4 May 2020 — Climate & Capitalism
Activists from four continents plan activity, elect steering committee, and call for solidarity with the workers who are risking their lives for us all
The recently-formed Global Ecosocialist Network held its first formal meeting by videoconference on May 3. Ecosocialists from Africa, Europe, North America, and Australia spent two-and-a-half hours exchanging experiences and planning activities for the near future.
Attendees agreed that GEN is not trying to be a new international party or to define an ecosocialist orthodoxy. Its aim is simply to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, analyses and debates from ecosocialist perspectives. While we are pleased with the group’s growth to date, it is still small, and there are significant gaps in geographic representation that we will be working to fill in the coming months.
Membership is open to organizations and individuals who agree with GEN’s key principles:
- There is a generalized environmental crisis of which climate change is the lead element. This crisis is extremely urgent and threatens the future of humanity and countless other species.
- The cause of this crisis is capitalism – an economic and social system based on competitive exploitation and production for profit.
- Solving this crisis and surviving it involves an international break with capitalism and its replacement by socialism – an economic and social system based on collective ownership of the main forces of production and democratic planning.
- To achieve this we need a global mobilization of people power.
- Such mobilization requires a commitment to a just transition i.e. not one based on attacking the jobs and living standards of the mass of working people.
- The united mobilization we need also requires opposition to all racist, sexist, national, homophobic and transphobic oppression.
To learn more, or to join, visit the Global Environment Network website.
Since its formation in January, GEN’s work has been coordinated by an informal volunteer team. This meeting formally elected a Steering Committee consisting of Ian Angus, Tafadzwa Choto, Rehad Desai, Michael Lowy, Trever Ngwane, John Molyneux, and Memet Uludag. The meeting authorized co-opting of up to 3 additional members to improve the committee’s gender and geographic balance.
GEN Statement on the Covid-19 crisis
Members of the Global Ecosocialist Network, meeting on May 3, 2020, unanimously adopted this statement:
GEN sees the appalling Covid-19 pandemic as neither an act of god nor a random once in a lifetime natural disaster but as a symptom , like climate change and the plastification of our oceans, of the total environmental crisis which has developed in recent decades as a result of the metabolic rift opened up by capitalism between human society and nature.
As radical epidemiologists like Rob Wallace have shown the Covid -19 pandemic is only the latest and most deadly in a series of dangerous viruses, such as HIV, H5N1 (‘Avian flu’), H1N1 (‘swine flu’)SARS and MERS, which are a growing threat to us all, and that its roots lie in four features of modern capitalist agriculture:
- the ever increasing dominance of food production by giant capitalist corporations practicing monoculture;
- the ever growing encroachment on the wild by those same corporations increasing the likelihood of zoonotic infection [the leap of viruses across species to humans);
- the prevalence of cruel and dangerous factory farming methods which concentrate immense numbers of animals in the smallest possible spaces;
- increasingly globalized circuits of food distribution and trade which facilitate the rapid international spread of infection.
As a result humanity faces three conjoined and interacting crises: an ongoing climate crisis; an acute health crisis and an impending global economic crisis, all of unprecedented dimensions.
The Covid crisis has also highlighted the willingness of all capitalist governments and especially the far right neo liberal governments such as those of Trump, Bolsonaro and Johnson, to sacrifice human life on the altar of profit, especially old and sick people who do not any more generate plus-value. GEN also notes that this willingness bodes very ill for their ability to respond in any way adequately to the escalating climate crisis.
In the immediate situation GEN:
- Expresses its solidarity with all health-care and front line workers across the globe, the vast majority being women, who are risking their lives for us all. We insist that they should be provided, by whatever means necessary, with adequate masks and PPEs.
- Calls for public health care to be put before for-profits everywhere.
- Supports the principle of publicly owned health services free at the point of provision in all countries. Private beds, wards and hospitals should be requisitioned to deal with the crisis.
- Calls for workers laid off and thrown into unemployment to be paid a living wage by the state.
In the short term, the additional indebtedness of the imperialist countries must be borne by transnational corporations and large fortunes, just as the public debt of dependent countries must be canceled and these countries supported.
After this immediate crisis there must be no going back to capitalist business-as-usual because capitalist business-as-usual is threatening the very survival of humanity. The need for system change and socialist solutions could not be clearer.