Five Challenges for Ecosocialists in 2008
Publisher: Canadian Dimension, Winnipeg, Canada
Date Written: 04/11/2007
Year Published: 2007
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX16084
Ecosocialism is not separate from the existing left and green movements, and it is not a structured movement on its own. Rather, it is a current of thought within existing socialist and green-left movements, seeking to win ecology activists to socialism and to convince socialists of the vital importance of ecological issues and struggles.
We don't need to water down our views, but we do need to explain them in plain language, unburdened by scholarly apparatus.
Most socialist writing about climate change does a good job of analyzing the nature and causes of the problem, and a terrible job of explaining about what to do now. All too often, a stirring condemnation of capitalism is followed by a simple assurance that socialism will solve the problem. How socialism will come about and what socialists should do about climate change, now those are unexplained mysteries.
We need to bridge the gap between today's problems and the socialist future.
Unfortunately, green radicals often feed that sentiment by appearing indifferent to the fate of the people who will be directly affected by economic change. Again and again I've heard speeches calling for shutting down the tar sands, or for immediately closing coal-fired power plants. Rarely is anything said about the thousands of men and women who will lose their jobs if those demands are won. What's worse, some greens - especially among those who stress personal lifestyle changes rather than social change - are often openly hostile to the labour movement and to working people's desire for decent jobs and a reasonable standard of living. This approach simply alienates people whose support is absolutely essential.
One of the most important contributions that ecosocialists can make to the broader green movement is a clear focus on the rights of working people to useful jobs that don't destroy our planet. The workers in the tar sands and power plants are not responsible for greenhouse gases, and they should not lose one penny when their bosses are forced to clean up their acts. At the very least, we must insist upon comprehensive retraining programs and fully subsidized relocation programs - at full union pay, with no loss of benefits or pensions.