Ecosocialism II

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture

It's very hard to have a discussion when people keep shifting their ground.

I started out by objecting to this statement by It's Me D:

The NDP [b]cannot, and should not[/b] call for this but this is what needs to be done to save the world...[my emphasis - MS]

The "this" he refers to is the kind of radical change necessary to save the world from ecological disaster - i.e., a sort of ecosocialism. I objected because I see no reason why someone who supports such a project, as I do, would oppose having it embraced and put forward before the public by the NDP (or, as it later turned out in the discussion, any electoral political party).

I find it bizarre that people who acknowledge the need for revolutionary action to save the world don't think it should be mentioned in an election campaign by Canada's major party of the left.

Instead of an explanation, I got lectures about the limits of electoralism, as if there were some obvious alternative at this point in time (i.e., on the one hand you have the federal electoral process, and on the other you, [b]nothing, really[/b]).

So it seems to me that talking about the obvious limitations of electoral politics ("the system is rigged", "can't play by old rules", "the solution will not be achieved by voting", etc.) is being used as an excuse for complete political inaction. That's what I mean by "shunning" electoral politics.

It's nothing to do with "priorities" because the higher priority is what? Organizing community food cooperatives and barter exchange systems is an admirable endeavour, but it is not making the revolution either. It's not even political action in any kind of sense that builds mass support for social change.

In my opinion, it's nothing short of criminal for people who supposedly are aware of the magnitude of the problem and the impending crises to argue that the NDP should [b]not[/b] be putting forward what is unarguably the necessary radical program for the planet's survival.

It's Me D wrote:

[b]Spector I know you are an admirer of Chavez, I respect him as well, foremost because he is committed to putting the power to save the world in the hands of the masses through a radical transformation of power structures in Venezuela. I do not believe any of our political parties here in Canada have the will to do this, even the NDP; if I'm wrong and the NDP does have this will then they are wise not to make it public as it runs contrary to the entire structure of the arena in which they seek victory.[/b]

There you have it in a nutshell - abject capitulation to reformism, the exact opposite of what Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela. He saw beyond the limitations of the electoral arena and was not afraid to put forward a radical project before the voters of Venezuela that would show them the way to transcend mere electoralism and begin to make real changes in society.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Even if the goal is an ecosocialist society, we must remember that this is not relevant during the initial stage, because people do not usually lend their support to what they construe as abstractions, but rather mobilise behind real changes in their everyday life. Therefore it is important to support concrete demands from the public which go against the capitalist logic. Political parties do not necessarily have to be the driving force, but people who put forth concrete demands from their own experience.

We cannot mobilise people for an ecosocialist revolution now, but instead [b]we begin with making concrete and direct demands to those in charge in order to decrease global warming. For instance, if a government does not support international climate treaties, the first priority is to remove the government since it ignores climate science, and replace it with one that does not, even if it is a bourgeois one.[/b]

In Australia, mobilisation from the people achieved exactly that. Through demonstrations, gathering upwards of 150 000 people, the Liberal government, who had not signed the Kyoto treaty, was replaced. [b]This represented progress even though the replacement was a right-wing Labor government.[/b]

We must hence fight for concrete local demands, as in Ecuador where the indigenous people stopped oil companies pumping up the oil, or like the Parisians demanding free public transportation, or peasants in Brazil fighting deforestation of the rain forest. [b]All such demands are important and must be supported.[/b] With every victory we have to put forth new demands in a dynamic process, which increasingly challenges the capitalist logic.

[url=]Michael Löwy[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Successor to [url= closed thread.[/url]

Want to know what ecosocialism is?

I recommend this 24-page pamphlet, [url= the Climate Change Crisis: An Ecosocialist Perspective[/url] (.pdf format).

It's a compilation of articles and essays put together by a Canadian ecosocialist and erstwhile babbler, and serves as a great introduction to the concept of ecosocialism. Best of all, it's free to read on-screen, or you can print it out at your own expense.

Topics include:

• Exploding the myths of ‘carbon offsets’
• The ‘emissions intensity’ hoax
• Ottawa’s fraudulent global warming plan
• Barriers to a capitalist solution?
• Five challenges for ecosocialists in 2008
• Ecosocialism and the fight against global warming
• Appendix: Bolivia and Cuba call for radical action to stop global warming

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

I am in substantial agreement with what you say.

You clearly have done some reading on this topic beyond what has appeared in babble threads. If you haven't read him yet, Joel Kovel has much to say about the communal aspects of ecosocialism. His book is [url=]The Enemy of Nature[/url]. In addition he has written and spoken often about the kind of transformation required to make a radical change in our relationship to nature. Here's a [url=]taste:[/url]

Ecosocialism is no more a purely economic matter than was socialism or communism in the eyes of Marx. It needs to be precisely the radical transformation of society — and human existence — that Marx envisioned as the next stage in human evolution. Indeed, it must be that if we are going to survive the ecological crisis. Ecosocialism is the ushering in, then, of a whole mode of production, one in which freely associated labour produces flourishing ecosystems rather than commodities.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

The National Center for Public Policy Research is handing out [b]"emissions credits" printed on toilet paper[/b] at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal today, to symbolize the failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the futility of emissions trading schemes.

Under the European Union's "CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme," companies are allotted credits that allow them to emit a fixed amount of carbon dioxide. Companies that reduce their carbon dioxide output, and thus don't use all of their credits, can sell them to companies who are exceeding their C02 allotments.

As the flawed Kyoto treaty is all but dead, emissions credits aren't likely to be of any value in the future.

"Emissions credits aren't worth the paper they're printed on," said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center, "Unless, of course, that paper happens to be toilet paper." - [url=]December 2005[/url]

[b]Despite all the favourable publicity being given to carbon trading, the European Commission reported that emissions from the major industrial users throughout the European Union actually rose by 1 to 1.5 percent in 2006.[/b] The “commitment” made by the EU leaders to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020 is empty rhetoric.

In 2005, two markets came into operation that followed from the agreement to cut greenhouse gases made by most of the world’s nations—barring the United States and Australia—at the Kyoto climate summit of 1997. One is the European Emissions-Trading Scheme (ETS) organised by the European Union; the other is the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

The EU worked out the maximum number of tonnes of carbon dioxide that each of member states should produce. On this basis, each country gave out carbon credits or allowances to all its major corporations and organisations, ostensibly equivalent to the amount of emissions each would produce. Any company producing fewer emissions than its agreed-upon quota could sell some of its allocated credits on the market, supposedly a financial incentive to find ways of reducing emissions.

Given the pressure from industry, it was hardly surprising that the European Commission “miscalculated” and gave out too many credits. However, it took until the beginning of 2006 for this to be realised and for the price of carbon allowances to collapse. Before this happened, many corporations were able to sell credits and enjoy a free handout.

According to reports in the Guardian (June 2), the six UK electricity-generating companies “stood to earn some Ј800m in each of the three years of the scheme” and UK oil companies “were also [b]poised to make a lot of free money:[/b] Ј10.2m for Esso, Ј17.9m for BP and Ј20.7m for Shell.” How much European companies actually gained has not been made public, but [b]the effect has certainly been to encourage widespread corporate enthusiasm for carbon trading.[/b] - [url=]Source[/url][/q...

It turns out that a quick review indicates that [b]real EU-25 CO2 emissions have increased more than the US since, say, 2000, by a third as much (133.1%) in fact.[/b]

If my numbers are right, that means +177.7 MMT for the EU-25 in 2005 Cf. 2000, as compared to the US's +133.5 MMT 2005 over 2000, per the Energy Information Administration numbers (I have only just done this and do not know how it holds for older baselines, e.g., 1997 being the only potentially relevant year).

And oh, dear, even without the EU-10, the EU-15, "Old Europe" – a smaller economy than the US's – increased emissions by 161.67 MMT to the US's 133.5 over the same period; that is our climate hectors have increased real emissions more than the US’s, in real terms, by 21%.

So there is no need to rely on the "in percentage terms" qualifier when noting that Europe's emissions have risen faster than the US's (as Kyoto defines Europe). Instead, it appears that [b]Europe's emissions[/b] (as Kyoto defines Europe, and certainly as Europe defines Europe, including for these purposes) [b]have not only increased much faster than the US's but also that the EU has increased CO2 emissions much more than the US.[/b] - [url=

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Here is part of a [url= program for social transformation[/url], developed during the recent Asia-Europe People’s Forum in Beijing. Only the "environment" portion is quoted here, but there is much more to the program:


• Introduce a global system of compensation for countries which do not exploit fossil fuel reserves in the global interests of limiting effects on the climate, such as Ecuador has proposed.

• Pay reparations to Southern countries for the ecological destruction wrought by the North to assist peoples of the South to deal with climate change and other environmental crises.

• Strictly implement the “precautionary principle” of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development as a condition for all developmental and environmental projects.

• End lending for projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s “Clean Development Mechanism” that are environmentally destructive, such as monoculture plantations of eucalyptus, soya and palm oil.

• Stop the development of carbon trading and other environmentally counter-productive techno-fixes, such as carbon capture and sequestration, agrofuels, nuclear power and ‘clean coal’ technology.

• Adopt strategies to radically reduce consumption in the rich countries, while promoting sustainable development in poorer countries

• Introduce democratic management of all international funding mechanisms for climate change mitigation, with strong participation from Southern countries and civil society.