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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  August 2008

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE August 2008

Subject:

2nd Ecosocialist Manifesto -- Discussion begins

From:

Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 26 Aug 2008 14:25:32 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (414 lines)

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’s Choice

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.

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