Friday, February 15, 2013

1000. A Word With the Reader: All Out for the February 17 Forward on Climate Rallies in the U.S.

Part of the September 2011 protest against Keystone XL pipeline
By Kamran Nayeri, February 16, 2013

This 1000th coincides with the Forward on Climate Rally to be held in Washington D.C. on Sunday February 17, 2013.  There will be similar rallies across the country, including one in San Francisco at the State Department office from 1-3 p.m.

The United States has been the major stumbling block in 21 years of United Nations sponsored climate change negotiations. The U.S. environmental establishment’s policy has been limited to lobbying effort and supporting “pro-environment” politicians, mostly from the Democratic Party.

In a break with this failed “strategy,” the Forward on Climate Rally, co-sponsored by, Sierra Club, and the Hip Hop Caucus, has been organizing and mobilizing thousands for street protest to demand stopping the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to adopt measures to stop and reverse global warming.  A year ago, organized a rally of some 15,000 people against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline at the White House. The Obama administration decided to postpone a decision on the pipeline pending feasibility studies, effectively to some time after the 2012 presidential election.

Leaderships of the, Sierra Club, and the Hip Hop Caucus have worked within the framework of capitalism to find solutions to their concerns, in particular the global warming and catastrophic climate change.  However, the has been organizing and mobilizing for direct action to reach its specific goals. There is some evidence that pressure from the ranks as well as some willingness from a section of the Democratic Party to take steps to contain the global warming trend as reflected in giving prominent mention of the climate change challenge in Obama’s inaugural and State of Union speeches have opened political space for direct action.  On Tuesday, a group of 50 protesters, including leading scientists, activists and celebrities, staged a sit down strike in Washington. SOme were arrested including the environmentalist Bill McKibben, actress Daryl Hannah, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and civil rights leader Julian Bond. Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, who also was arrested, said:

"And so we know that we can’t win on climate change if we continue to dither, if we continue to talk about it but not do anything. And so, the Sierra Club is engaging in civil disobedience for the first time [in its 120 year history], because we have a moral catastrophe on our hands, and we need to do everything that we can to compel stronger, bolder action."
Thus, the Forward on Climate Rally demands: “The first step to putting our country on the path to addressing the climate crisis is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. His legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.”

The ecological socialist movement has correctly argued that the climate crisis is a prominent part and parcel of the crises of society and nature perpetuated by the capitalist industrial system.  Thus, the definitive solution to global warming is to replace capitalism with an ecological socialist society. It is imperative that this perspective be raised with the thousands of environmentally conscious protestors on Sunday.

A few socialist groups in the U.S. have just announced their intention to participate in the February rally.  For instance, on February 14 I received a statement on the Ecosocialist International Network from Solidarity and International Socialist Organization (ISO) co-signed by a few Green Party locals, and two dozens individuals, including two trade unionists, that endorses the rally’s central demand and announces the signers's intention to participate a ecosocialist contingent in the Sunday rally in Washington, D.C.  The statement has not been widely circulated among all ecosocialists groups and individuals.  The United National Antiwar Coalition has also endorsed the rally.

These endorsements and participation will certainly broaden the range of view presented at the rally to include antiwar activists and (ecological) socialists. However, their delayed decision to endorse the rally means they could not have participated in building it effectively.  In some case, it shows hesitancy to join forces with the “liberals” in demanding action on global warming and climate change.  The Solidarity and ISO initiative could have been much broader to include other ecological socialist currents and individuals.

But most importantly, some ecological socialists hold a view that no action under the capitalism is sufficient to stop and reverse global warming.  By taking a "systemic approach" they argue that to stop and reverse global warming and catastrophic climate change it is necessary to overthrow capitalism worldwide.  This is an ultra-left error that leads to ecological socialists standing on the sidelines from various actions underway to address global warming and climate change, almost always led by groups that believe it can be done under capitalism.  The revolutionary strategy is the take the opposite course.  Fighting to stop global warming must be a central part of the struggle to replace the internationalist capitalist order with an ecological socialist alternative, which requires ecological socialists to be in the forefront of all actions to address the combined crises of our times.  In fact, it is the ecological socialist movement that should propose a program of immediate and transitional demands to replace the current energy infrastructure of the international economy with one that is consistent with stopping and reversing global warming.  Given the fact that the U.S. has the highest per capita energy consumption in the world, the U.S. ecological socialist movement, very small and non-influential at the present, has the most responsibility and best opportunity to lead in the global effort to stop and reverse global warming.   The February 17 rallies offer an opportunity to embark on this road.

I urge readers to join the February 17 actions in Washington D.C. and San Francisco and other places with an eye to help building them as broadly as possible and to foster future actions as well. In my small town fifty miles from San Francisco there are already a few carloads of people who will participate in the Sunday rally.  All out for the Forward on Climate rallies! 


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There have been 99 posts since my last communication (nos. 901 to 999 inclusive).  As usual, the focus has been ecology, environment and ecocide (28 posts), global warming and climate change and other planetary crises (20 posts), other animals (14 posts) and the Cuban revolution (13 posts).

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