A Real Climate Strike Means Class Against Class

Logo for the Global Climate Strike. http://www.globalclimatestrike.net

A Real Climate Strike Means Class Against Class

14-08-2019 – On September 20, young students will walk out of class, encouraging older workers to walk out of work and join them, in an inspiring continuation of the worldwide movement for urgent action on the increasingly dire warnings of climate collapse. Following the lead of Greta Thunberg, these climate strikers will send a message to all governments that they cannot be ignored any longer. Or so we are told. As in all things political, however, the truth lies somewhat beneath appearances. In this case, the ugly truth is one which should be repellent to workers with elementary class awareness.

The September 20 strikes are being primarily organised by SS4C (School Strike for Climate). Who are they? The real organisers are hidden, because if they were honest about who they were, they may not be welcomed. SS4C hide their tracks very well, so definite proof is hard to come by. But one glance at the politics they are trying to shoehorn everyone into coming behind reveals, within a few degrees of accuracy, forces whose ultimate aim are seats in parliament, not “climate action”.

Circle of reaction

Three organisations are key to understanding the dark forces behind the September 20 walkouts. SS4C is one, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC – or “Baby GetUp!”) is another, and the other is the Australian Labor Party (ALP). In reality, the first two are trustees of the ALP, the allegedly moderate front of capital in the wide brown land. When questioned, SS4C/AYCC deny their connections to the ALP – yet they remain in plain sight. SS4C have even altered their demands in a vain attempt to claw back their federal election defeat in May by the Liberal National Party (LNP), an election which should have been a shoe-in for the ALP.[1] The federal election swung to the LNP largely on the basis of regional Queensland, where sky-high unemployment led some workers to view that the ALP would stop the construction of the Adani mega coal mine, leading to the end of desperately needed flow on jobs. In reality, the ALP was never opposed to Adani, but had to equivocate in the face of the Stop Adani campaign.[2]

The parliamentary fixation of SS4C is plain to see. They speak of “our” [!] politicians, and “politicians can show they care” [!] by meeting our demands.[3] To say this is parliamentary cretinism is an understatement. Workers should be aware that capitalist parliaments are the key institution used by the ruling class to fool the masses into believing that there is some institution which represents them, albeit with some limitations they admit. The Australian federal parliament, like all parliaments under bourgeois democracy, is a den of corruption and deceit. Moreover, it is a class weapon brandished by the corporate elite against the workers and the poor. It cannot be used as a staging post for climate action any more than it can be used to advance housing for the homeless. For SS4C and AYCC, on the other hand, parliament is their holy grail, and their universal solution – for their own careers.

Perhaps the greatest crime of SS4C and AYCC is their deceitful use of young people to advance the careers of (ALP) Members of Parliament. The young primary and secondary school students are wise enough to understand the eminent danger that global warming poses, and they indeed should be congratulated for taking a brave stand, in some cases resisting principals and school authorities. Yet without sufficient political experience, which can only be gained over some years, these young people cannot be expected to see through the Machiavellian scheming of the SS4C/AYCC agents. They cannot be expected to understand that the AYCC’s raison d’etre is not climate action per se, but to be a youth front for the ALP, and thus for the very profit system which imperils human civilisation.

Dishonest climate campaign

SS4C proffer their campaign descriptors as “school student led, decentralised, grassroots, non-partisan, inclusive, non-violent, mission focussed, ambitious, creative”.[4] The only one of these that has a partial ring of truth is “inclusive”, in that all are invited to take part in the climate strike. This is the reason why workers can attend, stop work, and encourage Union members and officials to do likewise. Yet it must be with the aim of undermining and eroding SS4C/AYCC leadership – which, if left unchallenged, will lead the climate movement into parliamentary paralysis. It is false to claim that school students are leading this movement – the AYCC does the work on the ground. Decentralisation is fallacious – the ALP knows that every campaign must have a centralised leadership. Grassroots is mendacious – as politicians are anything but. Non-partisan is a furphy – they are non-partisan only towards the ALP and perhaps the Greens. Left parties are only welcome IF they politically submit to liberalism. The non-violent moniker is a pledge of fealty to the police forces of the capitalist state. In short, SS4C operate on a pack of half-truths.

Moreover, SS4C submit three demands: 1. No new coal, oil or gas projects, including the Adani mine. 2. 100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030. 3. Fund a just transition & job creation for all fossil fuel industry workers.[5]  These demands are pitifully moderate, and could just as easily be asked of the ALP – and this is the giveaway that that is the aim. Consciously, there is zero in these demands which would even eat into the profits of capital, let alone threaten their existence. In practice though, workers should not oppose demands 1 and 3. Demand 2, on the other hand is problematic. IF it demanded 100% zero carbon energy generation, it would be rational. However, the 100% renewable energy demand remains seriously impractical if it was actually possible, and if nuclear power was excluded.[6]  It is a sop to the mistaken environmental movement whose anti-nuclear stance has effectively accelerated the burning of coal since the 1970s. There is evidence that some fossil fuel corporations have funded the anti-nuclear movement in order to ensure zero carbon nuclear fission does not replace them.[7]

The fraud of Greta Thunberg

As we have written previously,[8] the aura around Greta Thunberg is fraudulent. Greta Thunberg the brand is backed by some of the largest corporate players on the planet, and hence focuses on politicians not doing the right thing. This lets the corporations – and the capitalist system – off the hook. Raising no objections to capitalism leads to advocacy of the worst excesses of imperialism, which Greta displayed in spades when she tweeted, “Let Russia and Hong Kong strike for climate”.[9] Here is prima facie evidence that Greta is the anointed figurehead of what is essentially a pro-war “climate” movement. The US Empire is currently up to its eyeballs in hybrid war provocations for regime change against Russia and the People’s Republic of China, which are the harbinger of a nuclear holocaust arguably far more dangerous than extinction through ecological malfunction. Washington has already waged proxy wars against Russia in the Ukraine (by arming Nazis)[10], and against Syria (by arming Al Qaeda).[11] Washington is currently waging an attempted war to dismantle China through direct funding to “NGOs” who employ thousands of violent pro-capitalist Hong Kong yahoos, under the ruse of “independence”.[12]

In fact, the reality that the climate strikers never refer to Pentagon launched imperialist provocations and actual and potential wars is revealing. One could plausibly argue that the climate strike movement is thus not really about the urging of governments to seriously address anthropogenic global warming. It is more about aiding and assisting the First World governments of the US, Europe and Australia in regaining their credibility with “their own” people – by making at least cosmetic efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The climate strike leaders, from Greta Thunberg to SS4C to AYCC, ultimately desire the restitution of imperialist liberal democracy in the eyes of working people. And what better way to do this than by shepherding workers behind a US/EU launched war of “democratic” imperialism against the “totalitarian” states of Russia and China?

Left parties alibi climate parliamentarism

Some Australian left parties help build what they see as climate activism, without pausing to consider its content. While they may grumble about the SS4C climate movement needing more pro-worker positions, they effectively only call for a slightly more progressive movement. The Socialist Alliance appears to have few grumbles at all, and reproduce press statements from SS4C verbatim.[13] They are joined as disciples of Greta Thunberg by Socialist Alternative, who likewise endorse and take part in the “new activism” of Extinction Rebellion (XR).[14] Although XR are not organising the September 20 strikes, XR’s class basis of petty-bourgeois radicalism[15] dovetails squarely with the classical reformism of SS4C and AYCC. Solidarity correctly highlight the beginnings of some trade unions endorsing and taking part in the September 20 walkouts.[16] Yet there is no mention from them of the dangers of workers and their Unions obediently mobilising once again behind the abject parliamentarism of the SS4C/AYCC leadership of the climate strike.

After the disaster of the “Change the Rules” campaign, which saw Unions mobilise for two years in support of a failed attempt to elect an ultra-conservative ALP to federal government, one would think some lessons about electoral campaigns masked as movements might be learned. Yet the link between the parliamentarism of SS4C/AYCC, imperialist war and the misguided left are apparent. Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative and Solidarity are strident opponents of Russia and China, as are SS4C/AYCC, as is the Australian ruling class. These left parties do not imagine themselves to be parliamentarists, even while marching in lock step with capital’s hand-picked parliamentarist lieutenants.

Climate struggle is class struggle

The assault on the climactic conditions necessary for human survival is one more assault on the living and working conditions of the masses. While the industrial revolution was necessary to prepare mass production, the private capital which fostered it was never going to be able to regulate itself to any degree of environmental sustainability. For that, private capital must become social capital. In other words, the major means of production must pass from private hands into those of the working people who set it in motion. Yet even though climate science is issuing more and more shrill warnings almost on a daily basis, the climate crisis in itself cannot be separated from the struggle for working class emancipation.

Finance capital is plunging human civilisation into a double-barrelled Armageddon – the slaughter of imperialist war and imminent climate collapse. The parliaments that defend finance capital – and therefore facilitate climate destruction – cannot change their course. In the course of their struggle for decent working and living conditions, and for a safe climate, working people do not directly confront the ruling class itself. Workers instead confront the agents of finance capital within the (sometimes contrived) social movements. Through all manner of subterfuge, these agents attempt to herd workers and youth back into a purely lobbyist perspective. They attempt to paint begging for different policies from politicians who have diametrically opposed material interests, as “radical climate action”. It is a very small step from rehabilitating a capitalist parliament in this way, to a blanket endorsement of imperialist wars against an “other” – be it Russia, China, or whoever. There is little doubt that this is the aim of SS4C and AYCC, who drag along the moderate left parties behind them.

Thus, for the September 20 climate strike and beyond, working people and leftists need to participate with the express aim of breaking workers away from the political designs of the pro-ALP, pro-imperialist leadership which will not and cannot provide even the first steps towards a safe climate – or a safe world. Rather, what is required is a fight for demands such as: the expropriation of the major means of production, transport, banking and finance which could be administered by workers’ committees in the interests of working people. A left-wing climate movement should demand elected workers’ councils to administer a socialised and planned economy. Here, the leadership of a Marxist vanguard party is crucial. The horrors of potential climate incineration, imperialist war and wage slavery can only begin to be addressed through workers’ rule in the transition from the profit system to human liberation.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://redfireonline.com/2019/05/19/liberalism-at-a-dead-end-alp-loses-the-unlosable-election/ (10-08-2019)

[2] https://overland.org.au/2019/06/why-adani-happened/ (10-08-2019)

[3] https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/about (10-08-2019)

[4] Ibid, 3.

[5] Ibid. 4.

[6] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032117304495 (11-08-2019)

[7] https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2016/07/13/are-fossil-fuel-interests-bankrolling-the-anti-nuclear-energy-movement/#4bef933d7453 (11-08-2019)

[8] https://redfireonline.com/2019/03/13/for-real-climate-action-expropriate-capital/ (11-08-2019)

[9] https://twitter.com/gretathunberg/status/1128344612186279937?lang=en (11-08-2019)

[10] https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/17/blowback-us-funded-ukraine-neo-nazis-mentor-us-white-supremacists/ (11-08-2019)

[11] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/cihan-celik/us-turkey-realize-al-qaeda-threat-in-syria–a-bit-late-61834 (11-08-2019)

[12] https://www.mintpressnews.com/hong-kong-protests/259202/ (11-08-2019)

[13] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/why-school-climate-strikers-are-demanding-just-transition-and-job-creation (11-08-2019)

[14] https://redflag.org.au/node/6855 (11-08-2019)

[15] https://redfireonline.com/2019/08/07/whats-wrong-with-extinction-rebellion/ (11-08-2019)

[16] https://www.solidarity.net.au/highlights/workers-and-unions-organise-to-join-climate-strike/ (11-08-2019)

 

What’s Wrong with Extinction Rebellion?

Extinction Rebellion block traffic in Brisbane. Photo from http://www.newcastlestar.com.au

What’s Wrong with Extinction Rebellion?

04-08-2019 – Extinction Rebellion (XR) formed as an organisation in late 2018, and has since expanded into some 400 chapters around the globe. In April, XR burst onto the scene by blockading parts of London, with some participants in costumes, and topped off by a pink yacht.[1] Calling for urgent action to address the increasingly dire climate warnings, XR has drawn in many who are rightly fed up with the blatant inaction of politicians, and are willing to take action which disrupts “business as usual”. XR is correct about one thing: if immediate and drastic steps are not taken to eliminate carbon emissions and withdraw carbon already in the atmosphere within the next ten years, humanity itself will die a horrible death. However, XR display the wrong tactics, with the wrong strategy, which flows from wrong politics. So wayward is XR (the organisation – as distinct from XR members and supporters), we urge workers to stand clear and seek better methods of struggle, despite the critical importance of politically inspired climate action.

Anti-socialist action

Although one of XR’s slogans is “beyond politics”, they are very political – but not in a good way as far as working people are concerned. One of the core positions of XR is being against socialism – or at least their misunderstanding of it. Some XR organising sessions have warned participants against carrying placards saying “Down with Capitalism”, lest the action be interpreted as being organised by socialists!!  Explicit anti-socialism was on show with the now infamous XR training video, where a talk given by XR founder John Hallam identifies 20% of those who take part in political demonstrations as “obstructionists”, who have to be bypassed to get to those who are supposedly not as political. Hallam is referring to socialists who allegedly bring everyone down by denouncing capitalism. He states the solutions need to be a balance, “not socialism or anything”.[2]

From the off we can see what the XR leadership mean by “no politics”. They really mean “no socialism”. The most advanced workers would be aware that there is no other systemic alternative to capitalism other than socialism. It cannot be any other way in a society divided by the two major classes which are involved in production – capital and labour. In rejecting labour, the XR leadership consciously choose capital – no matter how radical they make themselves out to be. In choosing capital, they are choosing the very force responsible for impending human extinction, despite themselves.

It’s a contradiction, for some of those drawn into XR actions could easily view socialism quite favourably. But just a glance at the bios of two of the XR founders is revealing. Gail Bradbrook is one, who has reportedly spent the last 18 years in the pay of both NGOs, charities and some of the world’s largest corporations including Shell, BT, Microsoft, Panasonic, BAE Systems and Goldman Sachs.[3] Many of these roles has been as “advisor” – to the very governments she now implores people to lobby through XR “non-violent” action. Farhana Yamin has been an environmental lawyer and “advisor” on climate change “development policy” to the United Nations and the governments of other countries for 20 years.[4]  Ms Bradbrook and Ms Yamin, if nothing else, are clearly connected to the very capitalist governments and corporations which are responsible for the burning of the planet in the first place. We can scarcely believe that their new XR creation will therefore be anything other than another lobby group trying to get the ear of big capital and big parliaments. Far from rebellion, the XR leadership are after a seat at the table.

The 3.5% colour revolution

XR’s anti-socialism can only lead to open advocacy of capitalist imperialism, and their “theory” does likewise. The elite XR leadership state their agreement with the “3.5%” thesis – that only 3.5% of the population has to be mobilised in non-violent action to achieve fundamental change, even “revolution”. Which “revolutions” allegedly occurred this way? The 1986 “People Power” actions in the Philippines, which deposed President Marcos (but left the ruling class entirely intact), the “Rose Revolution” in 2003 in Georgia, the “Singing Revolution” in Estonia in the late 80s, and the “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia in 1989.[5] The last three were not “revolutions” in any progressive sense, but full-throated counter-revolutions against the distorted socialism which came through the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazified fascism in World War II. In the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, despite political power being monopolised by conservative bureaucratic castes, workers held state power which ensured basic economic security – jobs, healthcare, education – for all. For its part, Wall Street never wavered in its determination to bring down these admittedly imperfect workers’ states, yet decades later, the bishops of XR hail the restoration of free-market capitalism in Georgia, Estonia and Czechoslovakia as a “revolution” !!

The XR VIPs share the aim of US backed “colour revolutions”, which were not only used to bring down the Soviet bloc, but are now used to destabilise Russia itself and all of the countries it once had influence over.[6] This includes the relentless funding of imperialist fronts posing as NGOs in a vast network of countries throughout Eurasia. These deadly moves by Washington threaten to unleash a series of wars, or even a nuclear war, against Russia. XR has no objections though, not least because the leadership see themselves as a type of NGO. Tellingly, XR also says not one word against imperialist war in general – a major driver of climate collapse.

By attempting to ignore the working class, the elite XR leadership attempt to embrace all classes – and thus fall into the same nationalist fictions that imperialist governments constantly try to reinforce. That is, capitalist governments are “ours” and “we” are all a part of it. In fact, they insinuate that “we” are all responsible [!] for the climate crisis and therefore it is everyone’s [!] responsibility to do something about it. Such classless nonsense would be laughed out of even the most reformist Trade Union. Even if workers themselves are not yet class conscious in a Marxist sense, they know and feel instinctively that they are up against a force which is counterposed to their interests, and that collective action must be used in order to defend all those who labour for a living. Even if they do not yet see a way around it, workers see and feel, from their own experience, that highly paid managers, corporate executives and self-serving politicians are an obstacle to basic justice – and that includes urgent action on the climate crisis.

XR and the cops

By far the most dangerous approach of XR is its embrace of the police of the capitalist state as allies. In the UK, the blocking of intersections in London with a yacht and a truck for a week can only have been done through extensive consultation with the police,[7] which were likely carried out by the unaccountable leaders of XR, rather than those who attended the action. What is more, one of the core strategies of XR is actually to get people arrested, and there is evidence of the XR leadership actively assisting the cops to do just this.[8] It hardly needs emphasising that the police are the core security force of the capitalist state, which uses extreme violence against the working class and the poor in order to secure the wealth of private capital. Any organisation which advocates working directly with, or assisting, the cops, is plainly a deadly enemy of all working people. Directing workers to assist the cops in any task – not to speak of your own arrest! – is not only the most serious form of class treachery. It physically endangers workers, Aboriginal people, migrants, women, and all others who attempt exercise their political rights – which ultimately are very limited as long as capitalism remains economically stagnant.

The elite XR leadership’s willing embrace of the murderous core repressive forces of the capitalist state are a reflection of its political program. They are an example of the enraged petty-bourgeoisie, who cannot understand why big capital does not see its own extinction by continuing fossil fuel “business as usual”. The petty-bourgeoisie encompasses a whole range of political forces which stand between capital and labour by virtue of their class position. Their rejection of the working class and its aim – socialism – leads them into desperately tying themselves to big capital, but in the form of begging for reforms. Capital has no intention of granting them, which then drives the petty-bourgeois XR leadership further into a frenzy. It thus organises “radical” actions such as blockading traffic, and removing their clothes in parliamentary galleries, in a desperate attempt to shock the ruling class into change.

The ruling class, of course, cannot be changed. It must be overthrown, and by the only class which does not have a material interest in the maintenance of the profit system – the proletariat. As long as XR rejects the proletariat and its struggle for its own government and its own state power, it will be reduced to placing plaintive demands on the very forces responsible for the imminent climate collapse. And any political movement which simply asks its overlords for mercy cannot be described as “radical” in any way. This also explains why XR’s demands display a staggering combination of utopian liberalism and reformist populism. For example, XR demand that the government and the media “tell the truth” [!!] about climate change, while calling on the government of the capitalist profiteers to convene a “citizen’s assembly” [9] !! The petty-bourgeois democrats, materially and/or politically beholden to their class interests  (small scale capital), are incapable of a political course independent of the stock markets, the banks and the giant Western corporations, and therefore remain in thrall to the entire political state of the big bourgeoisie.

Bandwagon jumping left parties adapt

Some Australian left parties have simply adapted to the anti-socialist XR movement, by “temporarily” folding up their socialism and placing it in their back pocket. Never one to pass by a chance to jump on a bandwagon, the Socialist Alliance claim that some members of XR agree with an anti-capitalist approach, even if the XR platform does not.[10] Socialist Alternative avoid mentioning the XR platform, but claim that the major positive of XR is their focus on militant direct action, and urge these actions to grow.[11] Both these parties play out the fantasy that ANY movement can be “pushed to the left” if only socialists take part in it. They make the mistake that any movement can be a vehicle for progressive change. Even if XR has a pro-capitalist leadership, all that is supposedly needed is for the left to “relate” to left wing elements within them. Never tiring of tailing after the “left” wing of the ruling class, such tactics in fact tie workers to “their own” capitalist governments, for an indefinite period. Meanwhile, such waylaid left parties forever claim that they are only “working with” allegedly progressive bourgeois layers. Clearly, they are instead working for them, and by extension, for the bourgeoisie itself.

The XR leadership proffer the radically false theory that everyone, from a minimum wage earning seamstress right up to billionaire corporate magnates, are all affected by climate collapse so “everyone” has an interest in doing something about it. In reality, all strata of the capitalist class, right down to the small time business owner, would rather see the earth incinerated than be stripped of their “right” to exploit the labour power of the workers who produce their profits. Allowing for historical variations, this is just as true for the modern day capitalists as it was for the slave owners who pre-dated them, and the biblical kings before them. While the pre-capitalist ruling classes did not face civilisation ending threats, they also would have preferred to see the world burn rather than lose their social power over the toiling masses.

The only way for slaves and serfs to change their conditions of life was to band together to overthrow the slave-owners and medieval monarchs. This eventually occurred, but now the task falls to the modern day working class to liberate humanity from the tyrannical rule of capital. The issue of impending ecological collapse does not invalidate this historical task, but only makes it more urgent. The capitalists and their state, and their governments, cannot be made to “see reason”, no matter how much traffic or business as usual disruption is organised – though different forms of mass action will certainly be needed. What is required is the organisation of the most class-conscious into a Marxist vanguard party, which can lead the working class in a struggle for the seizure of the major means of production. Workers’ control of production, and society itself, will greatly increase the chances of humanity avoiding extinction through the rational application of science and technology. The crusade for a workers’ state and a workers’ government is, in the final analysis, the only real rebellion.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012
www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/04/16/eco-protesters-armed-pots-pink-yacht-blockade-capital/ (29-07-2019)

[2] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/05/06/extinction-rebellion-training-or-how-to-control-radical-resistance-from-the-obstructive-left/ (31-07-2019)

[3] https://www.vigiliae.org/dr-gail-marie-bradbrook-compassionate-revolutionary-for-hire-by-un-extinction/ (31-07-2019)

[4] https://www.bond.org.uk/person/farhana-yamin (31-07-2019)

[5] http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-change-the-world (03-08-2019)

[6] https://www.globalresearch.ca/coups-and-color-revolutions-us-wages-geopolitical-warfare-against-russia-in-central-asia-and-caucasus/5441969 (03-08-2019)

[7] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/04/24/extinction-rebellion-socialist-revolution/ (03-08-2019)

[8] https://libcom.org/blog/extinction-rebellion-not-struggle-we-need-pt-1-19072019?fbclid=IwAR1-PgvdDKz1NpAWnow8rkgtIzxfG5HC67gIw07ffmotFZ_xZThnfDuEwOg (03-08-2019)

[9] https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands/ (03-08-2019)

[10] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/what-kind-rebellion-will-it-take-save-humanity-extinction (04-08-2019)

[11] https://redflag.org.au/node/6812 (04-08-2019)