Rise Against the Climate Collapse!

The Adelaide Hills bushfire from afar. Image from abc.net.au

Rise Against the Climate Collapse!

20-12-2019 – The climate collapse is no longer only the content of Hollywood disaster films, but is a lived reality. Australia, the driest continent on earth, is burning alive, and Sydney is being blanketed in smoke and ash which is hazardous to human health. Last Monday, the Climate and Health Alliance released a statement declaring the smoke haze covering Sydney to be a public health emergency.[1] The statement urges New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to show leadership and implement measures to alleviate the climate and health crisis. The Liberal Party of Berejiklian and Morrison is stacked with climate deniers, but in reality, ALL government parties and politicians have failed to act on the urgent necessity of climate collapse over a period of some 40 years. Labor and the Greens call for climate action in words but they are bound to the same parliaments as the Liberals and Nationals at whom they wave cardboard swords. And these parliaments are but appendages of the rule of the privatised banks and finance capital, set against working people and those without property.

One part of a system in crisis

Ecological breakdown is now so severe that it is a clear and present danger to the survival of humanity. The sheer volume of carbon emissions also threatens to cause catastrophic malfunction of the basic ecosystems needed to sustain most animal and plant life. As serious as it is, workers need to be aware that the collapse of a habitable environment is but one symptom of the crisis of capitalism, which is linked to other major crises. It is linked to the lowest real wages in history, to the rampant wage theft of countless workers. It is linked to the attempt to illegally collect large but completely false “robodebts” from welfare recipients. It is linked to mass unemployment, unaffordable housing and thus relentless increases in the number of homeless people. It is linked to never-ending attempts by all governments to restrain what remains of workers’ Unions. It is linked to the shredding of basic democratic rights and civil liberties. It is linked to the repeated imperialist wars and attempts at regime change against any country deemed too independent from Washington. It is linked to the insane provocations by Washington, Canberra and London against Russia and China, which if triggered could mean an unavoidable World War III.

There are alternatives to this nightmare scenario, provided the working class is able to produce leadership which corresponds to their interests. The greatest illusion is that a cross-class climate movement, a movement of “everyone” is the way forward. Such movements of “everyone all together” is precisely what has led to the current political impasse. The “climate strikes” of recent times have mobilised millions of people, but they have only passed on plaintive pleas to the very self-serving politicians who have a material interest in sitting on their hands. After 40 years of inaction, after 40 years of dire warnings from the world’s climate scientists, it is clear that these politicians will not act. The bushfires razing Australia currently, and the stark indifference from state and federal politicians is the clearest indicator that the unaccountable elite are no longer fit to rule. PM Morrison is currently holidaying in Hawaii ! This is why it is fruitless for working people to demand these governments act. They are not “ours”, but are paid functionaries of a class alien to the basic interests of workers. Placing demands on these government hacks recognises their “authority” and, in turn, demoralises and disempowers workers, leading to more confusion and despair.

Working class political leadership is crucial

Instead of pleas for the government of the corporate class to provide free face masks to ward off bushfire smoke, what is urgently required is a political leadership which can inspire and arouse working people to take matters into their own hands. A cross-class climate movement which mobilises hundreds of thousands, but then waits powerlessly for corporate politicians to come to their aid does little but assist hand-wringing about how bad things are. The fact is that the world’s capitalist ruling classes, in Australia as elsewhere, would prefer to see the world burn one thousand times over rather than lose a fraction of their wealth and power. They may have their own children, but their material interest of preserving their capital over-rides even family ties.

While political activity which urges action on climate makes a contribution, a climate movement which attempts to be agnostic on the question of capitalism vs socialism will remain trapped in contradiction. The socialist overturn of private ownership of the means of production is no automatic guarantee that the planet will be able to save humanity from extinction, but without it there is little chance. It is impossible for class society to only “take action” on climate change, and leave all other forms of exploitation untouched. A climate movement which confines itself within the parameters of a for-profit economy will not be able to get past first base.

An urgent transition to zero-carbon energy sources, using all available methods to draw carbon out of the atmosphere, to the reversing of soil degradation, to the cleaning out of the seas of plastic and other pollution – none of this can be begun while private capital retains its ownership rights. Paraphrasing Karl Marx, “despotic” inroads into the rights of corporate property are the first step towards not only a society fit for working people, but also to a safe climate. The forging of a Leninist vanguard party to lead this struggle is not only an overarching goal, but a critical and immediate task.

To begin, we urge agitation around the following demands:

                      1. A SIX HOUR DAY

  1. PUBLIC OWNERSHIP OF THE BANKS, TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE
  2. A WORKERS’ GOVERNMENT

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/no-safe-level-pollution-labelled-a-public-health-emergency-20191215-p53k5d.html (16-12-2019)

 

XR: False Friends of a Safe Climate

Image from the Queensland Times

XR: False Friends of a Safe Climate

15-12-2019 – Australia is on fire. During November, even before summer began, raging bushfires razed parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. New South Wales was the worst hit, with six people losing their lives, and over 600 homes destroyed.[1] It is undeniable that the fires have been fueled by catastrophic conditions related to the drought conditions, which in turn are related to the rise in temperatures due to global warming. Carbon emissions from fossil fuels are the main culprit, a fact effectively denied by all Australian governments to date – which not only have failed to act, but enabled the acceleration of carbon emissions, through the approval of new coal mines. What is particularly alarming about this year’s bushfires (they now happen every year) is the occurrence of rainforests burning – something previously thought to be impossible.[2]

Climate action, however that is defined, is a dire and urgent necessity. The question is what type of climate action should be taken, and by whom. Into this breach has stepped Extinction Rebellion (XR), with XR activists in Brisbane organising and calling for a shutdown of the Go Between Bridge on December 13, during morning peak hour.[3]  XR effectively claim that due to the recent bushfires, their hand has been forced, thus they are impelled to shut down business as usual. Yet XR’s misguided attempts to attract attention to the need for climate action may very well lead to even less climate action than current conservative governments and corporations are doing now – which is almost zero.

Working people need to be won to climate action

The most counter-productive effect of blocking major bridges in peak hour is that working people, the overwhelming majority of whom support climate action, could be turned away, and even turned against climate activism if they find themselves blockaded on the streets by people waving the XR insignia. The careless attitude of XR towards working people getting to work or going about their daily lives exposes XR’s anti-working class tactics. Anti-working class tactics flow from anti-working class politics – something XR demonstrate in spades. Their open support and backing for the police who arrest them at actions is but one expression of this. Their reporting of some fellow “rebels” to the police for pickpocketing – who were subsequently subjected to immigration checks[4] – is another.

Many in the climate movement, such as it is, demand a cross-class climate movement, even if they don’t use such terms. That is, they imagine that everyone from all social classes (workers, small business owners, capitalist magnates) can all work together on climate because “everyone” is affected. The climate movement is different, they claim, from a workers’ struggle for improved conditions, so it is not an “us and them” scenario. This is radically false, but XR exemplify this, being a classical movement of the despairing petty-bourgeoisie. It is an elementary Marxist tenet that the petty-bourgeoisie (small business owners, start-up entrepreneurs and so on) cannot lead and independent struggle against capitalism, by virtue of their class position. Some layers of this class can be won to an anti-capitalist struggle for socialism under certain conditions and for certain periods. But essentially it is only the working class which has a material interest in the overturn of the private ownership of the means of production – the main source of the imminent climate danger.

Thus it is imperative that working people be won to climate action. Yet the XR cavaliers do not even aim at winning the majority of working people to climate action, let alone leading them to a struggle for the public ownership of the means of production. In fact, XR are priests of anti-socialism. Irrespective of their rhetoric about a “toxic system”, they see little wrong with capitalism, just that it is led by the wrong people – the politicians in parliament. Replace these politicians with those who are prepared to “do something”, and the climate problems can be addressed, or so they imagine.  Attempting to solve inherently social political problems with individual solutions is a hallmark of the world outlook of the small proprietor.

The right to protest is limited under “liberal democracy”

XR’s lack of a class analysis feeds their stunning naivete of the nature of the capitalist state. The right to protest under capitalism is a result of a historical balance of class forces between labour and capital. It is not an absolute right that the establishment is bound to uphold. It can be taken away at any time the ruling class feels the balance of class forces tip in its favour. That is, when they sense that the working class will not (yet) act to prevent the ruling class increasing its power over them. Already, XR in Brisbane have played with fire by repeatedly disrupting traffic, resulting in the Palaszczuk Labor government passing “anti-protest” laws. In fact, these laws only ban lock-on and similar devices,[5] but they could well empower police to expand their “stop and search” powers.

XR protested the introduction of these laws, seemingly oblivious that their actions themselves had provoked the ruling class into putting them in place. If XR continue to defy the bourgeois state without the majority of the working class actively (or at the very least passively) backing them, the ruling class could well decide to ban all climate protest altogether. This may lead to a banning of all protest, and a return to days similar to the Civil Rights movement in Queensland in the late 1970s, when former National Party Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen banned street marches. It is possible that a Labor or Liberal government could enact such a ban, because the majority of the working class right now does NOT endorse the appalling tactics (provocative bridge and road blockades) of XR even at the same time as they understand and support the need for climate action.

XR are entitled to put forward whatever their ideas are in amongst the climate movement – or what passes for it currently. If they wish to argue for mindless traffic blockades, they are welcome to do so. However, like every other political organisation or group, they must be subject to a critical appraisal of their tactics and their proposals by all concerned, and most especially by working people. XR must not be allowed to monkey with the right to protest under capitalism. At this stage, workers cannot afford to lose that right, as temporary as it might be under bourgeois democracy. If this occurs, next to no climate demands will be put forward, and thus no “climate action”. And XR will be to blame.

Intelligentsia for climate?

As if to underscore their commitment to the political rights of the middle classes, XR in Brisbane have organised a “Graduation March” specifically appealing to “graduates, academics and professionals”. XR bill this as a supposed action where emerging professionals will declare they will not sit idle while the climate crisis looms, but will “approach their lives with the health of the planet at the forefront of their minds”.[6] Decked out with academic gowns and mortar boards, this spectacle march is no doubt intended to show that young graduates are “woke” with the urgent need for climate action. It is true that XR is not a political party per se, but XR defends the rights of the petty-bourgeoisie arguably better than a real one. Elementary Marxism, however, stresses that the educational institutions of any society are always controlled by the class which holds state power. Right now in the Western world at least, capital rules, and therefore their Universities will ultimately reflect the interests of its benefactors.

While it is true that some genuine dissidents emerge from the halls of Universities, as a general rule academics will ultimately justify the rule of capital, even if only because their income is dependent on a state stipend. Here, though, XR is also encouraging young people with University degrees to become small-business owners, as consultants, private practice physicians, marketers and so on. These new professionals will carry on the “business as usual” that XR crows about the need to stop – but this will presumably be enlightened small business as usual. Business as usual “for the planet”, that is. Needless to say, small business engenders big business. The professionals who engage in small capitalism spontaneously engender big capitalism, but it is the entire capitalist system which must be overturned if we are to have a chance of preventing ecological collapse. No matter how aware highly trained professionals are about the need for climate action, the very process of privately owned business seeking private profit grates against it.

The urgency of the climate crisis requires not millions of small businesses competing with each other (and with big business) to increase their market share, but public ownership of the means of production, and state ownership of industry, banking, finance, telecommunications, transport – so as to serve the needs of workers, not small proprietors per se. A single economic plan needs to be drawn up, which uses all available resources for economic goals and priorities decided upon by working people themselves. In other words, a government of workers’ councils administering a workers’ state. Social production must be brought into correspondence with social ownership. In the transition from climate destroying capitalism to socialism, some degree of small enterprise may be required – but this would need to be strictly controlled, to prevent the re-emergence of capitalism. Professionals and academics will also be required, not for careers in themselves, but to build a society without exploitation of labour and the environment.

XR remain silent on imperialist war

Small business, on its own, is always nationalist, and therefore pro-imperialist. The petty-bourgeois XR strut like bulls on parade, in an ostentatious display of their supposedly progressive credentials. Yet with one mention of imperialist war, and XR reveal themselves to be downright reactionary. At the height of the ultra-violent US/UK government backed pro-capitalist Blackshirt terror in Hong Kong, some representative of XR openly claimed to be using “Hong Kong” style tactics for the climate.  We perhaps should be thankful that, so far, XR have not emulated the anti-socialist and US flag waving Hong Kong separatists to the extent of setting people on fire, beating up bystanders who disagree with them on the street, burning and destroying train stations, or using bows and arrows to fire on police. The last one might be too much even for the pro-cop XR.

From pillar to post, XR remain dead silent on the US war machine, even as it has gone into overdrive in the last ten years. It has become mainstream news that the US military emits more greenhouse gases than 140 countries.[7] The US global military empire uses more ships, trucks, bombs, cargo planes and other materiel than any other, all literally fed by fossil fuels – with the possible exception of nuclear powered aircraft carriers. Washington has occupied Afghanistan, invaded Iraq, bombed and destroyed Libya, and waged internecine war on Ukraine and Syria over the last 17 years. This has been backed to the hilt by London, Paris and Canberra, amongst others. Imperialist war is, needless to say, devastating for the environment, and not just in terms of carbon emissions. Yet XR’s lips remain sealed. The potential world war machinations of Washington and the West against Russia, China and Iran also merit not a word from the pontiffs of XR. Here, silence really is consent.

It may seem a contradiction that some parties that call themselves socialist – such as Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance – remain card carrying members of XR despite XR’s avowed anti-socialism. XR allow these  parties to take part in their actions because they agree on the “need” for imperialist war against China, Russia, Syria, Iran the DPRK (North Korea) and so on. The twin SAs may complain about war in general, but they loudly back US led destabilisation attempts in Hong Kong, Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar and on and on. Needless to say, the governments preparing imperialist wars and imperialist backed subversion cannot be allies in the need to take action on climate change!

Public ownership key

Life threatening climate collapse is here now – only a few inconsequential cranks now deny the need for climate action. Unfortunately, XR build dangerous illusions in the very political and economic system which is the largest driver of extreme climate. Despite their seeming appearance as radicals, XR still limit themselves to placing demands on “the government” which they imagine is “ours”. XR reject the very element which has the possibility of saving us from extinction – a socialist revolution. Without the public ownership of the major means of production – the banks, strategic industry, transport, telecommunications, road, rail and port infrastructure – linked to a planned economy based on priority decisions made by workers themselves, “climate action” is impossible. Workers need their own government, and their own state, which would seek to link internationally with all workers across the globe. With the corporate magnates expropriated, the vitally important work of reversing climate catastrophe, imperialist war and economic collapse can begin in earnest.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/22/australia-bushfires-factcheck-are-this-years-fires-unprecedented (01-12-2019)

[2] https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/why-are-our-rainforests-burning (01-12-2019)

[3] https://www.facebook.com/events/481665399120050/ (01-12-2019)

[4] http://gal-dem.com/this-is-what-extinction-rebellion-must-do-to-engage-with-people-of-colour-on-climate-justice/ (01-12-2019)

[5] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/dangerous-protest-devices-banned-as-laws-pass-queensland-parliament-20191024-p533vs.html (01-12-2019)

[6] https://www.facebook.com/events/767281987070381/?active_tab=about (07-12-2019)

[7] https://www.newsweek.com/us-military-greenhouse-gases-140-countries-1445674 (12-12-2019)

Release Julian Assange!

Release Julian Assange!

10-12-2019 – The life of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is in extreme danger. At stake is not just the well-being of Assange himself, but the very right to political dissent. Detained in Belmarsh Prison in the United Kingdom (UK) where it is likely that he will be extradited to the United States (US), his health is failing due to the inhumane physical and psychological conditions of deprivation to which he has been subjected. On November 22, 80 medical doctors wrote to the UK government voicing their grave concern that Mr Assange could die before his farcical “trial” is set to take place. The letter has been sent to the Lord Chancellor, the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Justice.[1] The deliberate denial of medical care, at the very least, is a flagrant breach of basic medical ethics. It also makes a mockery of noble sounding declarations of a “democratic” society.

Julian Assange and Wikileaks are guilty of nothing. Supposedly under capitalist “liberal democracy” all citizens have the right to engage in political discourse, have the right to free speech, the right to publish and distribute information, and the right to question how revenue collected for taxation is spent. The governments overseeing Western imperialism – the US, the UK, Australia and others – clearly breach virtually all the rights of citizens piously claimed by its defenders, when push comes to shove. Right now, Western imperialism is in a state of perilous decline due to yet another capitalist economic downturn which has lasted for the last ten years. In this condition, capitalist governments are in the process of removing the basic democratic rights many imagined were guaranteed. The whistle-blowing of Julian Assange and Wikileaks proves the opposite.

Canberra loyal to Washington

Born in Townsville, raised in northern New South Wales, Julian Assange is as Australian as can be. Yet his Australian passport has almost no meaning, given the appalling lack of action from the Australian government. In December 2018, Australian consular officials apparently met briefly with Julian Assange while he was still effectively held in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. This was reportedly the first contact with Mr Assange in six years.[2]  Incredibly, the Australian government released a statement on May 31 this year, claiming that the appropriate level of consular assistance and health concerns had been raised and addressed during two visits to Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison.[3] Even if these visits did take place, Canberra is lock-step with Washington in vain attempts to re-establish the global domination the US enjoyed for a period after the capitalist counter-revolution destroyed the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) in 1991. To do this, they must not only threaten and wage endless imperialist wars around the globe, they must intimidate into silence every last vestige of questioning over their reckless policies from “their own” citizens.

The West is the dystopian nightmare, not China or Russia

Julian Assange, alongside Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, are proof positive that the Orwellian style totalitarian states now in existence are in the capitalist West – they are not China or Russia – the propaganda bogeymen of the corporate media. Chelsea Manning was jailed for refusing to testify against Julian Assange, bravely defying the US authorities even after previously being incarcerated.[4] Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst, cannot return to his home in the United States, after he exposed to the world the fact that the CIA is effectively spying on everyone through the internet.[5] There is surveillance of  virtually every computer user in almost every country which is routinely handed over to the CIA for monitoring, and whistleblowers such as Assange, Manning and Snowden are living proof.

Despite this, working people in Australia, the US, Europe and elsewhere are subjected to a non-stop barrage of hysteria in the corporate media claiming that China and Russia are totalitarian states which suppress democratic rights!  The hypocrisy is staggering. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), born of a momentous revolution of hundreds of millions culminating in 1949, is today surpassing the technological, scientific and economic former power of the US Empire. In doing this, it does not threaten war against anyone. Yet deliberately deceitful Western press complain that the PRC uses facial recognition technology, implying a mistrusting government monitoring its citizen’s every move. At the same time, police in Australia use the very same technology – but of course in the name of “security”.  Russia is accused, without a shred of evidence, of “meddling” in US elections, of invading Ukraine, and of shooting down flight MH17. This, coming from the Pentagon which has overtly waged endless regime change wars around the globe, routinely funded and created “opposition” parties in countries they don’t like, and arming Nazis in Ukraine.[6]

Julian Assange despised the cant of those in power, and set out to hold them to account, whatever the cost. He may pay the highest price, unless a world-wide movement can be mobilised. This movement must be so powerful that the ruling classes of the West realise that they will lose a lot more by making a martyr, than by making a concession. Crucially, it will take actions of the working class, in defiance of conservative Union officials and other liberals who have abandoned him, to achieve results. At stake are the very rights to “life, liberty and happiness” that capitalist society always promises but never delivers. Workers are in dire need of a Marxist vanguard party not only to blaze a path to socialism, but to help free those who sacrifice themselves for a better world. RELEASE JULIAN ASSANGE!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://consortiumnews.com/2019/12/05/doctors-intensify-pressure-on-britain-over-assange/ (08-12-2019)

[2] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australian-officials-pay-visit-to-julian-assange (08-12-2019)

[3] https://dfat.gov.au/news/media/Pages/statement-on-julian-assange.aspx (08-12-2019)

[4] https://www.npr.org/2019/05/10/722059301/chelsea-manning-is-freed-from-jail-faces-new-subpoena-in-wikileaks-case (08-12-2019)

[5] https://www.wired.com/story/after-six-years-in-exile-edward-snowden-explains-himself/ (08-12-2019)

[6] https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-arming-assisting-neo-nazis-ukraine-congress-debates-prohibition/5673930 (09-12-2019)