We applaud the mass actions that many young people and activists are taking against the planet’s ecosystem destruction.
By Martin Ralph – International Socialist League – UK
Extinction Rebellion (XR) is one such group. It has grown into an international movement, which says as others, “The Government must tell the truth about Climate…The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions… A national Citizen’s Assembly must be formed… as part of creating a democracy ﬁt for purpose…”
However, as we mention in the main article, asking the government to defend the environment is akin to asking the hunter to protect the deer. These governments have overseen the environment’s demise.
The crisis has been building for many decades. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) warned of the dangers to all natural systems from the misuse of chemical pesticides such as DDT and initiated the contemporary environmental movement. The use of DDT was stopped in the USA but was transported to Africa.
As Marx and Engels established in 1845, the relation that society has to nature “is determined by the form of society and vice versa.” The destruction today is based on the domination of the planet by the multi-nationals and also by military might. For example, all the imperialist and large capitalist semi-colonial nations develop nuclear power not only for energy but principally for weapons and war.
“This is not a Drill” was published in 2019 and is called by XR a “rebellion handbook”. There are certainly very moving articles by farmers and indigenous peoples from Africa and India and ﬁre ﬁghters in California. There are articles that say XR completely rejects neoliberal economics. But they also say we must redesign human societies based on love and justice in order to restore nature. It seems that imperialist governments can be forced to regulate the immense exploitation and destruction of nature by force of love!
XT do not say capitalist society needs to be overthrown to stop climate destruction. They include articles in the XR handbook by the reformist Labour party (Clive Lewis) and Green party (Caroline Lucas).
Lucas calls for electoral reform and unity with capitalist parties, without once mentioning capitalism. “It is now up to progressives of all stripes – from the labour movement to liberal democrats” and she calls for “politicians to stop arguing among themselves”. She wants a government of national unity that establishes her project of working with all main capitalist parties.
Whilst Clive Lewis points out with some clarity the role of ﬁnance capital and that change will have to come from below, he then re-states Jeremy Corby’s regulatory democracy programme that includes working with the Bank of England and the private sector! His programme leaves capitalism intact.
The scene for all these reformist ideas is at the book’s beginning, in the Forward, Vandana Shiva, an academic, says, “I call Extinction Rebellion ‘Satyagraha for Life’. Satyagraha, for Gandhi, was non-cooperation based on the force of truth.”
But in reality, Gandhi’s peaceful no co-operation was not a force for truth, “Gandhi has announced his bargaining terms for a settlement with British imperialism. The most material facts about these terms are that British imperialism is to continue in power in India and Congress is actively (sic) to support the war of the imperialist bandits…” Fourth International, October 1944, Gandhi on the Road to Betrayal.
Gandhism and peaceful collaboration with the destroyers of our planet can never establish the peace and the end to climate change that billions of people want.
XR, and the wider environment movement, must move away from the idea that governments can be convinced to change by dialogue.
The planet will not be saved by convincing those who destroy it to do otherwise. Only through the ﬁght of the masses in overturning the system of world capitalist exploitation of workers, people and nature can we achieve this.
That is why we say either capitalist barbarism or socialism, that means with the participation of masses in workers democratic control.