A Real Climate Strike Means Class Against Class

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

A Real Climate Strike Means Class Against Class

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

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

Circle of reaction

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

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

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

Dishonest climate campaign

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

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

The fraud of Greta Thunberg

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

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

Left parties alibi climate parliamentarism

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

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

Climate struggle is class struggle

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

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

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

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

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

 

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

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

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

[4] Ibid, 3.

[5] Ibid. 4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s Wrong with Extinction Rebellion?

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

What’s Wrong with Extinction Rebellion?

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

Anti-socialist action

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

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

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

The 3.5% colour revolution

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

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

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

XR and the cops

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

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

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

Bandwagon jumping left parties adapt

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

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

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

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012
www.redfireonline.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jobs for All Workers and…..Stop Adani!

The Black-Throated Finch faces extinction if the Adani mine goes ahead. http://www.abc.net.au

Jobs for All Workers and….Stop Adani!

02-06-2019 – The proposed Adani mega coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, beset from the off by a political campaign to prevent it, has now been given a new lease of life. Pumping blood back into the veins of what will arguably be Australia’s greatest environmental crime is none other than the Labor Party. In the immediate aftermath of the federal Labor Party losing the unlosable election,[1] Queensland Labor Party Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk has moved to accelerate the construction of the mine by demanding a definite timeframe[2] for the building of an ecological nightmare. Since then, Adani’s supposed plan for the preservation of the endangered black-throated finch – a smoke and mirrors archetype – has been approved by the state government, weeks after it was initially rejected.[3]

It is blatantly obvious that the Queensland Premier is reacting to the federal election loss by the Labor Party. Voters in central and north Queensland, desperate for jobs after suffering 25% unemployment in areas such as Townsville, swung to the Liberal National Party presumably on the promise that the Adani coal mine would produce at least some jobs which would stimulate the rest of the economy in those areas. Queensland voters will go to the polls in a little over 12 months, and Premier Palaszczuk holds on to a slim margin in government. In fact, the Queensland Labor Party only scraped home in the last election after Premier Palaszczuk during the campaign announced that it would block a 1 billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) due to a possible conflict of interest. Her partner at the time was working for Price Waterhouse Coopers, which was involved in Adani’s application for the loan.[4]

This gave the perception that the Labor Party was withdrawing support for the Adani mine – which is hugely unpopular – apart from economically devastated areas of central and north Queensland. This is little more than an illusion. The Labor Party has always been strongly pro-Adani, but has hedged its bets in public statements. For example, aside from the NAIF loan, before the Federal Election the Labor Party ensured Adani received a $400 million taxpayer funded loan, promised to build a $100 million access road, and approved a 60 year unlimited water licence. If this was not enough, the Labor Party has not ruled out extinguishing the native title of the Wangan and Jagalingou indigenous people – who have never approved even the start of the Adani mega mine.[5]

Carbon vortex

It is impossible to understate the environmental damage which will be caused by the Adani mine alone, let alone the other mines slated for construction in the Galilee Basin. The Labor government has approved the use of 12.5 billion litres of water every year from the Suttor River, which compares to 15.4 billion litres of water for all other agricultural users combined.[6] This is on top of an unlimited amount of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin – when of course groundwater is specifically not unlimited. The Adani mine is slated to produce 60 million tonnes of coal per year, all of which will be transported through the Great Barrier Reef.[7] It is estimated that if all of the Galilee Basin coal is burnt, it will release 705 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which represents 1.3 times Australia’s total carbon emissions.[8] For comparison, the projected carbon emissions just from the Adani mine would be three times the annual carbon emissions from New Delhi, twice those of Tokyo, six times that of Amsterdam and 20% more than New York City.[9]

The Adani corporation itself is a poster boy for the degeneracy of capitalism. It is basically a corporate criminal, which has repeatedly been charged with tax avoidance, environmental damage, and bribery of government officials – not that the Labor Party needed bribing. The Adani corporation has 26 subsidiaries in Australia, 13 of which are owned through the Cayman Islands. Adani mining poisoned a river in Zambia, and then hid this from the Australian government. In 2011, Adani sunk a coal ship off the coast of Mumbai, causing a massive oil spill. Adani made no attempt to clean up the mess for five years.[10] Socialists are aware that ALL capitalist corporations are unscrupulous, to say the least, but Adani takes the cake for its lawless and reckless behaviour.

Jobs illusion

Regardless of the unquestionable scale of the climate emergency, it is acknowledged that working people need jobs to survive as a first priority, to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. It is understandable to some extent that workers will first lend their political support to any party or part of government where they may perceive that more or better jobs will be the result. This is especially the case in regional Queensland, where youth unemployment levels are at stratospheric levels. A national youth unemployment rate of 12% compares to a 67.1% youth unemployment rate in outback Queensland, and 27.7% in Wide Bay.[11] The official, and grossly underestimated official unemployment rate in Townsville is 8.21%,[12] but it is reportedly more like 25%.

In these desperate circumstances, some workers can latch on to ANY economic development that might occur, which MAY lead to the prospect of ongoing employment. Yet the Adani mine will not produce the jobs they are seeking. Adani – and the Queensland Labor government, first trumpeted that the Adani mine will create “10 000” jobs. This was a bare-faced lie. Adani later admitted that the Carmichael mine will only create around 1500 jobs during the construction phase. Recently, National Party leader and backer of Adani, Bridget McKenzie, admitted that the Carmichael mine will only create “around about 100” ongoing jobs![13] Why? Because Adani itself has stated that the mine will automated “from pit to port”. That is, even the trucks transporting the coal will be driverless. In Queensland, coal mining only accounts for 1.1% of the workforce. Even in North Queensland, 96% of the workforce is NOT employed in an industry that is related to coal mining.[14]

The vast scale of unemployment and the climate catastrophe of global warming are linked. Both are outcomes of the current phase of the system of generalised commodity production where there is private ownership of the means of production. The profit system is at an impasse in all countries where the rule of capital has not been overthrown. To combat this, workers should seek to push their Unions into demanding a shorter working week with no loss in pay. Working hours should be reduced as far as is necessary to obtain full employment. A key demand would be for a 30 hour week – or a six hour day. In addition, workers should demand their Unions lead a struggle for a massive program of public works, to build the sorely needed public infrastructure and health care systems working people need. All workers have the right to decent and secure jobs which provide an adequate standard of living. If the capitalist system cannot provide this, then let it perish.

Stop Adani campaign crashes

The fact that the Adani coal mine is now going ahead at full steam, despite overwhelming public sentiment against it, is proof positive that corporate environmental and “activist” NGOs directly achieve the opposite of what they claim to combat. Despite two solid years of effort, and with history on its side, the official Stop Adani leadership organised barely even one mass action that could have begun a process of exerting serious political pressure. Instead, smaller and “targeted” actions were prioritised, many to coincide with the activities of the bourgeois parliament and their elections. Why was this? Even a brief look at their website reveals they are linked to the “Sunrise Project”, another corporate environmental NGO with a staff chock full of ex-company directors and business high-fliers.[15] Their aim is simply to have capitalism switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and that’s it. The plethora of injustices that the rule of the stock market imposes on working people, the unemployed and the homeless mean nothing to them – and why would it? As long as “free enterprise” continues, they can continue to haul in huge salaries as hangers on to big business, albeit one that claims to be fossil fuel free.

The notorious GetUp! also played a similar role, selectively mobilising their supporters for slick photo-ops at selected locations, while avoiding allowing people who wanted to help any say in what was being planned. GetUp!, despite public denials, is inextricably linked to the Labor Party. GetUp! targets the Liberal Party over Adani, while going soft on the Labor Party by organising pleading petitions to them, in the vain hope that Labor Party politicians will change their mind.[16] They were aided in this strategy by “baby GetUp!” – the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), who organised the “Student Strikes 4 Climate” in the lead up to the Federal Election. They explicitly had a whole campaign organised as the “climate election”.[17] They deceive some indigenous people by organising SEED[18] along the same lines.

The campaign to stop Adani did not fail (so far) because the Liberal Party won the Federal Election. It failed because the conservative leadership of the stop Adani campaign – Stop Adani/GetUp!/AYCC – directed the entire campaign into lobbying the very politicians who had already approved it. But this flows from their politics. Despite the apparent differences of opinion between the Adani corporation and Stop Adani/GetUp!/AYCC, the fact remains that all of them remain staunch partisans of the capitalist system. The only difference is that one wants to continue to use fossil fuels for energy, while the others wans to use “100% renewable energy” (yet 100% renewable energy is another illusion).

Stop Work to Stop Adani

Despite the fact that it is possible to stop the Adani mine this side of the overthrow of capitalism, effectively anti-capitalist methods will need to be used. Most especially, there will be a need for workers around the country to strike against the construction of new coal mines. Other forms of mass action to involve people, such as large demonstrations, will be crucial also, but workers will be key. The banks can sustain any number of weekend rallies against Adani – as necessary as they are. But the capitalist state does not really view a protest movement as an economic liability until workers are prepared to “down tools”. Then it becomes a matter of who exactly is in charge.

Standing in the way of this are the conservative Union officials, almost all of whom have not uttered a word of opposition to the Adani abomination. An exception is Bob Carnegie, the leader of the Queensland branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, which merged with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).[19] However, Mr Carnegie has at the same time actively promoted a vote for the Labor Party amongst his members – which grates against working class progress. The fact is that to have any chance of succeeding, i.e., in stopping the Adani mine, the movement will need to split, not unite, with the entirety of the pro-capitalist stop Adani political leadership. This means a political break with the corporate NGOs (Stop Adani/GetUp!/AYCC/SEED), the capitalist state and all of its parliamentary parties – the Labor Party, but also the Australian Greens. It’s true that the Greens stated opposition in words to Adani – but as parliamentarists they barely contribute to extra-parliamentary action.

There is still time to stop Adani. Overall though, working people need to draw the conclusion that to have any chance of preventing the civilisation bus careering over a cliff, the economic and political power of capital will have to be toppled. In its place workers will need to erect their own state, administered by their own government, which will socialise the means of production and collectively plan the economy to meet the needs of all those who labour. And this revolution requires the leadership of a Marxist vanguard party.

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/ (01-06-2019)

[2] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/everyone-s-had-a-gutful-queensland-premier-wants-time-frame-on-adani-20190522-p51q0r.html (01-06-2019)

[3] http://theconversation.com/adanis-finch-plan-is-approved-just-weeks-after-being-sent-back-to-the-drawing-board-118114 (01-06-2019)

[4] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/palaszczuk-vows-to-pull-queensland-government-from-adani-loan (02-06-2019)

[5] https://redflag.org.au/node/6794 (02-06-2019)

[6] https://junkee.com/adani-river-water-licence/176102 (02-06-2019)

[7] https://junkee.com/adani-ad-coal-fairfax/114375 (02-06-2019)

[8] https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/adanis-ticking-carbon-bomb/ (02-06-2019)

[9] https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/adani-coal-mine-eco-crime-heres-why/ (02-06-2019)

[10] https://adanifiles.com.au/#key-finding (02-06-2019)

[11] http://library.bsl.org.au/jspui/bitstream/1/10573/1/BSL_Unfair_Australia_Mapping_youth_unemployment_hotspots_Mar2018.pdf (02-06-2019)

[12] https://economy.id.com.au/townsville/unemployment (02-06-2019)

[13] https://theaimn.com/bridget-mckenzie-revealed-the-adani-jobs-lie-and-no-one-noticed/?fbclid=IwAR1Oy7S_kT4ChOeIHlWa1BmRJHzqLQvQgr8E6M_LnWms51Iv_3Yf6DCM7iQ (02-06-2019)

[14] Ibid, 13.

[15] https://sunriseproject.org.au/people/ (02-06-2019)

[16] https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/great-barrier-reef–3/stop-adani/stop-adani-s-dodgy-reef-destroying-mine (02-06-2019)

[17] https://www.aycc.org.au/climate_election (02-06-2019)

[18] https://www.seedmob.org.au/ (02-06-2019)

[19] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/queensland-unionist-urges-labor-to-put-climate-action-ahead-of-coal-jobs-20190525-p51r4i.html (02-06-2019)

Liberalism at a Dead End: ALP Loses the “Unlosable” Election

Liberalism at a Dead End: ALP Loses the “Unlosable” Election

19-05-2019 – It’s a cliché to put forward the “Don’t mourn, organise” aphorism after a significant defeat for workers. After the victory of the Coalition (Liberal Party, National Party, Liberal National Party in Queensland – collectively the L/NP) in the 2019 Federal Elections, the working class will certainly need to double down on its organising efforts. But some crucial political lessons will need to be learnt before embarking on much needed organising.

At the time of writing, with around 75% of the vote counted, the L/NP are two seats short of forming a majority government.[1] They will either govern in their own right, or form a minority government with the formal or informal backing of some independents. For the Australian Labor Party (ALP), this was a classic case of losing an unlosable election. Yet again the ALP’s “small target” strategy cost them. That is, the ALP were promising very little, if anything, which was substantially different, let alone more progressive, than the L/NP. The one progressive aspect the ALP were promising was the extremely conditional (and likely false) pledge that they would restore penalty rates which have been taken away from some workers. The ALP was perhaps expecting to limp home into government without doing much at all, because voters would naturally want to get rid of the L/NP. Even within the sphere of bourgeois politics though, unless the majority of voters are offered something substantial by the liberal side, they will stick with the status quo, or even move to the right.

Catastrophe of “Change the Rules”

Working people must be clear. If the ALP had won the Federal Election, the working class would still be subjected to intense attack on all fronts – from low wages, near starvation aged pensions and unemployment assistance, privatisation of health care, cuts to education, worsening public transport and so on. The pace and severity of the attacks may have been slightly lower than under an L/NP government, but that is all. This is because the major parties are the twin parties of Australian capitalism, which is a component part of Wall Street led imperialism. The system of production for private profit is in acute crisis in Australia, Europe, the US and Japan. This is what is driving the relentless austerity, the ongoing danger of US led imperialist wars, not to speak of the imminent danger of potentially irreversible ecological collapse – of which global warming is but one aspect.

For two years, the top officials of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) have been running the “Change the Rules” campaign. This was always code for “Vote Labor”. In fact, at a late stage the careerist officials of the ACTU changed the rules themselves – from “Change the Rules” to “Change the Government to Change the Rules”.[2] It became an explicit “Vote Labor” campaign. But in fact, the politically compromised ACTU officials advised not only a vote for the ALP, but also preferenced the Greens above the ALP in some states for the Senate. In other seats, the ACTU produced how-to-vote cards which preferenced the racist Katter’s Australian Party and the right-wing Democratic Labor Party.[3] After selectively mobilising workers for two years on the vague promise that industrial relations laws could be changed by electing the ALP, the conservative officials of the ACTU, from Sally McManus down, ended up playing preference exchanges with right-wing parties!  And now that the L/NP has been re-elected, the Union movement has been brought back to ground zero.

The fraud of “Vote Climate”

The nightmare of staggering carbon emissions from the Adani mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland triggered a wide campaign against it throughout the country. Yet the “Stop Adani” campaign was always led by operatives of GetUp! – an NGO which repeatedly denies its links to the Labor Party, yet inevitably assists them.[4] This was why the Stop Adani campaign stopped short of doing what was actually needed to Stop Adani – a mass action effort independent of the parliament, the government and its state. The complete opposite occurred – Stop Adani was directed entirely towards lobbying the ALP, lobbying the parliament, and lobbying the government. That is, the leadership of “Stop Adani” was committed to the political forces of capital which began Adani – and indeed all new coal developments in the country. The overwhelming majority support for halting the Great Barrier Reef destroying Adani mine could have stopped Adani – but for the leadership of Stop Adani.

In any case, an ALP government was hardly going to Stop Adani. Yet an ALP or ALP/Greens government was also the aim of the “Student Strike 4 Climate” (SS4C) actions which preceded the elections, and were geared towards them. Again, however, the student strike for climate was organised by GetUp! and “Baby GetUp!” the AYCC (Australian Youth Climate Coalition).[5] Hence, they organised student strikes – outside L/NP electorate offices!  This could scarcely have been a more blatant vote catching exercise. This is light years away from organsing against the profit system which is the prime culprit of environmental vandalism.

The leaderships of some Unions even boasted about linking with GetUp!, despite it being the face of the liberal elite. The conservative officials of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) hailed its virtual affiliation to GetUp! in its attempt to gain a much needed boost to Newstart (unemployment benefits).[6] To do this, it had to trample on AUWU members who so much as questioned the political compromises required for such an unholy alliance. Ironically, either internal Union democracy, or internal movement democracy, is the very thing which GetUp! and their backers cannot tolerate.

Much more needs to be analysed about this election. But the crucial lesson for workers is that all forms of liberalism – whether in the form of GetUp!, the conservative Union officials, the NGO led “environmental” movement, the ALP and others – offer no way forward. The working class can only advance by making a political break with all the liberal agents of capitalist class rule. Socialism is needed, but the pre-requisite is a Marxist vanguard party composed of the most class-conscious workers. The Workers League seeks to take the first steps on this path, and calls on all who agree to take part.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://tallyroom.aec.gov.au/HouseDefault-24310.htm (19-05-2019)

[2] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2019/change-the-government-change-the-rules-nationwide-door-knock (19-05-2019)

[3] https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/actu-puts-greens-ahead-of-labor-on-how-to-vote-cards-in-higgins-20190516-p51o2h.html (19-05-2019)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/23/getup-warned-by-electoral-commission-it-may-be-associated-entity-of-labor (19-05-2019)

[5] https://redfireonline.com/2019/03/13/for-real-climate-action-expropriate-capital/ (19-05-2019)

[6] https://unemployedworkersunion.com/join-get-up-auwus-joint-newstart-campaign/ (19-05-2019)

For Real Climate Action: Expropriate Capital!

For Real Climate Action: Expropriate Capital!

15-03-2019 – The 2018 report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued yet another dire warning: the world has until 2030 to limit the rise in pre-industrial temperatures to an average of 1.5 degrees.[1] Failure to do so will risk drought, floods, hurricanes, storms and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Vast climate distortion, with the current 1 degree average rise in global temperatures, is a current reality, with bushfires and floods now a semi-regular feature of Australian “weather”, to say nothing of the extreme conditions buffeting Asia, Europe and the Americas. The demand for ultra-urgent action to prevent the further life-threatening emission of carbon is now almost universal.

In the face of this, students are now following the lead of Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old from Sweden who has taken the initiative of walking out of school on Fridays in a bid to call global leaders to account. Or so we are told. Is it really as simple as that? Not likely. Greta Thunberg was born into wealth and privilege, and the strings behind her lead directly to some of the most powerful corporations on planet earth – which are part and parcel of the very system responsible for the potential termination of the climatic conditions necessary for human survival. The truth must be told – this is a set up.

Compromised NGOs lead climate activists to parliament

The entire game is given away by just a brief glance at the “School Strike 4 Climate”  website. First, the demands purportedly being put forward are 1. Stop Adani (coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland) 2. For no new Coal or Gas and 3. For 100% renewable energy by 2030. Immediately below is an exhortation for supporters to “host a climate change forum for school students in your electorate before the Federal Election.[2] (emphasis added) So the future of the entirety of human civilisation is tied back down to a run of the mill bourgeois election! If this wasn’t blatant and tawdry enough, the website comes replete with tips on “How to get your (!?!?) politician to take some REAL climate action”, including how to “ask for a meeting”, “tell them why you care” and “ask them to make concrete commitments” at the meeting.[3] Despite being incredibly patronising, the NGOs behind School Strike 4 Climate demonstrate that they are cynically using children who are motivated by perhaps the most progressive cause of our time, to bolster and fortify the very system entirely responsible for climate catastrophe in the first place – the rule of private finance capital.

Which NGOs are linked to the School Strike 4 Climate? The website Wrong Kind of Green has carried out an exhaustive exposure of the corporations behind Greta Thunberg and their motivations.[4] They include Avaaz, The B Team, World Resources Institute, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Purpose, TckTckTck, Rockefeller Foundation, Oxfam, Amnesty International and the World Wildlife Fund, amongst others. Al Gore, personally worth around $350 million dollars, is amongst them, as is Richard Branson – fresh from a failed attempt to join with the US Empire to violently overthrow the Venezuelan government.[5] Many have been taken in by a supposedly innocent 15 year old Greta Thunberg, staging a one-out vigil outside the Swedish parliament every Friday. But as the research of Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer shows, Greta Thunberg is linked to Al Gore to Bill Gates to Richard Branson to the “liberal” wings of the most powerful ruling classes in the history of world capitalism. It is clear they demand the impossible – a movement to arrest or reverse global warming which remains entirely within the bounds of the US Empire.

The concept that the very same politicians who have, for over one hundred years, overseen the development of catastrophic global warming, can at the same time be somehow convinced to reverse course and save the world is not only a flight of dangerous fantasy. It reveals the entire political strategy of the liberal bourgeoisie, which in this country is represented most particularly by the notorious GetUp! – founded by the very same people behind Purpose and Avaaz. GetUp! disingenuously claim that they are not linked to the Labor Party, when former and current board members have been prominent Labor Party politicians, including Bill Shorten himself.[6] It is suspected that GetUp! are the concealed hands behind the School Strike 4 Climate, given their heavy promotion of the first one on November 30, 2018.[7] Particularly disorienting is their herding of people back into the parliament, pushing the notion that the politicians there are “ours” and can be made to “listen” to us.

Working people should be crystal clear on this point – politicians from all parliamentary parties in Australia, be they Liberal, Labor, National, Greens, One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party and so on are not “ours” at all. They are politicians of the capitalist class responsible for not only the catastrophe of impending climate collapse, but the decimation of the standard of living for all workers and the oppressed. They CANNOT be allies in any political struggle, and most especially one as important as climate change. Working people need our own party, and our own state – which necessarily must be politically and organisationally independent of all federal and state parliaments. A workers’ government will have no impediments such as private profit standing in the way of rational action to address climate distortion.

Driving the illusion of “100% renewable energy”

The School Strike 4 Climate [or likely the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) behind the scenes] proffers the demands to Stop Adani and for no new coal and gas. These demands are necessary and can be backed by workers. However, the demand for 100% renewable energy – by 2030 or anytime – is a green illusion which hooks most liberals and almost the entire environmental movement. Renewable energy – by which its advocates mean primarily wind and solar power, and to a lesser extent geothermal, tidal or pumped hydro – is nowhere near a point which it could be rolled out to provide 100% of Australia’s electricity needs. Wind and solar are intermittent sources – solar power produces nothing at night, and wind power relies on strong consistent winds. They need backup, which is primarily slated to come from gas, or biomass. The lack of capacity of wind and solar means that the build out for it has to take into account building in overcapacity – which is probably completely impractical. This is an ongoing debate, but there are already comprehensive critiques compiled which supply convincing evidence that the “100% renewable energy” demand is essentially an empty claim.[8] At any rate, using current technology, there is hardly an industry which is willing to switch to 100% renewable energy right now. Industry, as well as a small household, needs baseload and peakload power. Grids set up for the intermittent power of wind and solar have yet to be built, and would involve wasted endeavour trying to devise.

As the intense carbon emissions from coal and gas rule them out as power sources into the future, the best placed replacement for baseload carbon free energy is nuclear power.[9] Yet decades of misinformation and scaremongering from many environmentalists has pushed the development of zero-carbon nuclear power off the agenda. Ironically, being anti-nuclear has arguably contributed to the use of coal, and thus the adding of dangerous emissions to the atmosphere. It is ironic that Australia exports Uranium overseas for use in fuelling zero-carbon nuclear power overseas, but there are laws which prevent the building of zero-carbon nuclear power on these shores.

Red China leads the way

What the GetUp!/Avaaz/AYCC/Al Gore/Greta Thunberg crew cannot mention, due to loyalty to the system of production for private profit, is that it is actually the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which is far and away leading the transition away from fossil fuels and towards zero carbon energy sources. The corporate NGOs lament the wholesale lack of action of any kind of transition to wind, water and solar power in Australia, while simultaneously ignoring the PRC, the world’s largest country by population, where this is actually taking place. The sheer scale of the installation of wind, water and solar power in the PRC dwarfs any of the deliberately half-hearted attempts to do so in the West. Figures from the China Electricity Council (CEC) in 2017 show that there is a marked shift towards zero carbon energy sources on the Chinese mainland. Wind, water and solar power added 51.9% of new capacity, thermal accounted for 42.9% and nuclear for 5.2%.[10]

The 5.2% for zero carbon nuclear power may sound small, but in fact Red China is again leading the way in the operation and construction of reactors. There are now more than 40 reactors operating in China, and another 18 under construction – and that is just for starters. The specialists advising the Communist Party of China (CPC), unlike the Western environmental movement, anticipates that the share of power from renewables will tail off in the longer term, to less than half of the total. In other words, they are aware of the limitations of renewables vis-à-vis the advantages of nuclear generated electricity. Moreover, if China’s rapid economic growth continues at anything like what has occurred since the 1980s, China’s power demands will double by 2040. Hence, China’s Energy Development Strategy Action Plan for 2014-2020 has set a target of 58 Gigawatts (GWe) for nuclear power, with an additional 30 GWe slated to be under construction.

The key here is “plan”. Red China is leading the way on the replacement of fossil fuels, because it has a planned economy. Not only that, China’s economy primarily does not run on the basis of production for private profit. The 1949 socialist revolution in China established a workers’ state which has not been overthrown, despite policy shifts since that time. The major means of production in China are state owned or majority state owned. This is especially the case for the strategic drivers of the economy – such as roads, railways, ports, steel production and infrastructure construction. And this is even before taking into account the fact that all of the largest banks and financial institutions are not only state-owned, but directed by leading members of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In short, China’s socialism allows it to take the lead in combatting climate distortion, whereas the West’s capitalism stands as an immediate and major block to even the first steps.

Left parties unite for climate – across classes

To be sure, workers in the PRC need more political decision making power than they currently have. Nevertheless, workers internationally need to work with, not against, the leadership on climate being shown by the PRC. Grating against this are some Australian left parties, who have fallen hook, line and sinker for the Greta Thunberg roadshow. The Socialist Alliance (SA)[11], Socialist Alternative (SAlt)[12] and Solidarity(Sol)[13] are all building the March 15 Climate Strike as if it is perfectly normal to be working directly with GetUp! and Avaaz and Al Gore and Richard Branson. There is a reason why these ostensibly left parties do not see a contradiction – they all unite as one for imperialist war. SA, SAlt and Sol uniformly joined with GetUp! in its subtle backing of the US/Saudi/UK/FRA/AUST led imperialist war for regime change on Syria. Likewise, they all combine to drive relentless calls for US backed regime change in Iran. And, despite claiming to be “anti-war”, they all spruik about “repression” in China, Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – which indicates they will not genuinely oppose a US led war against these or other countries independent of Wall Street.

Joining this unholy alliance are the top officials of Australian Unions – some of whom have donated Union members funds directly to GetUp! What transpires is a cross-class popular front, where the politics is wholly subordinated to the “left” wing of the ruling class – that part of the elite which can see something needs to be done about catastrophic climate change, but will stanchly resist any challenge to the capitalist system. Workers must be clear – human relations will not be rational so long as the working class has not yet abolished the private ownership of the means of production. Capital – the banks, the mines, major industries – must be expropriated from the obscenely rich and placed in the hands of society, held in trust by a workers’ republic. A pre-requisite will be the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which could lead workers and all of the oppressed in the consolidation of a collectivised, planned economy – and hence rational action to avoid dangerous climate collapse. This should be the ultimate aim of “climate strikes”.

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

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report (27-02-19)

[2] https://drive.google.com/file/d/18MtPGabeW5lPQ9asPRQGk26YuRB94te4/view (02-03-19)

[3] https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/blog/tips-for-getting-your-politician-to-commit-to-real-climate-action (02-03-19)

[4] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/24/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-a-decade-of-social-manipulation-for-the-corporate-capture-of-nature-crescendo/ (02-03-19)

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/19/maduro-government-richard-branson-rival-venezuela-concerts (02-03-19)

[6] https://www.jimball.com.au/blog/the-getup-setup-brad-norrington-the-australian/ (02-03-19)

[7] https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/climate-action-now/climate-strikes/school-strikes-for-climate-action (02-03-19)

[8] https://bravenewclimate.com/2014/06/02/critique-100pc-renewables-edm/ (02-03-19)

[9] https://nuclearforclimate.com.au/2019/02/05/the-heat-is-on-time-for-nuclear/ (02-03-19)

[10] https://reneweconomy.com.au/chinas-amazing-green-shift-solar-wind-water-power-57490/ (03-03-19)

[11] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/unions-join-students-call-strike-our-climate (03-03-19)

[12] https://redflag.org.au/index.php/node/6634 (03-03-19)

[13] https://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/current/123/editorial-strike-out-morrisons-coalition-of-climate-deniers/ (03-03-19)

 

Stop Adani Now – the Planet is Burning!

Image from @stopadani on twitter

Stop Adani Now – the Planet is Burning!

08-12-2018 – Queensland is literally on fire. 140 bushfires, some of which are described as “firestorms” have torched areas of Central Queensland this last fortnight. Some people who have evacuated have spent a week away from their homes, unable to return. The rabid intensity of these fires is a window to the dire portent of cataclysmic global warming which is only just beginning. Climate denialists no longer have an audience, if they ever did, in the face of chaotic and dangerous “weather” sweeping the globe.

In the face of this reality, the obscenity of the Adani coal mine slated for the Galilee Basin is a stark reminder of the archaic political system which allows, and even encourages, its own destruction. In the face of coal mines being green lighted and Pacific Islands being swallowed up by the sea, last week saw a “School Strike 4 Climate” where primary and secondary students around the country walked out of school to protest the glaring lack of action by politicians.[1] The Stop Adani campaign continues, following on from Adani’s recent claim that its mega coal mine will go ahead. It will apparently now be self-funded, after a string of domestic and international banks refused to provide finance.[2]

Break with the system to stop Adani

All of the urgent student actions and all of the actions against the Adani monstrosity need to continue. They are desperately needed and allow those most aware of potentially civilisation ending ecological collapse to step into activism. At the same time, the political leadership of the official Stop Adani campaign and the School Strike for Climate steer the actions on a course which is 180 degrees in the wrong direction. They seek to simply lobby the very politicians who know very well who they are serving, which is certainly not “the people” or those without wealth. These politicians are “not listening” because they are trained operatives defending that which produced Adani – the capitalist system of production for private profit. The parliament itself is set up as a foil for working people – it sustains the massive illusion that there are representative bodies that are responsive to their needs.

The official Stop Adani campaign is focusing on lobbying the Labor Party, especially in the lead up to the coming federal election. The Labor Party (ALP) is as committed to capitalist environmental desecration as the profit-gouging corporations themselves. If the Labor Party wanted to, it could Stop Adani tomorrow, as it holds government in Queensland. Instead, federal ALP leader Bill Shorten recently stated that the Adani coal mine would not affect carbon emissions !![3] It should be clear that the Labor Party is prepared to lose an election rather than oppose the Adani coal mine. This highlights the futility of not only lobbying the ALP, but the parliament and every pillar of the rule of capital. To really stop Adani, the political leadership of the campaign will have to break with the entire apparatus of the system.

Yet breaking with the system is not the intention of the political leadership of the Stop Adani campaign, and the campaign against global warming in general. On the contrary, their intention is to drive working people back towards the system, towards parliament, towards “our politicians”. This is the deadliest illusion of them all. Politicians who are paid apparatchiks of the rule of the banks are not “ours” in the slightest way. They are hired guns of an alien class – the elite billionaires whose wealth accumulates on the backs of the labour of workers. There may be some politicians who, in words, sound more liberal, and more progressive than others. Yet they are just as much guns for hire as conservatives.

There are a myriad of NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) who are very well funded, whose prime aim is to steer the Stop Adani and climate change movements back towards the supposedly liberal politicians, into parliament, and indeed, right back into the very source of environmental destruction – capitalism itself. This appears as a contradiction only to those who have yet to side with the workers in their struggle for emancipation. Stop Adani, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), SEED (a branch of AYCC), 350.org, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and GetUp!  are the primary NGOs who bend over backwards to limit the campaign to stop Adani within the strict bounds of appealing to corporate Australia, and the parliament as its puppet, to “be reasonable”. But there is no reasoning with those who build their careers and accumulate obscene profits at the expense of the lives of workers.

PRC lights the way

The idea that socialism in power can counteract dangerous climate change is anathema to liberal minded NGOs. Yet this is precisely what is happening in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the PRC, working class power arrived with the victory of the 1949 revolution. There have been many changes since that time, but today the PRC government is the major power in the world which is making serious efforts to counteract fast approaching global warming. The PRC is phasing out coal, implementing electric bus transport in cities, and heavily investing in solar and wind power.[4] For serious efforts to move away from coal, however, the PRC is now the fastest expanding nuclear power producer.[5]  Rather than the fantasy of “100% renewable energy”, what is required is the correct mix of all zero carbon energy sources. That is, perhaps until nuclear fusion is developed, at which point all other zero carbon energy sources will probably be eclipsed. And, lo and behold, it is the PRC which is leading the way here also.[6]

While China’s socialism is far from perfect, the graphic lesson is that only a workers’ state can take resolute measures towards holding humanity back from the abyss of climate catastrophe. Rather than a fool’s gallery of elite politicians and their plush parliaments, the Stop Adani campaign must look to working people and its potential collective power to stop both coal and capitalism in its tracks.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/education/school-students-on-mass-strike-to-protest-climate-change-inaction-20181129-p50j4c.html (05-12-18)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/adani-carmichael-coal-mine-to-proceed-scaled-back-self-funded/10568600 (05-12-18)

[3] http://www.greencareer.net.au/news/shorten-coy-on-adani-emissions (05-12-18)

[4] https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/after-airpocalypse-5-ways-china-becoming-global-climate-leader (06-12-18)

[5] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/how-china-has-become-the-worlds-fastest-expanding-nuclear-power-producer (06-12-18)

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-43792655 (06-12.18)

Ban the Bomb! No to Nuclear War!

BAN THE BOMB!     NO TO NUCLEAR WAR!

17-06-2017 – “There’s a bomb hangin’ over our heads”….this familiar refrain from the era of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is unfortunately even more relevant today. However, today there is no Soviet Union to offset the capricious destructive power of the US Empire. This does not mean the US behemoth encounters no opposition to its plans for global plunder. In Syria, Russia – at the invitation of the Syrian government – has effectively blocked US led efforts at regime change. Iran and Hezbollah have given assistance, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) at least voted against moves for regime change at the United Nations (UN). The US led campaign for regime change had active support from Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Australia and others.

The fact that this regime change operation was blocked, at least for now, has not stymied the US rulers’ appetites for regime change, in Syria or elsewhere. Economically, the global capitalist system is in terminal decline, and this drives ever more reckless wars of regime change, invasions, bombings, funding and arming of death squads to bring down sovereign governments, and much more. The USA, the leader of capitalist-imperialism, thus has its hands drenched in blood from current or completed or attempted regime change operations in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – also referred to as “North Korea”), and many others. US troops are stationed in over 130 countries around the world. Canberra, heading up the vassal Australian state, politically or practically backs, or participates in, all such operations.

Ongoing threats to the DPRK

Today’s day of action has been organised to call on the Australian government to sign up to a global ban on the production and use of nuclear weapons. The governments of 130 nations have signed up to endorse this agreement.[1] Working people should certainly not oppose such an agreement, were it possible to sign and have it enforced. The objectors at this stage include the governments of the US, Australia, Russia and China. Despite constant demonization by Western governments and their media, the DPRK was an enthusiastic signee. This fact demonstrates that despite the corporate media depiction of the DPRK as a mad “rogue state”, in actuality it would prefer not to have to spend resources in the development of nuclear weapons. The only reason it does, is that it is threatened with annihilation, nuclear or otherwise, at any moment, by US imperialism and its allies. Consequently, as Mike Whitney wrote: “There’s no country in the world that needs nuclear weapons more than North Korea”.[2]

This is why there is no contradiction between the DPRK signing up to a proposed ban on nuclear weapons, and the DPRK actually developing nuclear weapons themselves. It is purely a matter of survival. The ferocity of the US Empire’s war on Korea in 1953 left an indelible mark on the whole construction of the DPRK itself. The DPRK is more aware than anyone else of the unfathomable barbarism visited upon them during that war. Around 4 million Koreans and Chinese volunteers were slaughtered, bridges and power stations were reduced to rubble, relentless volumes of napalm were dropped on civilian targets, and that was just for starters. It is estimated that Pyongyang was reduced to a population of 50 000 during the war, whereas before the war it was 500 000.[3] To DPRK citizens, these horrific memories are as clear to them as yesterday.

Despite this, the DPRK has repeatedly stated, time and time again, that it is ready to “conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the ‘temporary’ cease-fire of 1953.”[4] The DPRK has consistently stated that it will end its nuclear weapons program if US forces are withdrawn from the southern half of the Korean peninsula, and if the annual “military exercises” conducted on the doorstep of the DPRK, where the US military and its allies practice for a regime change invasion, cease. This entirely reasonable offer has been stated time and time again, only to be ignored by the US state.

Threats to China, Russia

US designs for regime change in the DPRK are also aimed at the neighbouring People’s Republic of China (PRC), perhaps even more so. It was largely to contain the 1949 socialist revolution in China that the US launched the war against Korea in 1950-53. Today, China’s dominant socialist economy is leaving the capitalist economies for dead, outstripping it in ongoing GDP growth, driving spectacular investment in infrastructure development, and even offering other countries the opportunity to take part, with its One Belt One Road program. The US, with a declining economy and crumbling infrastructure, is well on the way to being overtaken as world number 1. The US ruling class knows that it must take action against Red China sooner rather than later to prevent this from happening. Hence we have the irrational threats against the DPRK, and relentless provocations by the US in the South China Sea. The installation of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missiles in South Korea are also patently aimed at China, given that they will be virtually ineffective against a conventional missile strike from the DPRK.[5]  These very real threats are the precise reason why the PRC itself needs its own nuclear arsenal.

The threats of the US Empire towards Russia are no less serious. Russia, as well as China, is being encircled by a swathe of US military bases. The relentless expansion of NATO, along with military hardware and missiles being installed right up to Russia’s border in Eastern Europe, means that Russia, regardless of its wishes, must also maintain and develop its nuclear weapons stockpile. To not do so would result in extermination. For example, the forces of NATO members Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), France and Denmark, which have recently been deployed, are part of an “Enhanced Forward Presence” in the Baltic states, as well as Poland. In excess of 4000 NATO troops are building what are in effect permanent bases in these countries, menacingly pointed towards Russia.[6] At best, these developments violate an express agreement signed in 1997, that NATO would not seek to establish permanent bases in the nations closer to Russia. At worst, it greatly heightens the danger of an accident which could trigger a military, or nuclear, confrontation.

From where do the threats of war arise?

While working people should not oppose universal bans on nuclear weapons, i.e. a commitment by ALL countries, imperialist or otherwise, not to produce or stockpile nuclear weapons, we should be clear that the threat of nuclear war does not arise because some states are armed with nuclear weapons. The threat of war, nuclear or not, is present due to the day to day operation of the system of capitalist-imperialism. Leading this system is the ruling class of the United States, which is currently threatening nuclear world war via its simultaneous regime change threats against Syria and the DPRK. Any more US moves to take down the Syrian government, could activate Russia, which is doing its utmost to defend Syria and prevent such a potential nuclear war. At the same time, any more US moves to strike the DPRK, would of necessity bring in the PRC in self-defence, but also could lead to nuclear war.

This is why, despite laudable efforts to ban nuclear weapons, while US imperialism exists, anti-imperialist, socialist and independent states (e.g. China, Russia, Iran, DPRK) will need nuclear weapons to defend themselves. In fact, despite the demonization by the Western corporate media of the DPRK, the very existence of the DPRK’s weapons stockpile is actually part of what is currently preventing a nuclear war. Many attendees at today’s rallies are ironically enjoying a peace which the nuclear weapons stockpile of the DPRK (and China and Russia) ensures. It is only the nuclear deterrent existing in these states which currently prevents them, and large parts of the world, from being obliterated by the US juggernaut – inevitably with the backing of Canberra.

This situation of a delicate balance, where the nuclear weapons potential of the socialist or independent states is used as a defence against the nuclear weapons potential of US imperialism, unfortunately can’t last forever. Capital, the mainstay of the “free enterprise” system of the West, has to expand or die. It has to accumulate not only profit, but an adequate rate of profit. Once the opportunity for capital expansion has expired within the home country, it must seek others in other parts of the globe. If other countries do not allow foreign capital plunder, sooner or later the drums of war begin to beat, talk of “humanitarian intervention”, “democracy” and “human rights” grows louder and louder. The US and the NATO monster are switched on, and voila! Regime change is here again. This is one reason why war itself will not be removed until the planet is able to rid itself of capitalism.

Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia, Iran

As it was during the First World War, the struggle to stop world war is also a struggle for the overthrow of governments prosecuting wars. This requires a politically aware working class, and a workers’ party prepared to lead this struggle. We can begin to assemble such a party now, even if the subjective conditions for it do not currently exist. Right now, it is important that working people raise and organise around such demands as Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia and Iran – putting the political heat squarely on those who currently threaten to unleash World War III – the governments of the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and their allies, including Australia. To do this, working people will need to apply pressure to their own Union leaders – many of whom are thoroughly tied into the system which provides them well-paid careers, and thus are tied into Australian government foreign policy. These positions flow from Australia being an imperialist power in its own right, albeit a minor one.

The Australian people are overwhelmingly against a world war. This does not mean, however, that a “broad” peace movement is all that is needed to somehow prevail. In fact, rather than uniting the peace movement, such as it is, what is required is for pro-worker elements to break away from those who wish to direct appeals to the very rulers who are enabling the conditions for world war. That is, the anti-imperialist elements need to break away from the pro-imperialist sections. For no matter how many words political forces such as the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Greens and NGOs may offer against war, the fact is that they are a strong pillar of the capitalist system producing it. Many of the members of these organisations would strongly campaign against imperialist war, and such folk should be welcomed. A problem arises when representatives of the liberal side of the ruling class are openly asked by peace campaigners to be “stars”, or special guests. Doing so cripples the politics to such an extent that it the movement becomes one which is appealing to the very purveyors of war itself – the Western ruling classes. Imagine in feudal times appealing to the King’s forces to stop waging war against the next fiefdom, which were conscripting peasants by force to do so.  Every rank and file worker today would understand that that appealing to the King would be fruitless, and that the only hope would lie in a generalised peasant revolt.

Today we no longer live in such times, and we have the advantage that the modern ruling classes, the bourgeoisie, often prefer to rule by manufactured consent rather than by force. Breaking this manufactured consent cannot be done, however, while political forces hostile to independent working class action are allowed to dominate the “peace” movement – whether they be ALP or other politicians, NGOs, or conservative Union leaders. The danger of world war is real, and it emanates from the very system which “our” politicians preside over. These politicians are not “ours” in the slightest. The working class must produce its own leaders, and its own party, if we are to stand a realistic chance of preventing war through ending the rule of capital, and establishing workers rule. NO TO WORLD WAR!

 

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  BOX  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/nuclear-ban-treaty-progresses-despite-us-led-objections (09-06-17)

[2] https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/17/the-problem-is-washington-not-north-korea/ (09-06-17)

[3] https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/17/the-problem-is-washington-not-north-korea/ (09-06-17)

[4] “North Korea’s consistent message to the U.S.”, President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post.

[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-defence-analysis-idUSKBN16F0CT (09-06-17)

[6] http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-preparations-against-russia-nato-builds-infrastructure-for-permanent-military-presence-near-russias-borders/5590363

UN General Assembly votes on resolution to move toward a ban on nuclear weapons. Image from http://www.cndpindia.org

Stop the Adani Death Mine! Mobilise Mass Opposition!

Stop the Adani Death Mine! Mobilise Mass Opposition!

02-06-2017 – Abomination. There is barely another word to describe the proposed mega-coal Carmichael mine proposed to be built by the Adani Corporation in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. If built and operated for the proposed 60 years, it may well contribute to the end of world efforts to limit global average temperature rises to less than 2 degrees Celsius. The carbon contained in the Galilee Basin’s coal reserves alone – 250 000 square kilometres of thermal coal – contain roughly the same amount of carbon contained in all of ExxonMobil’s holdings, the world’s largest company.[1] The development of the Adani “mine of death” would mean six open cut pits and numerous underground mines. The coal would be transported 200 kilometres to a terminal at Abbot Point, right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s carbon emissions would more than double.[2]

There is a high probability that the Adani mine will definitively finish off the Great Barrier Reef. To this point already, reef specialist Professor Terry Hughes revealed that coral bleaching – the literal dying off of the coral itself – now covered 93% of the Reef.[3] As the intensification of global warming warms the oceans, the sea itself becomes more acidic, killing off or threatening to kill off whole ecosystems – from coral to fish to large predators, i.e., whole food chains. One of the natural wonders of the world, the strangulation of the reef should be yet another urgent bell-weather of the desperate situation climactic collapse ensures. As Jeff Sparrow writes, however, any sense that an occurrence so grotesque as the annihilation of a natural wonder would somehow spur politicians to finally do something, should now be put to rest.[4] The politicians that currently exist here will scarcely do anything to even seriously limit environmental desecration.

Labor Party complicit

In fact, politicians here are doing everything they can to enable this hellish future. Take the Queensland Labor Party government. It has fallen over itself to get the diabolical Adani coal mine up and running, irrespective of the climate science, not to speak of its own members. First it offered a 320 million dollar “royalties holiday” to Adani, making a mockery of the entire concept of royalties.[5] After some outrage, the Labor Party and Adani later came to an agreement, the details of which are not fully known, but it is suspected that a flat 5 million dollars will be paid. For a 21 billion dollar mine, this is of course risible. In addition, in a move which flabbergasted even seasoned environmental activists, the Labor Party approved a measure which allows Adani to only monitor and report on the amount of water it extracts from the Great Artesian Basin, from now until the permit expires in 2077![6] Needless to say, this could have massive impacts on the water available for agriculture and other purposes. It is estimated that this would mean Adani would extract 9.5 billion litres of water for each year the mine was operational.[7] And on the driest continent on earth, Adani would not have to pay one cent for this water!

Some die-hard Labor party members state that despite the (virtually criminal) actions of the Queensland Labor party, “federal” Labor has opposed the mine. In fact, federal Labor under Bill Shorten worked with the Liberal Party to ensure that Native Title for the Aboriginal people would not even be considered when assessing approval for Adani’s mine building. This bill has been delayed in parliament, and the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, representatives of the traditional owners, remains steadfast in its opposition to the construction of the mine.[8]

Add to this Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to New Delhi to Adani executives and his offer of a 1 billion dollar unconditional loan from Australian taxpayers to pay for the rail line needed to transport the coal.[9] As if this wasn’t enough, it is mooted that these funds will be allocated from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility![10] The level of direct and indirect corruption is staggering, but such corruption is business as usual for the capitalist system. In fact, the amount of corruption just for this project is just a slim percentage of the overall racket of virtually tax-free mining in Australia.

Red China closes coal mines while Australia opens them

Australia’s giant Pacific neighbour, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is trending in the opposite direction with regard to coal fired energy use. It should be noted that for a country which is still in many parts developing its economy, despite its huge advances, it is more difficult to do without coal as an energy source. Nevertheless, Red China is arguably leading the world push towards switching from carbon intensive energy sources to carbon free ones. Just this year, Beijing closed its last large coal-fired power station.[11] Moreover, as part of the drive towards using zero carbon energy sources, the PRC will close around half of its operating coal mines.[12] Some renewable energy advocates point to China in leading the way in the production of solar panels and wind turbines. But for serious capacity in terms of zero carbon energy, the PRC is building nuclear reactors. 46% of the new reactors currently being constructed are in mainland China.[13]

There is one reason why the PRC leads the world in both economic growth and in the drive towards sourcing energy from zero carbon sources. The Chinese economy, primarily, does not operate on the basis of production for profit. The socialist state led development they are capable of has only come about since the working people were able to overthrow feudal and foreign capitalist plunder, which triumphed in 1949. In the PRC today, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the “commanding heights” of the economy remain state owned or majority state owned. They are often owned and controlled by gigantic state owned enterprises (SOEs) which simply do not have to turn a profit, and often run at profit rates below 1%, which would not be possible under the “capitalism” of which some critics accuse it. Decisions can be made in the interests of the environment and workers’ rights in the PRC, whereas in the capitalist West such motives barely rate a mention.

NGOs, Greens, Labor loyal Union leaders block action

Socialism versus capitalism as a pathway to address climate meltdown, however, is the furthest away from the agenda of the three main bodies which are combining to stifle mass action to stop the Adani leviathan. Peak environmental “NGOs”, the Australian Greens, and some Union leaders, who remain loyal to the Labor Party and/or the capitalist system, represent the obstacle to the action which has the possibility of preventing the erection of climate destroying mega-coal mines. NGOs such as GetUp!, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), and 350 Australia are active online in opposing the Adani mega-coal mine. However, these peak bodies are all about controlling the campaign against Adani, and controlling it to align with their politics – which ultimately means lobbying the very corporations and governments enabling it. For example, 350.org were the main organisers of large scale public meetings about the Adani mega-mine, but they were only “public” for those who could afford the $15 dollar entry fee!

The Australian Greens, despite their commendable words against the Adani inferno, are almost solely campaigning in electoral terms. After winning a Brisbane City Council seat in the Woolloongabba ward for the first time, the Greens are attempting to capitalise on the sentiment against Adani to win the state seat of South Brisbane from the Labor Party’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.[14] To be clear, if the Australian Greens win parliamentary seats as a result of a principled position against climate destroying developments, then working people should not begrudge them. But it is something else entirely to subordinate the politics of such a movement to electoral machinations of any party, even one which is, at least verbally, taking a side against the encroachments of capital.

There has been scant, if any, opposition to Adani from any of Queensland’s Union leaders. In fact, there has even been support. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Stephen Smyth and the Australian Workers Union’s (AWU) Ben Swan, for example, have gone on record as complaining that the Adani mega-mine has come up against too much “green tape” from the state government![15] No doubt these self-serving Union leaders were eyeing the mythical “10 000” jobs the state government claimed would be the result of the Adani mega-mine. In fact, Adani’s own figures state that only 1464 jobs will be created over the lifetime of the mine.[16] In any case, one wit responded to State Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s claims that jobs will be created by saying: “Detention centres create jobs, wars create jobs – what’s your point?”

Union leaders should be leading a campaign for jobs through raising and fighting for demands such as a shorter working week with no loss in pay, rather than building a cosy alliance with exploitative corporations themselves. Then they would be free to help lead mass based campaigns, which could gather backing from working people, and could be joined by others justly concerned about the potentially catastrophic future vastly increased carbon emissions will mean for those who come after us. They could also sideline wealthy corporate NGOs and prevent them from shepherding all opposition into harmless lobbying exercises. Political parties such as the Greens would be welcome to take part, but not in terms of reducing the entire campaign to an electoral front.

There is huge potential for such a campaign, as there is overwhelming sentiment amongst the majority of working people that this disaster of a mine should not go ahead, and there definitely should not be billions of dollars of taxpayers funds handed over to a dubious corporation to build it. Yet the potential for the desperately needed campaign of mass mobilisation is crippled by the political outlook of the mines’ opponents. Well-funded NGOs, parties such as the Greens, and conservative Union leaders do not have a perspective which can see outside the parameters of the system of private production for private profit. This is not a matter of expecting such forces to consent to a workers’ revolution. But long before the conditions for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism come into being, the methods of class-based struggle are the only ones which can win a serious battle such as this one.

The Adani mega-mine is symptomatic of the normal workings of capitalist exploitation of the natural world. It is for this reason that the political forces which complain about the excess of this system without opposing the system itself, e.g. GetUp!, 350.org, AYCC, must be challenged by working people for leadership of this campaign. Working people also need to position their silent or complicit Union leaders, which should at least be helping to facilitate a movement of class-based mass opposition, centred on mass mobilisations. Working and oppressed people desperately need a victory. Here is one campaign, which, given correct leadership, has a huge chance of succeeding.

At the same time, working people should be aware that even if the Adani monstrosity is stopped, runaway climate collapse is still on the cards. To begin to deal with this emergency, let alone the other dire emergencies such as economic stagnation, joblessness, homelessness, and the threat of war, the capitalist system will have to be overthrown and replaced with socialism, run by working people. Key to this task is the forging of a genuine workers party, the assembling of the most class conscious working people into a politically leading force. There is nothing to lose, but a world to win.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/june/1370181600/bill-mckibben/how-australian-coal-causing-global-damage (02-06-17)

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/05/17/the-damning-report-that-says-adanis-carmichael-mine-is-a-slow-t_a_22094639/ (02-06-17)

[3] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bleaching-hits-93-percent-of-the-great-barrier-reef/ (02-06-17)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/07/its-either-adani-or-the-great-barrier-reef-are-we-willing-to-fight-for-a-wonder-of-the-world (02-06-17)

[5] http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/adani-says-carmichael-megamine-viable-without-royalties-holiday/news-story/c40786658dc12c935777729349addd26 (02-06-17)

[6] http://www.smh.com.au/environment/barbaric-adanis-giant-coal-mine-granted-unlimited-water-licence-for-60-years-20170404-gvd41y.html (02-06-17)

[7] https://www.marineconservation.org.au/pages/adani-carmichael-coal-mine-rail-project-factsheet-.html (02-06-17)

[8] http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/govt-fails-to-pass-native-title-bill-major-setback-for-adani/ (02-06-17)

[9] http://www.afr.com/news/politics/adani-firms-on-1bn-loan-as-turnbull-promises-to-fix-native-title-problems-20170411-gvisan (02-06-17)

[10] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-29/conflict-of-interest-concerns-over-adani-rail-loan/8564368 (02-06-17)

[11] http://www.smh.com.au/world/beijing-closes-last-big-coalfired-power-station-in-push-for-clean-energy-20170320-gv20hx.html (02-06-17)

[12] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-energy-coal-idUSKCN0VV0U5 (02-06-17)

[13] http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide.aspx (02-06-17)

[14] http://larissa-waters.greensmps.org.au/articles/queensland-labor-and-adani-join-forces-queensland-taxpayers-get-screwed-over (02-06-17)

[15] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/unions-slam-new-rules-for-adani-acland-mines/news-story/4e74aacda44ef2d710ff0d0525865477 (02-06-17)

[16] https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/05/truth-adani-jobs/ (02-06-17)

The Adani Corporation has begun fencing off land in the Galilee Basin. Image from http://www.southasiatimes.com.au

Public Space, not Privatisation! No to Mega-Casinos!

05-12-2016 – Make no mistake, Brisbane is being privatised before our very eyes. Huge slabs of public land are being sloughed off the public asset register by Labor and Liberal governments alike. The massive Queens Wharf Mega-Casino is just the latest instalment of a drive to enrich pathological corporations, at the expense of working people – the people who built this city. In the middle of Brisbane, public land will be handed to the Orwellian titled “Destination Brisbane Consortium” on a 99 year lease – in effect, permanent privatisation. The entire political establishment, from the Liberal Brisbane City Council to the Labor State Government, remain oblivious to the decimation of the heritage of the city, to the privatisation of public space, to the plight of the homeless, and to the situation of working people whose taxes they funnel to private business.

Despite our strong political disagreements with the Australian Greens on other issues, we applaud the work of Greens Councillor Jonathon Sri, who is seeking to organise a much- needed campaign against the Queens Wharf Casino. Councillor Sri’s website points out just a few of the many reasons why the Queens Wharf Casino is an affront to the working people of Brisbane, and indeed the world. For one thing, 66 000 square metres of office space formerly owned by the state government for public service staff, will be demolished to make way for the Casino development.[1] It was the former Liberal National Party (LNP) Premier Campbell Newman which began the privatisation of CBD buildings formerly owned by the state government, but this has continued under the ALP Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk.

Public servants, formerly working in a number of buildings in the CBD, will be crammed like sardines into the “Tower of Power”, the cosy deal Campbell Newman signed for a 45 storey tower at 1 William Street. Above them, will sit the Cabinet and the Ministers in much more spaciously accounted floors at the top. For the first time in Queensland’s history, the Premier and Cabinet will “work” from offices owned by the private sector!  Several government departments will be located there, while paying rent to the private sector – to the tune of $10.5 million dollars per year.[2] That is, 10 million odd dollars from the taxpayer, will be going directly into the bank accounts of the private sector – each year. None of that money will ever be spent on public amenities, public housing, schools or hospitals.

The 2 billion dollar contract handed to Echo Entertainment to build the Queens Wharf monstrosity will fill the troughs of corporate developers, and the politicians and councillors who “approve” it, but will privatise 7.8 hectares of the Brisbane CBD, which will be welcoming for those high rollers who can afford to gamble, but will likely lock out poor and working class people who cannot afford gambling and stays in 5 star resorts. Some architects have severely criticised the proposal. Richard Kirk, the President of the Australian Institute of Architects Queensland, has berated the plan which will build gaming floors over the top of public streets, plunging them into darkness.[3] The one piece of the proposal which may be genuinely accessible to the non-paying public is an alleged bridge to South Bank. But this has not been budgeted for, and so will probably not happen.

There has been no public consultation whatsoever, on anything to do with the mega-casino development. This is probably because where casinos have been built, dramatic social problems like poverty and mental illness increase. Not only that, the Queens Wharf  “development” will not even go through the already corporate developer friendly laws that usually apply to such developments. It will not be assessed against the Sustainable Planning Act of 2009, nor the Brisbane City Plan of 2014.[4] It’s a virtual green light before any nominations have even been received.

“Developments” such as these should be enough to shake, if not shatter, any faith that working people hold in governments which are beholden to the corporate elite. The cardinal lesson for working people is that capitalist governments, at whatever level, are not, and never will be, “our” governments, no matter how much we lobby them, or indeed protest against them. All capitalist governments are governments imposed on working people against their will, and are set up to prevent working people from taking part in any decision which seriously affects their living conditions. Behind capitalist governments lie the capitalist state – the police, the courts, the prisons and the armed forces – whose job it is to force working people to accept the further accumulation of private capital at their expense. The capitalist state enforces nothing less than private wealth built on public squalor.

All efforts should be extended to stop the Queens Wharf casino, the privatisation of public land, public housing and indeed public services themselves. At the same time, we need to be aware that it is only a workers’ government, at the head of a socialist state, which can truly act in the interests of the public. A socialist state begins with the seizure of state power by the organised working class, led by a workers’ party. Such a party urgently needs to be formed, and we can begin to build such a party by replacing class-collaborationist Union officials with a class struggle leadership. Then the potential to unleash the real social power of the working class can be breached. As we struggle for decent social living conditions, the socialist objective must remain foremost in our minds. Down with Queens Wharf !

Workers League

PO Box  66  Nundah  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

Ph: 0421 408 692

[1] http://jonathansri.com/casino/ (26-11-2016)

[2] http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/1-william-street-to-be-entirely-filled-by-public-servants-20150615-ghof5p.html (26-11-2016)

[3] http://www.afr.com/real-estate/commercial/architects-slam-queens-wharf-casino-site-warn-of-irreparable-damage-to-brisbane-20150805-gis5l9 (26-11-2016)

[4] http://jonathansri.com/casino/ (26-11-2016)

Follow the lead of Red China! For the application of science and technology to the climate emergency!

28-11-2015 – As the world careens towards climate catastrophe, world leaders are meeting in Paris for the COP21 talks, ostensibly to thrash out a plan to curb global carbon emission levels far enough to ensure a safe climate. Today’s rallies around the country have set themselves the goal of being the biggest ever. Perhaps they will be. Even if they are, it would be folly to expect the leaders of the world’s most powerful capitalist economies to be committed to anything other than amassing yet more private profits for the world’s most powerful corporations, many of which make huge profits from selling fossil fuels.

There is an exception to the rule, however. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), the world’s largest country and most powerful socialist state, is making the most genuine attempt to seriously reduce carbon emissions. Of the countries which have submitted a target to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), China’s are by far the most ambitious. China has pledged to reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% below 2005 levels.[1] In addition, China has also pledged to peak emissions by 2030, and aim to achieve this even earlier. Further, China will aim to achieve 20% of its energy share clean (zero carbon sources) by 2030, as well as increase forest cover in the country by 4.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2005 levels.[2] Australia and the US have made no such moves.

How is China able to take climate change seriously? The key is that it is not capitalism that rules the Chinese economy. China’s economy in large part is still state owned, as a legacy of its socialist revolution which established the PRC in 1949. The economy is planned, and can be largely controlled by the government. Unlike Australia and the US, the Chinese government can to a large degree, direct its economy, and direct investment in certain sectors such as zero carbon energy. Nothing like this exists in the capitalist West. They are subordinate to the privately owned corporations, whom, one might argue, effectively form part of the government.

Moreover, Red China has another ace up its sleeve. It is not afraid to implement zero carbon nuclear power. The People’s Climate March doesn’t appear to have any demands, but buried in the fine print is a plea for a transition to 100% renewable energy. We don’t agree. And neither do 75 of the world’s leading academic experts on climate change. In an “Open Letter to Environmentalists on Nuclear Energy”, the authors argue that all zero carbon electricity sources will need to be used if we are to have a chance at ending the burning of fossil fuels. The signatories “….provide strong evidence for the need to accept a substantial role for advanced nuclear power systems with complete fuel recycling – as part of a range of sustainable energy technologies that also includes appropriate use of renewables, energy storage and energy efficiency.” [3] They emphasise that while renewable energy can play a role, we cannot afford to rigidly stick to renewable energy sources only, because they might be the favourites of large sections of the environmentalist movement. There are any number of practical problems with a transition to 100% renewable energy. One is how to store energy from wind and solar at times when there are periods with low wind and little or no sunlight. Storing energy for a day is certainly possible, but storing energy for several weeks at a time is another story entirely. Another issue is the capacity factor. That is, the amount of energy produced in comparison to the amount of energy the system is capable of producing. Zero carbon nuclear power can have a capacity factor of up to 91%, whereas wind and solar can, at best, only make less than half this capacity.[4] The discussion of which combination of zero-carbon energy sources has the best chance of real success is important, and one which all concerned about global warming need to be across. To this end, we recommend people start reading and investigating the material on websites such as www.bravenewclimate.com and www.decarbonisesa.com.

Despite advocating awareness about the virtues of wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power, and their practical applications, we have no illusions that any combination of zero-carbon energy sources can be successfully implemented while capital rules the economy. China’s key advantage in undertaking the advances it has made is that in an economy which is collectively owned and planned, there is no overall imperative to make private profits. China’s gigantic state owned corporations can run at very low profit margins, sometimes less than 1%, because they are gains of the 1949 revolution. China’s Communist Party leadership, despite oversights in other areas, can direct these state owned corporations to serve social goals – such as providing employment, or, helping to solve environmental problems. There are some limitations to this, both political and practical, but the fact is this is still light years ahead of anything conceivable in the recession ravaged capitalist West. In addition, China’s booming state run economy means China can pour billions of dollars into scientific and industrial research, which means China actually leads the world in a number of areas of scientific endeavour. Compare this to the perilous lack of funding for research and development in Australia, with the looming privatisation of the CSIRO.

A socialist state, or anything approaching it, however, is the last thing on the minds of some of the groups which dominate the environmental movement, and which have largely organised the “People’s Climate March”. For example, the group Avaaz can trace its funding back to George Soros’ “Open Society” group of NGOs, which have been a part of numerous “colour revolutions” at the behest of the US Empire around the globe.[5] Here, the group GetUp! has its exorbitant funding linked to the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and pro-ALP Union leaderships such as that of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).[6] Similarly, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) has as one of its major donors the multi-millionaire Robert Purves, chair of the Orwellian titled “Sustainable Business Australia”.[7]

 

Some left parties have also uncritically endorsed today’s march. The Socialist Alliance, publishers of the newspaper Green Left Weekly, (GLW) have GLW’s name posted alongside counterrevolutionary groups such as Avaaz, GetUp!, and anti-communist Tibetan “solidarity” groups on the list of endorsees![8] Such groups no doubt endorse the “from here on in, we’re all in” slogan. It scarcely needs emphasising that if working people are lumped “all in” with openly pro-capitalist forces, the movement will be defeated before it begins. Mobilising alongside those who aim to profit from “sustainable energy” inevitably subordinates the overall politics to such forces. There needs to be a climate emergency movement, but one which is pro-worker, one which rejects “energy austerity” or using less power – especially for less-industrialised countries, and one which is for the full application of science and technology to the vital issue of decarbonising the planet.

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Workers League

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/publications/130545/australia-is-latest-country-to-submit-climate-targets-to-un

[2] http://www.6pumpcourt.co.uk/2015/07/china-increases-its-ambition-for-cop21-but-will-it-be-enough/

[3] http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/12/15/an-open-letter-to-environmentalists-on-nuclear-energy/

[4] http://www.citylab.com/weather/2015/07/the-environmentalist-case-against-100-renewable-energy-plans/398906/

[5] http://www.globalresearch.ca/avaaz-the-lobbyist-that-masquerades-as-online-activism/5314829

[6] http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/02/04/getup-and-its-strange-but-well-heeled-bedfellows/?wpmp_tp=0

[7] https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2011/september/1316399650/guy-pearse/climate-movement

[8] http://www.peoplesclimate.org.au/endorse