1

Solidarity with Ukraine! Solidarity with the Workers of Ukraine! Glasgow Public Meeting Sat 22 October 10.30am

Speakers from the recent Ukraine Solidarity Campaign delegation to Ukraine will address a public meeting in Glasgow called by Ukraine Solidarity Campaign Scotland on Saturday 22 October 10.30am at John Smith House, 145-165 West Regent Street Glasgow G2 4RZ.

The leaflet advertising the meeting is available in PDF form here and reproduced below.  The Facebook event is here.

 

Solidarity with Ukraine! Solidarity with the Workers of Ukraine!

Public Meeting:
10.30am, Saturday 22nd October
John Smith House 145-165 West Regent St. Glasgow

Speakers from the recent Ukraine Solidarity Campaign delegation to Ukraine:
– Chris Ford (Ukraine Solidarity Campaign)
– Alena Ivanova (Another Europe is Possible)

The war in Ukraine continues to dominate headlines: Ukraine’s counter-offensive, Putin’s escalating rhetoric, sham ‘referendum’ in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, and Putin’s military mobilisation decree.

The focus of the media is primarily on the extreme cost to human lives and the Ukrainian economy as a result of the Russian invasion. But Ukraine’s labour movement is not just fighting at the front.

It is also fighting to defend and extend rights and protections for all. As it struggles to continue to fund its military resistance, the Ukrainian government and Parliament has also proposed emergency measures dramatically weakening employment rights.

With rising inflation, energy insecurity and the urgent need for more military and humanitarian support, Ukraine needs our solidarity more than ever. At the same time, global powers are already initiating discussions about reconstruction and pushing their agendas. But what kind of Ukraine are Ukrainians bravely fighting for?

A recent USC solidarity delegation to Ukraine met with trade unions and left groups in Ukraine. It discussed recent developments in the war, workers rights and the future reconstruction of Ukraine. Organisations met by the delegation included:
The Federation of Trade Unions; the Confederation of Free Trade Union; the State Employees Union; the NGPU Miners Union; the Free Trade Union of Rail Workers; the Education Workers Union; Sotsiyalnii Rukh and the Social-Democratic Platform.

This meeting has been organized to provide first-hand accounts of the struggles of the Ukrainian people and of Ukrainian workers, and to help build labour movement solidarity with those struggles.

Organised by Ukraine Solidarity Campaign(Scotland). PCS, ASLEF, and the NUM are affiliated to the USC at a national level. Affiliates in Scotland include local GMB, Unite, NUJ and ASLEF branches. To invite a speaker from the USC (Scotland) to your branch meeting, e-mail: uscscotland@yahoo.com

Ukraine Solidarity Campaign (Scotland): Ukraine Solidarity Campaign Scotland |Facebook
Ukraine Solidarity Campaign National Website: https://ukrainesolidaritycampaign.org




Jîna ‘Mahsa’ Amini Was Kurdish And That Matters – Say her Kurdish name.

In 1852, writes Meral Çiçek, the 35-years old women’s rights activist Tahirih Ghoratolein was executed by the Iranian regime in Tehran for two things: her Bábí faith and unveiling herself. Her last words were: “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.”

Almost exactly 170 years later, in the same city, a 22-year-old woman died after being arrested by the so-called guidance patrol, Islamic religious police who adhere to strict interpretations of sharia law. Her offence was not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards. When the police detained her, the woman’s brother explained they weren’t from Tehran and were unaware of the city’s rules (the family were  visiting from Saqqez, a Kurdish city in the west, close to the border of Iraqi Kurdistan) to no avail: she was taken to a police station anyway. There, her family allege, she was “insulted and tortured”, collapsing before eventually being taken to hospital. Upon arrival doctors discovered the woman had suffered “brain death”. Two days later, she suffered a cardiac arrest and was unable to be resuscitated.

The woman’s name was Jîna, which means ‘life’ in Kurdish. Jîn (and its equivalent Jiyan) is etymologically related to Jin, the Kurdish word for woman. But the world has come to know her better in death by her Iranian name: Mahsa Amini.

Shortly after Amini’s violent death on 16 September, protests broke out and spread from the Kurdish parts of Iran to the whole country and the world. Demonstrators chanted  the Kurdish slogan “jin, jiyan, azadî” – “woman, life, freedom”. But in news reports, particularly Western ones, Jîna Amini’s Kurdish identity has been erased – she is described as an Iranian woman and her ‘official’ Persian name ‘Mahsa’ – which for her family and friends existed only on state-documents –is the one in headlines. Calls to “say her name” echo in real life and across social media but unwittingly obscure Jîna’s real name and, in doing so, her Kurdish identity.

Iranian state discrimination against Kurds includes a widespread ban of Kurdish names which forces many families to register their children officially with non-Kurdish names, while maintaining their actual names at home. This in turn fragments the experience of many Kurds and creates an ‘official-legal’ and an ‘unofficial-illegal’ identity. The authentic ethnic-cultural identity loses its validity and a name that says nothing about your roots identifies you.

Some people that insist on calling Jîna Amini by her state-approved name Mahsa effectively argue that she did not lose her life under detention because she was Kurdish, but only because she was a woman. Therefore – according to the argument – it is not necessary or significant to call her by her Kurdish name.

Iran is an antidemocratic state, based on brutal rule. Anyone who is not part of the apparatus of oppression is in danger – no matter what sex, religion or ethnic group they belong to. Some are even more vulnerable than others. This is particularly the case for women and for Kurds.

It is likely that the immoral ‘morality police’ that arrested Jîna on 13 September at the entry of Shahid Haghani Expressway in the presence of her brother (who has also an unofficial Kurdish and an official Persian name) were aware of her ethnic identity. It is possible that they treated her with particular brutality because of it. It is likely that she resisted the insults and curses of the officers so much because of her identity and political consciousness as a Kurdish woman.

But regardless of whether or not her Kurdish identity played a significant role in the detention and brutal violence that led to Amini’s death, understating or concealing her ethnic origin represents a reproduction of colonial politics of the Iranian regime towards the Kurdish people. This attitude is a distillation of the power and suppression of the majority nation – even when expressed by well-meaning Persian feminists.

Amini’s death has seen Kurdish slogans calling for women’s liberation and revolution echo around the world. “Jin, jiyan, azadî” – and its translations – has reverberated through crowds and demonstrations held in solidarity with freedom-seeking women in Iran. Even in Afghanistan women chanted the slogan, despite attacks on demonstrators by the Taliban.

This chant originated in the Kurdistan women’s liberation movement. It embodies the movement’s goal: to liberate life through a women’s revolution. It was first chanted collectively by Kurdish women on 8 March 2006, at gatherings marking International Women’s Day across Turkey. After this came a period in which annual campaigns challenged patriarchal mindsets and misogynist practices within Kurdish society.  This period of intense struggle against patriarchy culminated in the Rojava revolution 10-years-ago, on 19 July 2012, which sent the slogan “jin, jiyan, azadî” echoing around the world, beyond the borders of Kurdistan.

The Kurdish women’s movement does not aim to monopolise this slogan, in contrast it aims to universalise it in the struggle for women’s democratic confederalism worldwide. Nevertheless, its roots and context should be acknowledged. Otherwise, we run the risk of emptying our slogans of active struggle and allowing them to lose their meaning. As I write this piece, women of the German party CDU/CSU – under whose government the Kurdish liberation movement has been criminalised the most – are protesting Jîna’s killing in Berlin, holding posters with the German translation of “jin, jiyan, azadî”.

Jîna Amini was a Kurdish woman. Kurdish women have fought so hard not to be erased in life; do not let their stories be rewritten in death.

Meral Çiçek is a Kurdish political activist and journalist.

This article was originally published by Novara Media: https://novaramedia.com/2022/10/04/jina-mahsa-amini-was-kurdish-and-that-matters/




End of the Nightmare in Brazil?

The result of the first round of the Brazilian elections on 2nd October is mixed, writes Michael Löwy. Certainly, Lula, the candidate of the Workers’ Party, is in the lead, with 48.4% of the vote. But the hope of a victory in the first round has vanished and, above all, he is closely followed by Jair Bolsonaro, the neo-fascist candidate, with 43.2%–much more than the polls predicted. There will therefore be a second round on October 30, which, barring an unexpected reversal, should be won by Lula. However, Bolsonaro’s supporters appear to be in control of parliament as well as several regional governments. In short, the neo-fascist current will probably lose the presidency, but remains an extremely powerful political force.

Brazil’s dominant classes have never had a great fondness for democracy. Inheritors of three centuries of European colonization and four centuries of slavery, they have shown, in the last hundred years, a strong propensity for an authoritarian state from 1930 to 1945 under the personal power of the caudillo Getulio Vargas; 1964-1985, a military dictatorship; in 2016, a pseudo-parliamentary coup against President-elect Dilma Rousseff; from 2018-2022: neo-fascist government of Jair Bolsonaro. The more or less democratic periods seem to be parenthesis between two authoritarian regimes.

The four years of Bolsonaro’s presidency have been a huge disaster for the Brazilian people. Elected with the support of the bourgeois press, business circles, landowners, banks, and neo-Pentecostal churches, he took advantage of the fact that Lula, the only opponent capable of beating him, had been put in prison, under false accusations. The former captain was unable to fulfil his dream of re-establishing a military dictatorship and shooting “thirty thousand communists.” But he has sabotaged every health policy in the face of Covid, resulting in more than 600 thousand deaths; he has ravaged Brazil’s fragile public services (health, education, etc.); he has reduced tens of millions of Brazilian women to poverty; he has actively supported the destruction of the Amazon by the kings of soybeans and cattle; he has promoted neo-fascist, homophobic, misogynist, and climate-sceptic ideas; he supported the paramilitary militias (responsible for the assassination of Marielle Franco); and he has not ceased to try to set up an authoritarian regime.

Will the October 2022 elections put an end to this nightmare? Lula is likely to win in the second round on October 30. But Bolsonaro, following the example of his political model, Donald Trump, has already announced that he will not recognize an unfavorable result: “If I lose, it is because the vote has been falsified.” A part of the Army, strongly represented in his government, seems to support him: will it go so far as to take the initiative of a military coup against the elected president, i.e. Lula? This hypothesis cannot be ruled out, even if it does not seem the most likely: the Brazilian Army is not used to moving without the green light from the Pentagon and the State Department. But right now, Biden has no interest in supporting a tropical Trump at the helm of Brazil. Bolsonaro tried to mobilize his supporters—police, militiamen, retired generals, neo-Pentecostal pastors, etc.—to create a crisis situation comparable to that caused by Trump around the Capitol after his electoral defeat. Will he have the same success as his North American idol?

Despite the highly questionable choice of a reactionary bourgeois politician (Geraldo Alckmin) as his running mate for for vice-president, it is clear that Lula—Luis Inacio da Silva, former metalworker, trade union leader of the great strikes of 1979, and founder of the Workers’ Party—is currently embodying the hope of the Brazilian people to put an end to the neo-fascist episode of the last four years. He is supported by a broad coalition of forces, which includes not only most of the organizations of the left and the social movement—trade unions, the landless movement, the homeless movement—but also the broad sectors of the industrial bourgeoisie, which unlike the land owners, who remain loyal to Bolsonaro, came to the conclusion that the ex-captain was not a good option for business. It must be acknowledged that the electoral battle was not preceded by a rise in popular mobilization as in Colombia.

The Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL), the main force of the radical and/or anti-capitalist left in Brazil—where there are several currents associated, in one form or another, with the Fourth International—decided, after a long internal debate, to support Lula from the first round. A small dissident current, led by the economist Plinio de Aruda Sampaio Jr, who disagreed with this choice, left the party, but the main left currents of the PSOL—such as the Movement of the Socialist Left (MES), whose spokeswoman, Luciana Genro, was the presidential candidate of the PSOL in 2014—have, despite their desire for a PSOL’s own candidacy in the first round, accepted the majority decision and actively participated in the campaign in support of Lula.

Most PSOL activists have no illusions about what the government led by Lula and the Workers Party (PT) would be: probably an even more unbalanced version of the social-liberal policies of class conciliation of previous experiences under the aegis of the PT. Admittedly, these experiments have allowed some social advances, but it is not certain that this will be the case this time. This will depend, of course, on the ability of the radical left and, above all, of the social movements, of the exploited and the oppressed to move, autonomously and independently. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the vote for Lula is an unavoidable necessity to free the Brazilian people from the sinister nightmare that the regime of Jair Bolsonaro has signified.

Once elected, Lula will face many difficulties: fierce opposition from sectors of the Army, the kings of cattle and soybeans, neo-Pentecostal churches, fanatical (often armed) supporters of Bolsonaro. He risks having before him a hostile Congress, dominated by reactionary forces; the present Chamber is governed by the so-called “4 Bs: beef, banks, Bibles, bullets”, i.e. landowners, finance capital, evangelical sects and paramilitary militias. One of the decisive battles of the future will be the rescue of the Amazon, which is being destroyed by agro-capitalism.

In addition, Lula will be, like Dilma Rousseff, under the permanent threat of a “parliamentary coup.” This results from a disastrous choice for the vice-presidency: Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of Sâo Paulo, the former right-wing opponent beaten by Dilma Rousseff in 2014. Lula probably chose him to give pledges to the bourgeoisie and disarm the right-wing opposition. But he has thus given a decisive weapon to the ruling classes. If Lula takes any action that does not please the Brazilian oligarchs, who controls the majority of the parliament, he will be the subject of impeachment proceedings, as was the case with Dilma in 2016. In this sad precedent, she was punished under ridiculous pretexts, and replaced by the vice-president, Temer, a reactionary of the so-called bourgeois “center”. The same could happen to Lula: impeachment and substitution by Alckmin. The Colombian Gustavo Petro was more skilful, choosing as running mate Francia Marquez, an Afro-Colombian woman, feminist and environmentalist.

That said, the imperative of the moment, in October 2022, is, without a doubt, the vote for Lula. As Trotsky explained so well almost a century ago, the broadest unity of all the forces of the workers’ movement is the necessary condition for defeating fascism.

3 October 2022

Michael Löwy, activist of the Fourth International, is an ecosocialist, sociologist and philosopher. Born in 1938 in São Paulo (Brazil), he has lived in Paris since 1969. Research director (emeritus) at the CNRS and professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, he is the author of numerous books published in twenty-nine languages, including The Marxism of Che GuevaraMarxism and Liberation TheologyFatherland or Mother Earth? and The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America.  He is joint author (with Joel Kovel) of the International Ecosocialist Manifesto. He was also one of the organizers of the first International Ecosocialist Meeting, in Paris, in 2007.

This article was originally published by New Politics, this version is the one republished by International Viewpoint: https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7840




Global Day of Action for Climate Justice called for Saturday 12 November

The newly launched COP27 Coalition has called a decentralised Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on Saturday 12 November 2022 and for the reset of climate talks ahead of COP27 in Egypt.  Demonstrations and protests have already been called by Climate Justice Coalitions across Britain and Ireland as part of the Day of Action – a full list will be published shortly, but major events are already planned for London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast and other big cities.

Below is the statement launching the Day of Action.  Further information can also be obtained by joining the mailing list, just send a message to the COP27 Mobilisations working group: cop27-mobilisations-subscribe@lists.riseup.net

Newly-launched COP27 Coalition calls for global mass action for climate justice, reset of climate talks ahead of Egypt COP

15 September 2022: Civil society groups from Egypt, African countries and the Arab world have come together to call for a global mass mobilization of people everywhere to address the root cause of the climate crisis and other injustices, to take place around the world during the COP27 global climate talks this November.

Today, they are launching the ‘COP27 Coalition‘ with an invitation to civil society groups around the world to join them in demanding an end to climate and other injustices, and an urgent response from governments and leaders to climate and other multiple linked crises.

They are calling on citizens to join in a decentralised Global Day of Action on Saturday, November 12th, during the COP, organised in cities and towns across the globe, and to help mobilise millions of people under a call for climate justice and bring movements together to build real power for systems change.

They are also calling on civil society to organise People’s Forums wherever they are throughout the duration of the COP to organise collective action and demand effective action by leaders and governments.

The COP27 Coalition demands a ‘reset’ of the multilateral system to address the scale of the challenge, as part of a wider agenda to address climate change.

To achieve climate justice, the groups are calling for efforts to:

  • Decolonise the economy and development.

    • Faced with multiple crises, developing countries must reframe and implement alternative models of development that move away from Northern models of economic growth, which have proven to be a failure and are the cause of many of the crises, including the climate crisis, today.

    • Enable a just transition to 100% renewable energy through an equitable phase out of fossil fuels.

    • Prioritise public health, food sovereignty, agroecology and decent living conditions.

    • Restore nature and defend the rights of Mother Earth.

  • Have rich countries repay climate debts – Rich countries have historical responsibilities for the climate crisis and must fulfil their obligations and fair shares by reducing their emissions to zero and providing poorer nations the scale of financial support needed to address the crisis.

  • Stop false solutions – Africa and other developing countries are fast becoming the dumping grounds for false solutions, many of which are driven by corporations who see the climate crisis as a way of profiteering, and which have devastating consequences for frontline communities and must be stopped.

  • Build global solidarity, peace and justice – We are facing an existential crisis as humanity. Social and climate injustices prevail, human rights are threatened, democracy is at risk and civil society space is rapidly shrinking. To achieve peace and justice, we will need to build massive global solidarity, especially with those most vulnerable and at risk from the impacts of these injustices.

They say the UN climate talks are dominated by rich countries and corporations, and will need a major overhaul to address the scale of the climate crisis and injustices in the current system.

They recognise that the climate negotiations are an important focus for climate campaigners, but not the only way. And so they are calling on groups around the world to use the COP as a moment to build local solidarity and action and build power for real change.

Quotes:

Mohamed Adow, Director of the think tank Power Shift Africa, said:

“For far too long, Africa has been controlled by outside interests – a resource pool for extraction and export, and a dumping ground for the practices and technologies no longer wanted elsewhere.  The COP27 Coalition is a space for Africans to take back control of our collective future.  Civil society representing hundreds of organisations and millions of people across the continent are stepping up to show what an Africa that puts communities and well-being at the centre of its priorities could look like.”

COP27 needs to be a reset moment where rich countries need to face up to their failures to both cut their emissions fast enough and deliver on the climate finance they have promised.  A new vision is needed where urgency and action replace voluntary targets and broken promises.  If that shift takes place then COP27 will have put us on a trajectory to a clean, safe and prosperous planet.”

Tasneem Essop, Executive Director,  Climate Action Network International (CAN-I)

“For the Climate Action Network (CAN), a global network of civil society working to address the climate crisis, COP27 being held on African soil represents a critical opportunity to secure climate justice for peoples and communities vulnerable to and least responsible for the climate catastrophe.

Africans and peoples in the Global South are suffering from the devastating impacts of climate change, from flooding, heatwaves, drought resulting in food, water, and energy insecurity. Climate change impacts have a direct effect on how African countries can address their development needs.

We believe that deep transformational change, that is just, equitable and people-centred, is necessary to address these multiple and compounding crises facing people today, including rising poverty and inequality.

As CAN, we believe that these changes are only possible through the power and inclusion of the people. We are, therefore, joining hands with our sisters and brothers in the COP27 Coalition, representing movements from Africa, the Arab region, Egypt and globally to use our collective power to secure climate justice through the outcomes from COP27”.

Omar Elmawi, Coordinator, StopEACOP Coalition

“Africa needs to be a little selfish and think about itself. We have faced myriad levels of colonialism, our resources are exploited each waking day for the benefit of wealthier nations as the resulting impacts to lives and livelihoods are left behind.

The upcoming COP27 in Egypt is a time for Africa and African interest to rise, a time for a community-led renewable energy revolution, a time for real climate reparations for the climate crisis affecting all Africans when we have done little to nothing to cause it. This is the time for the historical emitters to own up to their mistakes and deliver a COP that looks at avoiding emissions as an opportunity for real development, and not continuing to prioritise the interests of fossil fuel corporations who care only of their profits and shareholders, as we endanger humanity and the future for the coming generations.”

Lorraine Chiponda, Coordinator, Africa Coal Network

“In the face of an overwhelming climate crisis, Africa sits at a critical tipping point: if we continue business as usual as the pawn of external and elite interests, we risk being shackled by old fashioned thinking and outdated technology.  We will become the last resort for the dirty energy systems of the past.

If, however, we embrace the leadership of African communities, and put their well-being at the centre of our priorities, we have an opportunity to fight the climate crisis by embracing our abundance of clean, cheap, renewable energy.  We need leaders with a vision and boldness to reject the neo-colonialism of the fossil fuel industry. We need leaders to invest in communities to make the leap past the fossil fuels that are causing suffering to our people, and towards a future powered by clean, green power from the wind and sun.  Africa is blessed with an abundance of this energy, but we need governments and business to help us harness it if we’re going to reach our true potential.”

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President AFPAT and Co-chair Indigenous Peoples Caucus

“Today Africa lives on the edge of climate wars. People are fighting for the few resources left. It can be a pond, access to a river or to a source of freshwater. Or for a piece of fertile land. In a region where 70% of people depend on nature for farming, when nature is sick, people are going insane. Farmers and pastoralists had an old alliance that is now broken in the competition for nature.

But for me, Africa is still a land of hope. We have so many climate warriors, fighting back at home. In my community, women already implemented solutions to the changing climate. They use their indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge to identify crops that can resist drought and heatwave and support a resilient agriculture. In the memory of our grandmothers and grandfathers, we find the map of ancient sources, those who still give water in the middle of the dry season. Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge not only gives us so many words to describe the rain but also offers us the tools to fight back and combat climate change.

This COP27 must be an action COP for those who are the most impacted. Loss and damage, and climate adaptation should be guiding the discussion and the outcome should be as real for the people as direct access funding to adapt to and mitigate climate change. We, Indigenous Peoples,  must be at the table and taking decisions as victims and also solutions to climate change. “

Charity Migwi, Africa Regional Campaigner, 350.org

“Developed nations have fallen short of their climate finance pledges to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to facilitate developing nations to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Beyond this shortfall, the much needed finance to build resilience to the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change still remains lower than mitigation finance.

This is why it is time for Africa to curb the fossil fuel reliance of developing nations that has rapidly led to one of the greatest moral challenges of our time. Not only is there no room for more fossil fuels in Africa, where developed nations are now turning their gaze, but there is also no room for them anywhere. African nations must reject this exploitation and extractivism which will further fuel climate breakdown and expose African nations to catastrophic impacts.

As COP27 is being held in Africa, it’s time to build a different future: one based on renewable energy; one that is truly just and accessible; and one that focuses on accelerating Africa’s development by an economic systemic shift that leaves no one behind.”

Ubrei-Joe Maimoni Mariere, Climate Justice & Energy Project Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Africa

As the world prepares for COP27, which will be hosted in Africa, we must use this opportunity to demand climate justice and solidarity for Africa and the global south.

To stop the climate crisis and bring about energy justice to the world, we need a rapid phase out of fossil fuels and a just and feminist and equitable transition to community-based renewable energy systems. We demand public climate finance in the form of grants (not loans), and technology transfer to help support the transition for our peoples. COP27 must be used as a space to empower people-centred renewable energy solutions. We demand that African leaders stop all new gas exploration and fossil fuels projects on our continent, which is already being burned and facing the ravages of the climate crisis. We also demand an end to attacks on environmental human rights defenders and journalists, in Egypt, all across Africa and everywhere.

For more information:
Juliah Kibochi and Janet Kachinga
COP27 Coordination Team
media@cop27coalition.org 




The return of the dinosaurs

As the planet burns, and Britain faces a massive cost of living crisis, writes Alan Thornett on his ecosocialist discussion blog, Jurassic Park has taken over in Westminster, with the climate denier – and ‘hand-out’ hater – Liz Truss as Prime Minister.

Truss has been cynically foisted on the British electorate against their will. Only 6 per cent expect her to make a good Prime Minister, even most Tory voters are not convinced. She was the choice of neither Tory MPs nor Tory voters. Most of them preferred Sunak or for Johnson to stay in office.

Despite such fragile support, she never hesitated in gifting all the top jobs to the cronies who backed her. Only one MP who backed Sunak is a cabinet member today, which is Michael Ellis, the new attorney general. How long such a concoction will hold together when the proverbial hits the fan, of course, is another matter. (She is also trying to model herself on Margaret Thatcher, though whether she is up to that one only time will tell.)

You couldn’t make it up. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the climate denier in chief – who wants to squeeze the last cubic inch of oil and gas out of the North Sea, bring back fracking, and who has claimed that climate alarmism is responsible for high energy prices – is now Energy Secretary. His ravings are not only bizarre but completely unworkable, since anything that is extracted – at huge cost the environment – would have zero impact on UK oil or gas prices which are set by the international market.

Lurch to the right

Truss’s election is yet another lurch to the right by an increasingly xenophobic Tory party – driven by the fundamentalists of the European Research Group.

She is to the right of her (corrupt and despicable) predecessor Boris Johnson, as he was to Theresa May. She was elected in what is now a well-established and dangerous charade. Candidates in a Tory leadership contest, are required, in order to win, to convince the ever-more-extreme Tory members that they are racist enough, little Englander enough, and anti-migrant enough, for the job. Truss fully understood this process and played it to the full.

Nor is Truss any better than Rees-Mogg when it comes to the environment. In fact, her record is appalling.

As Theresa May’s Environment Secretary, Truss was an arch deregulator of environmental standards. She cut subsidies for renewables and banned on-shore wind farms – which was (and remains) a huge blow to the UKs renewable energy capacity.

She is also responsible for the catastrophic pollution of our rivers and beaches with raw sewage by cutting millions of pounds earmarked for tackling water pollution. She cut the budget of the Environment Agency by £235m, including £24m that had been allocated for the surveillance of water companies in order to prevent the dumping of raw sewage in rivers and on beaches.

Her newly appointed chief economic adviser, Matthew Sinclair – the Gaudian columnist Zoe Williams tells us – “wrote a book entitled Let Them Eat Carbon in 2011, in which he argued that “the temperatures we face today may not be the ideal conditions for humanity to live and flourish”. Let warming go wild, in other words. It might be fun.”

Trickle-down economics

Her version of low-tax trickle down, free market, economics will further devastate the UK economy. She told Laura Kuenssberg last week that she was OK with the obvious fact that her cancelation of the proposed national insurance rise would be worth twice as much to the richest 5 per cent of the population as it is to the whole bottom half of taxpayers.

The scrapping of Sunak’s planned return of corporation tax to 25 per cent will cost an estimated £19 billion and will be a bonanza for big business. Her approach will be tested to destruction as the crisis develops further.

She insists, moreover, that the only factors that are driving the current crisis – which is more acute in Britain than any other European country – are the Covid pandemic and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Otherwise, she says, the British economy is “in good shape”.

This is arrant nonsense. There are two other crucial factors as well. The first is that economy has been wrecked by 20 years of Tory rule of which she was an active and uncritical participant. The second is that and it has been ravaged by Brexit – a factor which is being deliberately ignored (or obscured) by both the government and by Kier Starmer.

The idea that Johnson ‘got Brexit done’ is a sick joke. The whole economy has been destabilised by the ending of free movement of labour and by the developing trade war with the EU – which is the UK’s biggest trading partner many times over. Brexit permeates every aspect of British political and commercial life from restricting trade relations to boosting racism and xenophobia.

Sectors such as agriculture, fishing, hospitality, retail, health care and meat processing, have been traumatised by it, whilst racism and xenophobia have been boosted. The problems created by Brexit in the North of Ireland remain entirely unresolved.

Truss’s pledge to rip up the North of Ireland Protocol if she does not get her way on it threatens both an all-out trade war with the EU, plus retaliation from Biden in terms of a future trade agreement with the US.

It remains regrettable that most of the radical left in Britain voted for Brexit. The claim that they were voting for a different kind of Brexit that did not exist makes no sense. The only Brexits on offer were those proposed by various sections of the Tory party.

Truss’s energy package

Having refused to discuss rocketing electricity bills during the election campaign – bills that were set to more than quadruple by January – she has now been forced to make a dramatic U-turn after no doubt contemplating the alternative, which was the likelihood that the current strike wave would be joined by rioting on the streets over energy prices and increasing social unrest. She also, no doubt, hopes that the package will give her political breathing space to launch the programme she really wants. We will see.

The resulting U-turn was her so-called the Energy Price Guarantee, which she refuses to put a figure on – though some estimates put it at 150 billion pounds. It will freeze household bills for two years, at  £2,500 a year. Businesses and public sector organisations like hospitals and schools will get an equivalent deal for six months, after that, only ‘vulnerable’ businesses will be supported. There will also be more licences issued to drill for oil and gas, and the ban on fracking will be lifted.

Whilst her package is better than nothing, given the scale of the problem, the average UK household will still be worse off, its energy bills will still be shockingly high, and the cost of living will continuing to rise. Many businesses see the package as little better than a stay of execution. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has calculated that it will leave low-income families with around £800 shortfall this winter, leaving them at risk of poverty or at the mercy of high-interest loans.

Her method of repayment says it all. She refuses even to contemplate a wind fall tax on the eye-watering and unexpected super-profits that are being made by the oil and gas companies and insists instead on financing by government borrowing which means that it will be paid for by taxation. She has done this under conditions where three quarters of Tory voters say they would prefer a windfall tax to more government borrowing. The long-term consequences of such borrowing, however, might prove a very hard sell.

Starmer has challenged the method of payment, but he also ruled out the nationalisation of the oil companies, arguing, ludicrously, that to do so would be too expensive. His position is a huge liability as the possibility of a Labour government comes closer.

The big losers

The biggest loser in all this – along with the poorest in society as argued above – will be the planet and the future of life on it. The Truss premiership is a direct challenge to the zero carbon reduction targets that are crucial to the protection of life on Earth. And this, moreover, with COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh only two months away.

Her perspective was challenged on the Today Program on Tuesday September 6th by none other than John Gummer (now Lord Deben), who was John Major’s Environment Secretary from 1993-97, and is now the chair of the Climate Change Committee – an independent body formed under the Climate Change Act of 2008 (i.e. under Gordon Brown) to advise the government on tackling and preparing for climate change. The Committee has long been critical of recent Tory administrations on the issue.

Gummer argued that whatever the government chooses to do or otherwise the harsh realities remain the same. Human activity has caused the global temperature to rise by 1°C since preindustrial times, and the disastrous consequences are clear to see. At the moment we are on course for an increase of 3°C and if we fail to reverse it the consequences we are seeing would at least treble.

The future, he argued, is with renewables – as is the way out of the current crisis. There are two crucial things, he insisted, that we have to do to defeat global warming and climate change – and we have to do them now. The first is to reduce carbon emissions to net zero, the other is to reduce the demand for electricity and gas via a major programme of energy conservation.

He is right, and the scope for both in the UK is enormous. Recent research by the Institute for Government found that the UK is particularly vulnerable to spikes in the price of gas since more than four-fifths of UK homes are still heated by gas boilers, which is much higher than most countries. The UK’s housing stock is also the oldest and least energy efficient in Europe. More than 52% of homes in England were built before 1965 and nearly 20 per cent before 1919.

It found that the UK scored worse than other countries in Europe in terms of the energy efficiency of its homes. Citing analysis of a 2020 study, it found that a UK home with an indoor temperature of 20C and an outside temperature of 0C lost on average 3C after five hours – up to three times as much as homes in other European countries such as Germany.

Renewables are getting cheaper whilst fossil fuels and nuclear energy are ever more expensive. Renewables are also being weaponised – in terms of both economic and military conflicts. Putin is currently holding Europe to ransom by withholding gas supplies. In Ukraine the biggest nuclear plant in Europe is being fought over in a terrifying game of (actual) Russian roulette.

Gummer warned governments that they ignore this reality at their peril. Whilst they can impede progress they can’t turn the clock back. Public opinion, he argued has moved on in recent years and people today are far more aware of the consequence if we fail to tackle climate change.

We need a programme for rapid transition to renewables on a war-preparation scale. We don’t want ‘transitional fossil fuels, or any other kind of prevarication, we want renewables and we want them now. Governments can make major changes fast when they decide to do so, economies can be  transformed within months.

This is the message that has to be taken to COP27 in November. We have to ensure that the gains of Glasgow are defended and that that new nationally determined pledges (NDPs) that are to be adopted at COP27 are radical enough to turn the corner on climate change and break the addiction to fossil fuel.

Alan Thornett, September 13 2022.




Solidarity with all protesting the imposition of an unelected King

The Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) expresses its solidarity with all those protesting the imposition of an unelected King. We condemn the fact that protesters have been charged with breach of the peace following the proclamation of Charles’ rule in Edinburgh, and demand an end to militarised policing preventing our communities from having their say.

Last week, the final act of the UK’s unelected head of state was to appoint a Prime Minister who has come to power with the votes of 0.12% of the population. A Head of Government chosen by a tiny number of Tory party members, and a Head of State anointed by an unaccountable ‘Accession Council’, to which our MPs and representatives are subordinate.

The death of Elizabeth II means the automatic appointment, with no discussion or reflection on our future, of a King manifestly unfit to represent the modern peoples of these islands. Charles is unelected, and unelectable. He would never have been chosen in a democratic system.

Never has it been more clear that the rotten structures of the British state are unfit for purpose in the 21st century.

We are told that “this is not the time” to discuss whether we wish to remain subjects of a monarchy. But the current wave of proclamations and propaganda promoting acceptance of the new King leaves republicans throughout these islands no choice but to voice our dissent. RIC insists that now is the time, and that it is vital we demand the right to have a say about our democratic future.

The passing of Elizabeth II is obviously a historic and culturally significant moment. Many people, regardless of their feelings about the monarchy as an institution, feel a sense of loss at the death of someone who has been a constant presence in our public life. For some, it leads to reflection on our own bereavements. These feelings are valid, and must be respected.

But many others strongly feel that, despite their symbolic role, the Royal family do not represent them. There is a sense of widespread unease about having to immediately adapt to a new “King”, and the current state of officially enforced mourning creates an oppressive atmosphere to which we have not consented. For those with connections to countries colonised in the name of the Crown, it is impossible to mourn someone who acted as a symbol of one of the world’s most criminal imperial powers. This reaction is equally valid and worthy of respect. RIC rejects the idea that undue deference and sycophancy are measures of anyone’s respect or humanity.

The rush to be seen to conform to state mandated grief feels more appropriate for an authoritarian regime than a modern 21st century democratic country. The mass cancellation of events, from sports to entertainment to crucial battles for workers’ rights, causes massive disruption to the lives of millions. Ambiguity about correct protocol has seen football matches cancelled while rugby and cricket continued with minutes of silence. Citizens of Edinburgh face their city once again being shut down by road closures and armed police, in order to cater to a fantasy feudal image of the past.

Coming on the heels of years of pandemic conditions which prevented socialisation, cancelled events represent the crucial loss of a mental health lifeline for their participants. Organisers will have lost time and resources that cannot be replaced. But most importantly, thousands of people in temporary, insecure and low wage employment connected to events and hospitality will lose work, in the midst of an unprecedented cost of living crisis.

RIC demands Scottish and UK governments urgently collaborate to ensure these workers receive compensation for their loss of income.

RIC notes that MPs have been invited to make a new oath of allegiance to Charles. All elected parliamentarians, in both Westminster and Holyrood, are required to swear loyalty to the British Royal family, making this new vow a symbolic formality. Nevertheless, it is a democratic affront that our representatives do not swear to serve the people that elected them, and we call on all Scottish MPs to actively boycott this further demonstration of subservience.

The imposition of a new monarch simply crowns the completely anti-democratic nature of the British state in Scotland. Her elevation at the hands of Tory party members makes Liz Truss the 9th Tory Prime Minister which Scotland has not voted for since 1955. She has variously promised to refuse Scotland’s democratic right to self-determination through a second independence referendum, and to attempt to gerrymander the franchise. Her proposed restrictions on a future vote would have seen her fail to win the Tory leadership if imposed on her own contest. RIC demands the unelected UK Tory regime cease its attempts to prevent Scotland holding an independence referendum in 2023.

Contrary to what is often claimed, the monarchy play a key role in the continued anti-democratic nature of the British state. The monarch is consulted on legislation, leading to anomalies like the fact that the Royal household is exempt from laws against racial and gender discrimination in employment. It’s widely expected that Charles will use his audiences with the UK government to push for his own personal hobbyhorse issues, in complete defiance of democratic scrutiny. The fact that new Tory Prime Minister, Liz Truss, is to accompany Charles on a tour of the UK demolishes the myth that the monarchy is apolitical.

But crucially, it is the Crown as an institution that allows British governments to act with impunity, declaring wars or states of emergency without oversight should they so wish. The Crown Powers are at the heart of the UK’s unwritten constitution, and must be abolished if we are to live in a democratic society.

The death of Elizabeth II also marks a moment of deep reflection for formerly colonised countries and their descendants, from Jamaica to Australia. Their citizens must now decide to either amend their constitutions to recognise Charles, or move forward to a modern democratic republic. RIC expresses our solidarity with all societies shedding themselves of the legacy of British imperialism. We demand that in addition to relinquishing their role as head of state, the Royal family begin to make reparations for the enrichment of their ancestors through the plunder of the British Empire.

RIC pledges to oppose all efforts to legitimise the rule of “King” Charles with vocal and public protest, in line with the long history of dissent represented by the common people and republican movements of these islands. We call on all those who support democracy to join us.

  • RIC is supporting a solidarity demonstration outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday 30th September, 9.45am. You can find more information on Facebook.
FRIDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2022 AT 09:45 UTC+01

Defend the Right to Protest

Edinburgh Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court



Being a transgender woman at the International Youth Camp

by Sister from Scotland

In July this year, I attended my first ever International Youth Summer Camp. While I may have been a committed Leninist for a long time, and while I have been a member of the Fourth International’s Scottish section for a few years now, unfortunately those years fell amid the COVID-19 pandemic and thus were deprived of camps. So by Summer of this year, I was especially excited to finally attend the camp as part of a delegation made up of comrades from Scotland (along with some dear international friends based in England!). It being my first ever time would have made this camp a special occasion all by itself, but there was another, much more personal reason why I was so excited to be taking part: This was going to be my first time living publicly as a woman.

You see, I am a transgender woman. But so far I have been a very cautious and closeted trans woman. I am really early on in my transition, and until recently the only people I have truly been myself around are fellow trans people from the queer movement. And even then, I’ve only presented as a woman in small gatherings of trusted friends and partners. But I decided that this time, at the camp, I was going to take a leap into the unknown: I was going to dress, present, live as the woman I really am, for the duration of the camp. I was going to introduce myself to my comrades.

It is a general point with me, that I do not take leaps into the unknown very often. I am one of those people who are very easily caught and stuck by indecision when it comes to big choices. I am a woman, but a fearful one. I want to show my face: I want to be known and thought of and spoken to and loved as a woman, but I am afraid. I am a woman, but most of the time I am silent and hidden, buried deep in the closet. So what led me to take a leap, for once?

Two things. Firstly, I was impressed by the Fourth International’s approach to identity issues. Not just their historical involvement in the feminist movement, but also the ongoing commitment to racial justice, feminism and queer struggle that I could see upheld in the various sections of the international. Of course, historical and programmatic commitments, while inspiring and appealing to a closeted trans woman like me, would not alone have been enough to convince me to bare myself so truthfully and openly.

It was the second thing that was decisive. It might seem small to you, reader, but it was simply getting the chance, a few months before the camp, to meet some members of the Danish section who introduced themselves with they/them pronouns. Here they were, some gender dissidents just like me, clear and queer among their fellow comrades without a worry. It occurred sharply to me, right then and there, that if I was just a little bit braver, I could be like that!

Well, that decided it. With a good deal of panicked, excited sincerity, I told those comrades about myself, I mean really, truly about myself, and told them that I wanted to come out at the camp. They were supportive and cheerful, and looking forward to knowing the real me when we met again in France. And so, I had now committed myself. I won’t lie: It was a decision I would worry and fret about as the camp drew near. This was natural, obviously. I was about to come out to about two hundred people, and across multiple language barriers too! Would I get tangled up in explaining myself? Would there be misunderstandings? Would some people turn out to be bigots? I had reason to be more than a little nervous: A depressing number of times in my years on the left, I have seen how easily some supposedly progressive “comrades” have dropped the act and morphed into reactionary dogs when challenged by actually-existing trans people with ideas and opinions.

However, I was also buoyed by a kind of feverish anticipation. The simple prospect of cutting the bullshit, dropping my boyish disguise and being totally honest seemed so radical, so wonderful, so liberating, that I could not wait to get to France. Besides, I knew full well that to be openly myself at the camp was a political commitment, not just a personal one. I am both a militant in a battle for my own civil rights and a socialist, and I feel it is my duty as a transgender socialist to do my best to bring together the causes of trans rights and socialism into one struggle. I firmly believe that the perspectives of trans people are valuable, and that the socialist movement is lessened by their absence, just as it is lessened by the absence of black perspectives or disabled perspectives. If the patriarchy tries to turn gender into a binary of bitterly opposed frontlines, then gender rebels like me are well positioned to show how these frontlines are vulnerable to permeation, sabotage and mutiny. We cannot be quiet, not when we have so much to give, so much to talk about, so much to teach. And so, I felt compelled to raise my voice: A woman’s voice, loud, sharp and liberated.

As the fateful date approached I made some preparations, like telling the other members of the Scottish delegation, and coming out to a few comrades I had already met. Their support and acceptance was a welcome boost, and it really cemented my resolve and confidence to know that they would have my back during the camp. And when, after the long journey down to the campsite, the time finally came to commit to things and reveal my true self, it was good to be able to take the first steps with some help from comrades. I remember, on the first morning of the camp, speaking with my delegation, airing out some last-minute nerves and making absolutely sure that, in the event of any exclusion or bigotry, I could count on them to help me assert my right to be there as the woman I am.

Thankfully though, all that worrying was completely needless. I got so hung up on potential issues and fears, only for them to dissolve the moment I walked out into the sun in a dress and began introducing myself. I don’t think I was prepared for how natural it all felt, as if I had been doing this my entire life. Whether it was a comrade who had previously met me as a “boy”, or whether it was someone entirely new, things went so smoothly that I was a little bit shocked. But only a little bit, because the dominant emotion I felt was joy – pure, riotous, joy.

This wonderful feeling would develop into a deep sense of fulfilment as the days passed. Yes, as one of a handful of trans women at the camp, I was in an extreme minority, but it hardly felt that way. On the contrary, the blanket response of my sisters was to welcome and include me, and as I spent time participating in the women’s discussion spaces, learning, sharing ideas and helping to plan actions, I came to realise some things: chiefly, that this was the first time I properly felt a part of a women’s movement.

I am a feminist. The problem is though, that the feminist movement in Scotland and the UK is in a parlous, disorganised state compared to the women’s movement in the rest of the world. Feminism in these gloomy islands can’t boast of mass, vibrant, militant women’s strikes and demonstrations in the way that Argentinian or Portuguese or Polish or Chilean feminism can. In addition, the feminist movement here is so riven by culture war junk and middle class transphobia, that it feels pretty difficult for a trans woman like me to feel safe or welcome taking part in what little we have. There is that constant worry with the movement back home, a lingering fear that solidarity is something that can easily be revoked when the sister doesn’t fit some arbitrary biological or social norm.

I had no such worries among the women at the camp. Here I experienced live, determined, militant sisterhood, a sisterhood ferocious in combat yet caring and inclusive towards its own, a sisterhood committed to mass revolutionary struggle. And I was welcome implicitly, no questions asked! As I sat in meetings surrounded almost totally by cisgender women, I felt utterly at ease, a circumstance which honestly surprised me. I reflected that, were I in a similar setting in the UK, I would be a lot more nervous and on-edge, the familiar fear gnawing at me and making me wonder whether my inclusion might suddenly be subject to withdrawal on some bigot’s whim. But here, among revolutionary socialist women, I was as much a woman as any other, a comrade to be loved and supported.

And this love and support helped me realise something else, too: The sheer difference which living in an honest manner makes to my ability to express emotions. I’ve long been aware of how enforced masculinity has marked and scarred me in various ways. Throughout childhood, I was conditioned, punished and harassed into acting and thinking like a boy by various forces, whether they be the ways patriarchal society moulds the minds of children to adopt certain gender roles, the way kids learn to laugh at girly “faggots” and “trannies”, or the way an overly emotional child is relentlessly bullied for being “soft” and “effeminate”, too much of a “crybaby”. This prolonged campaign against the personality of the child induces a painful kind of alienation- Confused and afraid, bombarded by the world around you, the easiest response is just to give in and try and fit the role as well as you can, even if it means doing as the oppressor wants and shutting away parts of yourself. Sure, it might make you less of a target, and you might be convinced that it’s better to try and be “normal” and “just like the other boys”, but it never, ever, feels right. Even though you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong and why you feel so at odds with yourself, you simply cannot ignore the pain, no matter how much you scream at yourself to shut up and conform. It’s hard to be at peace when you’re mutilating yourself.

This is something that you gradually confront as you begin to wake up and process the fact that you’ve been brainwashed, but you really do not realise the extent to which your identity has been dulled by living a lie until the burden of the lie is gone. It’s something I’ve been approaching as I’ve shared my womanhood with loved and trusted friends, but the scale, duration and public nature of my doing so at the camp, and in front of so many cis people simultaneously, affected me in ways I hadn’t prepared for. It shook me, but in the most wonderful way possible. Living so naturally and freely as a woman was like coming home to myself. Suddenly, I was so much less inhibited and so much more confident in expressing my feelings and emotions. Years of self-censorship and self-scrutiny have led me to mentally check myself in countless ways whenever I’m with other people, but here I didn’t need to think about how I acted and expressed myself at all- Everything just flowed naturally.

So here I was, accessing those alienated parts of my personality that had been walled off and hidden by a childhood of having to be a boy. Here I was: A confident, affectionate, goofy, relaxed woman, perfectly at ease among her sisters and comfortable in her own skin. It felt so good to throw all the old defense mechanisms, all the nerves, all the congealed boy shit- in short, all my chains- right into the trash. How lightly you breathe when you aren’t chained down!

This is what made the Youth Camp so special for me. I think it speaks to the way that the Camp functions as a space for a kind of pre-figurative politics, a way of testing out some elements of socialism via collective, co-operative living. The ability to express yourself exactly as you wish to at the Camp, there among your fellow militants, is a miniature of that limitless expression of the human personality that will be the right and freedom of everyone under socialism. I may be back in Scotland now, and I may be remaining quite closeted for the time being, but I nevertheless see the camp as marking an important milestone in my transition. It has inspired me, and given me strength and determination. I have had a sample of full, liberated womanhood, and I want it every day of my life. Yes, the world will not always receive me as enthusiastically as my comrades have done, and yes, the struggle for freedom will be long and difficult, but I also know what’s at stake and what’s to be won, if only I, we, all of us women dare! And I know that it can only be so through collective, revolutionary sisterhood. We will go forward over the corpse of the patriarchy, arms linked and voices raised as one.

Our bodies, our choice!

Every woman a sister, every sister a revolutionary!

8 September 2022

Sister from Scotland is a Fourth International supporter.

Article also published by International Viewpoint & Anti Capitalist Resistance:

https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7813  

https://anticapitalistresistance.org/being-a-transgender-woman-at-the-international-youth-camp/




The experience of the International Youth camp, an essential political moment!

The International Youth camp took place from 23 to 29 July 2022 in Vieure, France. After two years of suspension due to Covid-19, the gathering is a week of self-managed camp that this year brought together more than 200 young revolutionaries from different parts of Europe, but also from Ukraine, Russia, Brazil and Mexico to celebrate the 37th edition of the youth camps of the Fourth International.

This annual camp is dedicated to indepth discussion of different themes, to the sharing of our local and international struggles and to the developing of common strategies and actions. Each day is divided into several parts. The mornings are reserved for plenary educationals on themes such as ecosocialism, feminist and LGBTQIA+ struggles, imperialism, anti-racism, anti-fascism, class struggle as youth and strategic approaches. This year we had guests such as Andreas Malm (Socialistika Partiet, Sweden), Olivia Borchmann (SUF, Denmark), Julien Salingue (NPA, France), Laurent Sorel, (Gauche Éco-Socialiste, ex Ensemble Insoumis, France), Marta Autore (Comunia, Italy) and Jonathan Simmel (SUF, Denmark)

The afternoons are mainly aimed at highlighting specific concepts or situations arising from the theme of the plenary. They consist of concrete workshops on different struggles, inter-delegation meetings to deepen our international knowledge and share strategies of struggle, but also non-mixed spaces for self-organisation of feminist, LGBTQIA+ and anti-racist struggles. In order to build and elaborate a real internationalist struggle, standing commissions on the Russian imperialist war in Ukraine and ecosocialism today were also on the agenda. A declaration in solidarity with the resistance of the Ukrainian people was also adopted.

Throughout the busy stay, the camp also remains a place for practising self-management where young activists manage the different daily tasks from cleaning to multilingual interpretation. There are also voluntary tasks such as the awareness team (to deal with conflicts or personal concerns) or the care team (which acts as a preventative measure and ensures the well-being of everyone) that allow us to make the space as safe as possible and to carry out certain tasks around care.

This kind of political practice is even more indispensable in a materialist perspective. The neoliberal capitalist system in which we live shapes our thinking; in other words, our consciousness is constructed according to the world around us. Throughout the year we fight this system, even when the revolution seems far away, we know that the struggle is permanent and on all fronts. For many participants, far from being a utopian space outside the system, the camp, by its organization and structure, allows us to have a foretaste of a self-managed internationalist communist solidarity society requiring perpetual adjustments in order to ensure the proper functioning of community life. Indeed, during meetings between FI youth delegates in preparation for the camp, the camp is constantly redefined each year on the basis of previous criticisms. The camp is organized by the member organizations or those close to the Fourth International in Europe, and its construction is ongoing and international.

This political moment is an essential exercise that acts as a catalyst facilitating the sharing of experiences, a festive atmosphere and above all a true spirit of camaraderie. The experience of the youth camp is essential in the construction of tomorrow’s anti-capitalist, ecosocialist, feminist, queer, anti-racist, anti-fascist and internationalist society.

Translated by International Viewpoint from Gauche Anticapitaliste  Originally published at: https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7766




“Total, BP or Shell will not voluntarily give up their profits. We have to become stronger than them…” Interview with Andreas Malm

Andreas Malm is a Swedish ecosocialist activist and author of several books on fossil capital, global warming and the need to change the course of events initiated by the burning of fossil fuels over the last two centuries of capitalist development. The Jeunes Anticapitalistes (the youth branch of the Gauche Anticapitaliste, the Belgian section of the Fourth International) met him at the 37th Revolutionary Youth Camp organized in solidarity with the Fourth International in France this summer, where he was invited as a speaker.

As left-wing activists in the climate movement, we sometimes feel stuck by what can be seen as a lack of strategic perspectives within the movement. How can we radicalize the climate movement and why does the movement need a strategic debate in your opinion?

I share the feeling, but of course it depends on the local circumstances – this Belgian “Code Red” action, this sort of Ende Gelände or any similar kind of thing, sounds promising to me, but you obviously know much more about it than I do. In any case, the efforts to radicalize the climate movement and let it grow can look different in different circumstances.

One way is to try to organize this kind of big mass actions of the Ende Gelände type, and I think that’s perhaps the most useful thing we can do. But of course, there are also sometimes opportunities for working within movements like Fridays for Future or Extinction Rebellion for that matter and try to pull them in a progressive direction as well as to make them avoid making tactical mistakes and having an apolitical discourse. In some places, I think that this strategy can be successful. Of course, one can also consider forming new more radical climate groups that might initially be pretty small, but that can be more radical in terms of tactics and analysis, and sort of pull others along, or have a “radical flank” effect. So, I don’t have one model for how to do this – it really depends on the state of the movement in the community where you live and obviously the movement has ups and downs (it went quite a lot down recently after the outbreak of the pandemic, but hopefully we’ll see it move back up).

Finally, it’s obviously extremely important to have our own political organizations that kind of act as vessels for continuity and for accumulating experiences, sharing them and exchanging ideas. Our own organizations can also be used as platforms for taking initiatives within movements or together with movements.

For some of us, our first big climate action was during the COP 15 in 2009 in Copenhagen. Now we are in 2022 – what do you think are the lessons that the climate movement has learned since then?

The COP 15 in Copenhagen was a turning point. I was very active in the run-up to COP 15 and was part of the group that organized the big demonstration there. But the sense that most of us had in the movement after COP 15 was a general sense of failure. Of course, the COP itself was a massive failure, but we also realized that the demonstrations and direct actions didn’t really have an impact. The movement realized that the focus on the COP summits that we had had up until then didn’t really make sense at all, and it was largely after that that you saw a decisive turn towards opposition to fossil fuel projects, blockades, climate camps and things like that.

I think that this strategic turn will have to be reinforced, particularly given the fact that this year’s COP will be held in Egypt and next year’s COP will be held in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. These two countries are both completely inhospitable to dissent – it’s impossible to organize anything on the ground there and so this is different from the most recent COP happening in Glasgow. The climate movement will have to organize things in other places – we can’t bring activists to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, this resort town where the summit will happen. So, these two upcoming COPs should be occasions for the movement to pull off mass actions at various places around the world at that time, targeting fossil fuel projects.

I was at the COP 26 in Glasgow last November. Again, there was a very big demonstration – something like 100,000 people, – again, there was an alternative “people’s forum”, and I had a sense of déjà vu. This is something that we’ve been doing for a long time and it doesn’t really get us anywhere. One very brilliant comrade in the climate movement in Portugal, João Camargo, expressed in discussions around Glasgow and in a piece he wrote that we need to decisively turn our backs on the COP process because it’s so useless. As I said, the upcoming two COPs really should be just an opportunity to escalate the struggle in which we engage regardless of COPs.

Carrying on with the strategic and tactical issues, in your talk the other day you mentioned the question of the role of the workers and the workers’ movement as they are (and they are obviously very different in the different countries). You elaborate a lot on how to block the most destructive fossil infrastructures and companies; how do you see that in relation to the workers – not only in these sectors but more generally – and the workers’ movement as you know it – be it the Swedish example or other countries?

I think I phrased this a bit unfortunately the other day and I came across as too dismissive of trade unions. That wasn’t really my intention. My concrete experience over the past few years in relation to trade unions has been pretty limited, but my sort of horizon is northern European and in Sweden the trade unions are completely indifferent to the climate issue probably more so than in even in Norway and Denmark. Swedish unions are totally ignorant and uninterested and also totally incapable of putting up a fight for their members interests. We have no strikes in Sweden any longer. This is probably an exception rather than the rule, but the level of class struggle in Sweden is so low that from my point of view it’s extremely hard to imagine that all of a sudden organized labor in Sweden would rise to the occasion and become an important player in climate politics.

In Germany, which is where I have a little bit more concrete experience of climate activism to an extent, the situation is a little bit more complicated. On the one hand, with the Fridays for Future movement in 2019, which was stronger and larger in Germany than anywhere else, you had a moment in the autumn of 2019 when you had a trade union component to these strikes and the big public sector union called on its members to join. On the other hand, you have a very negative experience from the struggle around coal in Germany – which is really a key struggle in the whole European field of climate politics – where the big trade unions have resisted calls for an immediate or even early phase-out of coal and have been very retrograde in clinging to coal.

Out of this experience a position has emerged that has been articulated by my dear friend and comrade Tadzio Müller, who has been sort of a key organizer, strategist and thinker of Ende Gelände. He now almost says that he considers the working class in the global North to be more or less part of the enemy – he thinks that the organized working class is so invested in the existing economy that it will just defend coal and similar things like it has in general. Then there is an opposite position which is very forcefully articulated by another friend in common, Matt Huber, in his recent book Climate Change as Class War. Building Socialism on a Warming Planet: he says that the only hope for climate politics is to activate the forces of organized labor and that it’s only by turning towards the working class – including by taking jobs in the industry, something like the old industrial turn that we had in the 80s – that we can make any progress on the climate front. So the organized working class is the only conceivable subject of a climate revolution. So these are like polar opposites and here I find myself advocating a kind of centrist position between these two. I cannot accept the idea that the working class is part of the enemy – not even coal workers – but on the other hand I don’t really believe in the idea that organized labor will be the prime mover of the climate front. I think the prime mover of the climate struggle will be and is a climate movement that isn’t defined around class. I think there are three routes for someone to be interested in the question of climate: 1) having some kind of personal experience of adverse weather which is becoming more and more common; 2) having knowledge of the severity of the crisis without having personally experienced it, which isn’t very hard to get by and doesn’t require a PhD or any university degree; 3) being animated by solidarity with people who suffer from climate disasters around the world. I would think that these are the three main routes into the commitment to climate struggle and none of these routes necessarily pass through the point of production. So it’s potentially a funnel that draws people into the climate movement from various points along the landscape of class society.

The movement that emerged in 2019 was largely defined not along the lines of class or race or gender, but rather of age. It was primarily a youth phenomenon – with Fridays for Future in particular – and there is a logic to that because the climate crisis has a very distinct temporal aspect: it’s young people who will have to deal with this through the rest of their lives while old people have perhaps benefited from the fossil economy and won’t see as much of the damage. I think this needs to be theorized and to an extent accepted and understood that the age component of the climate struggle will be significant in the coming mobilizations. I think that Matt Huber and others who argue along similar lines as he does are correct insofar as the climate movement needs an alliance with the working class and with segments of organized labor to amass sufficient strength to turn these things around. The climate movement has to make sure that its politics are compatible with working class interests and can converge with those interests. But that’s something else than putting all eggs in the basket of an industrial turn or proletarianization of the climate movement, which I think would be a strategic dead-end. Now the promise of the Green New Deal and of all these kinds of initiatives that we’ve seen in recent years – which haven’t come to fruition unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean that they’re useless or doomed – that the climate transition goes hand in hand with improving the standards of living for workers and strengthening the bargaining power in the political position of the working class is something that needs to be pursued further.

When it comes to the concrete tactical questions about relating to workers when you are having a blockade, again, from the German experience I think it would be a massive mistake – a workerist error if you like – to prioritize good relations with the coal workers over having an effective blockade that temporarily damages the interests of these workers because you close their mines for a few days or something like that. There have been numerous initiatives to try to establish contact and dialogue with coal workers in Germany and it’s been very unsuccessful, particularly in the east where the coal workers rather tend to move towards the far right – the Alternative für Deutschland, AfD – as a defense of their interests because the AfD wants to continue with coal forever and doesn’t believe in the existence of the climate crisis. Then again, we definitely shouldn’t give up on the idea that the type of transition we want to see has to ensure that workers in sectors that have to be dismantled completely get equivalent or better jobs, preferably in the places where they live so they don’t have to move. This should be a key component of the transition. But eventually you can’t expect workers in the fossil fuel industry itself to take the initiative for closing down that industry – it’s a basic Marxist insight that their immediate day-to-day class interest is of course to keep their jobs. So the initiative to close that industry down has to come from the outside and the blockade is a manifestation of this: we’re coming from the outside and we want to shut this sector down because it’s necessary. But you don’t want to make these workers your enemies and you don’t want to consider them the enemy – you want to tell them that unfortunately they are employed in a sector that has to be shut down but that we are demanding that the transition ensures that they get equivalent or better jobs where they live.

I really felt the mistake I made the other day – coming across as too dismissive of the trade unions – when I was at this workshop about eco-unionism, where I heard several cases – some of them I knew about – of workers in factories actually proposing a conversion of their production. We’ve had a comrade in the Swedish section of the Fourth International (FI) who has been doing absolutely heroic work in the metal workers’ union in the auto industry for decades; he has been trying to establish the idea that auto workers can save their jobs by proposing a conversion of their plants to something like electrical boxes or wind turbines or whatever it is that could be used for the for the transition. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t made any progress because he’s so isolated and the trade union bureaucracy has such complete control. I have sort of followed his efforts for two decades, and he’s banging his head against the wall of trade union bureaucracy trying to get somewhere with this idea. I’ve sort of lost faith in it because it hasn’t produced any results; but in cases where it does produce results, I’m obviously extremely excited and happy to be proven wrong. Nothing would make me happier than the spreading of these kinds of examples of workers in factories having ideas about the transition.

A glimpse of hope from Belgium then. It’s not like the trade unions are very green and climate friendly – well, they say they are but in reality they’re not, as demonstrated for instance by their position in favor of the extension of the airport in Liège to build a hub for Alibaba’s activities in Europe – but still, in the 2019 Youth for Future movement, we saw a new group called Workers for Climate that was created by grassroots and left-wing unionists. What’s more, the main unions – including the bureaucracies – sent delegations to the demonstrations, and the most progressive wings of the CSC union, organizing for instance the retail workers but also the aviation branch, officially covered the workers who would strike. It’s very symbolic, but still it was made public and the workers received the information that they could go on strike and be covered by the union.

This is a universe away from Sweden, it would never happen there – but it’s great!

Another thing: in the Belgian public transport sector, there is a real interest in the climate issue. This reminds of the statement by Naomi Klein that railway workers on strike are actually struggling for climate. There may be some sectors of the working class and some unions in some countries that could more easily be reached regarding the climate issue.

My limited understanding of Belgium is that you still have a fairly significant industrial manufacturing sector and a working class that every now and then engages in some serious battle for its interests. So you have some class struggle happening in Belgium – we have nothing in Sweden, absolutely nothing! But where there is class struggle happening, of course the potential exists for workers themselves taking initiatives or for the climate movement drawing them in or for convergence or productive interaction, and this should be taken up. It’s exclusively a question of the level of intensity of the class struggle. At the COP 26 for instance, there was this strike happening in Glasgow by garbage collectors, and Greta Thunberg approached them and expressed her support for their strike, and they joined the big march. That’s just one example of how these things can play out. Sweden is perhaps an extreme case, but the problem is that generally I think that the intensity of working class struggles is very low compared to what it was in the 80s, 70s, 60s – not to mention of course the 1920s. If the climate issue had exploded in the 1950s and 60s, it could have played out completely differently. Now it has exploded in a moment of doldrums where the working class is historically quite weak.

One last example of how at some point we could find another potential, in Belgium at least: during the last general strike before the pandemic, in February 2019, the airspace was shut down and there were no flights at all for 24 hours. This shows what unions are still able to do and how they could potentially change things for real. On another note: now there is a huge energy crisis which is also part of the reason why there is a very high inflation in several countries, and this is a major topic which is being discussed within the labor movement in general and which also mobilizes people to demonstrate. Could there be a point of convergence here, where we can easily highlight the need to solve the energy crisis for environmental reasons as well as for social reasons?

Absolutely. I guess that two demands should be efficient in that situation. First, roll out renewables as fast as possible, also because they’re now cheaper than fossil fuels actually, so the cost of a unit of electricity is lower if it comes from wind and solar than if it comes from any fossil fuel in Europe. There should be massive public investments in order to deploy renewables as fast as possible. Secondly, in this situation of rising energy prices, it should be seen as fundamentally perverse that private oil and gas companies are swimming in these insane superprofits and you should be able to whip up some kind of public anger about these.

Definitely. In France – but probably also elsewhere – there has been a proposal from the parliamentary Left to implement a special tax on these profits – and even a limited number of Macron’s MPs, who usually act as loyal soldiers for his authoritarian neoliberalism, seem to be inclined to agree on this idea. Now these are immediate demands, but you also put forward transitional demands to be taken up by the climate movement, i.e. demands that enter in direct contradiction with the ongoing capital accumulation. What are some of these demands?

One of them is the demand for not a single additional fossil fuel installation or infrastructure. This can apply to an airport, a highway or a gas terminal or oil pipeline among other things. Another transitional demand – and obviously none of this is my invention, it’s something that is being discussed more and more – is nationalizing the private energy companies and taking over oil and gas and coal companies and forcing them to do something different, to stop their extraction of fossil fuels as fast as humanly possible and perhaps instead roll out renewable energy or even engage in carbon dioxide removal – that means taking down CO2 from the atmosphere in one way or another. But these are only two dimensions, they are not the only ones and again, it depends on where you find yourself. In some countries, the oil and gas and coal sectors are already nationalized – there, you would have to formulate this differently.

You mentioned carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which is a great opportunity to discuss geoengineering. You warn a lot about solar geoengineering and Naomi Klein also does, and we can fully understand why when we see the nightmare it could be when we read or hear about that. Yet in the media in general there is not much writing about that – then again, you say you fear that it might come out all at once – and we seem to hear much more about carbon dioxide removal. Why is that? What’s your take on solar geoengineering? And what’s your take on carbon dioxide removal – given the state of things now, is it becoming unavoidable as a necessary yet insufficient part of the solution, to be deployed next to massive reductions of emissions?

This is a massive field which we can talk about for hours. I have a research project on this topic with a Belgian colleague from Lund university, who is also a friend and comrade, Wim Carton. We have a research grant and this coming autumn we will do research with a whole team of interns – made up of students from my Master’s program in human ecology – on various aspects of carbon dioxide removal. We will write a book with Verso in the spring, which would be about both carbon dioxide removal and solar geoengineering and whose working title right now is Overshoot. Climate Politics When It’s Too Late. I spent the past couple of months writing about solar geoengineering and trying to understand it. This might sound bizarre but I’m trying to use psychoanalysis to understand solar geoengineering because it has the component of repressing a problem as in the Freudian model of repression, where you push something out of the conscious so that it appears not to exist, but under the surface it’s bubbling and sooner or later it explodes.

CDR and solar geoengineering need to be distinguished as they work in different ways. You’re absolutely right that solar geoengineering isn’t much talked about. Some vulgar Marxists have sort of anticipated that big fossil fuel companies would promote solar geoengineering as a way continuing with business-as-usual. That has not happened: neither ExxonMobil nor any other big fossil company say anything about solar geoengineering, nor is there any government that’s advocating it and there’s no far right party advocating it – although during the Trump era there was this expectation that he would soon flip over into advocating solar geoengineering, none of that has happened. On the contrary, carbon dioxide removal, which works very differently, is something that all the big oil and gas companies say that they are planning on doing as part of their net zero propaganda, and you can see far right parties – someone here on this camp mentioned Berlusconi the other day – advocating in favor of planting trees and things like that, and there are also a lot of startups and capitalist companies who see carbon dioxide removal – perhaps particularly direct air capture – as a new line of business where you can produce commodities and make profit from them. So you have this sort of the burgeoning field of business opportunities in CDR that doesn’t exist in solar geoengineering because that doesn’t produce any new commodities that you can sell.

There are many differences between them but another one is that CDR, just as you suggested, is going to be necessary because the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is already too high. We need to get CO2 down from the atmosphere, back under the ground, locked into subsurface storage – where it was originally before it was taken out in the form of fossil fuels and set on fire. The only way to do that on a massive scale seems to be to use some kind of advanced technology – planting trees is not going to be enough because you can’t return carbon to the passive part of the carbon cycle, under the ground, just by planting trees. Planting trees affects the active carbon cycle, but to get it back sequestered under the ground, where it’s locked out geologically from the active carbon cycle, you need something else. A technology like direct air capture has promise in this respect because it can actually capture CO2 and mineralize it, so you turn it into stone under the ground.

There are now plants on Iceland doing that and it’s essentially a proven technology, but the problem there in our analysis – Wim and I wrote an article about this in Historical Materialism – is that this technology is being captured by private interests who don’t see any profits potential in taking the carbon and burying it underground, because that means that you essentially put a resource out of the business cycle. What they can do instead to make profit is to capture the CO2 and turn it into a product such as synthetic jet fuel or they can use it in fertilizers or capture CO2 and sell it as fizz to Coca-Cola – this is what Climeworks, one of the big direct air capture companies, does. When you use it as a commodity, then you can make a profit, but that’s just recycling the carbon because it doesn’t actually put it under the ground. So if you want to put it under the ground you need to sort of liberate this technology from the compulsion to make profit – that’s our view.

Solar geoengineering on the other hand is a very different story because it comes with so many dangers of messing with the climate system. The biggest risk, of course, is what is known as the termination shock: if you do solar geoengineering, you have this sunscreen but you continue to build up CO2 in the atmosphere; what happens is that all of this CO2 in the atmosphere is just waiting to exercise its radiative forcing – its impact on the climate; – so if the sunscreen is taken down for some reason, boom, all of a sudden this accumulated CO2 creates an enormous rise in temperatures. (Picture boiling water on which you put a lid and it continues to boil, it burns hotter and hotter, and then you take away the lid and the whole boiling water comes out of the pot.) That could lead to the most unimaginably disastrous spike in temperatures and there are all sorts of other dangers with geoengineering. Therefore, solar geoengineering isn’t something that people on the left should advocate for, and here I part company with someone like Kim Stanley Robinson for instance. He’s a novelist who wrote a great novel called The Ministry for the Future, probably the best climate fiction so far, but he advocates in favor of solar geoengineering – which forms a big part of that book – from sort of a left-wing perspective. A colleague of mine, Holly Jean Buck, does the same thing in the US: she’s written about solar geoengineering, and she says that this is something that the left should look upon as a potentially useful technology.

I don’t think it is useful, I don’t think we should ever advocate it, but we should prepare for it because it’s so likely that it will start; the likeliness does not come from any aggressive sponsorship, so far like we said it’s almost never talked about, but there is a logic to it which is that there is only one known technology that has a potential to immediately reduce temperatures on earth. Carbon dioxide removal would have effect over decades, and likewise, if we were to stop emissions now you wouldn’t see a drop in temperatures – you would see the temperatures rising more slowly and then perhaps flattening out. If you are in a situation where you feel we are in a total emergency and we have to do something and reduce temperatures, the only thing you can do to accomplish that is to shoot sulfate clouds into the atmosphere. It’s the only known technological option for doing this. With every summer, with every new season of disasters, my feeling is OK, when will the order be given to implement geoengineering? When will things break, when will the system snap and when will there be a sudden real sense of emergency that – as in during the pandemic – we have to do something and when will there be this moment where governments start looking around: “what can we do? The American West is on fire”, or becoming a desert, or the entire Europe is burning or whatever? And then there is only one thing you can do.

If we are in such a moment and the planes take off, I’m not saying we should for instance shoot down those planes or sabotage them or something like that. But we should think about what a left strategy in such a moment would be because it looks increasingly likely for strictly logical structural reasons. There are more and more signs that part of the sort of bourgeois intelligentsia is moving towards this. For instance, there is a think tank called the Paris Peace Forum which aspires to be like the World Economic Forum in geopolitics – they have put together a commission on overshoot which is chaired by Pascal Lamy who was previously chairing the WTO, and he said a few months back that we need to look into geoengineering, that there is no other way… You know this guy?

Yes, he is or used to be a neoliberal member of the Social-Democrats in France, he was EU commissioner for trade and then he went to the WTO…

Right. Another sign is that about a year ago the US National Academy of Sciences put out a long report advocating a national research program into geoengineering, and I think that it’s far more likely that Biden and the Democrats initiate moves towards this than Trump and the Republicans. So this is something to closely monitor and prepare for.

This leads us to the question about the state. Many people and many leftists say that the climate and more generally the ecological disaster is a reason why we need to take up the question of the state and not only focus on something like local alternative societies, because it’s so global and so bad and it will require so many investments and decisions and so on, that you need to find something as a state to act. But then of course there is the question of what kind of state we are thinking of. You talk about it a bit in in your book on the pandemic – it would be interesting to explore that question.

Fundamentally, I think that the observation is correct that this crisis, however it’s dealt with, is going to be dealt with by the state. Solar geoengineering would be an incredibly extreme intervention into the whole planetary system and it would be carried out by some states. Carbon dioxide removal on a large scale obviously requires massive involvement from the state. Emissions reductions also require the state because the reductions will have to be so big and quick and comprehensive that no other agent than the state can conceivably do it. Here we should point out that all scientists who advocate carbon dioxide removal and/or solar geoengineering are perfectly clear that none of this will work without massive emissions reductions. Those who advocate solar geoengineering nowadays never say that we can do this instead of emissions reductions, they say that we have to do both at the same time; the question is “is it really likely that both happen at the same time?” They think so, I think that’s an optimistic illusion. What I mean here is that there is no serious way out of the climate crisis without massive emissions reductions, and they have to be extraordinarily fast and deep and radical.

Now in whichever path states follow, I think states will undergo changes into their character. If you have a state that is implementing solar geoengineering, that state will become extremely powerful because it will rule the climate of the planet, so you would have all sorts of dangers of authoritarianism and extremely centralized control over climatic conditions in other parts of the world. There are all sorts of scenarios: solar geoengineering might cause monsoon failure in India or some other very bad side effect somewhere in the global South. But the state that does geoengineering – it could be the US for instance – will probably continue regardless and thereby exercise incredibly centralized power over humanity.

Now a state that undertakes massive emissions reductions could also change character. it might be authoritarian because it needs very forceful steering of the economy and of society if you’re going to have these rapid emissions reductions. But there could also of course be a deepening of the democratic substance of that state: for instance if you nationalize private fossil fuel companies, what you do is that you essentially extend the democracy to the sphere of energy production. In other words, you put it under public control and take one sector of the economy into the hands of the democratic polity, which in a way pushes against the limits of bourgeois democracy which says that democracy is this strictly political sphere and that the economy is a sphere that runs itself and should not be intruded. If you take over the energy sector and put it inside the political sphere then you sort of extend democracy into the economy. I think that a real transition requires this kind of deepening of democracy and that it can take on potentially something like a rupture, a revolutionary change in the sense that if you are ever going to accomplish this you probably have to defeat a very important part of the class enemy because it’s not like Total or BP or Shell will voluntarily give up and say “OK, take our companies and we will never again have any profits and we’re just going out of business and dying voluntarily”. That’s not how it works usually in history. So if we are going to accomplish that, we need to become stronger than them which is a very tall order because they are so much stronger than us right now. So we need to become stronger than them and if we were to defeat them, then that doesn’t necessarily mean total social revolution but it’s a change in property relations that could perhaps set in motion a process that goes beyond the current order of things.

Apart from the question of the state and of local initiatives, there is the question of the role of the individual. There is an important, frequent narrative put forward by corporations and governments that it’s essentially the responsibility of the individuals to solve the ecological disaster, but there is also sometimes pressure in the activist circles to live and act differently and maybe sometimes even to solve this question by individual or small changes on the scale of the individual or the community. What is your impression about this?

It is a question that always pops up and that we struggle with all the time. Generally, I think it’s important to point out that individual lifestyle changes will never be the solution and that what you can do as an individual has extremely limited effect. Buying into this whole narrative that I as a consumer can change things by shopping differently is to capitulate to a bourgeois narrative about society that is fundamentally false. First of all, you as a consumer can affect extremely limited change on your own. And you acting as a consumer is fundamentally unequal in the sense that it’s the richest consumer that has the most influence: you don’t want to base your politics on your affluence. A working-class consumer might have no capacity – or no time – to buy the more expensive, more ecologically sustainable alternative. Bill McKibben was at my university once and he was asked the question “what’s the most important thing I can do as an individual?” and he said “stop being an individual, join with others and do things together, that’s the only way to change things”, and that’s correct.

On the other hand, the idea that what you do as an individual doesn’t matter at all is the opposite mistake. This isn’t about impact but it’s about credibility: if we advocate ecological war communism or a total transformation of society, it would be hypocritical of me or anyone arguing along these lines to make no changes in their own lifestyles and just go on flight binges or eat endless amounts of meat for instance. Saying that it doesn’t matter what I do as an individual so I can do anything but I’m all for a total change of society is not a way to make yourself credible. You need to practice what you preach just at least a little bit.

Now there is this saying by Adorno which you might have heard: “there is no good life in a bad one”, which is sometimes translated as “there is no right life in a wrong one”. To me, this means that if you’re stuck inside in a system that is fundamentally rotten it’s extremely difficult for you to purify or purge yourself and live in a completely sustainable fashion. That’s virtually impossible, unless you go out and live on your own as a hunter-gatherer in the forest to escape from the dirt of capitalist industrial civilization. We cannot strive for complete purity, it’s impossible because you want to be part of society and you want to affect change in that society – you don’t want to stand isolated outside of it. And as long as you’re inside of it, which again is a prerequisite for changing it, then you have to make concessions to the society in which you live. This has always been the situation with our struggles: the workers have a relation of dependence to their employers and receive wages from their employers; they fight against their employers but they’re still in a relation of dependence and can’t just escape that dependence. In the same way, we are locked into a system that makes us consumers of fossil fuels and we can’t just parachute out of it completely.

This means for each and one of us that we need to negotiate this in our own lives and make decisions balancing what’s the right thing to do. And here the thing that most often comes up is flying because that’s the worst thing you can do as a private consumer in terms of emissions, and it’s also an act that is hard to resist sometimes because for instance if you want to go to North America for some reason – there might be a political reason for you to go there – then there is no other option than flying. Last December I needed to go to Egypt because that’s a country I have connections to. And for the first time in human history you can’t get on a boat on the northern Mediterranean and cross to the southern Mediterranean – there are no boats to Egypt! That’s bizarre because that’s how people have traveled for millennia for instance between Egypt and Italy – but it’s not there any longer because an entire capitalist society has enforced aviation is the only mode of transportation that is available. What do I do then? Do I sit home and say I can’t go to Egypt because there are only flights? No, that’s not what I did, I took a flight to go there. On the contrary, when I discussed about how I were to come here to this camp [in central France], I was first told that speakers are asked to take the cheapest transportation to the camp, which in my case would have meant flying here but that wouldn’t have felt right – I try to avoid flying within Europe. And then I was alerted to the bus of the Danish delegation leaving from Copenhagen, so of course I took the Danish bus because that’s a much better thing to do. But I think that there is no general rule for how to deal with these things in individual lives other than try to avoid excessive emissions and try to avoid emissions-intensive choices when possible. Of course you have to weigh this against other factors – the political projects you’re involved in or family affiliations and so on. In any case, we need to abandon first the idea that my individual actions are what’s going to change society and secondly the idea that you can become pure and free of sin and guilt in this society.

In your interview with Stathis Kouvélakis for Hors-Série, you added another argument about how consumers don’t have control about how things are produced, about the global chains of production and so on, and that’s another important issue for us as Marxists.

Yes, for instance the steel sector which is crucial when it comes to emissions – there is no way that a consumer of final products really can make an impact on choices in the steel sector because steel is an input into other commodities, and as a consumer when you buy a car or whatever it is you don’t get into contact with the steel industry directly, you cannot boycott it.

One word on Sweden where you come from. What’s the state of the climate or ecological movement besides Greta Thunberg and what are the challenges for the Left in the country?

Well, Greta is an anomaly because the climate movement in Sweden is extremely weak. Sweden is generally a graveyard for social movements and Greta became famous in Sweden because she first became famous in Europe. She was kind of discovered by the Swedish media all of a sudden – “so there’s this Swedish girl who’s becoming very famous in Europe so we need to cover her here as well”. But Fridays for Future as a movement was always weaker in Sweden than in Denmark, not to mention Germany or even Belgium. We never reached the stage where you were – at some point in late 2019 there were a couple of fairly big demonstrations in Stockholm but still far from the influence and the magnitude seen in other countries. There are initiatives here and there. At the time this interview is published there will have been a small scale Ende Gelände type of thing in late August against a cement company on Gotland, an island to the east of Sweden. There was a massive flop in early June: an attempt by activists in Stockholm – I was part of it in the beginning – to establish a campaign called “Pull the Plug” during a summit which took place in early June and didn’t receive any media attention. The summit was called “Stockholm+50” because in 1972 there was an important UNEP summit there that was sort of a milestone in the development of international environmental politics – so the idea was that 50 years later, the Swedish government and UN would have a 50 year anniversary summit. We wanted to make actions at the same time, but the only thing that eventually happened was a march between various apartments where CEOs of oil and gas companies and banks in Sweden were living. We were going their outside of their apartments, burning some Bengal fires, chanting and so on – a great idea, but there were only 100 people. 100 people after half a year of attempts at mobilizing: a complete failure. Embarrassing even.

And then there is the question of the Left. There is the Left Party, which is the former Communist Party, and our FI section dissolved itself as a party – we used to be the Socialist Party and now we are called Socialist Politics – largely to be able to work inside the Left Party. Now the Left Party has a new chairwoman since a couple of years, Mehrnoosh Dadgostar, who goes by the name Nooshi. She has abandoned the climate politics of her predecessor Jonas Sjöstedt. He was an auto worker who used to work at the Volvo plant in Umeå in northern Sweden and was very close to some of our FI comrades because the largest metal workers union in northern Sweden is led by members of the Swedish section. He sort of started the process of inviting us into the Left Party in the years when Podemos and Syriza were interesting left-wing forces. He wanted to open up the Left Party and make it more that kind of party and suggested that we work together. He had a personal commitment to climate politics and he made it a profile issue of the Left Party. But Nooshi’s strategic project is to win over working class voters from the Sweden Democrats – the far right – back to the Left Party. Now I’m simplifying a bit but she kind of has the idea that the working class is essentially the white working class in old industrial or postindustrial towns in rural areas, and that in order to win back these voters from the Sweden Democrats we have to tone down our climate politics and our anti-racism. Our current – Socialist Politics – and quite a few others within the Left Party are of course dissatisfied with this turn – this is a controversial line that she has taken. She’s styling herself as an old-fashioned Social Democrat, very pro-industry – she likes to go to construction sites and put a helmet on and take photographs of herself posing as a worker, this kind of workerist attitude…

This sounds similar to the short-lived experience of Sahra Wagenknecht’s Aufstehen in Germany.

Yes, it is that sort of thing. You have this tension all the time: should we be against “identity politics” and just go for hardcore class issues or should we have a broader understanding of class and the revolutionary subject. And unfortunately she has a very clear tendency towards the former position in this debate.

One last word about Code Rouge, the action we’ve already mentioned at the beginning of the interview. As Gauche Anticapitaliste, we are members of a quite large coalition – with organizations such as Greenpeace for instance – which is planning an important action of civil disobedience in the beginning of October. The goal is to block a big infrastructure from Total…

Oh, wonderful!

We agree with you! (Total bought the main Belgian oil company Petrofina 20 years ago by the way.) We aim at mobilizing more than 1,000 activists for this action. It’s really ambitious – we would like to accomplish something like Ende Gelände, which is very inspiring. We are working hard to make it a success…

Do you have dates for this action already? Where will it be? Is there a website?

Yes, it will take place during the weekend of 8-9 October. There is a website which is https://code-rouge.be/ (in French and Dutch). The place has not been disclosed yet – we’ll disclose it at the last moment to have more chances of success in this confrontational action.

Of course, it makes sense. Perfect! Unfortunately I can’t make it on these dates, but if I could I would definitely join!

July 2022

Originally published on International Viewpoint, 12 September 2022 https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article7810




Solidarity with Ukrainian and Russian resistance to the war – Statement of 37th Fourth International youth camp

Having met this week with Ukrainian and Russian socialists committed to the defeat of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we, activists gathered at the 37th international revolutionary youth camp in solidarity with the Fourth international in Vieure (France) from the 23rd until the 29th of July 2022, declare our opposition to Russia’s imperialist war in Ukraine.

The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine since the 24th of February 2022 marks a clear escalation of the war which had been going on since 2014 in the country. It is aimed at satisfying Great Russian expansionism; it has resulted in numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity; tens of thousands of Ukrainians have already been killed, 15 million have been forced to flee their homes and many of them had to seek refuge abroad. The immediate withdrawal of Russian troops is necessary to stop the sufferings and ensure the democratic self-determination of the people in Ukraine.

We express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people who are the victims of this unjustified assault and support their resistance against the invading and occupying power. We also stand in solidarity with opposition to the war as expressed by Russian activists, many of them having had to flee abroad to escape the authoritarianism of Putin’s regime. We remind Europe that this regime is hailed by many far-right movements which have been on the rise throughout the continent.

We warn against any direct inter-imperialist war between NATO and Russia, all the while striving for the defeat of the Russian invasion. A nuclear conflict would be a disaster the world has only had horrifying glimpses of before.

We call for the cancellation of all Ukrainian foreign debt held by Western powers as well as international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. This debt has only helped develop a neoliberal regime of capitalist accumulation in Ukraine at the expense of the Ukrainian working class. Freeing these funds would help Ukraine resist the Russian assault and rebuild the country without the interference of Western neoliberal markets.

So far, the sanctions have targeted a limited number of members of the Russian ruling class; they clearly are ineffective in stopping the war.

Furthermore, Western companies continue to trade military components with Russia. We support the expropriation of Russian millionaires’ assets in foreign banks and their redistribution to rebuild Ukraine and support the victims of the war. This requires an international public register of wealth; such a register would also be a necessary first step to impose any meaningful tax on the capitalists of our own countries to make them pay for the economic and social crisis which the war in Ukraine has aggravated while allowing for even more delirious profits for capitalists such as in the spheres of energy and arms sales.

We thank our Ukrainian comrades from Sotsіalniy Rukh for dedicating time to come to this camp and share their experiences; we will stay in solidarity with them and with our Russian comrades to contribute to the defeat of the Russian invasion in any way we can and help rebuild an independent and democratic Ukraine. We hope our exchanges and discussions during and after this camp can help inspire a world free of military blocks and all neo-colonial relations.

29 July 2022




Building revolutionary tenderness: Chronicles of the 37th Revolutionary Youth Camp in France

Between July 23 and 29, around 200 young people gathered to celebrate the 37th edition of the Revolutionary Youth Camp organised by the Fourth International in Vieure (France). After almost three years since the last camp, the hope, motivation and emotion of returning to share self-managed spaces of camaraderie, support and mutual learning were enormous. And it certainly did not disappoint. 

One of the greatest difficulties we have when it comes to explaining and developing our political project for society is to bring our theoretical proposals to praxis with maximum consequences. They accuse us of being utopian or idealistic and perhaps we are, but we need oases in which to show how a fair, democratic, supportive, open and empathetic society where the division of tasks, interpersonal relationships and collective interests prevail over the principles of exclusion, competitiveness and individualism prevailing in capitalist societies.

That is what the revolutionary youth camps are about: of understanding the revolutionary organisation as part of a joint learning process of our own struggles, but also of sharing experiences of struggle and resistance with comrades from the global north and south who allow us to walk towards an ecosocialist, feminist, queer, anti-racist and anti-capitalist horizon.

Thus the program, which is usually divided into thematic days, tried to offer a broad look at the main issues that affect the crisis of neoliberal capitalism and that help us build poles of radicalisation in youth.  It placed special emphasis on the need to bet on ecosocialism as our lives depend on it; to stand firm in the anti-imperialist struggle and against the radicalisation of authoritarian neoliberalism; to vindicate the importance of LGBTQI+ struggles not only on a cultural level, but also in the materialist intersection of advancing  collective rights and freedoms; to delve into the advances that feminism has made and discuss how to go on the offensive against reactionary discourses.  Finally, the importance and necessity of having organic structures that allow us to organise rage internationally was also addressed, enabling us to weave common strategies against a system that devours, crushes and marginalises us.

All of this was developed through plenary activities that addressed how to be revolutionary in a world in flames, how feminist and LGBTQI+ struggles are a threat to capitalism, the characterisation of authoritarian neoliberalism and its attacks against international solidarity networks, how to decolonise society, the role of youth in the class struggle and the importance of organising ourselves to crush capitalism. On the other hand,  educational  activities also took the form of workshops in which participants elaborated specific problems or shared experiences of international struggle. Among them, we can highlight the need to bring to the debate aspects such as new forms of relationships and radical ways of loving, the importance of talking about capitalism and mental health, the new struggles in which youth play a central role, as is the case with housing and the fight against speculation or the Marxist theory of the state.

At the same time, spaces for women, LGBTQI+ and people of colour were created which, in addition to being safe places for those who are part of the group, also allowed us to go deeper into the discussions and horizons towards which feminist, queer and anti-racist struggles are directed.

In short, the camps are an opportunity for political training, but they are also the best option for weaving personal networks of friendship, sisterhood and camaraderie, which are essential to the societies we aspire to build. In other words, to harden ourselves without losing our tenderness, because tenderness is revolutionary and knows no borders.  Therefore, I would like to thank all the compañeras for making the camps a space that truly becomes a reference point when imagining alternative futures. In difficult times for social movements and the radical left, enjoying places where utopia becomes a reality is a pill that enables us to recharge our batteries, to focus on youth building along a new political path. Paraphrasing Durruti, “ruins don’t scare us because we carry a new world in our hearts. And that world is growing right now.” For this reason, understanding the revolutionary organisation as part of a joint learning process of our own struggles, and sharing experiences of struggle and resistance with comrades from the global North and South, is a ground-breaking and transformative exercise that inspires us to stand firm until victory. Long live the Revolutionary Youth Camps. Long live the Fourth International.

1 August 2022

Diego Fernández Gómez is a militant of Anticapitalistas in the Spanish state

Article published in Poder Popular. Translated by David Fagan for fourth.interrnational and published at: https://fourth.international/en/2022-france/456




Rising Clyde 6: latest issue of Scottish Climate Show on “Climate Camp Scotland”

The latest issue of Rising Clyde, the Scottish Climate Show hosted by Iain Bruce, is now available on YouTube via the Independence Live video service.

In this episode Iain interviews Iain talks to Quan, Gillian and Scott, activists taking part in Climate Camp Scotland, one of the most important climate movement events of the year, live from the camp near Aberdeen in August.

Watch the programme here:

A full report of the Five Days of Action can be found here: https://www.climatecampscotland.com/post/five-days-of-action-at-climate-camp-aberdeen

Previous Issues

Previous Rising Clyde shows on Independence Live can be found here:

(1035) SHOW: Rising Clyde – YouTube




Dora María Téllez: Plea for release of political prisoners in Nicaragua

In this YouTube video 19 July 2022, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Sandanista Revolution in Nicaragua, US activist and photographer Margaret Randall presents an appeal for the release of revolutionary activist Dora María Téllez from imprisonment by the dictatorship of Ortega-Murillo.

Dora María Téllez was one of the military commanders of the Sandanista Revolution in the 1970s and minister for health in the first Sandinista government of 1979-90, where she championed the rights of women and gay and lesbian people.  She was arrested and imprisoned by the current Nicaraguan government for her part in opposition to the dictatorship of President Ortega.

Main photo shows Dora María Téllez (in the centre, wearing a black beret) as a military commander during the FSLN conquest of León, Nicaragua (June 1979).  Source Wikipedia (Public Domain)




Rising Clyde – latest issue of Scottish Climate Show on “Power To The People!”

The latest issue of Rising Clyde, the Scottish Climate Show hosted by Iain Bruce, is now available on YouTube via the Independence Live video service.

In this episode, Iain presents activists from the new campaign on the cost of fuel – Power to the People, which is setting up groups across Scotland including in Glasgow.

The activists are:

  • Matt Kerr, Glasgow Labour Councillor for Cardonald ward
  • Frances Curran, former Scottish Socialist Party Member of the Scottish Parliament and trade union activist
  • Coll McCail, youth climate activist and member of Scottish Labour Executive representing young members

Watch the programme here:

Power to the People: Protest against energy price rises

Power to the People Glasgow has called a protest at the Headquarters of Scottish Power in Glasgow on Friday 12 August 4-6pm to oppose the huge rise in energy prices from 1 October 2022, due to be announced around that time:

Image

Power to the People Glasgow social media links and information can be found here: https://linktr.ee/pttpglasgow

The Power to the People slogan comes from the Left in the European Parliament and the European Left Party who have a really informative video about the European Energy Market here:

While the UK left the European Energy Market with Brexit, energy prices in the UK are based on the European and global markets and are still influenced by supplies from the EEA/EU (gas from Norway, electricity from France, the single energy market in Ireland).

Previous Issues

Previous Rising Clyde shows on Independence Live can be found here:

(1035) SHOW: Rising Clyde – YouTube