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Greenpeace activists during a protest in Paris at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in November.
By James Jordan
January 13, 2016 - Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal - It has been a month since the UN climate summit in Paris, aka COP 21. One might expect the kind of ebb and flow we often see in popular movements. Interest in climate issues, the cause of the day during the summit, might be expected to wane and move to the back burner of public discourse until such time as another development pushes it forward again.
However, climate change is fundamentally different. It is going to get worse — we will be getting slapped in the face with this one for a long, long time, even under the best scenarios. Only a few weeks after COP 21, the world experienced a wave of floods and extreme weather exacerbated by global warming. In the US, there were record-setting floods along the Mississippi River. In South America, floods caused the evacuation of 180,000 persons. In Scotland, floods cut across class lines to threaten a historic castle neighboring the Queen's Balmoral residence, its foundation being eaten away by the swollen Dee river. Meanwhile, oil wars and drought continue to drive an immigration crisis in Syria and throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. The issue of climate is not the “struggle du jour” - it is going to be the main course for quite a while.
The Tragedies of the Global Commons and the Global Working Class: Reflections on the Papal Encyclical
Michael A. Lebowitz (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.
By Michael A. Lebowitz
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — An earlier version of this paper was presented at ‘The First World Congress on Marxism’ at Peking University, 10 October 2015 in Beijing, China.
‘On Care for Our Common Home’: the premises
Everybody is talking about it — the dangers presented by climate change. Adding significantly, though, to the emphasis upon the need to take dramatic action now has been Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudati Si’, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. Its over-riding theme is that we must ‘protect our common home’. ‘The climate,’ the document stresses, ‘is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all’ and is ‘linked to many of the essential conditions for human life’ (23). Not only, however, are we destroying those conditions but, ‘the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’ (21). How is it, the Encyclical asks, that we have ‘so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years’ (53)?
Speech given by Naomi Klein (pictured) on September 5 to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House, Sydney.
Vast public subsidies may be pumped through the new “Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa”
Click for more by Patrick Bond.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
August 10, 2015 – a version was first published in TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Foreign direct investment (FDI) is always prefaced with the two words ‘much needed”, my colleague Sarah Bracking insisted last week at a Zimbabwe NGO conference. “Have you ever heard FDI referenced without those two words?” We all shook our heads.
Bolivians receive free tree saplings as part of the "My Tree" program, which combats deforestation. Photo via TeleSUR.
For more on Bolivia, click HERE.
By Federico Fuentes
July 27, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Bolivia's President Evo Morales announced in May that his government was allowing oil and gas drilling in national parks, mainstream and progressive media outlets alike were quick to condemn his supposed hypocrisy on environmental issues.
Writing for the Associated Press, Frank Bajak argued that although Morales is known internationally for his outspoken campaigning on climate change, at home he faces constant criticism from conservationists “who say he puts extraction ahead of clean water and forests”.
Bajak said this contradiction was a result of Morales’ strategy of developing extractive industries as a means of cutting poverty, regardless of the environmental cost.
G7 leaders frolick. Not so green.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
June 17, 2015 -- Climate and Capitalism, first published at Triplecrisis and reposted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission from the author -- Who’s not heard the great African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral’s injunction, 50 years ago, “Tell no lies and claim no easy victories”? If, like me, you’re a petit bourgeois who is hopeful for social progress, then let’s be frank: this advice hits at our greatest weakness, the temptation of back-slapping vanity.
Basta! : We seem to be heading straight toward climate disaster. We know what will happen if we do nothing about climate change, yet nothing really changes. Why is it so?
Naomi Klein: It’s not that we’re doing nothing – we’re actually actively doing exactly the wrong things. We have an economic system that defines success and progress as infinite economic expansion. Any kind of expansion is deemed good. Our emissions are going up much faster than they were in the 1990s.
In the past decade, we had very high oil prices, which has created huge economic incentives for fossil fuel companies to push into new, more expensive, higher-emitting forms of extraction, such as tar sands and fracking.
The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia are home to over half the world's lithium deposits.
For the complete "extractivism" discussion, click HERE.
By Don Fitz
April 17, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Policies that expand “extractivism” in progressive Latin American countries bring up a host of contradictions: How do the short-term benefits of financial gain from extraction compare to its long-term destructiveness? What options are available for reducing poverty without increasing mining, logging and GMO monocultures? Could the climate change effects of extraction actually hurt the world’s poor more than helping them? How can struggles against extractivism chart a path to economies based on human need rather corporate profits?
The lithium fantasy
By La Via Campesina, World Social Forum, Tunis 2015
March 25-28, 2015 -- La Via Campesina, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The migration of peoples across arbitrary barriers is an integral part of human history. Rooted in the search for better living conditions, this movement of peoples from one place to another was later transformed into a social, economic and political process that has largely served to benefit ruling elites -- the slave traders of the past and the multinationals of the present. Today, as capital demands exceptional freedoms for itself -- combined with greater restrictions on the poor -- wars, social exclusion, economic injustice and the global climate crisis are forcing millions of human beings to seek refuge across internationally imposed boundaries.
400,000-strong climate march, New York, September 21, 2014.
Click for more on the struggle against climate change.
By Patrick Bond, Tunis
March 29, 2015 -- originally published by TeleSUR, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Looming ahead in eight months’ time is another "Conference of Polluters" (technically, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP). The last 20 did zilch to save us from climate catastrophe. Judging by early rough drafts of the Paris COP21 agreement recently leaked, another UN fiasco seems inevitable
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
By Naomi Klein
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014
By Jodi Dean
March 17, 2015 -- I Cite, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- How do we imagine the climate changing? Some scenarios involve techno-fixes like cloud-seeding or new kinds of carbon sinks. Cool tech, usually backed by even cooler entrepreneurs, saves the day -- Iron Man plus Al Gore plus Steve Jobs. In green.
Other scenarios are apocalyptic: blizzards, floods, tsunamis and droughts; crashing planes; millions of migrants moving from south to north only to be shot at armed borders. The poor fight and starve; the rich enclave themselves in shining domed cities as they document the extinction of charismatic species and convince themselves they aren't next.
Click for more by Patrick Bond.
March 14, 2015 -- Despite making powerful criticisms of multinational mining corporations, an NGO-organised conference in Cape Town ignored essential links with related struggles.
In southern Africa, the Zulu and Xhosa word Indaba is used for important gatherings or conferences. February’s Alternative Mining Indaba, challenging a pro-corporate conference held at the same time, was organised by the Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, in assocation with Norwegian Church Aid, Oxfam, Benchmarks Foundation, Diakonia and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.
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Intersectionality missing-in-action at Cape Town’s Alternative Mining Indaba
By Patrick Bond
For more on SYRIZA, click HERE
By Sean Sweeney
February 18, 2015 -- Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (USA), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- During its first days in office, SYRIZA has taken actions that suggest it is willing to confront the European Union’s neoliberal approach to energy and to embark on a new course. New Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has also stated his government will restore collective bargaining agreements and stop 300,000 planned layoffs.
The SYRIZA government has said it will stop the proposed sell-off of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), which is 51% publicly owned but had been targeted for full-on privatisation in 2016. “We will halt immediately any privatisation of PPC”, energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek television a few hours before officially taking over his portfolio. “There will be a new PPC which will help considerably the restoration of the country’s productive activities”, he said.
February 23, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The following talk was given at a celebration of ALBA in Toronto, February 21, 2015.
* * *
Today we celebrate a decade of achievement of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA). For 10 years ALBA has stood on the world stage as a defender of peace, solidarity and popular sovereignty.
Before ALBA, Cuba stood alone for many years against the U.S.-led empire. But through ALBA, an alliance of countries, with wide influence and many friends among governments and peoples, now challenges imperialism on a range of issues. While representing only a few small and poor countries, ALBA exercises great moral authority and carries weight in world affairs. ALBA is the most effective international alliance based on solidarity in modern history.
By Laurie Guevara-Stone
January 14, 2015 -- Rocky Mountain Institute, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- US President Barack Obama’s recent announcement that he wants to begin normalising relations with Cuba generated news around the world. But the Cuban province of Granma may soon be making headlines for another reason: its embrace of renewable energy.
While Cuba is an island full of sun, rivers and windy coasts, only 4 per cent of the island’s electricity is generated from renewable energy. The island hopes to soon change that, with a goal of generating 24 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030, and Granma is leading the way.
By Don Fitz
December 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, submitted by the author; a version of this article first appeared at Truthout.org -- Did you ever think that investigation of the potential dangers of putting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into food would be based on objective research? Or that unbiased reviews of research by academic journals would chart a steady march toward scientific truth? If so, you would be very wrong. Through all of its phases, scientific research is subject to repression, manipulation and more insidious forms of control that push it toward a profit-based consensus.
Three well-known GMO studies form a pattern of authors' being harassed, intimidated and even having their findings "retracted" or withdrawn by a scientific journal after being published.
Suppression of GMO research
Protesters at the People's Climate March in Lima.
December 14, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Late in the night, 194 countries of the UN framework convention on climate change finally reached agreement. Far from satisfactory, this deal jeopardises any “historic agreement” in Paris. The climate justice NGOs and movements, including Attac France and the Friends of the Earth France, have released this first analysis.
* * *
No justice in Lima outcome
The world faces a planetary emergency: climate change, caused by a system that puts the pursuit of profit above the needs of people and the limits of nature. It is already devastating millions of people across the planet. Climate science predicts we will soon breach critical tipping points and could be locked in to 4-5°c of warming with catastrophic impacts for us all.
The Lima Conference should have been a milestone that marked out how governments will take urgent action to tackle climate change and to support vulnerable people across the world to adapt to its locked in impacts.
[The people] are supposed to exercise power through parliamentary assemblies. But the financial oligarchy which rule our present situation have taken upon themselves the right to veto their decisions. This is why the system doesn’t fear the left, which it has been able to control … But it has a clear-headed fear of the people. Since it is the people who directly and physically contend with them for power with a spontaneous program that is the negation of the established order. -- Jean-Luc Mélenchon
For more on Jean-Luc Mélenchon, click HERE.
By Liam Flenady
The author, Judith Marshall, meets Pope Francis.
By Judith Marshall
November 21, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I have recently returned from three fascinating days in Rome where I participated in a World Meeting of Popular Movements. This event brought to the Vatican a throng of articulate delegates from among the poor and excluded of the 21st Century, people fighting for land, for housing, for work and for dignity. Pope Francis was a central force in creating this gathering in Rome. Our meeting with him in the Old Synod Hall of the Basilica was a high point.
The meeting brought together 150 delegates. Thirty of them were Bishops from various parts of the world whose ministries include strong accompaniment and support for movements of the poor. The other 120 came from various popular movements working on the thematic issues of the meeting – Terra, Labor, Domus. Men and women fighting for land, work and housing were present from every continent. In a statement from the organisers, the logic was clear.
Gemma Weedall addresses Socialism 2014 in Malaysia.
By Gemma Weedall
November 20, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Climate change is the biggest and most urgent threat facing humanity today. We are seeing global temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate, with 13 of the 14 warmest years on record having occurred in the past 14 years.
In fact, if you are under 37 years of age, you have never seen a year of below average temperature.
Last year in Australia, over 150 weather records were broken, including experiencing our hottest day, week, month and year on record. It is likely that these records will not be long-standing, with all signs indicating they will be broken again this coming summer.
There are predictions that at current rates of emissions increases, the Arctic will be ice free in summer as soon as four years from now, but in the best case scenario, in about 20 years.
This represents a dangerous tipping point that will take us into uncharted territory from which we may not be able to return.