It would be good for us to discuss this carefully
(of course most of us agree with the general
thrust) and put some of those comments onto their website.
Submissions of documents, event listings and
links for this website should be addressed to ecosocialism[AT]gmail.com
An email discussion group for friends and
supporters of the Ecosocialist International
Network has been established on yahoogroups. To
join the group, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EI-Network/
Discussion begins on
Second Ecosocialist Manifesto
At the founding Ecosocialist International
Network meeting in Paris last October Ian Angus,
Joel Kovel and Michael Lowy were delegated to
draft a Second Ecosocialist Manifesto. (The first
manifesto was also co-authored by Walter Sheasby, who died several years ago).
They have now finished the draft and have
submitted it for open international discussion.
It can be downloaded in PDF form from the
Ecosocialist International Network website:
http://www.ecosocialistnetwork.org/ (REPRINTED BELOW)
We will have French and Spanish texts available
soon, and will gladly receive and post translations into other languages.
After the discussion, the draft will be returned
to the 3 authors for a final drafting which will
take into account the feedback from the group.
The final text will be then submitted to vote at
the upcoming EIN meeting in Belem, Brazil in January 2009.
The process will be guided by a subcommittee of
the EIN steering committee, composed of Danielle
Follett (France), Pedro Ivo (Brazil), Beatriz
Leandro (Brazil), Roxanne Mitralias (Greece), and Judith Watson (Britain).
The initial discussion will take place on the EIN
yahoogroup mailing list. It is open to anyone who
wishes to participate. Instructions on how to
join the list are on the Contact page on the
website. When contributing to the discussion on
the manifesto, please indicate this in the subject heading of the message.
We plan to extend the discussion process on a
wiki which is now being set up, but please submit
your comments on the mailing list first. The deadline for comments is July 1.
We hope this discussion is rich and constructive,
and will produce a text that we can all adopt.
DRAFT: FOR DISCUSSION PURPOSES ONLY
The Second Ecosocialist Manifesto
“The world is suffering from a fever due to
climate change, and the disease is the capitalist development model.”
- Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, September 2007
Humanity today faces a stark choice: ecosocialism or barbarism.
To the barbarities of the last century 100 years
of war, brutal imperialist plunder and
genocide capitalism has added new horrors. Now
it is entirely possible that the air we breathe
and the water we drink will be permanently
poisoned and that global warming will make much of the world uninhabitable.
The science is clear and irrefutable: climate
change is real, and the main cause is the use of
fossil fuels, especially oil, gas, and coal. The
earth today is significantly hotter than it was a
few decades ago, and the rate of increase is accelerating.
Left unchecked, global warming will have
catastrophic impacts on human, animal, and plant
life. Crop yields will drop drastically, leading
to famine on a broad scale. Hundreds of millions
of people will be displaced by droughts in some
areas and by rising ocean levels in others.
Chaotic, unpredictable weather will become the
norm. Epidemics of malaria, cholera and even
deadlier diseases will ravage the poorest and
most vulnerable members of every society.
The impact will be most devastating on those
whose lives have already been ravaged by
imperialism many times over the people of Asia,
Africa, and Latin America, and indigenous peoples
everywhere. Climate change has justifiably been
called an act of aggression by the rich against the poor.
Ecological destruction is not an accidental
feature of capitalism: it is built into the
system’s DNA. The insatiable need to increase
profits cannot be reformed away. Capitalism can
no more survive limits on growth than a person can live without breathing.
Under capitalism, the only measure of growth is
how much is sold every day, every week, every
year including vast quantities of products that
are directly harmful to humans and nature,
commodities that cannot be produced without
spreading disease, destroying the forests that
produce the oxygen we breathe, demolishing
ecosystems, and treating our water and air as
sewers for the disposal of industrial waste.
Capitalism has always been ecologically
destructive. From power plants in the U.S.A. to
the forests of Indonesia; from tar sands in
Canada to oil wells in Nigeria, the global drive
for profit has caused untold damage to nature.
In our lifetimes, these assaults on the earth
have accelerated. Quantitative change is giving
way to qualitative transformation, bringing the
world to a tipping point, to the edge of
disaster. A growing body of scientific research
has identified many ways in which small
temperature increases could trigger runaway
effects such as rapid melting of the Greenland
ice sheet or the release of methane buried in
permafrost and beneath the ocean that would make
catastrophic climate change inevitable.
If capitalism remains the dominant social order,
the best we can expect is unbearable climate
conditions, an intensification of social crises
and the spread of the most barbaric forms of
class rule, as the imperialist powers fight among
themselves and with the global south for
continued control of the world’s diminishing
resources. At worst, human life may not survive.
Capitalism is the primary enemy of nature,
including humanity. Abolishing it has never been more urgent.
Capitalist Strategies for Change
The world is awash with strategies for contending
with ecological ruin, including the ruin looming
as a result of the reckless growth of atmospheric
carbon. The great mass of these share one common
feature: they are devised by and on behalf of the
dominant global system, capitalism.
It should not surprise that the same system which
drives the ecological crisis also sets the terms
of the debate about the ecological crisis. For
capital commands the means of production of
knowledge as much as of atmospheric carbon. And
just as it would be inconceivable for capital to
awaken and turn itself into an ecologically
rational system of production, so must it pretend
to be able to heal the wounds it has inflicted on
the earth. Accordingly, its politicians,
bureaucrats, economists and professors send forth
an endless stream of proposals, all variations on
the theme that the world’s ecological damage can
be repaired without disruption of the free market
and of the system of accumulation that commands the world economy.
But a person cannot serve two masters, here, the
integrity of the earth and the profitability of
capitalism. One must be set aside, and since
money rules our world, the needs of mere
nature and therefore of human survival will be
deferred under capital so that accumulation may
continue. There is every reason, therefore, to
radically doubt the established measures for
checking the slide to ecological catastrophe.
And indeed, beyond a cosmetic veneer, essentially
equivalent to the plantings in the atria of
corporate headquarters, the reforms over the past
thirty-five years have been a monstrous failure.
Individual improvements do of course occur. Yet
these inevitably become overwhelmed and swept
away by the ruthless expansion of the system and
the chaotic character of its production.
One fact can give an indication of the failure:
in the first four years of the 21st Century,
global carbon emissions were nearly three times
as great per annum as those of the decade of the
1990s, despite the appearance of the Kyoto Protocols in 1997.
Kyoto employs two devices: the “Cap and Trade”
system of trading pollution credits to reach
certain reductions in emissions, and projects in
the Global South--the so-called “Clean
Development Mechanisms” (CDMs)--to offset emissions in the industrial nations.
These instruments all rely upon market
mechanisms, which means, first of all, that
atmospheric carbon directly becomes a commodity,
hence under the control of the same class
interest that created global warming in the first
place. Capitalists are not to be compelled to
reduce their carbon emissions but in effect,
bribed to do so, and in this way, allowed to use
their power over money to control the carbon
market for their own ends, which needless to
say, include the devastating exploration for yet
more carbon resources. Nor is there a limit to
the amount of emission credits which can be
issued by compliant governments under the control of capital.
When we add to this the literal impossibility of
verification or of any uniform method of
evaluation of results, it can be seen that not
only is this regime incapable of rationally
controlling emissions, it also provides an open
field for evasion and fraud of all kinds, along
with the neo-colonial exploitation of indigenous
people as well as their habitat. As the Wall
Street Journal put it in March, 2007, emissions
trading "would make money for some very large
corporations, but don’t believe for a minute that
this charade would do much about global warming."
The Journal called the carbon trade
"old-fashioned … making money by gaming the regulatory process."
And yet this worthless system remains the chosen
path. All of the U.S. Democratic Party
presidential hopefuls affirmed the Cap and Trade
model in a recent debate. And in December, 2007,
at the Bali interim climate meetings held to
prepare the way for the replacement of Kyoto,
which expires in 2012, opened the way for even
worse abuses in the period ahead. Bali avoided
explicit mention of the drastic goals for carbon
reduction put forth by the best climate science
(90% by 2050); it more or less completely
abandoned the peoples of the South to the tender
mercy of capital, giving jurisdiction over the
process to the World Bank; and made offsetting of
carbon pollution even easier. In sum, Bali was an
orgy of neoliberalism, as no fewer than 300
corporations registered as NGOs in to gain access
to the trough of pollution credits.
A tremendous world-wide radical response to the
predatory system of climate regulation, and to
all aspects of the life-threatening ecological
crisis, is underway. It has made itself felt at
Bali and elsewhere, with the simple, and
life-affirming principle that the only rational
and just solution to the climate crisis is to
keep carbon in the ground in the first place.
Beyond the great range of valuable interventions
proposed by this “movement of movements,” one
singular and overarching perspective is beginning
to be discussed: that in order to affirm and
sustain our human future, a revolutionary
transformation is needed, in which all particular
struggles are to be seen in the light of a
greater struggle against capital itself. This
larger struggle cannot be merely negative. It
must announce a different kind of society, and this we name ecosocialism.
Stop Capitalist Ecocide! The Ecosocialist Alternative
Capitalist attempts to solve the ecological
crisis have failed: only a profound change in the
very nature of civilization can save humanity
from the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
The ecosocialist movement aims to stop and
reverse this disastrous process. We will fight to
impose every possible limit on capitalist
ecocide, and to build a movement that can replace
capitalism with a society in which common
ownership of the means of production replaces
capitalist ownership, and in which the
preservation and restoration of ecosystems will
be a fundamental part of all human activity.
In other words, ecosocialism is an attempt to
provide a radical civilizational alternative to
the capitalist/industrial system, through an
economic policy founded on non-monetary criteria:
social needs and ecological equilibrium. It
combines a critique of both “market ecology,”
which does not challenge capitalism, and of
“productivist socialism,” which ignores the earth’s natural limits.
The aim of ecosocialism is a new society based on
ecological rationality, democratic control,
social equality, and the predominance of
use-value over exchange-value. These aims require
both democratic planning that will enable society
to define the goals of investment and production,
and a new technological structure for humanity’s
productive forces. In other words: a
revolutionary social and economic transformation.
Emancipation of gender is integral to
ecosocialism. The degradation of women and of
nature have been profoundly linked throughout
history, and especially the history of
capitalism, in which money has dominated life. To
defend and enhance life, therefore, is not just a
matter of restoring the dignity of women; it also
requires defending and advancing those forms and
relations of labor that care for life and have
been dismissed as mere “women’s work” or “subsistence.”
In order to stop the catastrophic process of
Global Warming before it is too late, we must introduce radical changes in:
1. the energy system, by replacing the fossile
fuels that are responsible for the greenhouse
effect (oil, coal) with clean eolic and solar, sources of power;
2. the transportation system, by drastically
reducing the use of private trucks and cars,
replacing them with free and efficient public transportation;
3. present consumption patterns, which are based
on waste, inbuilt obsolescence, and conspicuous competition.
To avoid endangering human survival, entire
sectors of industry and agriculture must be
suppressed (nuclear energy, armaments,
advertising), reduced (fossil fuels), or
restructured (automobiles) and new ones (solar
energy, ecologically-sound agriculture) must be
developed, while maintaining full employment for
all. Such a change is impossible without public
control over the means of production and
democratic planning. Democratic public decisions
on investment and technological change, must
replace control by banks and capitalist
enterprises in order to serve society’s common good.
Far from being “despotic”, planning is the whole
society’s exercise of freedom: freedom of
decision, and liberation from the alienated and
reified “economic laws” of the capitalist system,
which has controlled individuals’ lives and
death, and locked them in what Max Weber called an economic “iron cage.”
The passage to ecosocialism is an historical
process, a permanent revolutionary transformation
of society, culture and attitudes. This
transition will lead not only to a new mode of
production and an egalitarian and democratic
society, but also to an alternative way of life,
a new ecosocialist civilization, beyond the reign
of money, beyond consumption habits artificially
produced by advertising, and beyond the unlimited
production of commodities that are useless and/or
harmful. It is important to emphasize that such a
process cannot begin without a revolutionary
transformation of social and political structures
based on the active support, by the vast majority
of the population, of an ecosocialist program.
To dream and to struggle for a green socialism
does not mean that we should not fight for
concrete and urgent reforms now. Without any
illusions about “clean capitalism,” we must try
to win time and to impose on the powers that
be governments, corporations, international
institutions some elementary but essential changes:
• drastic and enforceable reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases,
• free public transportation
• taxation on polluting cars,
• progressive replacement of trucks by trains
• shifting of war spending to the ecological
reconstruction of homes and workplaces.
These, and similar demands, are at the heart of
the agenda of the Global Justice movement and the
World Social Forums, a decisive new development
which has promoted, since Seattle in 1999, the
convergence of social and environmental movements
in a common struggle against the system.
Global Warming will not be stopped in conference
rooms and treaty negotiations: only mass action
by the oppressed, by the victims of ecocide can
make a difference. Third World and indigenous
peoples are at the forefront of this struggle,
fighting polluting multinationals, poisonous
chemical agro-business, invasive genetically
modified seeds, and so-called “bio-fuels” that
put corn into car tanks, taking it away from the
mouths of hungry people. Solidarity between
anticapitalist ecological mobilizations in the
North and the South is a strategic priority.
This Manifesto is not an academic statement, but
a call to action. The entrenched ruling elites
are incredibly powerful, and the forces of
radical opposition are still small. But those
forces are the only hope that the catastrophic
course of capitalist “growth” will be halted.
Walter Benjamin defined revolutions as being not
the locomotive of history, but as humanity
reaching for the emergency breaks of the train,
before it plunges into an abyss.