Resist the Gas, Coal and Fracking Siege!

The Condamine River is set alight to demonstrate the amount of methane present in the water, the likely result of fracking. Image from http://www.inhabitat.com

23-10-2020: If we were to believe the government, we are about to enter a summer which they variously refer to as “storm season”, “bushfire/flood season” or even “big weather” season – which now comes with its own TV series.[1] Working people are supposed to believe that the droughts, bushfires and floods which devastated swathes of the country last summer is just par for the course for living in Australia. Sometimes the corporate media will mumble something about climate change in connection with these catastrophes, but will generally just sensationalise it – it is quite easy to simply film the aftermath of a cyclone, bushfire or flood and stick a reporter in front of a camera.  Yet many demonstrators who took to the streets last summer while parts of Australia burned knew instinctively that these “weather” disasters are just one factor of the ecological collapse wrought not only by carbon emissions, but industrial scale corporate pollution of the seas, coasts, rivers and arable land.

“Gas-led recovery”

This year, the climate crisis continues in the shadow of lockdown terror – a vicious assault on working people under the guise of a supposed Covid-19 plague. The Australian ruling class used the fake pandemic to establish a “Coronavirus Commission” – a hand-picked body of CEOs allegedly tasked with overseeing “economic recovery”.[2] Not coincidentally, this non-elected CEO “government” immediately set about drawing the outlines of a “recovery” based on the vast expansion of coal-seam gas, using the method of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Fracking blows apart rock formations underground while injecting carcinogenic chemicals amongst water supplies to extract oil and/or methane gas, much of which simply leaks into the atmosphere.[3] This is supposedly the government transitioning away from coal and onto “cleaner” gas ! Meanwhile, in the background the Adani coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – the 10 million tonne per year monster[4] – has been given virtually full approval by state Labor and federal Liberal governments, and its construction is well underway.

While the struggle for a safe climate remains vital, this cannot be separated from the assault of big capital on the wages and living conditions of the working class. In fact, it is one and the same. The capitalist system has been waging a low intensity war against workers – and thus also against the natural environment necessary for human survival – for decades now. This year, the Anglo/US/EU Empire vastly expanded this war by using the cover of a fraudulent health scare to abolish elementary civil and democratic rights, and impose a fascism which in some ways surpassed that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Workers were subjected to house arrest, the right to protest was effectively abolished, human and social interaction was heavily discouraged and often punishable by police action, children were abused by not allowing them to attend school, and many of the aged perished from induced depression via lockdowns which forbade human contact even with direct family members.

The Covid-19 Trojan Horse

The ruling classes of the West used the cover of a “health emergency” to drive down the cost of labour power using any and all means at their disposal. “Covid-19” was seized on as an opportunity to throw millions of workers out of employment on spurious grounds. Near universal lockdowns were used to shutdown large parts of national economies, and some governments even ordered small and medium sized businesses to close, driving them towards ruin. Unprecedented political repression was required to prevent workers from protesting these soul-destroying attacks, and thus gatherings of virtually any kind were deemed a “health risk” and prevented by security forces. Unfortunately, Union officials enforced the false Covid-19 narrative wholesale, and effectively acted as police auxiliaries – pseudo-state authorities preventing their own members from resisting mass suppression.

What does this have to do with the environment? Unfortunately, almost the entire so-called left and those who make up the climate change movement also imbibed the Covid-19 narrative as good coin. This meant that they were neutered when the government announced the “Coronavirus Commission”. Regardless of the fact that the Coronavirus Commission was used to vastly expand coal seam gas and its attendant fracking, much of the environmental movement could scarcely speak out because it would call into question the reality of the “pandemic”. For, if one believes the politicians’ mantra that a coronavirus will kill “millions” unless we shutdown human civilisation, one can scarcely oppose the politicians setting up a Coronavirus Commission to deal with it. The fact that the government used the Coronavirus Commission to boost gas fracking rather than put in place measures which allegedly protect the health of the community contains very sober lessons in the mechanics of bourgeois rule.

Firstly, to combat the onslaught of finance capital against labour and the natural environment, it is necessary to consistently oppose every single aspect of bourgeois ideology, not just parts of it. One cannot demand the politicians disallow fracking on the one hand, while at the same time wholly agreeing with the very same politicians that it is necessary to surrender basic civil rights due to a “pandemic”. One cannot demand stand down pay for workers sacked with the excuse of Covid-19 on the one hand, while agreeing with employers that Covid-19 is a lethal threat on the other hand. Secondly, helping the government implement ANY of its nefarious campaigns, no matter what the claimed intention, vastly expands the political authority of the capitalist state. The state will then use the political endorsement it has received to mercilessly crush ANY working-class resistance. Witness the “Covid-19” police state lockdown nightmare inflicted on innocent people in Melbourne.

Workers need to fight for demands which light the path to immediate solutions – the collectivisation of the major means of the production and a planned economy. For:

1. A six-hour day

2. Public ownership of energy, infrastructure, banks

3. A workers’ government

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD 4012

[1] https://tvblackbox.com.au/page/2020/09/14/abc-presents-a-new-3-part-factual-big-weather-and-how-to-survive-it-hosted-by-craig-reucassel/ (20-10-2020)

[2] https://redfireonline.com/2020/06/14/abolish-the-coronavirus-commission/ (20-10-2020)

[3] https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/global-warming/issues/fracking/ (20-10-2020)

[4] https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/adani-mine-australia-climate-change-848315/ (20-10-2020)

Abolish the Coronavirus Commission!

Abolish the Coronavirus Commission!

14-06-2020: The fake coronavirus pandemic has now spawned its own fake coronavirus government. Unfortunately, the entirely appointed National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) is all too real. Unelected by anyone, and unaccountable to the federal (or any) parliament, the NCCC is yet another example of the blatant disregard for even a pretence of democracy that the ruling class exhibits from time to time, but especially during a manufactured crisis. Funded by taxpayers, but not required to report or answer to them, the NCCC could be a replica of the V for Vendetta storyline. Some who have been well within the establishment during their careers are raising serious concerns. Retired Justice Margaret White makes eminently valid criticisms, stating that the NCCC is not underpinned by legislation[1], there is no known work plan, and the make-up of the commission is a who’s who of corporate Australia. Aside from a few token representatives from “civil” society, the NCCC is stacked with million-dollar CEOs from the fossil fuel industry, many of whom have never been accountable to anyone except large shareholders.

Rule by CEO

The existence of the NCCC arguably negates the need to cast a vote in elections. Why go to the polls on election day, if the politicians elected can simply be overridden by an appointed body of corporate sector highfliers? Many working people already feel that capitalist democracy equates to rule by private corporations, and here is an egregious example. The NCCC’s Chairman is Nev Power, former CEO of Fortescue Metals. Deputy Chair is David Thodey, a former CEO of Telstra, and IBM in Australia and New Zealand. Commissioner Jane Halton is a board member of ANZ Bank, Clayton Utz and Crown Resorts. Paul Little is Chairman of the Little Group, and former long-term managing director of Toll Holdings. Catherine Tanna is managing director of Energy Australia, and board member of the Business Council of Australia. Yet Commissioner Andrew Liveris takes the cake. He is former Chairman of Dow Chemical and DowDuPont, and sits on the board of Saudi Aramco – a Saudi Arabian oil company!![2] This hand-picked Commission will “advise the Prime Minister and operate within his portfolio”.[3]  There is barely an attempt to conceal corporate domination of elite rule.

The only “Commissioner” who is not directly from the corporate sector is Greg Combet, the former head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and Labor Party member of federal parliament. No doubt his presence will attempt to lay a veneer of legitimacy on the savage wave of attacks already launched on workers and their Unions with the excuse of a virus. To date, compromised Union officials have already worked with the government to enable changes to a collective agreement by employers would only require 24 hours’ notice. This essentially means that all wages and conditions won through struggle by workers and their Unions, and codified in enterprise or collective agreements, could be abolished overnight – regardless of what is written on paper. Wage rates, working hours, annual leave, sick leave – all could potentially be reduced or wiped at one stroke.

While most of us have been pre-occupied dealing with draconian rules imposed by a police state under the guise of a coronavirus, fossil fuel corporations have asked for, and received, 14 “exemptions” to environmental and corporate regulation, 11 requests for financial assistance and tax cuts, and 12 cases of fast-track approval for projects.[4] As far as the government is concerned, the fake pandemic provides a convenient pretext for yet more handouts for the wealthiest and most environmentally destructive corporations in the hemisphere. In addition, the cover of the coronavirus is being used to once again open up the Narrabri in north east New South Wales (NSW) to coal seam gas. The Coronavirus Commission and the NSW government are literally lining up to give Santos free rein to plunder the earth with hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – to obtain the methane laden gas which is extremely flammable. Needless to say, this will again escalate carbon emissions which are potentially past the “tipping point” of being able to maintain a safe climate.

Resist corporate takeover

It is critical that workers resist this flagrant disregard for even the pretence of elected government, and blatant environmental destruction under the guise of “getting Australia back to work”. The Covid-19 fraud was never about a virus. It was, and remains, vicious class struggle waged by finance capital against working people. The Coronavirus Commission is but one manifestation of the economic, political and ideological decay of Western imperialism. It is being used to sideline the threadbare trappings of capitalist parliamentary democracy, and to discharge outrageous attacks on working people and the natural environment which would otherwise spark a mass revolt.

Unfortunately, the very bodies that are supposed to defend workers against such an onslaught are the same ones which are leading the assault on the innocent masses. We refer to Union bureaucrats and the ostensible “left” parties – who have combined to repress workers who have the temerity to point out that lockdowns and social-distancing don’t even make logical sense. The lockdown left have prostrated themselves before the politicians and the government they feign to oppose and have gone on to act as police guards of a totalitarian order that would horrify the likes of George Orwell.

What is required is the building and extension of the anti-lockdown movement, for this is the only movement which has made a complete break with bourgeois ideology. The anti-lockdown movement does not accept the false rationale of a “threat” to society from a very mild pathogen, and rejects any authority deceitfully claimed by self-serving politicians, health czars and the corporate media. Workers must assist this movement to evolve in an anti-capitalist and pro-socialist direction, as difficult as that task presently appears. Key to this perspective is the forging of the first elements of a Marxist vanguard party, which can help lead masses in struggle against corona tyranny and for a world fit for human habitation. ABOLISH THE CORONAVIRUS COMMISSION!

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-03/coronavirus-commission-concerns-former-judge-royal-commissioner/12284458 (10-06-2020)

[2] https://www.pmc.gov.au/nccc/who-we-are (10-06-2020)

[3] https://www.pmc.gov.au/nccc/terms-reference (10-06-2020)

[4] https://www.michaelwest.com.au/covert-19-government-stacks-covid-commission-with-oil-and-gas-mates-cosy-deals-follow/ (13-06-2020)

 

Climate Crisis: Fight for Public Ownership!

All electricity infrastructure needs to be in public hands, and not “supplied” for a profit. Image from EnergyMagazine.com.au

Climate Crisis: Fight for Public Ownership!

22-02-2020 – First came the fires, then came the floods. After the bushfire infernos which swept this country in December and January, Australia is now being viewed as the “canary in the coal mine” of global warming. As the driest continent on Earth, it is looking likely that Australia will experience some of the worst climate calamities due to the ever-approaching collapse of the ecology required for human (and much animal) habitation. The climate records keep being broken. In 141 years of climate records, this last January was the hottest on record, with an average 1.14 degree increase on the 20th century average. Describing an obvious worsening, the ten warmest Januarys on record have all occurred since 2002. To underline it still further, this latest broken record was “achieved” with no El Nino.[1]

Federal and State governments light the fuse

Fuelling the carbon emissions chiefly responsible for the climate catastrophe, we find Federal and State governments approving fossil fuel expansion like it is going out of fashion. The Adani mega coal mine in central Queensland ludicrously remains approved, with its 60 million tonne predicted annual coal output.[2] The Labor Party Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk has been a relentless champion of the Adani coal mine, in the face of overwhelming public opposition. Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his New South Wales counterpart Gladys Berejiklian just announced a plan to “reduce” emissions – by unleashing more gas. The 2 billion dollar deal could be dependent on the approval of the Narrabri gas project, which entails the drilling of 900 (!) coal seam gas wells, including in the Piliga state forest.[3] By now, it is common knowledge that coal seam gas releases methane, a gas many times more potent in terms of greenhouse gas emissions over a shorter period of time than carbon. To top it off, plans for new exploration and likely drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight were given the tick of approval by the Federal Government “regulator” last December.[4]

The clear separation between the governments sparing rhetoric about reducing emissions, and enabling big capital to expand fossil fuel extraction and burning despite the climate emergency is not lost on anyone. Even the satirical The Juice Media spelled out the reality with precision, when they warned in a short video that it is obvious that it is not the government’s job to protect the people, but to protect the giant corporations from the people.[5] This is the bare reality of capitalism – the private ownership of the means of production by a handful of billionaires, which is then protected by the state with all its law enforcement agencies. Irrespective of the damage inflicted on those who must labour for a living and the desecration of the natural environment, the capitalist state deploys the public service bureaucracy, the courts, the police and the armed forces against those who appeal for reason.

Climate Action means Public Ownership

As the most developed form of class exploitation – of which the destruction of the environment is a by product, capitalism is of course immune from reason. In fact, reason itself has a different meaning to the two great classes which the private profit system creates. The exploitation of natural resources to increase the rate of return on capital investment is entirely reasonable from the point of view of capital, but wholly irrational from the point of view of labour. This is one reason why the understandable cries for “climate action” fall flat unless they are accompanied by a demand for public ownership – of the mines, the land, infrastructure and transport. Working people as a class must own and control the basic means of production, and run them in the interests of all, not the corporate elite. It is only the working class which has the material interest in ensuring that energy production in particular, is not conducted for private profit, but to ensure a better life for all.

It is accepted by all in the climate movement that energy production must switch to zero carbon sources. This must include nuclear power, which has by far the greatest potential to replace coal and gas as a baseload source of power. The sheer urgency of the climate crisis demands that the old “anti-nuclear” diversion must be left in the past. More than this, public ownership of energy (and the means of transport and basic industry) must be linked to the demand for a workers’ government. If it was somehow possible to force the capitalist government to nationalise energy, it would still run it as a for-profit business – in order to assist the corporate magnates. In other words, climate action must be given a clear pro-working class character, for it to even begin to achieve its demands. In this vein, calls for climate action must be accompanied by the demand for a six-hour day. If won a six-hour day could eliminate unemployment, if not seriously undermine it. Not only is the right to work a necessity for workers, full employment is an urgent necessity if the full decarbonisation of society – implying a restructuring of the entire economy – is to occur.

The climate movement in Australia so far has organised some impressively sized mobilisations. But for it to achieve serious gains it must become a pro-working class climate movement. This means it must force a split with Labor Party fronts such as GetUp! and School Strike 4 Climate. Many honest school students and workers do not yet grasp that such fronts attempt to steer the climate movement back towards the politicians (even if they dislike some of them) and thus back into capitalism itself. Only the power of the working class and its attempts to build its own state has a chance at winning climate action – and much else besides. To begin, we suggest workers demand:

1. A six hour day

2. Public ownership of energy, infrastructure, banks.

3. A workers’ government

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/13/january-2020-hottest-on-record/ (16-02-2020)

[2] http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/coordinator-general/assessments-and-approvals/coordinated-projects/completed-projects/carmichael-coal-mine-and-rail-project.html (16-02-2020)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/31/australian-prime-minister-scott-morrison-strikes-2bn-deal-with-gladys-berejiklian-nsw-to-boost-gas-supply (16-02-2020)

[4] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-18/equinor-receives-environmental-approval-to-drill-in-bight/11811534 (16-02-2020)

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BmbvTvFQ3g (16-02-2020)

Bushfires burn an old VW at Balmoral, southwest of Sydney. Image from ctvnews.ca

Climate Catastrophe: For Class Demands!

15-01-2020 – As the global warming fueled bushfire catastrophe grinds on, working people are understandably despairing at the critical lack of leadership shown by Australia’s political elites. It may have begun with Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison (“Scomo”) taking a holiday in Hawaii when they began, but it continued soon after with the Labor Party so-called opposition leader Anthony Albanese pledging his party’s continued backing of coal exports[1], despite the bushfires claiming human lives, devastating large swathes of the country, and incinerating up to half a billion animal lives within Australia’s iconic wildlife.[2] Regardless of their hot air, workers in Australia (and internationally) can see that in practice, both the Labor and Liberal parties are climate denialists, and are committed to the profitability of the fossil fuel industry at the expense of human habitation on planet Earth.

Thousands attend emergency rallies

Any viable option of political leadership not just on the current bushfires, but an immediate transition to a zero-carbon economy, has fallen to the people themselves. Thousands of people have attended emergency rallies in the major cities around the country, in an attempt to push Canberra’s politicians somewhere near reality. We can take hope from the fact that many are prepared to do this, and especially young people, who of course will bear the terrible future that ecological collapse portends. Yet while the organisation of these actions can only be applauded, the political demands put forward by the organisers fall critically short of what is required and may prevent further progress if they are not superseded.

The main organisers are from Uni Students for Climate Justice (USCJ), with backing from Extinction Rebellion (XR). Australia’s largest left party, Socialist Alternative (SAlt), predominates within USCJ. While from platforms USCJ speakers denounce capitalism and even call for working class struggle to deal with the climate catastrophe, the demands they on which they mobilise people aids and assists capitalist politics – perhaps inadvertently – rather than aiding working class, or socialist, politics. For example, the three main demands are 1. Sack Scomo 2. Fund the Firies (fire fighters) and 3. Make the Climate Criminals Pay.[3]  Many rally participants already raised serious doubts about the demand to sack the Prime Minister – even accounting for the fact that he is a particularly strong backer of the coal industry. It was rightly pointed out that if Scomo was sacked, he would simply be replaced with someone equally as bad from the Liberal Party.  It is understandable that there are almost no objections to the demand to fully fund all fire-fighting services in urban and rural regions, nor to the demand to make mining billionaires such as Gina Rinehart pay for the country wide reconstruction of homes and rehabilitation of millions of hectares of scorched bushland and damaged infrastructure.

Climate catastrophe linked to other crises

The only problem is that even if the demands to sack Scomo, fund the firies, and make the climate criminals pay, were somehow achieved through political “pressure” it would not touch a hair on the head of the beast which is responsible for the climate catastrophe – the capitalist profit system. Irrespective of the anti-capitalist exclamations from USCJ and SAlt, their demands are in reality a call for minor reforms to the political state which enforces the rule of the billionaires they rhetorically denounce. This is why they are applauded and taken up by smaller capitalist parties such as the Australian Greens, and at times by conservative Union officials. These political layers – seeking to ensure their parliamentary or bureaucratic careers – understand well that liberal reforms won through lobbying the “powers that be” do not weaken, but strengthen, the status quo. Politically and ideologically, reforms won through pleading with the system’s politicians reinforce rather than degrade what is ultimately the rule of the private banks and the stock exchange.

Moreover, the imminent collapse of a habitable climate is but one of the multiple crises bearing down on humanity. The US Empire has just assassinated the Islamic Republic of Iran’s top military general, inching the world closer, once again, to global nuclear war. This follows years of hostile US provocations against Russia and China, and repeated attempts at regime change in many other countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Basic and elementary civil and bourgeois democratic rights (free speech, free press, the right to organise political parties and Unions) are being shredded – with the prime example being the incarceration and possible murder of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. Unemployment is widespread, and poverty and homelessness is getting worse, even as the elite increase their fortunes. There is relentless privatisation of water, electricity, gas and telecommunications combined with never-ending government funding cuts to what were once seen as essential public services – education, health care, aged care, pensions and much more.

It is precisely because the climate crisis is caused by the same source as all other major crises, that it must be fought with the same methods. Begging and pleading with bought politicians to redirect tax-payers money is fruitless and ensures demoralisation as soon as they are ignored. What is required are demands that call workers into action to achieve ends in their direct interests. The working class is the only class which has no material interest in the system of private profit, and thus only its demands can break the political impasse, provide desperately needed political leadership and pave the way for workers’ power. The Workers League, for a start, urges workers to fight for:

  1. A six-hour day
  2. Public ownership of all energy, infrastructure, and the banks
  3. A workers’ government.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

 

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/albanese-says-australia-should-continue-to-export-coal-20191208-p53hyp.html (12-01-2020)

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/03/australia-fires-nearly-half-a-billion-animals-killed-as-crisis-mounts.html (12-01-2020)

[3] https://www.facebook.com/events/599568360839083/603144587148127/?notif_t=admin_plan_mall_activity&notif_id=1578746592765254 (12-01-2020)

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)

XR Threaten Workers’ Democratic Rights

Extinction Rebellion activist blocks a bridge in Brisbane with a tripod. Image from http://www.abc.net.au

XR Threaten Workers’ Democratic Rights

20-10-2019 –  The Queensland Parliament’s determination to fast track laws designed to impede climate protests are potentially a dangerous precedent. Even though they are ostensibly aimed at preventing climate blockaders from using “dangerous devices”,[1] they could quite easily be used for much more. These moves are a response to the provocations of Extinction Rebellion (XR), who have repeatedly organised actions including the deliberate disruption of peak hour traffic in order to supposedly raise awareness about the urgent need for climate action. While there is little or no debate amongst working people that urgent measures to address the potential climate collapse are desperately needed, the majority are overwhelmingly opposed to the tactics of XR. Workers keenly feel that obstructing working people going about their daily lives is not the right way to push a political issue – even one as important as climate distortion.

Class nature of the state

While it is true that Australian Labor Party (ALP) Premier Palaszczuk has provided no evidence that XR protestors have included dangerous devices such as butane gas in lock-on equipment, XR has clearly given the capitalist state the ammunition it needs to potentially pass laws criminalising all protest activity. The right to protest under capitalism is a right fought for and hard won, but as with any concession the ruling class allows the workers, it can be taken back at any time. Even conservative Union bureaucrats, who should be organising a working class intervention into the climate movement, are aware that the Queensland anti-protest laws could very easily be used against any political action taken by workers and their Unions.[2]  Such anti-protest laws are unlikely to be confined to Queensland, and could spread fast across Australia. XR, with their misguided zeal, could be responsible for the removal of the right to protest about anything, let alone the climate.

XR effectively claims that it is “neither left nor right” politically, and is therefore ambivalent on the question of capitalism and socialism. Anyone or any group claiming to be “non-political” while taking political action, inevitably comes down on the side of conservatism. At this stage of history – at least in the West – this means defending the capitalist for profit mode of production, with all of its attendant superstructure. XR do not deny it, and often openly dissuade any participant in XR actions from raising even anti-capitalism, let alone socialism. This is “off message”, according to them. This is an emergency, they say, and questions about politics and capitalism and socialism have to “wait” until later. But “later” never comes.

In Queensland history the state does have a past of removing democratic rights to protest. The National Party Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen did just that in the 1970s, banning the right to march. In practice, this gave the Queensland police the authority to smash up ANY protest action, not just marches. A heroic Civil Liberties campaign had to waged to restore the basic right to protest in Queensland. This was eventually won, but it took a determined struggle over a number of years which involved mass street fights with police, mass arrests, and eventually the intervention of Unions on the side of the protestors. At that time, protestors had to put their bodies on the line to regain what should be an elementary democratic right under capitalism. Today, XR, through their wildly misinformed and provocative actions, risk bringing the full weight of ruling class down against the entire working class, not just themselves. If this happens, the memory of XR being responsible for the removal of the very limited democratic rights workers have under the rule of capital, will be burned deep. This risks turning workers away not only from the issue of the climate emergency, but from the very idea of activism and protest itself.

Appeal to workers, not politicians

XR’s class basis is petty-bourgeois. Small time capital owners, by virtue of their class position, try to steer a path between the workers and that of big capital. In practice however, this is not politically possible. There are only two decisive classes involved in production – labour and capital – and therefore only two decisive classes in politics. The petty-bourgeois XR imagine, falsely, that they are not political per se. Yet this is exposed as soon as their anti-socialist, and therefore anti-working class, basis becomes known. The working class, NOT the petty-bourgeoisie, is the only revolutionary class under capitalism, because only it has NO material interest in the maintenance of the private ownership of the means of production. The petty-bourgeois XR wants to solve the climate crisis without touching on the question of socialised or privatised production. Since this is not possible, they fall down on the side of the corporate magnates, despite themselves.

This is the basic reason why XR appeal to the capitalist politicians to “take action” – even while recognising that these same politicians have done little or nothing for 40 years about climate distortion. But XR, as patriotic petty-bourgeois elements, have nowhere else to go. The working class, on the other hand, can rely on its own strength, its own organisation, and its own political leadership – even if this has not yet been created. Proper working class leadership would appeal to workers to mobilise and take action to win urgent demands against and in spite of the capitalist state (especially their politicians), NOT by grovelling to them. This is because ultimately the working class needs to establish its own government and its own state – in the process of overturning capitalist rule, and initiating the collectivised and planned socialist order.

To begin this struggle, the working class needs its bourgeois democratic rights NOW – they cannot afford to have them taken away by the misguided individualism of XR. Some workers have already turned against XR adventurism, such as those at Canning Town in the UK who physically turned against XR protestors who were attempting to stop peak-hour trains.[3] XR can consider themselves lucky that this is not even more widespread. Workers can be won to the necessary activism for climate and social justice, but by inspiring them, not annoying them. Working people, not politicians, can provide hope.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-09/extinction-rebellion-protest-brisbane-annastacia-palaszczuk-laws/11585826 (20-10-2019)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/11/queenslands-proposed-anti-protest-laws-a-slippery-slope-to-suppress-unions (20-10-2019)

[3] https://metro.co.uk/2019/10/17/angry-commuters-drag-xr-protesters-off-tube-try-glue-10933003/ (20-10-2019)

 

XR: The Faux Rebellion

XR: The Faux Rebellion

 

07-10-2019:  Extinction Rebellion (XR) are hitting the streets again, with a week of action throughout major cities in Australia – their so-called “Spring Rebellion”.[1] We are in a climate crisis, they claim, and the time for action is now. Almost no one disagrees. Yet in reality XR are not leading a “rebellion” and they are not, in the final analysis, “rebels”. To be genuine rebels would mean to stand opposed to the profit system – the domination of privately owned capital over social labour and over the environment. The XR charlatans make no pretence of opposing even one corporation, let alone the system which allows corporations to freely pollute the land, sea, air and water humanity requires for life on earth. XR, and their semi-religious self-righteousness, need to be exposed.

From politics flow tactics

Those who place demands on the capitalist state, in the same manner as any politician or any liberal, or any lobby group, cannot be described as “radical” in any way. XR are making repeated demands for “the government” to “do something”. The same politicians who have overseen climate destruction despite repeated and ongoing warnings, can now, XR aver, be made to change their spots if only we – disrupt business as usual. XR whine that we have had years of marches and rallies, for no result. There has been no result so far because almost all climate politics has remained within the sphere of liberalism – plaintive cries to those in power. Despite XR adopting slightly different tactics, the politics of XR remain just as liberal, if not more, than those that have preceded them.

XR imagine that by changing the tactics of climate protest, the politics will follow, and demands will be met. XR have things precisely upside down. The politics are paramount, and if the politics are sharp enough, the tactics themselves become less important. Yet XR’s politics are woefully inadequate – even if the aim is to wrench a few small reforms from the capitalist state. XR are not anarchists per se, but they share the petty-bourgeois political approach of anarchism, which is shared with all elements of the petty-bourgeois “democracy” – the Greens, some intellectuals[2], small business owners and centrist “left” parties. Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin, more than a century ago, wrote…”The philosophy of the anarchists is bourgeois philosophy turned inside out. Their individualistic theories and individualistic ideal are the very opposite of socialism.”[3]

XR’s bourgeois philosophy turned inside out is revealed as soon as one tracks the corporate and capitalist government links of its spiritual founders Gail Bradbrook and Farhana Yamin.[4] Granted, many of those attracted to XR actions do not themselves have high level links to government or the corporations they act for. XR, however, is simply appealing to the government – which under capitalism, is a “government of persons”. Whatever criticisms XR may have of all politicians for not “doing something” about climate collapse, they still firmly believe that the capitalist government is “theirs”, or indeed, “ours”. This reflects a purely petty-bourgeois outlook, which cannot see outside their class position.

Due to their class position, the petty-bourgeoisie is incapable of coming to a position of class independence from big capital. That is why they are not able to politically lead a struggle against the capitalist system. This role must be played by the working class and its special historical product – the Marxist vanguard party. But XR are not only light years away from socialism – they occupy a different universe to the working class. Hence their arrogant disregard for working class folk who may be blocked in traffic by a disruptive XR stunt. Working class people – many of whom overwhelmingly support urgent action to address the climate calamity – should not be prevented by self-appointed XR scions from driving to or from work, picking up their children from schools, or trying to go about their daily lives. Workers certainly can be won to supporting political action to address climate distortion – up to and including strikes against corporations and “their own” government – if they are given the opportunity to discuss and decide on the tactics of the movement in which they take part.

Workers must lead and decide

Yet this is precisely what XR denies the working class – or anyone else. XR explicitly deny the right of anyone who takes part in their actions to question their principles, their positions, their politics or their tactics. XR refuses, point blank, to work alongside other climate activists. Sure, they attend things such as the Climate Strike to wave their flag. But once XR is holding an action, ALL participants must subordinate themselves wholesale – in brain and body – to the high priests of XR. No one is permitted to question the framework of activity, its direction, or to question XR’s holy principles.[5]  Each one of these principles, at their core, is wholly compatible with capitalist imperialism – which is why XR expressly deny the right of socialists to question them. Anyone or any group proposing anything in politics must have their positions examined by the workers – no one is above criticism. XR is no exception.

In fact, XR must be criticised for one of its deadliest shortcomings – its support for the police of the capitalist state. Although some XR members and branches claim that they do not support the cops, it repeatedly returns to the surface. Recently XR VIC attempted to prevent XR members from calling cops “pigs” as they arrested one of their organisers.[6] XR’s strategy of mass arrests first, which supposedly leads to political change, is a galling example of their base misunderstanding of the class nature of the capitalist state. Again though, the petty-bourgeois class does not have to face the cops too often in battle, unlike workers on strike, or Aboriginal people. Largely white middle class XR leaders can cope with being arrested, held for a few days and released. This is even their aim.

At the least, workers need to reject those who claim infallibility on climate protest tactics and aims. XR must be forced to argue their positions inside the climate movement like everyone else – there should be no special exceptions. There, workers should counter the lobbying of compromised politicians by putting forward such demands as:  a 30 hour week with no loss in pay, an end to coal mining and the collective ownership of the means of production.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

PO Box  66    NUNDAH   QLD    4012

[1] https://ausrebellion.earth/get-involved/spring-rebellion (07-10-2019)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/sep/20/we-declare-our-support-for-extinction-rebellion-an-open-letter-from-australias-academics (07-10-2019)

[3] https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/nov/24.htm (07-10-2019)

[4] https://redfireonline.com/2019/08/07/whats-wrong-with-extinction-rebellion/ (07-10-2019)

[5] https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/about-us/ (07-10-2019)

[6] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/xr-vic-debates-stance-police-friend-or-foe (07-10-2019)

Climate Mayhem: Capitalism Must Fall!

Climate Mayhem: Capitalism Must Fall!

20-09-2019 –  The planet is burning alive. On September 10, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast were on fire, as were parts of northern New South Wales.[1] Summer is still three months off, but the “bushfire season” starts earlier and lasts longer each year now. It is nothing like a “bushfire season”, or a “storm season”. It is clear that global warming tipping points are being approached, if not surpassed. Australia and the world face a climate meltdown which is already underway. World governments have been warned for 40 years that without serious moves to avert carbon emissions, ecological collapse is immanent. With the partial exception of some socialist states such as Cuba and China, they have done little or nothing. In the case of the Queensland government, by approving the Adani mega coal mine,[2] they are virtually cranking the gas burner up to high, and disconnecting emergency sprinkler systems.

Strike for Climate

Like never before, student and worker strikes for a safe climate are desperately needed. Yet every strike has a political leadership, which attempts to direct it in line with their material interests. The September 20 Strike for Climate is no exception. Its political leadership, unfortunately, are not the young students themselves, even as they defy school authorities to attend. Behind the scenes, the strike is organised and led by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), in essence an arm of GetUp! – who in practice are the foot soldiers of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). The political demands have been watered down so as to assist the ALP back onto the parliamentary benches in Canberra. GetUp! and the AYCC work for the ALP, no matter how strenuously they deny it in public. The demands of no new coal mines, renewable energy by 2030, and re-training for workers in fossil fuel industry  – should not be opposed per se (even though “renewable energy” is largely a furphy). However, they are so moderate that they make a mockery of pretensions to radical climate action.

In addition, the Strike for Climate is a double lobbying act. It is timed to occur just days before the United Nations (UN) “Emergency Climate Summit”. So working people in Australia are being asked to not only lobby parliaments on these shores, but to lobby the “world parliament” of the UN. Pleading for crumbs from the global and local political arms of capitalist imperialism is not only fruitless – it entrenches submission to the profit system responsible for ecological collapse in the first place. The Climate Strike organisers even boast about how many for profit businesses have now backed the “strike” in some way, even by allowing their workers leave to attend.[3] To say this is class collaboration is vastly understating things. Conservative Union officials, masters at encouraging class collaboration amongst workers, are not to be outdone. Many have endorsed the Climate Strike, and some have even asked employers themselves to join in. To say the least, if workers march alongside employers, the “cause” is false.

Climate is a class issue

Even if climate collapse affects everyone – meaning both labour and capital – the subordination of the workers to direct agents of capital in the name of “climate action” is the highest political crime. The struggle for a safe climate cannot be separated from the overall struggle for human liberation. In the current period, human liberation is entirely bound up with the workers movement for socialism. Global warming induced bushfires burning closer and closer are linked to the lowest wages in history, wage theft, unemployment, homelessness and crushing poverty. Extreme weather events are also linked to US imperialism’s drive to nuclear war against China and Russia, and endless regime change wars against smaller states. The 700 odd businesses endorsing the climate strike are also responsible for the catastrophic decline in living standards, as they drive down the wages of their own workers – no matter how “enlightened” they may be. Marching with them for the “climate” is an illusion of colossal scale.

The Climate Strike is yet another attempt to subject the workers to the ideological forms of bourgeois democracy – as if there can be any “democracy” between workers and business owners. Unquestionably, there must be many strikes for a safe climate, but these can only raise class awareness if pro-working class elements are able to depose liberal leadership, and forge their own path. To save the earth and humanity, all those bound up with private capital – AYCC, GetUp!, the conservative Union officials, business owners themselves – must be ruthlessly driven out of the climate movement. If nothing else, these are the same forces that aid and assist the Pentagon’s drive towards imperialist war. If they are not on the side of workers in war, they cannot be allies for “climate”. The climate movement must be based on a pro-working class axis, which can then gather behind it other strata of society which are not antagonistic to the workers’ interests – e.g. left-wing students, pensioners, retirees, unemployed youth and so on. Vital demands which could assist this include:

  • For a 30 hour work week – a six hour day.
  • For the formation of workers’ councils, comprised of elected workers from all industries.
  • The workers’ councils to organise not only strikes but workers’ occupations of key industries – the banks, mines, railways, transport, telecommunications.
  • The workers’ councils to elect regional and national representatives – the basis of a workers’ government.
  • The workers’ government to declare the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, and the constitution of a single economic plan.

The most advanced workers must forge a vanguard party to lead this process. There is no time to waste – there is no disagreement about that. To save civilisation, capitalism must go, and socialism must emerge.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/queensland/2019/09/10/queensland-bushfires-peregian/ (11-09-2019)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-22/adani-approvals-removal-environment-department/11138140?pfmredir=sm (11-09-2019)

[3] https://www.mybusiness.com.au/management/6198-notbusinessasusual-businesses-urge-support-for-climate-strike (14-09-2019)

 

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)