5 June 2019 — Revolution Dispatch
To confront the climate crisis, we all need to reassess how we view our place in life. As we head for a future where the water levels could be raised seven feet by 2100, where large parts of the planet will become uninhabitable because of how hot they’ll be, and where fascism and violence proliferate as a consequence of this catastrophe, people are trying to find ways to accept the reality before us and find inner healing. As a scientific report came out this week showing that climate feedback loops, refugee influxes, and armed conflicts over resources will perhaps result in “the end of human global civilization as we know it” by 2050, this shift in consciousness is essential for our sanity and our survival.
“We confront, on a daily basis, things that are over,” the author Dahr Jamail wrote this year. “Sheaths of endings fall away leaving a broken heart, time and time again. Many people in the world are already facing the finality of guarantees of clean water, consistently breathable air, food that is safe and healthy to eat, permanence of a physical home, financial security, the viability of going to college, giraffes, bees, and on and on.”
In his piece As the Climate Collapses, We Ask: “How Then Shall We Live?”, Jamail offers a number of tools that we can use to cope with this tragedy. He recommends engaging in small practices like art projects and rituals; taking time to contemplate our situation and put it in perspective; and most of all, he thinks we should reassess how we’ve approached life so far, writing: “Questions about how we shall live going forward inherently require honest confrontation with ‘How have we lived?’”
Looking at the history of society as it’s existed while under capitalism, the first thing I notice is that we’ve lived as willing participants in a system which works only to exploit us and the natural world we depend on. We’ve surrendered our autonomy as human beings. We’ve worked for the capitalist class, accepted the lies they’ve told to justify why society should be set up the way it is, and failed to work towards dismantling the machine that enslaves us. The ruling oligarchs have carried out their imperialist wars, subjugated the poor and working classes, and ruined the earth for profit, and we’ve sat back and let them do this.
As capitalism reaches the end point that Marx projected for it, wherein the economy and the environment are destroyed because of the system’s demand for endless growth, we can end this era of submission from the exploited classes. The new way of life that we need to adopt during the climate collapse can’t only consist of small scale or isolated changes in thought and behavior. It needs to be a worldwide movement where we unite and drive forth our own fate.
We need to recognize the collapse of the current world as a path towards the new world that we’ll build. Just as the mass extinction event that climate change is creating will give way to the rise of a different new biosphere, the end of our current civilization will create new power structures, cultures, and lifestyles. Whether this new society will be a dystopia that’s controlled by feudalistic warlords, or whether it will be an enlightened society that’s based off of liberty and egalitarianism, is up for us to decide.
There are people and organizations that are fighting to bring about a world free from capitalism, imperialism, and bigotry. I’ve been working with some of them, particularly the Socialist Party USA and Party of Communists USA. These and other groups like them aren’t trying to reform the system or work within capitalist institutions like the Democratic Party. They’re following in the model of the Marxist-Leninist movement, which calls for the dismantling of the capitalist state and the creation of a new governmental system that carries out the goals of socialism.
As Lenin assessed about the task that the socialist movement has: “We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire.”
Despite these obstacles, history continues to show that repressive regimes can be overthrown, and that socialism can therefore triumph all around the world. In Sudan, where unions have been dismantled for decades and democracy has been effectively dead for a generation, young men and women ousted the dictator Omar Al-Bashir earlier this year through a massive sit-in. Despite the military’s massacre of protesters this week, the sit-in is going to continue until the setup of a civil transitional government is complete. Through similar operations of mass civil disobedience, and through efforts towards making plans for building socialism after the capitalist apparatus is overthrown, we can also defeat our oppressors.
This will require us to adopt a mentality of perseverance amid incomprehensible tragedy. We’ll need to recognize the loss that we face, while holding the belief that a better future can be won. And such a belief is entirely valid. Because if we succeed in carrying out this revolution, we’ll heal not just as individuals but as a society.
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