Ecosocialism 2023 to discuss costs of new arms race

Ecosocialism 2023

First published at Green Left.

One of the important topics the July 1–2 Ecosocialism 2023 Conference in Melbourne will discuss will be the ecological and social impacts of a new surge in global military spending.

Research by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on April 24 found global military expenditure rose by 3.7% in real terms last year, to reach a new high of US$2.24 trillion.

This huge amount of public money would be better spent on dealing with the global climate emergency and addressing urgent social needs.

SIPRI reported that the United States remains “by far the world’s biggest military spender”; last year spending reached US$877 billion — 39% of total global military spending and three times more than China, the second largest spender.

Russia was third, and its military expenditure grew by an estimated 9.2% last year, to around $86.4 billion.

Because of the war in Ukraine, military expenditure in Europe had its “steepest year-on-year increase in at least 30 years”, SPIRI said, and has returned to Cold War levels. Ukraine’s military spending reached US$44 billion last year.

India’s military spending of US$81.4 billion, up 6%, was the fourth highest in the world, SIPRI said. Saudi Arabia was the fifth biggest military spender, up 16% to an estimated US$75 billion.

Japan’s military spending rose by 5.9% to US$46 billion, the highest level of military spending since 1960.

There is growing public outcry to the $368 billion AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal in Australia, but also serious concerns being raised across the Asia-Pacific.

This growing militarism will be discussed at Ecosocialism 2023 by activists from Iran, India, Pakistan, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia.

Kohei Saito, whose 2020 book Capital in the Anthropocene sold more than half a million copies in Japan, is a keynote speaker.

Clifton D’Rozario, a leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation and a campaigner for Dalit rights; Huei Ting, a leader of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) and coordinator of the PSM’s Environmental and Climate Crisis Bureau; Behrouz Boochani, Iranian writer and former asylum seeker detained by Australia in Manus Island; Sonny Melencio, Chairperson Partido Lakas ng Masa (Philippines); and Farooq Tariq, President of the Haqooq Khalq Party of Pakistan are also some of featured speakers.

“This mad arms race must end immediately so that the most challenging issue — the climate crisis — can be addressed,” Tariq told Green Left. “The imperialist countries should use the funds to compensate the Third World, which is bearing the brunt of climate disasters.” He said he was threatened with expulsion from COP27 when he raised this at the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Peace activists will protest the QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), in Sydney on May 23–24, where US President Joe Biden, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida and Indian PM Narendra Modi will be discussing the militarisation of the Asia-Pacific. This being marketed as necessary because of a manufactured military threat from China.

Relentless war propaganda presents this as a “battle for democracy”, with the US and its allies on one side and China and Russia as its opponents.

The Russian and Chinese governments are incontestably undemocratic, but the reality is that this is a costly attempt to shore up US-led imperialist military domination in the region, including with the fascistic Modi government.

Ecosocialism 2023 will discuss the political character of the Modi government and the growing state-sanctioned violence against religious minority communities. It will also discuss the race to war and its consequences. More speakers will be announced soon.

Green Left is proud to host Ecosocialism 2023 and provide a platform for the voices of peace, justice and ecological sustainability that the corporate media consistently ignores.

Please come to Ecosocialism 2023 in Naarm/Melbourne (book here) and become a supporter of Green Left, a people-powered voice for urgently-needed system change.