Sunday, March 31, 2019

3214. 300 March for Animal Rights in Santa Rosa, California

Editor's note: On Saturday, March 30, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a grassroots network of animal rights activists, held a rally and march for animal rights in downtown Santa Rosa. About 300 attended (see the video clip of a portion of the march below). What follows is largely taken from DxE's Facebook page its activities.  

Through open rescue, demonstration, and disruption, DxX hopes to create a world where every animal is safe, happy and free. Since 2014, whistleblowers and investigators of DxE have been documenting the conditions inside animal agriculture facilities in Sonoma County. In every instance, investigators have found criminal animal cruelty including violations of California Penal Code Section (CPC) 597 (which prohibits subjecting any animals to unnecessary suffering) and Proposition 2 (which prohibits intensive confinement of egg-laying hens).

The footage taken inside these farms shows baby chicks who are so sick and injured they cannot stand to reach food and water, hens who are trapped in wire cages for their entire lives, and birds who are cannibalizing each other due to stress and confinement. 

Investigators also found many dead animals inside barns, some of whom were in such advanced stages of decomposition that necropsies could not even be performed. Veterinarian reports confirm these findings and indicate that there are animals on these farms that are too sick and injured to stand or walk, have necrotic wounds, and are starving.

This information has been brought to key stakeholders including the District Attorney Jill Ravitch, the Sheriff’s Office, Sonoma County Animal Services, the California Attorney General, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In all instances, the whistleblowers have been either ignored or met with inaction. There has been no accountability for the corporations and farms engaged in criminal animal cruelty; instead, more than 75 activists have been prosecuted for investigating the farms. The County has made a concerted effort to take down DxE leadership, charging 6 Organizers, including 4 of the 5 members of the elected Core team, with seven felonies each. 
Despite repression, more and more activists are speaking up and taking action for animals. They are demanding that government officials commit to investigating animal abusing facilities and ending the prosecution of nonviolent whistleblowers.

Below, please find a speech given by Samantha Eachus at the rally.  

Kamran Nayeri

*     *     *

By Samantha Eachus, March 30, 2019

I’m a Sonoma County resident. I was born here, and I grew up on the homestead of my grandfather’s dairy farm. Before I began kindergarten I would go with him into the fields he had sold to other farmers and pet the cows and horses. He taught me to watch the weather and to be careful around animals. I rode horses here for 20 years, and I competed in national competitions around the west coast. I spent more time riding up and down Roblar and Blank than I probably ever did in school. I love animals, and I love this place. I have a map of the county tattooed on my forearm, and I got it done right down the street at Faith. But I am also a citizen of the world. I know that everyone feels for their home what I do for mine. I cannot put my love of this place and my past above the simple survival and self-determination of others. That is why I wrote this and why I march for the animals.

There is no separating the evolution of animal liberation from the necessary work of environmental restoration. Respecting the migratory butterfly that pollinates the native wildflower means abstaining from the labor of honeybees that outcompete the endangered pollinators and refusing the grass-fed beef that tramples them. Respecting cows and chickens means respecting the Tule Elk and the Least Tern. Considering liberation and safety for both means protecting the areas where they can live, and not exploiting either for profit. Continuing animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Eating some animals is killing all the others.

Climate catastrophe is real and it is being caused by the practices that take place here - the production and consumption of animal products. A common counter to this obvious fact is that we, Sonoma County, feed the world, and I’m not arguing with you. We do feed the world - the first world. The products that are made here, from the meat and cheese to the eggs and honey, these products are not being sent to aid starving villages of humans. They aren’t being handed out to the houseless even here. They are sold, for massive profits, to jaded elitists and delusional yuppies. History doesn’t look back fondly on the people who pump the brakes of progress. Absolutely no one is going to nominate Sonny Perdue (Trump’s USDA pick) for a Nobel peace prize. But a truant vegan teenager just got nominated for one this month. Denying, even skirting the line of acceptance of man-made climate catastrophe embarrasses us all. Is it not shameful to us, to take such a vast amount of the world for pleasing the upper crust of a deplorable culture? Is it not made that much worse by considering we don’t need to breed or kill animals for food at all?

Every day another adorable video of a chicken playing piano or a pig painting goes viral. Every day, the same individuals end up plastic-wrapped in innumerable ways. Every day our own reasoning for eating some and loving others is rapidly unwinding. Studying the cognition of animals has led us to re-evaluate our own understanding of intelligence. To see fear, to recognize immobility from illness, to understand each animal as an individual with a past and a future takes nothing from the world. It takes nothing from me. But ignoring these realities strips animals of their own flesh denies their own future, and destroys their own earth.

I will not accept the mild condolences of humane or local. I will not accept an apology for what we continue to do to the earth and all its creatures. I will accept action. I will accept allies and I will accept responsibility for creating change the innocent souls of animals need us to make. Together we have an incredible power to change the way the world works, and individually we have the power to change how we work for the world. Respect for animal life and individuality is inseparable from respecting the order and peace of the environment. Re-evaluating our position as restorationists is only the first step in freeing animals, the planet, and ourselves.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

3213. Poetry: The Humming

Photo: Kamran Nayeri
By Jamie K. Reaser, "Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life," 2012-19 

The Humming
I’m learning that there are bonds
of holy union
that cannot be undone
by mere mortals.

Swans know of them,
and dogs,
and children under the age of five.
And every other being on this planet.
When did we stop regarding
every breath as sacred,
and every eye we look into
and every hand that brushes against
I saw the filaments dancing today,
the ones that criss-cross lifetimes
and geographies.
They were humming a tune that I
have heard before in the natal waters.
It has only one note.
That’s all it needs.
When you remember it,
you remember me.
When I remember it,
I remember you.
It’s really quite amazing that we have lost
our way…
Really, it is.
The hummingbird has been trying to remind
us of our origin
while we take pity on it for the lack
of a song.
Oh my Beloved:
How I have forsaken you
in the austerity of these hurried times.
Were it not for the touch of sunlight
on a cold winter’s day,
I might have forgotten the endlessness
of your reach.
Always the bindings that unite us are there,
across them flowing an abundance of grace
and urging.
Longing is the form of that urging.
It is no vapid pain,
but a life blood of sentiment
through which the Holy
feeds us on dreams.
It is the umbilicus of love,
and when it is cut,
I’ve come to learn,
something dies.
In the story of every fallen god
and every unlived life
there is this truth,
and a deafening silence.

© 2012-2019/Jamie K. Reaser
Published in "Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life" 
Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser
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Monday, March 25, 2019

3212. A Future for American Capitalism or The Future of Life on Earth?: An Ecosocialist Critique of the "Green New Deal"

By Kamran Nayeri, March 25, 2019
The Sixth Extinction is underway. It is estimated that the extinction rate today is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the extinction rate before humanity arrived on Earth.

1. Introduction
For centuries, philosophers of history have argued that the prime movers of historical change are great individuals (generally men) or grand new ideas (Plekhanov, 1895; for a brief version, see, Plekhanov, 1897).  In The German Ideology (1845) and subsequent work, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels challenged these theories of societal change by proposing a materialist conception of history in which the dominant mode of production conditions the emergence of “great individuals” and “grand new ideas” and class struggle is the prime mover of history.  Thus, Marx spent decades developing his critique of political economy to show the laws of motion of the capitalist mode of production that condition proletarian class struggle, hence the prospects for socialism.  As the Russian Marxist philosopher G.V. Plekhanov (1898) puts it “[c]asual phenomena and the personal qualities of celebrated people are ever so much more noticeable than deep-lying general causes.” 

It would seem natural that the (eco)socialist movement (by this abbreviation in this essay I mean socialists and ecological socialists who in a broad sense adhere to the Marxian tradition) should follow Marx’s and Engels’ methodology crucial for the development of a revolutionary program, strategy, and form of organization (form would flow from program and strategy) in this critical moment in human history as the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization has brought humanity and much of life so close to extinction.  

It is the argument of this essay that much of the very small (eco)socialist movement in the United States has failed to live up to this challenge and in fact, has followed the pre-Marxian theories of history that emphasizes the role of great individuals and grand idea and as the result had been drawn into the orbit of the leftwing of the Democratic Party and its liberal bourgeois policy as represented in the “Green New Deal.”  Thus, in the 2016 Democratic Party primaries many (eco)socialists supported Senator Sanders’ bid for the presidential candidacy of the Democratic Party. For instance, all but one of the founders of System Change Not Climate Change (SCNCC), a self-described ecosocialist network, left it to campaign for Sanders.  Some of the Sanders supporters, including some (eco)socialists who follow “lesser evil” politics (that is, support the capitalist candidates deemed to be less hostile to their cause), voted for Clinton to stop Trump.  After Donald Trump’s victory, thousands of the millennials who rooted for Sanders and some of the (eco)socialists joined the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and became supporters of similar currents like the Jacobin magazine.  The DSA membership is nominal since it requires a minimum monthly due of $5 (The “standard rate” is $10 a month) and an email address and it is done on its website. The DSA is also organized in issue-specific caucuses to cater to those with a narrow policy interest. Thus, while the DSA membership was reported to be about 50,000 in November 2018, its ecosocialist national caucus numbers in hundreds and only a few dozen actually meet in person in places with large DSA chapters like New York City and East San Francisco Bay Area.  (See, Louis Proyect’s blog posts under the “Jacobin” tag in his blog “The Unrepentant Marxist” for insightful running commentaries about these currents)

The social base of these currents beginning with the Occupy Movement has been the disaffected millennials who have been driven to the left of the U.S. political spectrum by the continuing decline of the U.S. capitalism and the neoliberal response to it and to lesser extent the planetary crisis (for the bleak economic and financial prospect of the millennials, see, Steverman, June 21, 2018;  Joint Economic Committee of Democrats, no date; Elliot and Reynolds III, no date).  It was this same milieu that provided the candidates and many of the activists for the liberal/progressive Democratic campaign in the 2018 midterm election best represented by the election of Congresswoman Ocascio-Cortez. 

In the past three months, Congresswoman Ocascio-Cortez and her current vision of the Green New Deal (GND) that is presented as the joint non-binding resolution in the House (hereafter, “GND Resolution”) and in the Senate by the junior Democratic Senator Edward Markey of Massachusettes have been embraced by much of the ecological and climate justice groups.  More or less the same has happened with much of the (eco)socialist movement except an initial uncritical political embrace of her (see, Franklin, 2018; for a critique, see, Nayeri 2019) has been replaced with more cautious, critical support (for a range of views of ecosocialists  in System Change Not Climate Change, see, Foran, February 29, 2019). There has been absolutely nothing in any of this criticism that takes issue with the bourgeois character and electoral and parliamentarian strategy of Ocascio-Cortez’s GND Resolution, or any analysis of how just two years after much of the liberal and leftist currents bemoaned the rise of fascism in the United after the election of Donald Trump, all of the sudden there is hope that a left-leaning Democratic Party and the U.S. Congress can effectively address the existential threat of climate change.  The lack of such analysis smacks of unstated hope in bourgeois electoralism and the Democratic Party as a potential instrument to stop the climate crisis if not for radical social change. 

In the rest of this essay, I will detail my argument.  In Section 2, I will show how the political rise of Ocasio-Cortez was conditioned by the leftward movement of the millennials in the orbit of the Democratic Party with special attention to the role played by the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats.  In Section 3, I will draw attention to the Democratic Party policymakers and politicians who see this leftward “insurgent wave” as helpful to their own strategy to capture the Presidency and the Senate in the 2020 elections to enact policies that would rejuvenate the U.S. capitalist economy in the multipolar world, in particular in rivalry with the rising China as a superpower.  I will conclude in Section 3 with my critique of the GND Resolution and the outline of the revolutionary ecosocialist response. 

2. Ocasio-Cortez and leftward shift of the millennials
The Sunrise Movement
The ecological and social (ecosocial) crisis has moved a large section of the millennials to the leftwing of the Democratic Party. According to a recent Gallop report (Newport, August 13, 2018), Americans aged 18 to 29 are more positive about socialism (51%) as they are about capitalism (45%). However, the relative “preference” for “socialism” is entirely due to a 12-point decline in young adults' positive views of capitalism since the election of Donal Trump and a marked shift since 2010 when 68% viewed capitalism positively. In brief, the poll documents disillusionment of the millennials in "actually existing capitalism" in the United States. The percentage of those who view "socialism" positively has remained more-or-less the same since 2010.  Also, in all citation of this statics I have seen, it is never reported that the Gallup surveys describe socialism in its 1940s usage of the term for government ownership of businesses. As such “socialism” is really not a negation of capitalism but reflect a certain disillusionment in big businesses and an openness to the idea of state ownership perhaps even of entire industries. This is a liberal/Social Democratic interpretation of socialism similar to those held by Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez.  Thus, the Gallup and similar polls have shown not a trend toward Marxian socialism as understood by many socialists but a shift away from the neoliberal ideology that held sway in the U.S. and Britain and much of the rest of the world towards some form of welfare state capitalism.  Sanders, Naomi Klein, and currents such around Jacobin magazine and in DSA support this which they identify with the Scandinavian capitalist societies.  Let me now briefly consider two groups that provided Ocascio-Cortez with her GND and the push needed to win the Democratic primary and the mid-term election.  

The Sunrise Movement is one recent manifestation of this shift to the left in the political base of the Democratic Party. Evan Weber and Matthew Lichtash, both in their twenties, wanted to do something about the climate crisis understanding that it may take the “wholesale transformation of the U.S. society.”  In the summer of 2013, the two young men joined the academic Michael Moresey and obtained a $30,000 grant to write up a detailed plan to combat climate change. “The result was a roughly 35-page treatise that relied heavily on carbon taxes — an idea that Weber recently mentioned in connection with his pitch for a ‘Green New Deal’” (Climatewire, Nov. 19, 2018).

The next step was to build a “movement” to advocate the GND. The result was the Sunrise Movement which was launched with financial and material support from the Sierra Club and including a group of activists from the latter. 

In the 2018 election cycle, following a model used earlier by other liberal climate justice groups like The Climate Mobilization, the Sunrise Movement encouraged candidates and lawmakers — mostly Democrats — to sign a campaign pledge not to accept money from fossil fuel industries (E&E Daily, Sept. 7, 2018) (The Climate Mobilization actually predates the Sunrise Movement in proposing a large scale plan, not just to deal with the climate crisis but also to deal with the Sixth Extinction; see, the Victory Plan, for a critique, see, Nayeri 2016. Its founders originated in the Occupy Movement) . One backer of that pledge was a novice House candidate from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When the Sunrise Movement staged a protest outside of Nancy Pelosi's office in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez joined them. As an environmental group, the Sunrise Movement is relatively small, with 16 full-time staff and 1$ million dollar budget from its inception to last December.  Weber told E&E Daily that recent protest has put Sunrise in a position to be a player in the 2020 primary, where “progressive creed will be a valued currency.” The group intends to press candidates to support the GND and sign the no-fossil-fuel money pledge. 

Justice Democrats
Another manifestation of the leftward shift in the political base of the Democratic Party is the Justice Democrats.  Wikipedia defines them as a progressive political action committee founded on January 23, 2017, by Kyle Kulinski of Secular TalkCenk Uygur of The Young Turks, and former leaders from the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. On their website, Justice Democrats proclaim: “It's time to usher in a new generation of diverse working-class leaders into the Democratic Party. A Democratic Party that fights for its voters, not just corporate donors.” Let me highlight the goal of “ushering in the Democratic Party…working class leaders” so to pressure it to “fight for voters, not just corporate donors.” In addition to its own vision for the GND, Justice Democrats’ platform includes social, economic, and foreign policy positions that can be broadly called “progressive,” that is, if enacted will help improve the lives of the working people under capitalism.  Their strategy to achieve these goals is to select and elect Democratic Party candidates who broadly agree with its platform.  To get a sense of what that means, in the 2018 midterm elections, 26 of the 79 candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats won their respective primary elections. Seven of these candidates won in the general election. They are Raúl GrijalvaRo KhannaAyanna PressleyRashida TlaibIlhan OmarAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Pramila Jayapal.

These are the boarder sociopolitical forces that brought Ocasio-Cortez to political prominence.  

3. “Green New Deal” and the relative decline of U.S. imperialism 
The leftward shift of the younger voters in the Democratic Party’s orbit has favored policies proposed by the more liberal wing but not embraced by the party establishment as reflected in the 2016 primary contest between Sanders and Clinton. The embrace of Ocasio-Cortez and her call for GND by a much larger sections of the Democratic Party leadership reflects the rising influence of the party’s politicians and policy wonks whose policy proposals have been adopted by the Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, politicians like Sanders, Elisabeth Warren and Ocascio-Cortez and brought into the mainstream discussion of reforming and rejuvenating U.S. capitalism (for a discussion of how Ocascio-Cortez's proposal on how to deal with income and wealth inequality has been preceded by the Democratic Party policy wonks, see, Nayeri, January 22, 2019)  Thus, Ocascio-Cortez has been embraced as celebrity by the liberal media, including The New York Times and its editorial page columnists (and equally bashed by the Republican and conservative media). Just one example suffice: In a recent column Thomas L. Friedman (January 8, 2019), the neoliberal Democratic policy columnist for The New York Times, who first called for a GND almost eleven years ago, wrote:

"The Green New Deal that Ocasio-Cortez has laid out aspires to power the U.S. economy with 100 percent renewable energy within 12 years and calls for ‘a job guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one,’ ‘basic income programs’ and ‘universal health care,’ financed, at least in part, by higher taxes on the wealthy. Critics argue that this is technically unfeasible and that combining it with democratic socialist proposals will drive off conservatives needed to pass it.
"Myself, I like the urgency and energy she and groups like the Sunrise Movement are bringing to this task. So, for now, I say: Let a hundred Green New Deal ideas bloom! Let’s see what sticks and what falls by the wayside."
Why would capitalist ideologues such as Friedman embrace the GND, Ocascio-Cortez, and the Sunrise Movement? The answer is that they all accept the capitalist framework for the GND, they all are working to rejuvenate the Democratic Party using the appeal of the GND for transforming U.S. capitalism, and they all view the capitalist state with its three branches of government as proper venue to discuss, decide, and implement such policies. Moreover, Friedman and others in the Democratic Party Democratic machine know the value of an enthusiastic political base among the new generation of American voters to elect and support Democratic Party politicians. Thus, it is little wonder that on Saturday, February 16, Ocasio-Cortez announced that every Democratic Party presidential hopeful has endorsed the non-binding GND Resolution. 

The Origins of the Green New Deal  (GND)
Many (eco)socialists view the GND as a radical proposal. In fact, it is a left-liberal bourgeois vision and political platform.  Let me explain. 

A) The New Deal. Using the New Deal as historical precedence has certainly helped to get the attention of many in the climate justice, ecological and social justice movements who consider it a landmark of progressive legislation and government action in the modern history of the United States. It also gives the various current proposals for a GND certain legitimacy in the bourgeois public opinion: if it could be done “for the benefit of the country” once before why not do it again? 

It is true that the New Deal included programs that benefitted the working people during a period of recovery from the horrors of the Great Depression, such as support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly, and it placed new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry. But the New Deal was essentially Roosevelt administration’s highly successful policy to stabilize the U.S. economy by forging a social contract between the capitalist state, the capitalist class, and the resurgent labor movement labor that had just created the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1935. At the same time, the New Deal enabled the U.S. capitalist class to face off other major capitalist powers in the struggle to dominate the world economy which led to the imperialist World War II.  It is also worth recalling that the young Soviet Union was rapidly industrializing in the 1930s and the “specter of Communism” was haunting the world bourgeoisie. The membership of the U.S. Communist Party which was 7,500 in 1930 rose to 55,000 by the end of the decade.  The American Socialist Party was smaller but still, its membership surged from less than 10,000 in 1930 to over 19,000 by 1935. To put these figure in today’s context we must recall that the U.S. population in 1930 was about 122 million. So, the membership figures cited above would be equivalent to 132,000 for the Communist Party and 51,000 for the Socialist Party today.  And the socialist organizations had much more influence in the labor movement that, say today’s DSA does. Even the much smaller organization, the Trotskyist Communist League of America was able to organize the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strike that led to the Minneapolis general strike. This strike, along with the 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike and the 1934 Toledo Auto-Lite Strike led by the American Workers Party, were also important catalysts for the rise of industrial unionism in the 1930s, much of which was organized through the Congress of Industrial Organizations.  It must be noted that all major capitalist powers were dealing with working-class insurgencies but dealt with them differently. In Italy and in Germany through fascism instead of forging a social contract. But they all undertook public works and/or social policies to appease their political base while rearming themselves against their capitalist rivals in preparation for what became the imperialist World War II. 

The New Deal was also Roosevelt’s highly successful policy to draw the organized labor and ethnic minorities into the base of the Democratic Party that created the New Deal coalition that ensured Democratic presidential victory seven out of the nine presidential terms from 1933 to 1969. Stalin’s policy of Popular Front that directed Communist parties to subordinate themselves to “progressive” capitalist parties and capitalist governments (those that forged a good relationship with Moscow) resulted in the U.S. Communist Party to politically support Roosevelt and the Democratic Party, a practice that became a defining feature of pro-Moscow parties until the collapse of the Soviet Union when they dissolved or became politically irrelevant.  The U.S. social democrats have been reformist formations by design supporting the Democratic Party all along. 

It was on this basis that the United States mobilized for and entered World War II and emerged as the hegemonic capitalist power opening up the American Century.  

As I argued earlier, the GND first proposed by Friedman is actually a similar strategy by a section of the Democratic Party leadership to repeat the highly successful Roosevelt’s New Deal strategy.  The rejuvenation of the lagging U.S. economy is absolutely necessary for the U.S. ruling class and the GND is the best game in town.  

B). The relative decline of U.S. capitalism Since the 1970s.  In 1960, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) constituted 40% of the world GDP.  By 2014, it had declined to 20%.  This registers a significant decline in the U.S. economic standing in the world. 

In part, this relative decline of the United States was caused by the rebuilding of its European (especially Germany) and Japanese capitalist rivals whose economies benefitted from new and modern productive capacity and infrastructure. By the 1970s there was much talk of the Japanese taking the lead as an industrial power and in the 1980s some argued the same for the Germans. But neither predictions came through as Japan’s economy entered a period of long-term stagnation and Germany’s export-led growth could not compete with the U.S.  capitalists' access to the huge domestic market (thus, Germany’s continued effort to build the European Union and the Euro-zone as an internal market larger than the U.S. market). 

Moreover, Western industrial capitalist economies individually and taken as a group have entered a new phase of long-term slow growth due to economic, technological, demographic, and environmental causes (climate change damages are an increasing concern). 

Meanwhile, China’s decisive turn to state capitalism and export-led industrialization after Mao’s death and the rise of Deng Xiaoping has made it the workshop of the world.  Currently, China produces 20% of the world manufacturing output much of it for export (West and Lansang, 2018) while the U.S. share has fallen to 18%.  

The relative economic decline of the U.S. has brought with it its relative political and military decline. Although in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it appeared that the U.S. has become the hegemonic power in a unipolar world and George Bush declared a new world order, soon a multipolar world emerged and the U.S. dominance is now challenged in the Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, and even Latin America (that since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 Washington has called its “backyard”).

The process of deindustrialization the United States has undermined entire industries and regions and resulted in the withering away of the U.S. middle class—that is the largely white aristocracy of labor—fanning the flames of reactionary nativist and white nationalism and backward-looking capitalist economic policies (“Make America Great Again”). The Trump presidency and its domination of the Republican Party is a consequence of the decline of the U.S. as the world leading capitalist power.  At the same time, the millennials whose economic and social prospects are bleak have moved to the left by questioning aspects of the "actually existing capitalism" giving rise to the Occupy Movement and then providing left moving Democratic Party politicians the much needed younger social base. 

C). Enter the “Green New Deal.” While there are multiple policy proposals to revise the U.S. economy, a section of the U.S. ruling class, mostly but not exclusively, represented by the Democratic Party, has been planning a rationalization and renewal of U.S. capitalism based on new “green” technologies, industries, and markets.  As noted earlier, the neoliberal Democratic New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman first proposed the “Green New Deal” to mitigate climate change and to rejuvenate the U.S. economy almost 11 years ago (Friedman, January 19, 2007, and, April 15, 2007). Subsequently, Friedman (2008) developed these ideas in a book subtitled “Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America.” Thus, GND is nothing but Green Capitalism and as I will discuss below so is the GND Resolution offered by Ocascio-Cortez. 

Already a long list of luminaries from both Democratic and Republican parties have spoken out in favor of some form of Green Capitalism and climate mitigation policy.  Just last September, Governor Brown held the Climate Summit which came on the heel of May 24, 2017, Climate Change Is Big Business conference in San Francisco which he was its invited keynote speaker.  Henry Paulson (March 28, 2018), George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary, a Republican, has been crusading for Green Capitalism, with a focus on the trillion dollars renewable energy market. John Kerry, a strategic thinker of U.S. capitalism, wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times complaining about the heat waves that are “stealing 153 billion hours of labor,” and how tropical infections are moving north, and about falling crop yields in more than two dozen countries: “by 2050 the Midwestern United States could see agricultural productivity drop to its lowest level in decades.” (Kerry, December 13, 2018) New York State's right-of-center Democratic Governor Cuomo has called for a Green New Deal for New York.  A similar motivation for the transition to renewables is found in the GND Resolution. 

The influence of the bourgeois GND on the climate justice movement, the ecology movement, and the (eco)socialist movement is not inconsiderable. A big promoter of the magic of technology and capitalist markets, Friedman’s Green New Deal was positively received by Earth Justice that interviewed Friedman about his proposal and the Green Party picked up the idea adding on its own formulations.  And now that Congresswoman-elect Ocasio Cortez has made the idea “her own,” the bulk of climate justice and ecology groups, some small labor groups, as well as most of the (eco)socialists have embraced it as well.  

The GND Resolution and the 2020 elections
The decision to introduce the GND as the Resolution in the House and the Senate which has forced Democratic politicians, including presidential hopefuls, to embrace it is more about influencing the Democratic Party 2020 primaries and the upcoming Convention than actually getting any law passed to combat climate change and the social illness noted in the Resolution which is non-binding.  Even supporters of the GND Resolution acknowledge and indeed argue that no climate change mitigation policy will be adopted at least until after the 2020 elections.  They also argue that to ensure such policies are adopted and implemented "climate-friendly" politicians, that is Democrats, must take the White House and the majority in the U.S. Senate.  The introduction of the GND Resolution is a tactical decision entirely in line with this view of working for climate change mitigation policy held by the broad left-moving millennials and ecological and social justice organizations in the orbit of the Democratic Party.  Some of the most notable is the Climate Justice Alliance and The Indigenous Environmental Network who represent grassroots organizations among frontline communities and have had valuable practical work in the climate justice movement.  They cite the 2018 midterm Blue Wave as an example to follow:
“If the [2018] midterm election has demonstrated anything, it is that grassroots organizing is at the root of successful policy initiatives and there is still much to learn from local and municipal power-building strategies. For Indigenous-Native grassroots members of CJA, it is the strengthening of community-based and tribal leadership, and Indigenous, place-based strategies, that are critical for the foundations of such a large-scale initiative. CJA welcomes the GND as an opportunity to work creatively with many sectors and communities within CJA that have been transitioning to a regenerative economy using community-led strategies such as zero-waste, sustainable agriculture, energy democracy, land and water stewardship, affordable housing, and localized clean energy. All of which work to center the creation of local jobs and support for the families of workers and communities most impacted.”
While the grassroots organization of the working people and community mobilization are necessary ingredients for tackling the climate crisis they would not go very far within the context of the capitalist system which in the United States has been politically represented by the two-party system.  It is no secret that national/ethnic minorities including Native Americans, overwhelmingly vote Democratic.  Thus, to tackle the root causes of the crisis and successfully transition to a just and ecologically sound based society, it is absolutely necessary to break with the Democratic Party and the capitalist system it protects and promotes.  

Despite much enthusiasm among the left-moving millennials and ecology and social justice movement for the GND Resolution, it is by no means subject of “national conversation” unless by that one means news coverage of Ocascio-Cortez’s occasional commentaries.  And, there is still the Democratic Party establishment represented by such figure as Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein who still sticks to their old playbook regarding climate change. Even the influential editors of The New York Times who have welcomed the Ocascio-Cortez as an example of the new generation of leaders for the Democratic Party cautioned that a mid-century goal is more realistic assuming the Democrats take the White House and Congress in 2021.  Thus, further urging a vote for the Democratic candidates in the 2020 election as the way to get anything done! 

"The immediate task facing the Democrats in 2021 — if they win control of the White House and Congress — will be to reverse Mr. Trump’s reversals. But even now, there are familiar policies that the Democrats, who control the House, can pass through key committees and the full House to force the Senate, and the nation, to debate them. These policies could go a long way toward meeting a goal of net zero emissions by midcentury, less than what the Green New Deal calls for but consistent with the recommendations of the United Nations. They could include a national electricity standard utilizing nuclear and carbon capture along with wind and solar; larger (and more consistent) tax incentives for electric vehicles; an infrastructure program that brings serious federal dollars to bear on improving efficiency in buildings and the electrical grid; major efforts to promote the sequestration of carbon in forests, farms and public lands — a critical component, which the Green New Deal recognizes, in an effort to pull carbon from the atmosphere." (NYT Editors, February 23, 2019)
Thus, it is clear that currently the Democratic Party establishment is not going along with the scale and scope of the Resolution or its timeframe and insists on more or less what has been in the “toolbox” of the climate mitigation policies of the concerned wing of the Democratic Party for some time: carbon capture, nuclear power, etc. using regulations and market interventions for a technological transition. 

4. The ecosocialist response
Allow me to point to some essential features of the ecosocialist response to the GND Resolution.

It is capitalism, stupid! 
Any effective response to the climate crisis must begin with its root causes. Despite our small numbers, the ecosocialists in the climate justice movement have been distinguished by our explanation that the climate crisis is part of a much larger ecosocial crisis generated by the capitalist system (for a recent sample of such explanations which provide a theoretical framework, see, Kovel, 2007; Foster, Clark, and York, 2010; Nayeri, 2013A, and 2013B; Nayeri 2018) and its successful resolution requires a (speedy) transition to an ecological socialist society.  Let me delineate my own argument about the root cause of the crisis and what it takes to resolve it.   

All class societies since the dawn of civilization about 5,000 years ago have been organized to appropriate wealth from nature through the exploitation of working people (who as part of the animal kingdom are part of nature). The first civilizations arose on the basis of the Agrarian Revolution that began approximately 10,000 years ago through systematic domestication of plants and animals to create an artificial ecosystem we call “the farm.” The farm included what is productive for human purpose and excludes anything that is deemed harmful to human purpose. Thus, the compulsion to dominate and control nature which has been the defining feature of all civilization. This process requires and enforces alienation from nature. 

It took a long time but eventually, an economic surplus arose, and the early farmers clustered into farming villages and then formed the first towns. Over time, the economic surplus became the basis of social stratification and eventually the first class societies based on private property, patriarchy, and the state arose.  Thus, all civilizations have rested on alienation from nature and social alienation. All class societies have been the "enemy of nature" by design. What makes the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization especially destructive is the rise of capital as self-expanding ecosocial relations of production and consumption that entails rapidly growing commodification of all that exists, ever-growing market relations and its attending development of the division of labor. Division of labor provides the basis for the growing rate of development, introduction, and adoption of new technologies. Thus, the evermore larger scale, scope, and tempo of appropriation of wealth from nature and exploitation of the working people. This is why the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization has brought us to the edge of extinction in just 250 years (a blink of the eye in the 300,000 years of our existence as a species)!

Let’s consider this vast extraction of wealth from nature in terms of dollars.  According to the Credit Suisse report (2016), the richest 3.5 million people worldwide (o.7% of world population) control $116 trillion or 45.6% of the world’s wealth (Of course, even in this tiny group wealth is highly concentrated in an even tinier subgroup; see, Piketty 2013).  The share of the poorest 3.5 billion people (73% of the world population) is only $6.1 trillion of wealth or on average less than $10,000 in wealth each (Of course, a majority in this group have no wealth or even have negative wealth, debt).  In its 2018 Report, Credit Suisse notes the continued increase in wealth and its concentration in fewer hands.  North America, added $6.5 trillion more wealth, almost entirely, $6.3 trillion of it, by the United States. Europe added $4.4 trillion more in wealth, China $2.3 trillion, and Asia-Pacific (excluding China and India) almost $1 trillion. But Africa, India, and Latin America together saw a net loss of wealth. 

Thus, the ecosocial crisis is driven by the process of capitalist accumulation. The accumulation of wealth among the Middle-Class layers in the Global North and the upper classes in the Global South is the secondary effect of the accumulation process that rests on the valorization process; wealth created as commodities are sold and turned into money-capital which is then invested in productive capital again, starting a new cycle of accumulation). 

The Anthropocene  
This systemic process of production and centralization of wealth and power, which is the basis of the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization has been with us since the English Industrial Revolution, has brought us the Anthropocene (The Age of Human).  While the term is currently being considered to define a new geological epoch, it has been used in its broader sense of how the modern industrial civilization has been degrading the ecosphere for at least two decades.  What it entails is docmented in many studies. For example, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s report, The Great Acceleration (2015), concludes as follows: 

“The effects of the accelerating human changes are now clearly discernible at the Earth system level. Many key indicators of the functioning of the Earth system are now showing responses that are, at least in part, driven by the changing human imprint on the planet. The human imprint influences all components of the global environment - oceans, coastal zone, atmosphere, and land.” 

The paper cites data that show exponential growth of human population, urbanization, real GDP growth, foreign direct investment, primary energy use, large dams, air travel and tourism, water use, paper production, fertilizer consumption, transportation, telecommunications, emission of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, surface temperature, stratospheric ozone, marine fish capture, ocean acidification, coastal nitrogen, shrimp aquaculture, tropical forest loss, domesticated land, terrestrial biosphere degradation since 1750 or since data was first collected.  

Clearly, left unchecked, these trends point to ecological collapse sometimes in the future. Still, already three existential threat to humanity and much of life on Earth are facing us. Let me briefly outline the other two because the (eco)socialist and much larger ecology and social justice movement are focused almost entirely on climate change. 

  • Nuclear holocaust: On July 16, 1945, the United States detonated the first atomic bomb in New Mexico.  Robert Oppenheimer, director of the project, reciting a passage from an ancient Hindu text said: “Now I become death, destroyer of worlds.”  On August 6 and 9 the United States detonated two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  On August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its own atom bomb. The nuclear arms race has been underway since. Today nine countries: The United States, Russia, the UK, France, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel have nuclear weapons.  We know about the nuclear standoff in the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962.  But on October 6, The New York Times reported a proposed plan in 1968 to use nuclear weapons in the Vietnam war. On October 9, in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Sergey Radchenko reviewing recently declassified documents reported that in October 1973, Washington and Moscow almost went to nuclear war during the Yom Kippur war between Israel, and Egypt and Syria. On May 4, 2018, it was reported that President Trump had considered an option of a war against North Korea known to be armed with nuclear weapons. The threat of a nuclear holocaust is very real as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world riff with capitalist rivalry.  The Obama administration began a multi-trillion dollar “upgrading” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the Trump administration has pulled out from nuclear treaties with Russia to allow the U.S. to develop nuclear arsenal Washington deems necessary not to “contain Russia,” but to face off China! The recent military confrontation between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan and the collapse of talks between the U.S. and North Korea increase the danger of a nuclear holocaust. 
  • The Sixth Extinction Biologists, ecologists, and other life scientists warn that we are in the midst of the anthropogenic Sixth Extinction.  Eminent Harvard University entomologist and conservationist, E. O. Wilson, documents this crisis in Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life and proposes setting at least half the land and sea surface of the planet for wildness (2016, see chapter 15 for parts of the planet he identifies for this purpose; for a critical discussion of Wilson’s overall proposal, see, Nayeri, 2017). He and others warn that if at least half the land and ocean surface of the planet is not set aside as wildlife reserves, by the end of the century half of the species on Earth will become extinct, including perhaps humanity.
An ecocentric socialist response to the GND craze 
Given the above, let me outline an ecocentric socialist criticism of the GND Resolution. As the reader will note, my criticism of the GND Resolution is foundational. That is, in my view, the GND Resolution cannot be rectified with amendments which is what (eco)socialists and others have offered so far.  To stop the existential crisis, we must reverse the Anthropocene that requires to stop capital accumulation on the world scale. Yet, the GND Resolution is:
  • A Green Capitalism vision in every respect. 
  • An America-centered/Global North-centered vision of hyper-development and mass consumption. 
  • A Green Keynesian vision of capitalist re-industrialization of the U.S. that will quicken the rate of growth, i.e., capital accumulation.  
  • Motived by the bourgeois culture of having. 
Let me briefly comment on these key foundational criticism of the GND Resolution.  

A Green Capitalist Vision. The GND Resolution is a Green Capitalism vision, as it proposes a restructuring of the capitalist economy by a government-led “mobilization” in ways that it claims will result in a less unjust post-carbon capitalist society. Thus, the GND vision is Green Capitalism because the post-carbon society it envisions would still be capitalist and the political process and the agency for the transformation to a post-carbon society is left to the capitalist State with its two-party system (essentially the “enlightened” Democratic Party), which is fused with the three branches of the U.S. government starting with Congress. Neither the GND Resolution nor its authors claim otherwise. Thus, the GND Resolution (eco)socialist supporters, no matter how critical, must realize that they are actually supporting a vision of Green Capitalism. Let us remember: for revolutionary (eco)socialists income inequality is baked in capitalist class society (the division of the national product into wages, profits, and ground rent).  Let us remember that it is not the concentration of wealth that is the problem but any mode of production geared to create wealth and a wealthy class.  No amount of “campaign finance reform” can transform bourgeois democracy to work for the historical interest of the working people and the health of nature. In brief, (eco)socialism holds a radically different political vision than the authors of the GND Resolution and all the Democratic Party “progressives” and their supporters in the ecology and social justice movements hold.  They want to reform the capitalist system to “function better” and the revolutionary (eco)socialists want to replace the capitalist system with an ecosocialist society. The social agency is also totally different. The former relies on the voters and capitalist elections and institutions and the latter of the self-organized and self-mobilized the working people to transcend the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization.  

An America-centered vision. The GND Resolution also offers an American-centered vision of prosperity: “unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States.” In 2017, the median income per capita was $31,786.  Median per capita income is the amount that divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount. Real median household income was $61,372. Thus, the Resolution promises substantially higher levels of income that these of the 2017 levels.  Part of this promise can be fulfilled by progressive income redistribution policies, including a sharp rise in the minimum wage, and wealth redistribution policies. But the bulk of it must come from an ongoing rising national income (GDP).  That is an appropriation of more wealth from nature, hence its further degradation.

A vision for re-industrialization of the U.S. economy. The GND Resolution follows a Green Keynesian macroeconomic approach which does three things at once: (a) a progressive income transfer from profits to wages, (b) a rapid development of a “Green Industry” based on the latest green technologies to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, (c) and a resulting faster rate of economic growth driven by stronger consumer demand and its multiplier effect because the working class saving rate in the U.S. is close to zero (all wage increases go towards purchasing consumer goods). 

As attractive as it sounds, this vision is entirely consistent with Thomas L. Friedman’s Green New Deal offered 11 years ago except for the income redistribution policy which he probably would not object to as they are advocated by a number of top-ranking Democratic Party economic policy wonks.  These include Peter Diamond, the Nobel Laureate in economics and perhaps the world’s leading public finance expert, Christina Romer, a top macroeconomist who was the head of the Council of Economic Advisor for President Obama, Emmanuel Saez (considered the leading economist on income inequality) and Gabriel Zucman both at U.S. Berkeley, and Paul Krugman, a Keynesian macroeconomist and a Nobel Laureate, and a seasoned columnist for The New York Times. Unsurprisingly a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls have also offered plans for income and/or wealth redistribution if elected (and all have also endorsed the GND Resolution). 

Thus, the GND Resolution can serve as a framework for the rejuvenation of the U.S. economy to compete with its capitalist rivals in particular China. 

But the careful reader may also find a glaring contradiction between this green Keynesian vision and the GND Resolution’s central claim to fight runaway climate change. Clearly, the rapid growth of the U.S. will be matched by other leading capitalist economies resulting in a fast-growing world economy (both through rising imports and through capitalist rivalry).  Would such a rapidly growing capitalist world economy be consistent with ending greenhouse gases pollution? Even if anyone can convince herself that a mix of nuclear and renewable energies can support such a fast-growing capitalist economy in the U.S., the same is not projects by the GND Resolution to take place elsewhere in the world, and a faster-growing world economy will no doubt accelerate greenhouse gases emissions elsewhere in the world and the pace of the Sixth Extinction crisis which currently is predicted to kill off half the seven million known species by 2100!  And it would further sharpen capitalist rivalry which has already set off a nuclear arms race hence the danger of nuclear holocaust.  

At the same time, this America-centered vision ignores the income and wealth inequality between the U.S. (and the Global North) and the Global South. According to the World Bank (2018), half the world population—3.4 billion people—-still struggle to meet their basic needs with a daily income of $5.50. Imagine if the entire population of Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean also demand the same level of “prosperity” that the authors of the Resolution are promising to the U.S. working people! 

The GND Resolution is based on the bourgeois “culture of having.”  The notion of “prosperity for all” that frames the Resolution is consistent with the bourgeois neoclassical theory of consumer choice which hold that “more is better than less” subject to budget constraint as consumers’ pursue utility maximization to increase their happiness. As such, the GND Resolution deepens the Anthropocene trends cited above, hence the ecosocial crisis. The ecosocialists, on the other hand, have argued for a culture of being, for a world free of commodity fetishism, a world where human development and self-realization takes the front seat in our daily existence. 

How about the class struggle?
The problem with the GND Resolution is the bourgeois ideological framework that views the working people as voters and consumers, not as direct producers who constitute the social agency for radical social change.  It is impossible to resolve the existential ecosocial crisis rooted in alienation from nature and social alienation without the self-organization and self-mobilization of the working people ourselves. It is the billions of working people in the United State and worldwide who must transform ourselves from the exploited objects to appropriate wealth from nature largely for the handful of the super-rich to the active subject of history to transcend the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization in the direction of an ecocentric socialist society.  The fight against climate change is a precondition for this process and this process is the precondition for a successful fight against the climate crisis (and the two other existential threats we face), to transcend all alienated social institutions, including the capitalist market and the capitalist state, and all power relations, not only in the economic sphere but also in the political, social, and cultural spheres, and not only in human relations but also in relationship between us and the rest of life on the planet. 

In my conservations with System Change Not Climate Change leaders more than once I heard the claim that “class struggle” will determine the ultimate shape of the GND and they claim the GND-craze is, in fact, part of the process of development of class struggle. I hope the reader now understands why even the most critical supporter of the GND Resolution, actually undermine the development of independent working people’s self-organization and self-mobilization, hence the potential for class struggle.  The fact is that effective action against the climate crisis has been delayed for over a quarter of a century not only because of the fossil fuel lobby and the anti-regulation climate deniers but largely because of the misleaders of the movement itself who to this day refuse to accept any role for capitalism in the crisis. Thus, they have channeled the energy and enthusiasm of millions of working people and youth who have been moved to action into supporting “climate-friendly” capitalist politicians, in particular in the Democratic Party, instead of charting a course entirely independent of the capitalist system beginning by telling the truth about the existential crisis we face.  The GND Resolution is merely the same “strategy” of drawing the mobilized masses of youth and working people into voting for the Democratic Party in the 2020 elections with the promise that with all levers of power in the Democratic Party's hands effective action will be taken.  

The notion that electing Democrats is the road to overcoming the climate crisis is based on an old lie perpetuated by the liberals as well as social democratic and Stalinists reformers. In California where all levers of government has been in the Democratic Party hands Pacific Gas and Electric (PG+E), a giant capitalist corporation that has admitted to being the probable cause for many recent fires, including the Camp Fire last summer that burned the entire town of Paradise and killed scores of people, has filed for bankruptcy protection because of the billions of dollars in potential liability. The campaign for the public takeover of PG+E has gone nowhere so far. Instead, the California Energy Commission, the industry influenced regulatory body, has decided to bail out the company with taxpayers money.  The reader might already have realized that all industry regulatory bodies are industry-friendly as the recent information about the certification of Boeing 373 Max airliner relied on assertion of Boeing employees that the plan is safe even though the regulators knew of and accepted Boeing decision that the plane's safety features would be sold as optional “add ons!” Was not the bailing out of the Wall Street banks that made a fortune pushing subprime mortgages with trillion dollars of taxpayers money a bipartisan effort? Both climate policy record of Governor Brown in California where all levers of power were in Democrats hands and President Obama’s record in fighting climate change has been far short of what is needed given the advanced stage of the climate crisis (Dansereau, 2018). 

The ecosocialist path forward
Let me return to the opening theme of this essay: it is necessary to return to the materialist conception of history in order to begin to chart a course towards a radical solution of the climate crisis, and, in fact, the entire ecosocial crisis, caused by the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization. In “The Crisis of Civilization and How to Resolve It” (2018), I have outlined how Marx’s and Engels’ materialist conception of history might be updated in light of the great advance in our knowledge of what was in the 1850s was termed “prehistory.” In the concluding part of that essay, I have also outlined what structural changes to the U.S. capitalist economy would be necessary in order to overcome the crisis.  The reader is urged to read that essay.

On the question of the agency for the ecosocialist revolution, I suggested:
“This reformulation also elevates, as we should, the historical standing of our forager ancestors and contemporaries, the ‘barbarians’ who have lived outside of civilization and resisted becoming part of any state, and aboriginal and indigenous people and their resistance to the anthropocentric industrial capitalist civilization.  
It also elevates, as we should, that part of humanity that has defended the present day foragers, ‘barbarians,’ aboriginals and indigenous people, and the rest of the ecosphere against the capitalist civilization’s onslaught.  These include, but by no means is limited to, the so-called tree-huggers, animal liberation activists, Deep Ecologists, and those who are fighting for the rights of Mother Earth.  They are not simply allies of the working class but co-equals.  In fact, politically aware working people would see their fights as their own. Thus, the so-called Reds and Greens are actually co-equal fighters against the anthropocentric capitalist civilization except they have focused on different aspects of the same monster.
Of course, the class struggle still matters and centrally so.  Given the preponderance of the capitalist civilization and the marginalization of the resistance by those who live outside of it, the working class is decisive for the movement to transcend it in the direction of ecocentric socialism.  In fact, in countries that constitute the core of capitalist civilization the working class constitutes the great majority of the population and the main agency to fight capitalist domination and exploitation of humans and the rest of nature.  But just as defending the rights of the subordinated and oppressed sections of the population and universalization of human rights is key for working-class unity and the transition to an ecocentric socialist future, so is the fight to extend equal moral standing to those who live outside of capitalist civilization and to all other species and the Mother Earth in the face of the onslaught of the anthropocentric capitalist civilization.  (I have added the last set of italics for emphasis)
Given that we live in the United States where the wage and salary employees (broadly speaking the “working class”) number about 150 million out of a population of 330 million, let me emphasize Marx’s and Engels’ focus on the “working class” and how to proceed from “economic struggles” to “class struggle.” For them, the former was the struggle around sectional interests (e.g., wages) whereas the latter was the struggles for universal values that would benefit the entire working class and the larger humanity.  In light of my own argument above, we must add as class struggle those for the freedom and happiness of the non-human species and the health of the rest of nature in the face of the capitalist onslaught. 

The centrality of the working class as the social agency for the (eco)socialist revolution is emphasized in the opening sentences of the General Rules of the International Working Men’s Association (1864A) that Marx drafted: 

“That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule.” 

Marx’s theory of the proletariat and his theory of socialism are intertwined. In the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) we read: 

“The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.
“The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.”
However, the formation of the working people into the self-organized and self-mobilized working class requires a long process of struggle that would emphasize the defense of the most oppressed and most exploited sections of the working people.  In the United States, the litmus test for (eco)socialists is the defense of the oppressed nations of the world against  U.S. imperialism. Marx devoted the conclusion of his “Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association” to communist internationalist policy:

“If the emancipation of the working classes requires their fraternal concurrence, how are they to fulfill that great mission with a foreign policy in pursuit of criminal designs, playing upon national prejudices, and squandering in piratical wars the people’s blood and treasure? It was not the wisdom of the ruling classes, but the heroic resistance to their criminal folly by the working classes of England, that saved the west of Europe from plunging headlong into an infamous crusade for the perpetuation and propagation of slavery on the other side of the Atlantic. The shameless approval, mock sympathy, or idiotic indifference with which the upper classes of Europe have witnessed the mountain fortress of the Caucasus falling a prey to, and heroic Poland being assassinated by, Russia: the immense and unresisted encroachments of that barbarous power, whose head is in St. Petersburg, and whose hands are in every cabinet of Europe, have taught the working classes the duty to master themselves the mysteries of international politics; to watch the diplomatic acts of their respective governments; to counteract them, if necessary, by all means in their power; when unable to prevent, to combine in simultaneous denunciations, and to vindicate the simple laws or morals and justice, which ought to govern the relations of private individuals, as the rules paramount of the intercourse of nations.
“The fight for such a foreign policy forms part of the general struggle for the emancipation of the working classes.
“Proletarians of all countries, unite!” (Marx, 1864B)
Unfortunately, some (eco)socialist groups have failed this litmus test in the ongoing bipartisan imperialist assault against Venezuela. When in January 23, Juan Guaidó, the opposition politician who had just become the President of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president and appealed to the military to oust the recently re-elected President Maduro on the claim that the 2018 election was rigged, Donald Trump immediately recognized him as the Venezuela president as this Washington plot was in making for some time.  Quickly, the European Union, Canada, Israel, and allies of the United States in Latin America followed the suit.  The entire plan hatched by Trump’s advisors was to create an image of a “constitutional crisis” to carry out a coup d’etat in Venezuela. When the working people of Venezuela and its armed forces refused to go along with the coup plot, Washington sent “medical and food aid” to Venezuela in the name of the “Guaidó government” using frozen assets of Venezuela in the U.S. banks! The neighboring countries served as points of entry of the U.S. “aid” on February 23.  The Cuban government (2019) issued a statement alarming the world of the U.S. military mobilization for the invasion of Venezuela using a crisis in the delivery of “aid” as a pretext. Trump threatened the Venezuela armed forces to defect or face a dire future under the new Washington installed regime. The plot failed when the “aid” trucks could not enter Venezuela thanks to the armed forces loyal to the Maduro government and the working people of Venezuela (Mackler and Lesnick, 2019). 

Not a single Democratic Party leaders or presidential hopeful or the recently elected “progressive” Democrats, including Ocascio-Cortez, condemned the Trump administration’s regime change plans even as they all decried the Russian interference with the 2016 elections! What hypocrisy! Ocascio-Cortez recorded herself explained her view: "What people don’t understand is that this is about authoritarianism vs. democracy in many different ways…”). While cryptic, this comment is probably about the dispute between the Republicans and Democrats. The former emphasizes the failure of "socialism" in Venezuela under the Bolivarian Revolution. The liberal Democrats, especially the "progressives" such as Ocascio-Cortez argue it is the "authoritarian" regime in Caracas that is the problem, not policies like the state control of the oil industry. Both sides view state control of sectors of the economy as "socialism." Unfortunately, neither did System Change Not Climate Change.  In fact, when I attended the small “Hands off Venezuela” rally in Oakland, California, on February 23, I did not run into a contingent of the Bay Area chapter of SCNCC which had not discussed let alone endorse the rally (There were few members of the chapter attending on their own volition: Jeff Mackler, the key organizer of the rally, myself, as the Editor of Our Place in the World: A Journal of Ecosocialism which had co-sponsored the rally, and three other individuals members of the chapter who attended as individuals) . The chapter is the largest of the few SCNCC chapters that currently exists. I wonder would the Bay Area SCNCC chapter had missed a rally for Ocsacio-Cortez to promote the GND Resolution or a Sunrise Movement rally? 

My proposal to the binational leadership to issue a statement condemning the bipartisan regime change policies of the U.S. imperialism and defending Venezuela’s right to self-determination did not generate any discussion or any action. The DSA leadership had issued a statement on January 24 that opposed the U.S. intervention in Venezuela and urged the DSA chapters to do the same.  However, as the title of the statement and some language in the text suggests that it may be a compromise statement as the DSA is a multi-current formation; the title reads: "Stop Dangerous and Counterproductive US Intervention in Venezuela." This is similar to bourgeois liberal U.S. imperialists like the editors of The New York Times that oppose sanctions against Iran because they argue it will strengthen Islamic Republic hardliners or their support loosening of the U.S. embargo as they argue trade would be a better tool for undermining Cuban Communist Party's hold to power. No organized delegation of the Bay Area DSA was present at the February 23 "Hands Off Venezuela" rally. 

The ecosocial crisis, including the three existential threats, will never be resolved without an ecosocialist action program that would be carried out by the power of working people mobilized by our own organizations to fight for a workers government in the United States.  The (eco)socialist movement must patiently explain this to anyone interested to fight climate catastrophe.

Acknowledgment: I am grateful to Ted Franklin who corrected two errors in my discussion of System Change Not Climate Change (SCNCC) and the DSA response to the U.S. imperialist interventions in Venezuela. First, he informed me that he and two other members of the SCNCC Bay Area chapter attended the February 23 "Hands Off Venezuela" rally in Oakland.  The text of my criticism of the lack of response by the chapter was worded such that it could have been read as if I criticized each and every member of the chapter for not attending the rally. I had meant to criticize that lack of presence of the chapter as an organized group at the rally. More importantly, Franklin shared with me the January 24 statement of the DSA national leadership against U.S. intervention in Venezuela. For some reason, I had missed the statement even though I searched the DSA website for it.  I have correct the text accordingly.  

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