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.]

We now know that human emancipation cannot be achieved by never-ending growth: the ecosystem does not allow it. This forces us to reconsider our production and trading system, and generally speaking the entire social and political organisation. Under these circumstances, we propose ecosocialism as a new reading of our strategy for the future of humanity.

Ecosocialism implies the use of practical radicalism, environmental planning and a citizens’ revolution. Its means are based on a redistribution of wealth that would take into account environmental constraints, the rejection of all kinds of domination and oppression, and popular sovereignty within a democratic, republican and secular state.

Ecosocialism is at the junction of anti-capitalist environmentalism and socialism free from productivism, in a project that proposes an alternative society of hope. This is no utopia with which reality should comply, but a rational human response to the double impasse of capitalism and the obsession with productivity. Our thoughts and political actions are radical: they go to the root causes.

We therefore fight what drives the system: consumerism geared towards material accumulation thus widening social inequalities, the productivity-oriented system which exhausts our ecosystem’s resources, the globalisation of the economy that allows for social and environmental dumping.

We point to the real culprits: the financial oligarchy and the ideologists who advocate "free and fair" competition and trade.

Getting out of the current impasse and taking the path of human progress

We must get rid of "socialist" and "environmentalist" mystification. Our environmentalism is a social one, related to the left’s historical battles. It is incompatible with economic liberalism which, under the guise of sustainable development, perpetuates the search for maximum profit, imperialist dynamics and short-term logics. It refutes the social-democratic deadend that demands all redistribution policies begin with economic growth.

Wealth exists, there is no need to wait to redistribute it. And this infinite expansion model leads to the suicide of human civilisation. Therefore, we are neither expecting growth at all costs, nor any "benefits" from austerity, we believe in neither.

In fact our project involves an economy at the service of social needs: one that breaks away from economically liberal orthodoxy. It implies disobeying the directives from this economically liberal Europe and involves the overhauling of the production system of the "4 Rs": relocation, re-industrialisation, industrial restructuring and redistribution of work.

To overcome the limitations of the GDP index as an instrument to measure “well-being", it introduces a green rule as a systematic factor of the environmental imprint: ecosocialism is an international and universal struggle that recognises the ecological and social debt due to rapid industrialisation and its effects on the climate, the plundering of natural resources, land grabbing, and the accountability rules imposed by the Troika.

A citizens’ revolution towards ecosocialism

We must reach a "new and original compromise between working classes and concerns for the planet". Employees fighting for their rights carry alternative projects with a great potential, implicating the principles of environmental planning: consideration for the long-term logic, control by workers and users and public ownership. Although the community and the state are to be reshaped in a Sixth Republic which will ensure the sovereignty of the people, they remain essential for the planning of this rupture, for the construction of an emancipating framework and for ensuring equal access to all.

Common goods such as water, energy and public utilities playing a key environmental and social role should be nationalised by reconsidering the relationship between the state, trade unions, associations and users.

We must fight and resist through concrete alternatives and actions and peaceful civil disobedience. At the same time we must lead the ideological battle through popular education aimed at "decolonising the imagination" and denouncing the vision of a docile individual-consumer. We are fighting against its armed wings that are advertising, with its merchandising of the human body and sexism, fashion and the media with their permanent orders to keep on spending and buying.

Calling the system into question cannot result from a simple electoral alternation or from decisions made higher up. It requires that ecosocialist parliamentary majorities combine their actions with popular movements in all areas. This reclaiming of the political initiative in order to determine what exactly is public interest is what we call the citizens’ revolution. It is essential so as to prevent despair and anger from tipping towards hatred, and to make the ecosocialist revolution flourish.

[Translation by Nadira Akbaraly, Tatiana Jarzabek and Sylvain Savier.]