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Sunday, 28 August 2016

The enemy is not the climate; it’s capitalism

Written by Michael Gasser and first published at Santa Cruz Ecological Justice

In a new article in the New Republic, founder Bill McKibben, probably the world’s most influential climate activist, argues that World War III has begun and that the enemy is climate change.

He goes on to say that we are losing the war, that we should learn from the experience of World War II, that by retooling industry as we did then we can win the war. In making this case, he is largely adopting the position that has been promoted since 2014 by The Climate Mobilization (TCM). A few days after McKibben’s article appeared, TCM’s co-founder Ezra Silk published an extensive “Victory Plan”, which outlines the steps needed to “restore a safe and stable climate”, “reverse ecological overshoot”, and “halt the 6th mass extinction”.

Before going on to say what I think is wrong with McKibben’s and TCM’s position, I want to make it clear that there is much that is certainly right about it. Above all, they recognize the seriousness of the crisis, the fact that many people who are aware of climate change under-estimate the seriousness, and the need for drastic action to solve the crisis.

The problem is that what they are arguing for is not nearly drastic enough. This is because their “war” is against nature, and as such it ultimately relies on technological fixes, rather than challenges to the political and economic system. McKibben rests much of his case on the well-known work of Stanford University engineer Mark Z. Jacobson and his colleagues, who have argued that renewable technologies could replace those based on fossil fuels in the United States within decades. While Jacobson has his critics, his work is undeniably important. What his work shows — and he himself agrees — is that the main obstacles to solving the crisis are not technological but rather political and economic. The question is who controls the technology.

If this is so, then we must look for the enemy elsewhere. In what must be the best-known of all books written on the climate crisis and its causes, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, author Naomi Klein spells it out pretty clearly. The enemy (of the climate and hence of us) is capitalism. Although Klein does not go into much detail about what she actually means by “capitalism”, a number of ecosocialist writers have filled this gap. For an excellent overview, suitable for those who know little about the science of climate change and/or little about capitalism, see David Klein and Stephanie McMillan’s  Capitalism and Climate Change: the Science and Politics of Global Warming. A common theme in this work and others, especially Richard Smith’s Green Capitalism: the God that Failed and Daniel Tanuro’s Green Capitalism: Why It Can’t Work, is that capitalism, by its very nature, is completely incompatible with a just and sustainable future. If capitalism has a “solution” for the climate crisis, one can only imagine a dystopian world where elites survive in isolated islands of livability, protected from the masses of climate refugees on the outside.

McKibben and TCM look to the mobilization that took place in the US during World War II as a model for how the US should now respond to climate change. Much as the US declared war on fascism then, they say it should declare war on climate change today. Silk believes that “America is capable of leading the world in this mobilization”.

As McKibben discusses (though in somewhat different terms), there was a division in the US ruling class in the years before the US entered the war, with some preferring to stay out of the European and East Asian conflicts, and others, including President Roosevelt, eager to be involved. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gave Roosevelt the excuse he needed to pursue war on both fronts. McKibben also discusses the remarkable process by which US industry was retooled to support the war effort.

The ultimate result, of course, was the victory of the US and its allies.

But let’s not forget another outcome of the war effort: the ascendancy of the US to its unchallenged position as the dominant power in the world. Far from weakening the reigning political and economic system, Roosevelt strengthened it immeasurably. This was certainly no accident. Another outcome of the war was the greatly increased power of the US military, both within the US and the world.

If it is the political and economic system that is the problem, then we should not be seeking inspiration in a top-down campaign that served to strengthen that system, leaving it in a position to further devastate the environment and giving us the crisis we face today. Nor should we expect the leaders of the movement that is called for now to be wealthy politicians like FDR and his corporate allies. One only has to look at the outcomes of the annual UN Conference of the Parties meetings to see how hopelessly ineffectual the world’s economic and political leaders have been in addressing the climate crisis.

As Naomi Klein and others have shown, the ecological crisis coincides with other forms of oppression that are integral to capitalism, and those that are the most oppressed by this system are also those most likely to suffer the effects of climate change and other forms of environmental degradation. If World War III has already begun, then it is a war being fought mainly by these people, those in the Unist’ot’en camp in British Columbia defending their land against pipelines and natural gas; those in northern Greece struggling to keep gold mines out of their territory; those in Andhra Pradesh, India, battling the companies trying to create coal-fired power plants on their land; those in South Chicago who have fought to keep pet coke storage facilities out of their neighborhood.  It is these people and their allies elsewhere that should inspire us in the “war” that lies ahead, not politicians and “enlightened” capitalists.

History offers us many examples of people rising up against unjust systems — institutionalized racism, patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism itself — sometimes in armed struggle, sometimes non-violently. History also teaches us that change does not necessarily happen in a linear fashion; crises can create the conditions for very rapid change. In other words, there is actually hope for the sort of revolution that is needed, a revolution that at a minimum will result in democratic control of the economy and a massive redistribution of income on a world-wide scale.

Silk is to be commended for his detailed and extremely useful discussion of the steps that would need to be taken under a full-scale climate mobilization. More than perhaps any other document, his Victory Plan shows the extent of what must be done. But Silk does not tell us how all of this could actually be accomplished within the existing political system. This is beyond the scope of his project: “speculation about the limits of ‘political acceptability’ in the neoliberal era should be left to historians, sociologists, and politicians”.

The choice in the end is simple. Can we win this fight
  1. within the system — by changing the Democratic Party, by hoping to elect “leaders” who will guide us through another mobilization, by expecting “America” to save the world again, by relying on corporate-controlled technology
  2. or only by changing the system — by participating in existing struggles for social justice, by building class consciousness as well as climate consciousness, by enlisting technology in the service of justice, by creating a world-wide network of grassroots movements and a planned global response that radically transforms existing governments, by ultimately taking on capitalism itself, the system that is behind it all?

Friday, 26 August 2016

Green Party Activists Voice Doubts about an Electoral Progressive Alliance

As counting begins in the Green Party leader and deputy leader elections, Caroline Lucas, one of the (joint) candidates for leader, has renewed her call for a progressive alliance of parties of the broad left at the next general election.

But not all activists within the Green Party agree with Lucas, and there is at the very least a degree of scepticism in the party about the viability of such an alliance.

The BBC piece quotes some of them:

David Williams, another leadership contender, said that while he supported of the idea of talking to other parties he believed Labour would not co-operate. He told the BBC: ‘We can make agreements I think with the Liberal Democrats, with Plaid Cymru, with the SNP but the advantages in terms of ousting the Tories as a result of that are quite marginal. They could be quite substantial if Labour would come along and join the alliance but I don't think they will.’

An Oxfordshire Green Party activist Hazel Dawe said a "progressive" alliance would be "a wonderful thing" but believed it was unachievable. She said: ‘I think there are a lot of obstacles to achieving it, not the least of which is that the Labour party is not committed to proportional representation.’

Clive Lord, veteran of the party and a candidate for the Green Party leadership this year writes on his blog:

‘I start from a sceptical position. Labour have understandably done their damnedest to destroy the Green Party wherever we show most signs of a breakthrough – Brighton, Norwich, Bristol, Oxford.’

Andrew Cooper, from Kirkless Green Party and one of the deputy leadership candidates writing on The Norwich Radical says:

‘Labour needs to have a Progressive Alliance with itself before it can really contemplate having one with anyone else. Until Labour hopefully ‘settles down’ into some degree of stability we can’t progress matters with them.’

‘The other issue with Labour is that currently I am not convinced they have that much enthusiasm for Electoral Reform which is the principal rationale for the proposal. Too many Labour MPs and activists seem to be of the ‘one last heave’ brigade, that believe that if the undemocratic First Past the Post system works for them, then somehow that makes it legitimate. Electoral realities may make Labour wake up more quickly with a Party that is now decimated in Scotland and divided across the country. Another worrying sign was when Caroline Lucas’s 10 minute rule bill tabled last week on Electoral Reform was subject to a Labour Whip asking Labour MPs to abstain.’

Another Deputy Leadership candidate Alan Borgars writing on his blog states: ‘It would also deprive so many voters of the chance to vote for a forward-thinking alternative with new ideas and a genuine willingness to change our broken political and socio-economic systems in the UK…The Green Party can win elections without help, and indeed has had to. In fact, it was Labour we won Brighton Pavilion from in the first place back in 2010.’ Alan is a Green Left supporter.

Meanwhile, Ashford Green Party in Kent, passed motions sceptical about the Green Party joining a progressive alliance, and calling for the decision to made by members, not leadership figures in the party. One of the motions contains this paragraph:

‘Ashford Green Party is calling on the leadership and all other members of the party to immediately cease from claiming that the GPEW supports a progressive alliance until a policy is passed by conference or an internal referendum which gives all members a voice on the matter.’

Green Party member Charles Gate from Yorkshire, another supporter of Green Left comments on a post on the Bright Green blog on the issue:

‘First let me rename the ‘progressive alliance’ the ‘Evil Dead Alliance’ – EVIL for the lib dems (for those of you with short memories) who supported the Tories (The Evil Dead Alliance is aimed at Tories remember) for 5 long years of austerity – DEAD for the Labour Party who are not interested in anything but their own internal fighting and who ever wins the leadership that will just lead to continued in-fighting. The Labour party are probably lost for a generation as a meaningful force in politics, they may even be destroyed entirely – ALLIANCE, oh! that will be us the GP and Plaid Cymru...The Green Party leadership need to come up with something better – why not try, we are the Green Party, this is what we stand for?’

And finally a Green Party activist quoted on Left Foot Forward wrote:

‘Every time I hear ‘progressive alliance’ I hear the death knell of radical politics in the party. I hope I’m wrong.’

Personally, I’ve stated on this blog in the past that I would broadly agree to the progressive alliance idea, but I must admit, I’m pretty sceptical myself about whether it will actually happen in the end.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Local Government can nudge us towards Ecosocialism

Conservative run Forest Heath District Council in Suffolk has purchased a 12.4MW solar farm at Toggam Farm in Lakenheath, in their area. The farm is 17.5 hectares in size and has over 47,000 solar panels in operation. It becomes the largest publically owned solar farm in the UK and will produce enough electricity to power 3000 homes, plus cut the carbon footprint by the equivalent of 2000 cars.

The farm cost £14.5 million pounds but is expected to deliver £300,000 per year (over and above the cost of repaying the loan used to buy it), in revenue to the council during the first ten years and £700,000 per year thereafter. The revenue, at least at first, will come from selling power into the National Grid.

But the council has some longer term plans for selling the energy generated by the farm. Cllr Stephen Edwards, Forest Heath’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance said:

“In the future, the solar farm could provide energy to West Suffolk councils’ offices and our leisure centres, helping us and our partners to save money on energy costs on top of the income it will bring in, while further down the line there may also be opportunities to benefit our communities as well, although this is dependent on the energy market.

“We plan to lobby the Government to relax charges over the generation and supply of energy to local markets. If successful that could allow us to offer our own branded tariffs to local businesses, providing them for the first time with stable energy supply costs, which in turn would help support local economic growth.

“We would also like to be able to offer something similar to the vulnerable members of our community and will continue to explore how we can overcome the barriers in the market, in order to make this a reality.”  

Now, this is a Tory council, and the motivation for this initiative is driven by cuts to local authority funding from central government, but it does have the potential to become an outline sketch of a move towards ecosocialist practice.

Ecosocialism, or the strain of ecosocialism that I follow anyway, wants energy generation taken out of the hands of the large corporations with their large scale plants, and instead to be generated by local communities themselves, and shared in that community and perhaps with neighbouring communities. No profit motive involved. Energy supplied for need, not greed, you could say.

This has the benefit of reducing energy loss between remote power stations and the end users, which is a considerable waste of energy in the current set up. Also, it would allow us to push the corporations out of our lives, with their rip off prices and generally polluting forms of power generation.

Having local government take over this role of local generation, is not ideal, but it is better than what we have at present, and can be viewed as delivering similar benefits to community owned generation. It can also be viewed as a stepping stone to a fully ecocentric form of production.

The idea in Suffolk is to feed the electricity generated by the solar farm into the National Grid, which is wasteful and centralising, with the need for transmission from farm to power station and then onward to end users, but you can see from the quote from Cllr Stephen Edwards, they are looking at purely localised generation and use in the longer run.

This is an interesting development, full of potential for radical ecosocialists, and one which we should welcome, and look to build on in other areas of the country. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Of course there are ‘Trotskyists’ in the Labour Party

Written by Dee Searle

The highly entertaining Labour leadership contest has taken a bizarre turn, with the Party’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson claiming to have evidence of “Trostkyist” infiltration into the Labour Party and Leader Jeremy Corbyn accusing Watson of talking “nonsense”. The reality is that they are both talking nonsense: of course there are “Trotskyists” in the Labour Party (and former Communists, anarchists, Liberals, Greens and even Tories – both signed-up members and ideological sympathisers, such as Tony Blair). Just as the Conservative Party contains various closet UKIPers, Bullingdonists and even the Monday Club which was founded in 1961, in the belief that the Macmillan government had taken the party too far to the left. That’s just the nature of politics.

But it’s also nonsense for Watson to claim that among the thousands of new Labour Party members who joined to support Corbyn are caucuses and factions that will “end up destroying the institutions that are vulnerable, unless you deal with it.” Apart from demonstrating a long-held and probably irrelevant fixation on one particular anti-Stalinist Russian (a young politically active friend asked, in all innocence: “who is Trotsky and why is he such a problem?”), Watson appears to be ignoring the history of the Labour Party.

Labour was created (rather than destroyed) when several left-wing groups, including the Independent Labour Party, the intellectual and largely middle-class FabianSociety, the Social Democratic Federation and the Scottish Labour Party, came together in the late nineteenth century. Their aim was to provide political representation to the growing urban proletariat and working class males, who had recently been given the right to vote.

Even in those early days the more radical elements gave the leadership grief. During the First World War, mainstream Labour supported Herbert Asquith’s Liberal-led war-time coalition government, whereas the Independent Labour Party was instrumental in opposing conscription through organisations such as the Non-Conscription Fellowship, while a Labour Party affiliate, the British Socialist Party, organised a number of unofficial strikes. 

Tensions between the Labour leadership and the party’s various tendencies and philosophies are the norm. Those of us not suffering short-term memory loss might well remember the 1980s and 1990s, when Labour Leader Neil Kinnock confronted the Militant tendency, a left-wing group, based around the Militant newspaper. Militant attempted to defy the leadership’s position by organising rebellions against a number of Conservative government initiatives, such as restrictions on local authority spending and the Poll Tax. Its leaders and most of its membership were expelled via a series of purges. Militant dissolved in 1991 and reconstituted itself as Militant Labour, which became the Socialist Party in 1997.

A notable exception to inner-Labour Party agitation was the New Labour years, which were the culmination of a project in the 1990s by the right of the party, gathered around Tony Blair and influencers such as Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown, to rid themselves of turbulent elements through changes to the constitution and imposition of leadership-approved right-leaning and/or compliant Parliamentary candidates – hence the conflict between Corbyn and much of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Corbyn and supporting MPs, such as John McDonell and Diane Abbott, are largely survivors from pre-Blair times.

The uncharacteristically less unruly New Labour brought electoral success between 1997 and 2005. But following defeats in 2010 and 2015, the benefits of New Labour’s rightwards drift were questioned, resulting in Corbyn’s election as Leader and (to the horror of the “modernisers”) a potential return to Labour’s broad church of numerous philosophies and groups.

Even the most hard-hearted impartial observer can understand the frustration of Watson and his sympathisers in the Parliamentary leadership and National Executive that the radicals they thought they had eradicated are now re-emerging via the Socialist Party and other left-wing groups such as the Trade Unionist and Socialist CoalitionLeft Unity, the Socialist Workers Party and the Alliance for Workers' Liberty. Members of many of these groups are active in Momentum, the grassroots organisation founded in 2015 shortly after Corbyn’s original election to the Labour leadership, which is campaigning vigorously for his re-election.

The Labour leadership’s response has been to return to some good old tried-and-tested banishing, for example via the (so far) successful bid by the Labour Party’s National Executive to bar some 130,000 new members, who joined less than six months ago, from voting in the forthcoming poll between Corbyn and challenger Owen Smith for the Labour leadership. The imposition of a freeze date was ostensibly to reduce the administrative burden of verifying thousands of new members. However, Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol admitted at the Court of Appeal hearing that Labour was concerned about members joining with the sole purpose of voting in the election rather than participating in the party more widely. Both Corbyn and Smith’s camps are firmly of the view that the majority of new members joined to support Corbyn.

It’s ironic that while Tom Watson and his allies attack the idea of left groups organising within the party, Labour organisers consistently call on members of other parties nationally and locally to vote for or join Labour to “kick out the Tories”. They seem to miss the logic that when a party tries to claim hegemony over left-leaning voters, members of left-wing groups might want to join and influence the party that purports to represent their interests.

They have also so far dismissed the more honest and fool-proof, if longer-term, solution to entryism: proportional representation (PR) for general elections, which would enable different political strands to openly present their platforms to voters rather than trying to influence the one apparently left-of-centre party. It’s not such an unthinkable concept. PR, in a variety of guises, is used to elect Parliaments in 21 out of 28 Western European countries. Each produces a parliament that more closely reflects the democratic preferences of the electorate than Britain’s archaic first-past-the-post (FPTP) system and, arguably, results in richer political debate in and outside parliament.

Labour did not support the alternative vote PR system proposed in the 2011 referendum. Some prominent Labour Party figures, such as John McDonnell, have since called on the party to support PR but most leading party figures still oppose it, despite the Conservatives winning the 2015 General Election based on support from just 24 per cent of those eligible to vote. Of particular dismay to Labour was the result in Scotland, where the Scottish National Party won 56 of the 59 seats based on 50 per cent of the vote.

The official reasons given by Labour for opposing PR include the possible loss of MPs’ local accountability if the constituencies are too large, the impact of boundary changes and the likely increase in Parliamentary representation for far-right parties such as UKIP. An unofficial (but probably more relevant) reason is that the party’s organisation and political positioning in recent decades has been based on playing the FPTP system for all its worth by winning over floating voters in key marginal constituencies. Hence the suppression of left-wing debate and focus on middle-ground, middle-England politics. It would be a major shake-up for Labour to develop genuinely progressive, innovative policies to try to win over hearts and minds in PR-based elections. Even worse, PR might mean having to share power and forge alliances with the wide range of Socialist, Communist and Green parties typical of many European parliaments.

Yet, Labour’s leadership might have to overcome its distaste of PR if it is to stand a chance of forming a government in the foreseeable future. The substantial pro-Brexit vote among Labour supporters in the EU referendum and the rise of UKIP indicates that the party may no longer be able to count on victory in formerly safe Labour seats outside of London and the South-East. Similarly, support for the SNP in former Scottish safe Labour seats remains strong.

And, possibly most importantly for this most navel-gazing of parties, it might be the best way of reducing the numbers of turbulent priests in the party’s supposedly multi-denominational broad church.

Dee Searle is a member of the Green Party Executive Committee and founding editor of Red Pepper magazine and a Green Left Supporter

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The ecosocialist imperative - Review of Michael Lowy's book Ecosocialism

Written by Hannah Holleman and first published at International Socialist Review

Ecosocialism is an important introduction to Marxist strategies to stop environmental destruction. It assumes even greater importance since the 2015 United Nations summit on climate change in Paris demonstrated the inability of capitalist states to provide a solution to the ecological crisis. Despite years of protests and lobbying at such summits, environmentalists have failed to influence the masters of the system. It is time for environmentalists to adopt a new theory and strategy.

Löwy lays out the ecosocialist alternative to capitalism. Ecosocialism asserts that “only a collective and democratic reorganization of the productive system could . . . satisfy real social needs, reduce labor time, suppress useless and/or dangerous production, and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.” All of society’s productive forces must be subject to “a democratic, ecosocialist plan.”

Löwy traces the development of ecosocialist ideas, particularly since the 1970s. This overview provides a useful introduction to the development of Marxist thinking on the environment, especially for those new to the subject. Löwy stresses that while reforms are necessary, they are not a solution to capitalism’s ecological crisis. Ecosocialists must convince their fellow activists to connect the struggle for immediate change to a more substantive socio-ecological transformation. In the short term, we must fight for reforms such as the construction of public transportation instead of new automobile infrastructure, and a ban on toxic substances in the water, soil, and atmosphere; we must reject the system of debt and neoliberal structural adjustment imposed on countries around the world, and take measures to address unemployment, such as reducing work time.

However such reform efforts are insufficient to create an ecologically sustainable society. They address neither the root causes of ecological crises, nor keep pace with the destructive tendencies of the system. We have to connect the movements for reform to a broader strategy of revolutionary change.

“The struggle for ecosocial reforms can be the vehicle for dynamic change, a ‘transition’ between minimal demands and the maximal program,” Löwy writes, “provided one rejects the pressure and the arguments of the ruling interests for ‘competitiveness’ and ‘modernization’ in the name of the ‘rules of the market.’” He makes the point that “each success, even if limited, if won through collective action, is a step in the right direction and, above all, an advance in the people’s acquisition of consciousness and self-organization—the main conditions for transcendence of the system.”

As an alternative to the anarchy of the capitalist system, one goal of ecosocialism is “global democratic planning.” Often the concepts of socialism and planning are equated with centralized state bureaucracy. Löwy provides an important clarification. The point of ecosocialist planning is the extension of democracy into the economic sphere so that the working class can collectively define its own needs and make rational decisions about production.

Under capitalism, corporations and their states organize production based on profitability. Historically the working class has won improvements in working conditions and wages, introduced some aspects of worker control in a small percentage of factories, and attempted to address issues of racial and gender inequality. However the global ruling class ceaselessly attacks the modest gains that have been won. Global trade agreements make it easier for corporations to relocate if profitability is impacted by local regulations to protect the environment and worker safety. Companies use the threat of relocation to impose harsh labor conditions and ecological costs onto local communities.

Capitalists decide what goods and services workers will produce, and the conditions under which they will produce them. Workers then confront the products of their labor as consumers in a marketplace of commodities. As consumers, workers exercise limited choice, in a context that is heavily conditioned by advertising. Löwy highlights advertising as a key mechanism of the rule of capital and a driving force in the global ecological crisis.

Advertising pollutes our physical and psychological landscape. Advertisers promote the idea that the choice between Coke and Pepsi is a meaningful one, while disguising the absence of real choice and democracy at the core of the global system of production. Ecosocialists see the “suppression of harassment by advertising” as a necessary step toward creating the “conditions under which people can, little by little, discover their real needs and qualitatively change their ways of consumption.”

While some environmentalists blame the ecological crisis on over-consumption and individual consumer choices, Löwy argues that we need to examine the root causes of consumption. Calling for a limit on aggressive advertising “is an environmental duty” that challenges the logic of capital, and allows us to wage “the fight for a different civilizational paradigm.”

How do we link the immediate struggles for environmental reform to the long-term goal of revolutionary transformation? Löwy answers this by pointing to specific examples of popular struggle such as The Forest People’s Alliance to stop the destruction of the Amazon. Chico Mendes, the socialist and union organizer, united rural workers and indigenous communities into a solid movement against multinationals and local landowners.

The Forest People’s Alliance fought against the dispossession of indigenous people, the clear-cutting the forests for lumber, and the further establishment of plantations and ranches. While destruction of the Amazon continues, and Mendes himself assassinated, Löwy explains the importance of learning from the work of the Alliance. It points a way toward “alternative models of development, symbolized by models of socio-environmentalism that combine sustainable management of natural resources with the valorization of local practices and knowledge.”

Löwy concludes the book with a broader discussion of the Indigenous environmental struggle mainly in Latin America. He shows how these movements have shaped leftist governments in Latin America and confronted domestic as well as multinational corporations. He briefly discusses cross-sector meetings such as the World Social Forum and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba. However, since the book targets an English-reading audience, it would have been useful to include a discussion of Indigenous struggle in the Global North. The book could also have benefited from a concluding chapter to draw out the lessons of rural struggles in Latin America for readers who are unfamiliar with this history.

While he makes a spirited case for ecosocialism, Löwy does concede to the claim that Marxism has a so-called “productivist” tendency that privileges industrial development over the environment. He cites the Soviet Union as an example. In reality, the Soviet Union’s notorious ecological crisis and its lack of workers’ democracy demonstrate how little it has in common with the tradition initiated by Marx and Engels.

As John Bellamy Foster demonstrated in Marx’s Ecology, Marx and Engels developed a profound ecological critique of capitalism and bourgeois ideas about “progress” that come at the expense of the environment. Nevertheless, Ecosocialism is a useful introduction to the subject. Löwy provides short-term movement goals that oppose the logic of capital, and calls for broader social transformation to establish a democratically planned socialist society that puts people and the planet first.

Friday, 19 August 2016

US Liberal Hate for the Green Party

This post has shades of what is happening here in the UK Labour Party

Written by Margaret Kimberley and published at Counterpunch

Liberals have joined Hillary Clinton’s “big nasty tent” in a very big way. They have moved far beyond the usual rationales for sticking with the Democrats and are now carrying on a full-fledged hate fest. Their targets are Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, who is also a Black Agenda Report editor and columnist.

The screeds have become more and more extreme and defy the run of the mill rationales that progressives use to justify remaining within Democratic Party lines. Holding one’s nose and voting for the “lesser evil” democrat is passé. So is fear of Republican judicial appointments. Concern for abortion rights doesn’t cut it anymore.

Liberals are no longer going through the motions of criticizing the Democrat. Instead they openly show love for Hillary Clinton and disdainfully pile on Stein and Baraka with fury. The blog Wonkette called Jill Stein “cunty” and “a mendacious nihilist piece of shit.” The site Very Smart Brothas declared that a vote for Stein was akin to putting it in the trash. They also threw in a dig at Cornel West because he dared to criticize Barack Obama. The Huffington Post chose to deride Green Party convention delegates because they ate at McDonald’s. Gawker tried to link Ajamu Baraka to holocaust denial. His unassailable human rights credentials didn’t mean much when the media decided to go into attack mode.

The list is long and will get longer between now and Election Day. The degree of antipathy is actually quite useful. It tells us why the Green Party is so important and why liberals are such a dangerous enemy.

They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They spend years wringing their hands because Republicans control state legislatures but when the recently released DNC emails show that the party starves local races of money they say nothing. When they spoke up at all they made a big deal about a spurious Russian hacker connection to Donald Trump.

There is no longer any pretense of claiming a desire for systemic change or even calling themselves progressives. They are “with her” — as the slogan goes — and her illegal activities and record of mass killing don’t dissuade them from supporting her.

Liberals don’t want the Democrats to change. They cling to a bizarre hope for reform, nibbling around the edges while keeping the criminals in charge. They prefer to look down their noses at Trump supporters or consider themselves the cool kids in the high school clique. When they have an opportunity to make history and begin the process of dismantling the hold of the Democratic Party they instead become quite vicious on their behalf.

Donald Trump is the perfect foil for their con game. His open appeals to racism and unpredictable statements and behavior give them an excuse to do nothing except make excuses for the very crooked Mrs. Clinton.

They don’t even feign concern when Republicans who contributed to Chris Christie and John Kasich start doling out dollars to Hillary. They long ago gave up on fighting for peace and just as the name Trump is a one-word attack ad, questions about foreign policy turn into harangues directed against Vladimir Putin.

Liberals have sided with the ruling classes and resist anyone pointing out the truth. While they falsely accuse Jill Stein of being anti-vaccine, even after she clearly stated she was pro-vaccine, American police departments keep up their body count. The United States risks war with China and Russia and unemployment is still high. But they say nothing about any of those issues. They cheerlead for Hillary Clinton just as they did for Barack Obama and will say nothing against her once she is in office.

The election of 2016 will be a notable one in history but for all the wrong reasons. Millions of people voted for the not-so-left wing Bernie Sanders who wasn’t serious about denying Clinton the nomination. Yet it must be said that they wanted change within the Democrat Party. He left his followers high and dry and made the case for the people who feared and scorned his half-hearted campaign.

While Democrats were confused about what made a candidate a progressive, the Republicans were following a new leader. Donald Trump was a political novice who used free media attention and blatant appeals to white nationalism to win the nomination. But Trump makes statements which don’t sit well with the Republican establishment. He went on record saying that the trade deals beloved by the duopoly are harming American workers. He asked reasonable questions about United States/Russian relations. He was then used to invent numerous lies about the Russian president, who was already demonized by the media and the ruling classes.

Liberals are now quite deranged and applaud a woman who will crush their feeble agenda as soon as she says the oath of office. Progressives and big money Republicans are now on the same page and that is why Stein and Baraka face so much scrutiny and so many big lies.

The Green Party’s existence is proof that the Democratic Party emperor has no clothes. The logical progression of success for the Greens is the end of the party which claims to be more inclusive and the champion of working people and human rights. It does none of those things while the party which actually articulates these policies has been designated an enemy.

In this case the enemies of the enemy are most definitely our friends.
Margaret Kimberley writes the Freedom Rider column for Black Agenda Report, where this essay originally appeared. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

This Blog Could be used as Evidence of Entryism in the Labour Party

James Patterson, a Labour Councillor in Haringey was a Green Party candidate in the same ward

Along with anti-Semitism, sexism, losing the EU referendum, being incapable of compromise and being unelectable as Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn is now accused of encouraging ‘entryism’ to the Labour Party.

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has said that although not all new members come into this category, ‘old hands are twisting young arms,’ and these Machiavellian types don’t have the best interests of the Labour Party at heart.

I dare say a few ex Labour members who left in despair at what Tony Blair had turned the Labour Party into, have returned to the fold under Corbyn’s leadership. But to claim that they are taking advantage of young, idealistic new members to push their revolutionary agenda is patronising to the newer members, and lacks anything in the way of evidence.

Watson quotes some statements from the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) blogsite, Shiraz Socialist, as evidence of this entryism, but it is pretty flimsy stuff. The AWL has disbanded and urged its members to join the Labour Party, so what? They don’t have many more than a hundred members anyway, and incidentally they argued for Remaining in the European Union at the recent referendum. 

Not a standard ‘Trot’ line to take, judging by other far left groupings stance on the issue. I’m assuming all these people will be denied membership of Labour, under the entryism argument, even if they haven’t stood against Labour at an election in the last five years, which is apparently the rule.

Contrast this with the case of ex Tory MP, Shaun Woodward, who was elected as a Tory MP in 1997, but was allowed to defect to new Labour in 1999, and was given a safe seat in St Helen’s South in 2001. It was said that he employed a butler. Wikipedia says this about him:

‘’He added a seventh property to his property portfolio in January 2010 and now has a £1M apartment in an alpine resort, along with a £1.35M London flat, a £7M property in the Hamptons, a £5M villa in Mustique, a house in the south of France, a £2M townhouse and a modest £85,000 home in his former St. Helens constituency.”

I take it the five year rule did not apply in 1999, or is entryism just allowable for Tories?

Closer to home, in Haringey where I live, James Patterson, who had been a Labour member in Brighton, moved to Haringey and joined the Green Party in 2008. He stood at a council by-election in the same year, for the Green Party, and again at the full council elections in 2010. He was also the campaign manager for our council target ward.

After the 2010 general election, he resigned from the Green Party and re-joined the Labour Party, ‘to vote for Ed Miliband for leader,’ as he told me at the time. In 2014 he was elected as a Labour councillor (in the same ward he had stood as a Green), so no five year rule in 2014 either? Or is this somehow different from the entryism that is apparently plaguing the Labour Party in 2016?

The constituency Labour Party where James Patterson is a member, Hornsey and Wood Green, is one of the few constituency parties who are backing Owen Smith for Labour leader. Patterson was also one of the local Labour councillors who signed an open petition supporting the recent Labour MPs vote of no confidence in Corbyn as Labour leader.

Some Corbyn supporting Labour members have asked me to join Labour, but I last stood against Labour, as a Green, in the 2014 council elections, so I expect they would reject me, and I’ve written dozens of blog posts here which are critical of the Labour Party, especially before Corbyn became leader.

Either way, I’m not minded to try and join Labour anyway, to test my theory. It does seem as though there is good entryism and bad entryism according to the Labour Party. Or maybe if they just suspect people might support Corbyn for leader, they are barred? Answers on a postcard, please.