U.K. Socialists Boost Int'l Ecosocialism Meeting, Plan Labour Climate Change Conference

These articles appear in the Summer 2007 issue of the U.K. newspaper Socialist Resistance.

Ecosocialists To Launch New International

by Derek Wall

Derek Wall is the Green Party of England and Wales Principal Speaker.

In what promises to be a milestone event, ecosocialists are preparing to meet in Paris to launch a new international. Michael Lowy and Joel Kovel, authors of the ecosocialist manifesto, have called the meeting on October 7 in Paris to bring ecosocialists together.

The manifesto is symbolic of the way that socialists are increasingly acknowledging the green roots of Marxism. Greens, meanwhile, are realising that capitalism is the cause of climate change and other ecological ills. Climate change is an urgent concern for the political mainstream. But the economic roots of environmental problems in the short term pursuit of profit are pushed to the sidelines.

Rather the emphasis is on individual consumer action and on .solutions. via carbon trading and pollution quotas. Equally Marxists in the 20th century largely treated environmental questions as of secondary importance and often were tempted to interpret Marxism in a narrowly productivist form.

However there is a growing awareness that Marx and Engels were ecologists, concerned centrally with problems of deforestation, soil erosion, food additives and air pollution.

Engels’ famous Condition of the English Working Class looked at how pollution wrecked the health of the proleteriat. Marx.s first political journalism showed how peasants were excluded from the woods where they collected fallen branches for fuel.

Today capitalism still throws peasants off the land, encloses resources and makes profit from the exploitation of the working class and the environment.

The Paris meeting will bring supporters of the ecosocialist manifesto together on a non sectarian basis to look at practical ways of building a sustainable, socialist and democratic future.

Green Left, the ecosocialist and anti-capitalist platform in the Green Party; Socialist Resistance and Green Left Weekly will be sending representatives.

Ecosocialists from Venezuela will also be involved in the project.

The socialist climate change blogger Ian Angus is one of the organisers. He notes: “This meeting is a very preliminary first step. We will get to know each other, establish a provisional organising committee, and begin discussions of projects and activities.”

The main goal, he added, would be to set a time, place and preliminary agenda for a larger meeting in 2008. There it was hoped to have broad participation from green-left activists around the world.

The aim in Paris is to allow groups and individuals from different political affiliations to network so as to deepen understanding of ecosocialist ideas and to further common projects.

This will be neither a talking shop nor a top-down monolith but a means of creating an ecosocialist politics that has real bite.

Marx summed up the objective in Capital III:

“Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations.”

The point, as always, is to make Marx’s statement real.

  • More details on Climate and Capitalism
  • To read the ecosocialist manifesto clink Here

Building a Labour Movement Conference on Climate ChangeDear Brothers and Sisters,At the recent Campaign Against Climate Change International conference there was a workshop for trade unionists addressed by Cllr Rania Khan from Tower Hamlets, Tony Staunton from Plymouth UNISON and East London NUT activist Andy Stone.

Inspired by an excellent session there was enthusiastic support for a much wider network of trade unionists to coordinate work on these issues in UK workplaces.

We agreed an initial aim of organising a Labour Movement Conference on Climate Change for February 2008. I volunteered to coordinate this.

So I am now writing to you for two reasons.

1. There will be an open planning meeting for this conference in Birmingham on Saturday 14 July.

The venue is Carrs Lane Church, Carrs Lane, Birmingham City Centre (directions below), and the start time is 12.45pm.

Please do all you can to publicise this meeting amongst your union friends and comrades.

We will need to take decisions on the venue, budget, structure and publicity for the February event at this meeting.

If you are planning to attend this meeting in Birmingham please let me know by email as soon as possible.

2. In order to get some publicity for this conference and the work of this group we want to get a first leaflet printed for circulation amongst trade unionists as soon as possible.

I am therefore asking for signatories from interested trade unionists to be listed on this leaflet.

All will be in a personal capacity, unless otherwise indicated.

Can you please get these back to me by Friday 22nd June so that we can get a leaflet out in good time. Bob Crow (General Secretary RMT) has kindly agreed to add his name to the conference in order to get the ball rolling.

In solidarity,

Roy Wilkes
4 Oakhurst Gardens,
Prestwich Manchester M25 1JQ
Phone: 0161 773 8699
Mobile: 07801 263 265
E-mail: roywilkes59@talktalk. net

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