of economic expansion which threatens the survival of humanity. It has never been more urgent to provide a vision of a new society that can pull these efforts together.

France: Parti de Gauche launches ecosocialism manifesto; Jean-Luc Mélenchon on ecosocialism

Above and below, five-part video of Parti de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon's seminar on the "Ecosocialist Revolution" presented on February 10, 2013, in Tunisia.

By Mathieu Agostini and Corinne Morel Darleux, Parti de Gauche, France.

March 29, 2013 -- Ecosocialisme -- On December 1, 2012, the Parti de Gauche (PdG, Left Party), organised a roundtable in Paris to discuss the ecosocialist project. This gave the opportunity to debate a new ecosocialist manifesto (Premier manifeste 18 thèses pour l’écosocialisme) around 18 themes. [PdG is a key part of the Front de Gauche, or Left Front (FdG), which is led by the PdeG's Jean-Luc Melenchon.]

Fred Magdoff: The environmental crisis and capitalism (video)

Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology.

March 11, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Fred Magdoff, a professor emeritus of plant and soil sciences, author of What Every Environmentalist Should Know About Capitalism, contributor to Monthly Review and ecosocialist spoke on the connection between the growing environmental crisis and capitalism. Professor Magdoff spoke at MIT University in Boston MA on March 11, 2013. This event was filmed by Doug Enaa Greene. Second part below.

Anti-fracking movement goes global, climate-change mafia warns

More than 2000 people protest against coal seam gas in the Illawarra, NSW, Australia, October 2011.

By Farida Iqbal

February 10, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The shale gas industry-commissioned white paper, The Global Anti-Fracking Movement: What it Wants, How it Operates and What’s Next, makes for some very interesting reading. It was produced late last year by Control Risks, an “independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments”.

The white paper focuses on shale gas, but it also discusses coal seam gas. Shale gas is what features in the film Gasland by Josh Fox, which details the destructive effects of “fracking” on communities in the US.

A global movement has emerged to combat the risks to water and air quality, health and farmland that shale gas mining poses. Australia has both shale and coal seam gas reserves.

Chris Williams: What must be done to stop climate change?

For a moment he lost himself in the old, familiar dream. He imagined that he was master of the sky, that the world lay spread out beneath him, inviting him to travel where he willed. It was not the world of his own time that he saw, but the lost world of the dawn -- a rich and living panorama of hills and lakes and forests. He felt bitter envy of his unknown ancestors, who had flown with such freedom over all the earth, and who had let its beauty die. -- Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars

By Chris Williams

Venezuelan ecosocialist: Can the revolution be liberated from the oil economy?'

January 30, 2013 -- Green Left TV -- Part 1: The international mainstream media is misreading the Venezuelan people on President Hugo Chavèz (currently battling serious illness), argues Professor Miguel Angel Nuñez, an adviser to Chavèz on agro-ecology, in an interview with Green Left TV. The interviewers are Jim McIlroy and Coral Channel, authors of Voices from Venezuela. While in Australia Nuñez addressed meetings on ecosocialism in Venezuela organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. Filmed and edited by Peter Boyle.

 

Part 2: The progressive redistribution of oil revenue has allowed the Venezuelan revolution to achieve remarkable social progress, in health, education, housing and social justice. But there are major contradictions, not least for the environment, which feeds back into health, food sovereignty and wellbeing, explains Nuñez.

Evo Morales: Ten commandments against capitalism, for life and humanity -- 'Manifesto of Isla del Sol'

Click image for the original Spanish edition of the Manifesto of Isla del Sol. The cover shows Morales arriving at the Island of the Sun in a replica of the balsa rafts that Andean peoples used for centuries on Lake Titicaca.

[For more on Evo Morales and Bolivia, click HERE.]

January 15, 2013 -- Climate and Capitalism/Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- On December 21, 2012, at a solstice celebration in Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes, Bolivia's president Evo Morales introduced the Manifesto of Isla del Sol.  His talk, translated below, includes the full text of the manifesto.

Bolivia’s ‘process of change’: the balance sheet for 2012, challenges to come

[Click HERE for more on Bolivia.]

By Katu Arkonada, translation and notes for Bolivia Rising by Richard Fidler

December 18, 2012 -- La Epoca (Spanish) via Bolivia Rising, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- 2012 has been a year of transition for the process of change in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, notwithstanding the many events, problems and contradictions encountered by the executive branch during the last 12 months of its administration. A year of transition because we have left behind the 2010-2011 biennial of consolidation following the 64% victory of President Evo Morales in the December 2009 election and are now entering a new biennial, 2013-2014, which will take us very rapidly to the presidential elections of December 2014.

United States: An ascending trajectory? Ten of the most important social conflicts in 2012

Striking Chicago teachers rally, October 2012.

By Dan La Botz

December 31, 2012 -- New Politics -- The most important social conflict in the United States in 2012—the Chicago Teachers Union strike—suggests that the rising trajectory of social struggle in the United States that began at the beginning of 2011 may be continuing. While the United States has a much lower level of class struggle and social struggle than virtually any other industrial nation—few US workers are unionised (only 11.8%) and unionised workers engage in few strikes and those involve a very small numbers of workers—still, the economic crisis and the demand for austerity by both major political parties, Republican and Democrat, have led to increased economic and political activity and resistance by trade unions, particularly in the public sector.[1]

Pablo Solon: Strike four for climate change negotiations -- rethinking our strategies

Super Typhoon Bopha taken on December 2 from the International Space Station, as the storm bore down on the Philippines with winds of 135 miles per hour. Photo by NASA.

By Pablo Solon

December 18, 2012 -- Hoy es Todavia -- In baseball, when you have three strikes, you are out. In the climate change negotiations we already have had four strikes. The climate talks in Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban and now Doha. Four attempts and each of the results were bigger failures than the last. The emission reductions should have been at least 40 to 50% until 2020 based on 1990 levels. Four COPs later, the current numbers are down to a measly 13 to 18%. We are now well on our way to a global temperature increase of 4º to 8ºC.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good” is what some UN negotiators say. To which we can reply: “When our house is burning down, the worst thing you can do is lie to us.”

It’s time to rethink what is happening and try to find new strategies to avoid a global catastrophe.

No lack of evidence

Rising profits, sinking planet: socialist solutions to the climate crisis

"We have to put limits on the [capitalist] system's operation ... which means building a mass movement that has to build into itself not just the question of ecological justice, but also the question of social justice ... a movement with the radicalism of the 1960s' social movements with the social power of the union movements of the 1930s" -- Chris Williams.

Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology.

Filmed by Doug Enaa Greene

Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon -- Patrimonial-Hacendado power and capitalist accumulation

Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

December 2012 -- This essay first appeared in English in five parts at Richard Fidler's Life on the Left and has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Álvaro García Linera is one of Latin America’s leading Marxist intellectuals. He is also the vice-president of Bolivia — the “co-pilot”, as he says, to President Evo Morales, and an articulate exponent of the government’s policies and strategic orientation.

In a recent book-length essay, Geopolitics of the Amazon: Patrimonial-Hacendado Power and Capitalist Accumulation, published in September 2012, García Linera discusses a controversial issue of central importance to the development process in Latin America, and explains how Bolivia is attempting to address the intersection between economic development and environmental protection.

The issues he addresses are of great importance not only in Bolivia but throughout Latin America, and in fact in most of the countries of the imperialist periphery. They are especially important to understand in the “First World,” where there is an increasing campaign in parts of the left to turn against the progressive and anticapitalist governments in Latin America on the ground of their alleged “extractivism.”

Philippines left: In wake of Typhoon Pablo, global South demands 'reparations and climate justice'

Typhoon hits the Philippines, December 4, 2012.

By Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses), Philippines

A total ban on all logging and mining activities!

Implement massive reforestation and a sustainable development plan!

Climate justice now!

We demand full reparation from rich countries and their corporations!

December 11, 2012 -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) extends full sympathy to the victims of Typhoon Pablo: to the families of those killed and missing, and to the millions suffering from the destruction of their homes and crops and those still waiting for relief. The PLM demands answers to serious questions raised by the government’s response to the catastrophe.

These include: why, despite the authorities warning of the impending disaster in advance, no concrete evacuation plans were in place; evasiveness about the death toll; delays in getting food and other supplies to survivors and diversion of resources to prevent small-scale looting by desperate survivors rather than providing food.

How to change a destructive system

By Sam Wainwright

[Sam Wainwright is an elected municipal councillor in Fremantle, Western Australia, and a member of the Socialist Alliance. This is a talk he gave on the topic of how to achieve social change in Australia.]

December 9, 2012 -- Socialist Alliance (Australia) -- It's pretty obvious for anyone that cares to look that capitalism is a socially destructive and ecologically unsustainable system.

Based on the unequal distribution of wealth, it condemns billions to living in poverty worldwide.

In more wealthy places like Australia, where workers have much higher incomes, capitalism invents products for us to spend money on just as quickly as we win a wage increase. That we have one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world is but one proof that it doesn't provide people with a meaningful existence.

Now the worsening climate crisis -- caused by capitalism’s endless accumulation of profit and wealth -- threatens the very basis of life on Earth.

Free public transport and beyond

By Stefan Kipfer

December 3, 2012 -- The Bullet (Socialist Project, Canada) -- Epochal crises allow us to see clearly the irrationalities of capitalism, notably its systematic inability to develop to the fullest human capacities and provide the basis for sustainable and respectful relationships to the rest of nature. The current world economic crisis has thrown to the dustbin of history the aspirations and capacities of millions of human beings – those laid off, driven off the land or relegated to permanent precariousness. At the same time, the crisis has intensified the exploitation of those still connected to gainful employment and driven up, at least temporarily, the ecologically destructive extraction of ‘resources,’ particularly in the global South and the peripheral areas of the global North.

Doha climate talks: Bolivia declares, 'The climate is not for sale!'

The following address was presented on December 5 by Jose Antonio Zamora Guitierrez (pictured), minister of environment and water for the Plurinational State of Bolivia, to the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP18) in Doha, Qatar. 

* * *

December 5, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Mr. President of the COP, distinguished heads of state of countries of the world, ministers, officials, delegates and representatives of social organisations, Indigenous peoples and communities and farmers of the world, receive a greeting from the Plurinational State of Bolivia and our president, Evo Morales Ayma.

The planet and humanity are in serious danger of extinction. The forests are in danger, biodiversity is in danger, the rivers and the oceans are in danger, the Earth is in danger. This beautiful human community inhabiting our Mother Earth is in danger due to the climate crisis.

The commodification of crap and South Africa’s toilet apartheid

By Patrick Bond, Durban

December 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The December 3-6, 2012, World Toilet Summit offers an opportunity to contemplate how we curate our crap. Increasingly the calculus seems to be cash, generating contradictions ranging from local to global scales, across race, gender, generation and geography. Nowhere are they more evident than in the host city, my hometown of Durban. We’ve suffered an 18-year era of neoliberal-nationalist malgovernance including toilet apartheid, in the wake of more than 150 years of colonialism and straight racial-apartheid.

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