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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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Australia: How should a united socialist party work?

[This is a slightly edited text of a presentation made by Dave Holmes at the “Organising for 21st century socialism” seminar, held in Sydney, June 9, 2013 (pictured above, photo by Alex Bainbridge). Holmes is a leading member of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne.]

By Dave Holmes

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Today I want to talk about how socialists need to work to win mass influence and how that relates to the unity process between Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative.

On May 21, 2013, in Melbourne we held a very well-attended joint forum where our two organisations presented their views on the unity process. There is a report of the meeting in the May 29 issue of Green Left Weekly.[1]

I want to expand on some points touched on there and to raise some others. Hopefully most of what I say is uncontroversial but in any case I want to be clear and unambiguous on what I consider some key questions of socialist activity.

World in crisis

Our world has clearly entered what is arguably its deepest ever crisis.

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.

Long live May Day! Workers of the world unite!

May Day message from the Socialist Alliance, Australia

May 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As workers around the world take to the streets to celebrate May Day, we are sharply aware that the capitalist system has reached a point of development where it threatens the habitability of the planet on which we all live.

Last month, for the first time in 3 million years, the carbon concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere reached 399.7 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In several other parts of the world that day, the reading exceeded 400 ppm.

When CO2 concentrations were last above 400 ppm it was the Pliocene era, when temperatures were 3-4 degrees Celsius and sea levels were 5-40 metres higher than they are today. Capitalism is throwing our planet into dangerous climate change.

Sadly this is no surprise. Capitalism has already devastated the lives of billions of people through exploitation, war and poverty.

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.

South Africa: brics-from-below! Civil society gathering during the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa summit

Whose turn to carve?

March 18, 2013 -- In Durban, South Africa, five heads of state meet on March 26-27, 2013, to assure the rest of Africa that their countries’ corporations are better investors in infrastructure, mining, oil and agriculture than the traditional European and US multinationals. The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit will also include 16 heads of state from Africa, including some notorious tyrants. A new $50 billion bank will probably be launched.

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

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]

Africa’s ‘rising’ or overdue uprising?

By Patrick Bond

January 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Either:

1) Africa owes its takeoff to a variety of accelerators, nearly all of them external and occurring in the past 10 years:

  • billions of dollars in aid, especially to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria;
  • tens of billions of dollars in foreign-debt cancellations;
  • a concurrent interest in Africa’s natural resources, led by China; and
  • the rapid spread of mobile phones, from a few million in 2000 to more than 750 million today.

Business increasingly dominates foreign interest in Africa. Investment first outpaced aid in 2006 and now doubles it.

Or:

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

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.

Venezuela's Doha climate talks delegate: 'Rich countries profit from pollution'

December 7, 2012 -- Democracy Now! -- Claudia Salerno, top negotiator for Venezuela at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, famous for her dramatic action at the conference three years ago in Copenhagen when she bloodied her fist while banging it on the table, demanding to be heard, says "this is not an environmental process. This is a process that is going to have impact in economics, so that is why it is so difficult for developed countries to make the necessary changes in their economics."

December 7, 2012 -- Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: Claudia Salerno, you are the chief climate negotiator for Venezuela here. You are famous for, three years ago in Copenhagen, hitting your fists against the table to get attention, to be recognized, and bloodying your hand. Talk about what’s happening today, and take it back to three years ago in Copenhagen, why you were so distressed.

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