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Greece, a story without the distorting prism of SYRIZA

Greece, a story without the distorting prism of SYRIZA

APTOPIX Greece General Strike

Protesters chant slogans in Athens during an anti-austerity nationwide general strike on May 17, 2017. Greek workers walked off the job across the country. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

By MANOS SKOUFOGLOU

— ATHENS — During recent years, the debate on Greece has not been just a debate among the other ones. The particular intensity of the crisis, of the capitalist attack and of the social fightback, as well as the emergence of a party of reformist origin that finally managed to take power, in coalition with a nationalist right-wing party—all these have made Greece the point of reference for five years. The catastrophic experience of SYRIZA has marked not only the end of an era for the workers’ movement in Greece, but also the impasse of the political strategy that advocated a “broad left party” and an “anti-austerity government”.

Unfortunately, this strategy was not only promoted by reformist parties, but also by the majority of the anti-capitalist left around the world. Most left leaderships were so enthusiastic about the perspective of a SYRIZA government that they wouldn’t even discuss the possibility of an independent anti-capitalist formation in Greece or listen to what Greek revolutionary organizations had to say about the character and role of SYRIZA.

SYRIZA was the undisputed model for a strategic project in the context of which political, organizational, and electoral unity with reformists was absolutely instrumental. Now that this project has collapsed on the heads of the Greek working class, the vast majority of the proponents of this strategy is stubbornly avoiding an honest balance-sheet. After SYRIZA imposed the harsh 3rd austerity pact (memorandum) in July 2015, most of them wrote hasty articles blaming their former hero, Tsipras, for being either a traitor or so naïve as to think that he could negotiate with the lenders, and then just left Greece aside and started envisioning the same project as SYRIZA in other countries.

As a leader of the Fourth International said in the International Committee of February 2017, “If something proves wrong at some point, it doesn’t mean it was already wrong in the first place.” According to that, one can claim that nothing is ever wrong. Things just change.

If we need a clear balance sheet of the Greek experience, though, this is exactly because the same strategy is attempted in other countries. We think that comrades who are trying to draw their conclusions from Greece may find it useful to read what the members of the Greek Section of the FI, OKDE-Spartakos, have supported during all those years and why they have opted from the very beginning to not follow or “critically” support SYRIZA, but to build an independent anti-capitalist project, ANTARSYA, instead. Anyone who follows the evolution of our positions step by step can ascertain that, unlike the vast majority of left narratives, our opposition to SYRIZA is not a post-,Christum prophecy.

Recent stories about Greece are like modern fairy-tails, full of inaccuracies, myths and “wishful thinking”. This is our modest contribution to the demystification of the recent political history of this country.

Has SYRIZA been an expression of the rise of the social movement?

Most international left people would reply “yes” with no hesitation. SYRIZA represented the mass movement, and this is why we should have all supported it. However, this is not exactly true. SYRIZA did receive the majority of the votes of the working class and the poor strata, and this could not have happened if it wasn’t for the mass movement that developed in the country. However, SYRIZA was never organically linked with the movement.

The party had always a very small membership, with particularly few workers and unionists. SYRIZA did never lead a single mass movement or workers’ strike, and its intervention in class struggles was always marginal. To present SYRIZA as a party of the mass movement is a myth. Its relation with the working class and the oppressed was a relation of electoral representation. Even this relation, though, was consolidated not during, but after the culmination point of the mass movement.

During the hot period 2010-2012, SYRIZA was only polling poor results. It skyrocketed not before the spring of 2012, when the mass movement had already retreated. Struggles, sometimes important ones, went and are still going on; however, the movement never reached the level of the period between May 2010 and Feb. 12, 2012, which was the last really huge demonstration. One reason for this setback was definitely the easy solution that SYRIZA proposed: wait for the election to vote for a left, anti-austerity government. SYRIZA has not been an expression of the rising mass movement, but an expression of its fatigue and deceleration. And it has also been a reason for this deceleration.

Was there any strategic alternative to the proposal for a left government?

During the peak of the mass movement in Greece, and especially after June 2011, both SYRIZA and the Communist Party (KKE) rushed to ask for elections. SYRIZA finally proved to be more convincing, because, unlike KKE, they promised a left government that would abolish the austerity agreements (memoranda). This promise was not only fraudulent, but also harmful, as it fostered passive anticipation and the assignment of the struggle against austerity to a parliamentary leadership. Ever since 2011, SYRIZA has been declaring that the mass movement has shown its limit, and it is time to give a “political” (that is electoral) solution.

But no government can save the people, if the people are not organized and determined to save themselves. The calls of OKDE-Spartakos and other anti-capitalist groups for generalized self-organization was confronted with skepticism or sarcasm by the majority of the left, who argued that it would be invented and utopian to speak of councils or soviets in a situation where such things simply don’t exist. Soviets, or anything else, will never exist if nobody proposes them.

However, self-organization structures existed. The Syntagma square hosted a daily people’s assembly for nearly two months. The assembly formed sub-committees charged with various tasks. A self-organized radio station was installed on the square. Several everyday popular assemblies were created in different neighborhoods of Athens and in almost all relatively big cities of the country. People were asking: what if we had not a parliament that we vote for every four years? How else could power be organized?

It was possible to build an alternative proposal based on those, limited but actual and important, experiences of self-organization. It was possible to call for assemblies in workplaces as well. It was possible to propose that local assemblies elect their revocable representatives and turn the Syntagma Square into a national assembly. It was possible to explain that this assembly represents working people much better than the parliament and the government, and should thus claim power for itself. It was possible, even if very hard, to put forward a concrete revolutionary perspective. But SYRIZA could only fiercely oppose this perspective, and the Communist Party as well. The anti-capitalist left did try, but it was still weak and not well prepared.

Was SYRIZA something different from a reformist party?

Militants coming from revolutionary Marxism have developed a large spectrum of theories to deny the reformist character of SYRIZA before it took power, in order to justify their support to the party. They were those who saw an anti-capitalist party in SYRIZA. Alan Thornett (of the British FI section) was definitely not the only one who could claim that “the leadership of SYRIZA wants to trigger the overthrow of capitalism” as late as the eve of the accession of the party to power in 2015 (http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3358). Today, the experience of the SYRIZA-ANEL government makes it needless to confront the embarrassing idea that the leadership of SYRIZA ever wanted to overthrow capitalism.

A different idea was that SYRIZA represents a new kind of reformism where “bureaucratic crystallization is not as strong as it is in the leaderships of the Communist parties of Europe” (F. Sabado, April 25, 2013, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2951)).

Our remarks that this is not exactly true were ignored. In terms of party bureaucracy, the leadership around Tsipras proved much more indisputable than the leaderships of the social-democratic PASOK or the right New Democracy. “But it lacked links to the state bureaucracy,” the same comrades retorted. This was no more correct. In relation to its small size, SYRIZA had a large number of long-time national or local deputies, municipal councilors, cadres in the state apparatus, in the administration of universities, etc. The only reason why the party was not more actively involved in the management of the system is that it was very small, and nobody would offer them this opportunity. However, as soon as SYRIZA appeared ready to win the election, it immediately adopted entire sectos of the social-democratic state, local government, and unionist bureaucracy. As for its will to manage the system, there was nothing exceptional in the reformism of SYRIZA.

Was the program of SYRIZA a “grain of sand in the machinery” of the system?

The program of SYRIZA was getting more and more conservative and rudimentary before the party came to power. The celebrated Thessaloniki program of 2014 already rejected a large part of the program of 2012, and the program of January 2015 already refrained from the promises of the Thessaloniki program. But, of course, none of the modest promises of this last program were applied by the SYRIZA government. The international supporters of SYRIZA for “no sacrifice for the euro” and failed to see that behind the refuection of the demand for rupture with the euro and the EU, there was no anti-nationalist purpose but only unwillingness to break with any capitalist institution.

As soon as it won the elections, SYRIZA made it clear that its real slogan was “any sacrifice for the euro.” As for their supposed anti-nationalist sentiments, SYRIZ formed a government with the nationalist right party of Independent Greeks (ANEL).

The enthusiasm of the international SYRIZA supporters made them see promises as already accomplished facts. Wishful thinking turned into pure fiction! According to a member of the Fourth International Bureau, SYRIZA was a “grain of sand in the machinery,” as it “returned the legal minimum wage to its former level (751 euros,” “dissolved the entity created by the Troika to manage privatizations” and “canceled the sale fo the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki” (E. Toussaint, Feb. 12, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3862).

Of course, none of these ever happened, and the government never claimed any of those reforms. As soon as it was elected, theSYRIZA government started negotiating with the bourgeois class and the international capitalist institutions, and soon totally aligned with them. This was dictated by its reformist character, and was thus absolutely predictable. There is nothing exceptional in the reformism of SYRIZA regarding this issue as well; in the crucial moment, reformism backs the capitalist camp.

On the IV website, we have read several times that “the comrades of the KKE and ANTARSYA made an elementary error in seeing SYRIZA’s proposal for a left government as something that would simply manage capitalism” (R. Fidler, 17 Aug 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4176). Now, in the light of the experience of the SYRIZA government, who made an “elementary error”?

Would the election of a left government bring self-confidence and combativity to the people?

Another usual justification for the support to SYRIZA was that, even if a SYRIZA government could not confront austerity, it could raise class self-confidence and trigger mass mobilizations, or even a pre-revolutionary situation. In the words of a comrade who was convinced that a “Syriza-led anti-austerity government of the left” would be “a workers’ government in Marxist parlance,” “a pre-revolutionary situation could quickly emerge if Syriza is elected and implements its programme (A. Thornett, June 16, 2012, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2654).

This abstract scenario was utterly refuted by facts. No progressive reforms or “emergency” measures were implemented. SYRIZA’s broken promises did not bring combativity but disillusionment and confusion. Passivity and parliamentary expectations, both nurtured by SYRIZA and its supporters, had rendered the people unprepared for a new round of strikes.

The resistance of the working class against the introduction of the third austerity pact (memorandum) in July 2015 was weaker than the one against the first and second memoranda. The situation got worse afterwards. The pension reform of 2016 and the fourth austerity pact of May 2017 were imposed with almost no reaction. Social anger will probably explode again, and we are counting on that. But it is undoubted that the SYRIZA government did not favor workers’ mobilization. On the contrary, it was the government that managed to restrain, and thus suppress, social and workers’ reactions more than any previous one amid the crisis.

Do workers and the people trust those who stand alongside them in reformist projects?

One of the innumerable arguments that always concluded that everybody should support SYRIZA is that, if SYRIZA fails to deliver on its promises, its base will revolt and follow the left wing of the party. People would trust the left wing more than the anti-capitalist opposition outside SYRIZA, because it is with the former that they have fought together for years.

A very old and dogmatic concept was repeated here: revolutionaries should stand alongside the working class in labour parties so as to gain their trust, and be ready to lead them out of those parties when the leadership betrays them. However, SYRIZA was never a massive party, with a vivid internal life and strong bonds between the leadership and the rank and file.

The period is not the same anymore, neither are parties. The above abstract scenario failed altogether. The Left Platform of SYRIZA did create a split and leave the party after the third memorandum to create Popular Unity. But they only attracted a small minority of the SYRIZA members. A large part among those who left SYRIZA is not in Popular Unity.

Even more, Popular Unity has been in a constant state of crisis ever since its creation. Organizations and tendencies abandon the project one after another, and the party is in no position to take any substantial initiative. The rank and file of SYRIZA did not trust them—and why would they, since the leadership of Popular Unity has always been an organic part of SYRIZA, including four first-class ministers in its first cabinet.

The crisis of the Popular Unity is far worse than the pressures that ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist left front), the Communist Party, or anarchist groups suffer because of the setback in the mass movement. Being long-time members of SYRIZA did not help the Popular Unity be a massive party. On the contrary, to not have been in SYRIZA is not an obstacle when we approach former SYRIZA militants in the mass movement. We respect militants who left SYRIZA to join Popular Unity and want to work with them in the mass movement, but we don’t approve their political project for a “patriotic anti-austerity front” and for a second, honest SYRIZA.

Did the leadership of the Fourth International support SYRIZA?

It has been recently claimed by members of the Fourth International Bureau that the FI leadership never officially supported SYRIZA. However, this is unfortunately not correct. In fact, all international revolutionary leaderships with some influence, with maybe only a couple of exceptions, supported SYRIZA.

The CWI and IMT did it in every official way possible, since being part of broad reformist parties is an instrumental element of their politics. However, currents that are typically building a project for independent anti-capitalist formations have also actually backed SYRIZA in Greece, even contrary to the position of their Greek sections.

Although the Greek IST section (SEK) participates in ANTARSYA and never joined or voted for SYRIZA, pronounced members of the British SWP expressed their direct or indirect support to SYRIZA. Even after the formation of the SYRIZA-ANEL government, Alex Callinikos maintained that “revolutionary socialists should celebrate the new government’s victory and support the progressive measures it takes” (even if it took none), and thought that it is “great” to have “senior ministers coming from the left wing of SYRIZA,” although recognizing it is also risky (A. Callinikos in a debate with Stathis Kouvelakis, http://greece.trendolizer.com/2015/02/syriza-and-socialist-strategy—stathis-kouvelakis-and-alex-callinicos.html).

Even Altamira of the Argentine Partido Obrero and the CRFI called for a vote to SYRIZA “under the banner of a rupture with the EU, for the United Socialist States, for a workers’ government” in the 11th Congress of the PO, although the Greek section of the CRFI followed an independent project.

Unfortunately, the case was even worse with the Fourth International leadership. Renowned members have repeatedly visited Greece as invited speakers in SYRIZA meetings, without consulting or even informing the Greek section. FI cadres served as economic advisors to Tsipras and as close collaborators to the former SYRIZA President of the Parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou. The current Minister of the State and Government Spokesperson, Tzanakopoulos, takes pride in having been a member of the British section a few years ago, while being a first-class cadre of SYRIZA at the same time.

The official positions of the Fourth International Bureau were more cautious, but in fact no less explicit. The Bureau’s permanent position was that anti-capitalists should join SYRIZA or an alliance led by SYRIZA, for a left anti-austerity government. In May 2012, it stated clearly that everybody should unite under the emergency programme of SYRIZA: “The Fourth International calls on the whole of the international workers’ movement, on all the indignant, on all those who defend the ideals of the Left, to support such an emergency programme … we call for the coming together of all the forces which are fighting against austerity in Greece—Syriza, Antarsya, the KKE, the trade unions and the other social movements—around an emergency plan” (FI Bureau Statement, 24 May 2012, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2626).

In its reply to the letter of the Greek section, who complained for this statement, the FI Bureau was clear: “Our answer, like that of almost all the sections of the International, is clear: it is necessary to support Syriza” (June 9, 2012).

The FI leadership position was not much different in 2015. Before the January election that brought SYRIZA to power, a series of top FI cadres, including Bureau members, co-signed an international call titled, “With the Greek people, for a change in Europe—A call launched in the Spanish State,” which was actually a call for a vote to SYRIZA and did not even mention ANTARSYA, the project in which the Greek section is engaged (9 Jan 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3795).

The statement of the Secretariat of the Bureau a few days afterward said: “The various components of Syriza, their members in the trade unions—in collaboration, often, with militants of the Antarsya coalition, the student movement, etc.—are the vectors of these mobilizations. Syriza and Antarsya have particular responsibility in building a unitive project” and urged “to do everything so that the Greek left, of which Syriza is the main component, wins these elections, in order to create a social and political dynamic for a left government” (Jan. 12, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3804). There is no doubt that this equals an official call for a vote to SYRIZA and a suggestion that ANTARSYA should also join its project. After the election of the SYRIZA government, the FI leadership advocated a policy of “critical” support to the government, and the decision of the Greek section to build a working-class left opposition was rejected, on the pretext that only the bourgeois class opposes SYRIZA.

Even on the eve of the SYRIZA “betrayal” and after the experience of six months of shameful negotiations with the capitalist and imperialist institutions, the Fourth International Bureau could not draw a clear conclusion about the nature of the SYRIZA-ANEL government. The Greek section’s warning that SYRIZA would introduce a new austerity pact no matter the result of the referendum of July 5 was ignored.

The Greek section fought for the NO with all its forces, but it simultaneously declared no confidence to the government. On the contrary, the statement of the FI Bureau praised the SYRIZA government and called the people to support it once again: “the interests of the exploited classes in Europe do not lie behind the governments who run the European Union, but on the side of the Greek people and of Syriza, who are fighting austerity. Resistance to austerity is possible. The victories of Syriza, like the advances of Podemos in the Spanish state, show the road to take in all the countries of Europe.” It invited the workers of all Europe to “mobilize alongside the Greek social and political movement in opposition to austerity, alongside the Greek government” (July 7, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4113).

This statement was relentlessly ridiculed less than one week afterwards, when the SYRIZA government approved the new austerity pact (third memorandum). No balance sheet was ever drawn of this huge mistake. On the contrary, the majority of the leadership of the FI shifted its support to the Popular Unity, once again ignoring the suggestions of the Greek section that the newly formed party wants to repeat the SYRIZA project anew (see the joint statement of O. Besançenot, M. Urbán, and A. Davanellos of the Popular Unity for the September 2015 elections, Sept. 19, 2015, http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4225).

Unfortunately, we have to admit that the FI leadership, as well as the leaderships of most international revolutionary currents, have uncritically supported SYRIZA, and thus bear their own responsibility for having helped SYRIZA hegemonize the social current that arose against austerity, which induced passivity among the working class, false electoral expectations and, finally, a disaster.

This development could be foreseen, and the Greek section foresaw it. This is why the section dedicated its modest forces to an independent anti-capitalist current that remained out of SYRIZA, its crisis and its degradation. This project has helped avoid a situation of complete collapse of the left and workers’ organizations, as happened in other countries which experienced governments of the left or with the participation of the left. The independent anti-capitalist left in Greece is a first material to start our counter-attack with.

Greece calls for a balance sheet. But no balance sheet will be honest, in as far as it avoids the main conclusion: the need for political and organizational independence from reformism.

 

https://socialistaction.org/2017/08/27/greece-a-story-without-the-distorting-prism-of-syriza/ 

The new era and the tasks of revolutionaries

PRE-CONGRESS, 17TH WORLD CONGRESS

 

The new era and the tasks of revolutionaries

 

Thursday 27 July 2017



This resolution was submitted by Jakob, member of the IC, and of the leadership of the ISO-German section, and Yvan, member of the IC, of the leadership of the NPA and of the French section.

A turn in the neoliberal and imperialist globalisation

1) The year 2016, with the vote for Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, and the fall of Aleppo retaken by the troops of the bloody dictator Assad with the support of Russia and the complicity of the great powers of the coalition, marks the beginning of a turn in the neoliberal and imperialist globalisation.

The bourgeoisie’s attempt to construct a myth of "happy globalization" in which the market would bring democracy, peace and well-being, a myth president Obama tried to embody, is in tatters.

Until the beginning of the 21st century, technological advances combined with the massive proletarianization of the ruined peasantry in the so-called emerging countries like China, India and Brazil lowered production costs and fuelled the profit machine, the financial casino. But at the cost of a generalized debt and an "exuberant" financial bubble. The anticipation of profits gave rise to unbridled speculation.

The accident triggered by the subprime crisis in the US was inevitable.

The real shock that propelled Trump and all the reactionary far-right and populist currents to the forefront, was the crisis of 2007-2008.

The balance of power has changed, the combination of economic neoliberalism and imperialist militarism has destabilized the entire planet. The first world power no longer has the supremacy it enjoyed: a new rival, China, is emerging in a multipolar world. The instability of international relations can no longer be contained by a single power which, in turn, feels threatened.

Behind the slogan “Make America great again”, Trump has, in his own way, defined a perspective which meets the imperialist needs of the US and which is shared by a large fraction of the establishment he claimed to oppose. Behind this slogan lies the defence of the interests of American capital faced with global competition, against the peoples and against its own working class. Nationalist and protectionist rhetoric aims at associating peoples with the politics of the bourgeoisie faced with exacerbated competition, to create the illusion that the policies of the ruling classes might address the anxieties and meet the demands of the popular classes.

The workers’ movement is confronted with this new attempt to turn the dissatisfaction and revolt of the popular classes against themselves in order to subjugate and subordinate them to the politics and defence of the interests of the ruling classes by dividing them and making them scapegoats in the name of nationalism, racism and xenophobia.

Our orientation, in response, is organized around class independence and its corollary, internationalism in the perspective of socialism, of communism.

2) The second major capitalist globalization – a century after the first which led to the development of imperialism and two world wars – has deeply transformed capitalism, the planet and the very conditions of class struggle worldwide. We are witnessing a new phase of capitalist development.

The upheavals resulting from what is known as the great tilting of the world have been accelerated, accentuated by the crisis that began in 2007-2008 and seem to turn into a chronic crisis, a long process of stagnation and decomposition of capitalism.

The exacerbation of international competition resulting from the crisis has led to a strengthening of the role of States, which are as many instruments of security and militarist policies, a growing instability, geopolitical chaos, and a multiplication of military conflicts.

This second great globalization took place after a long period of defeats and decline of the labor movement. After its betrayal by social-democracy, the labor movement was choked, crushed, its leadership physically eliminated by the Stalinist bureaucracy allied with the capitalist reaction. This left the revolt of the oppressed peoples the prisoner of nationalism in the aftermath of World War II.

The proletariat was unable to give it an internationalist perspective. This revolutionary wave, however, shook the world by enabling millions of oppressed people to break the yoke of colonial and imperialist oppression. But far from moving towards socialism, the new regimes sought to integrate the world capitalist market. Cuba was the last state born of this revolutionary wave to stand up to the world’s leading power, a challenge that testifies to the strength of peoples when they dare to confront the dominant classes and states.

Capitalism has triumphed worldwide. By disintegrating the old frameworks of domination of the great powers and capitalist classes, it brings only crisis, social and democratic regression, wars, ecological disasters and opens a period of wars, instability and revolutions.

3) This new stage of capitalist development combines the old imperialist relations with the new balance of power of global neoliberalism. One can speak of imperialist and neoliberal development.

In Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin shows that imperialist development is linked to the very nature of capitalism. “Imperialism emerged as the development and direct continuation of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in general. But capitalism only became capitalist imperialism at a definite and very high stage of its development, when certain of its fundamental characteristics began to change into their opposites, when the features of the epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had taken shape and revealed themselves in all spheres.” We can take up this reasoning to explain the new phase of capitalist development we are now facing.

“The monopolistic stage of capitalism” has given birth through neoliberal globalization to that of multi- and transnational companies and the global financialization of the economy. This new stage results from the development of the properties and contradictions of capitalism, which it accentuates and brings to a higher level, an “epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system”, the objective conditions of which have matured and strengthened worldwide.

4) The imperialist development and the struggle between the imperialist powers to carve up the world triggered a first imperialist war and a revolutionary wave which was defeated and broken by the Fascist and Stalinist reaction and was unable to prevent the second barbarous moment in the fight to carve up the world – the second world war through which the American imperialist power established itself as the only force capable of managing the capitalist world order. Then came twenty years of wars and revolutions, the uprising of the colonial peoples.

A new phase begins in the late 70s with the neoliberal offensive under the leadership of the first great world power, the US and its ally Britain. Then begins the second globalization in response to the declining rate of profit, with capitalism established as a global mode of production reaching the limits of the planet.

This neoliberal offensive at the end of the post-war boom led to the collapse of the USSR, the collapse of the bureaucracy, which had both played a part in the national liberation struggles while maintaining global equilibrium in the name of peaceful co-existence, that is to say the defence of the interests of the bureaucracy.

The end of the USSR marks a further offensive of the capitalist classes under the leadership of the USA. The neoliberal and imperialist euphoria prevails during the Bush era, capitalism triumphs on a worldwide scale but the myth of the “end of history” will not stand the test of time. The first Iraq war opens a long period of offensives against the people to impose globalized neoliberalism, a strategy of chaos that leads to a new destabilized world order and new wars.

At the end of the Bush era, Obama vowed to turn the page. But unable to provide a political solution to the situation created by “the strategy of chaos”, he had no other choice but to adapt to it.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, this period of international neoliberalism tends to give way to a phase of reorganization of international relations while the global economy is unfettered since no power has the means of implementing any regulation. The contradiction between the instability caused by the globalized competition and the need for a common framework to ensure the production and trade is increasing.

In 30 years, the balance of power has shifted, the BRICS and mainly China, all the peoples are striving, despite the crisis, to participate in the global economic development. While the US remains in all areas the first world power, it must compromise and find allies. Half of global manufacturing is now conducted by the emerging countries.

The contradiction between nation states and the internationalization of production and trade is stronger than ever while no dominant power is able today to regulate international relations. Both factors combine and destabilize international relations.

Cartels and international monopolist associations cope with free global competition. Monopolies have grown into transnational corporations with a diversified industrial, commercial and financial activity to a point where 147 multinational companies own 40% of the economic value of all the multinational corporations worldwide. If they keep a national basis, they are engaged in interdependent relationships worldwide.

The parasitic growth of finance capital has led to a considerable amount of speculative capital and a fall in productive investments.

The debt economy and the fact that the USA are net importers of capital (along with other old imperialist powers to varying degrees) express the parasitic nature of finance capital. The import of capital is a way to drain the wealth produced by the working class in developing countries to the old imperialist countries.

We are witnessing an unprecedented concentration of wealth. Through public debt, a banking oligopoly which controls finance has put the states under its heel.

A new international division of labor is taking place through the economic development of former colonial or dominated countries, especially the emerging ones – a globalization and not a mere internationalization of production, “an integrated world economy” in Michel Husson’s words.

The territorial division of the world which was challenged by the two world wars and the wave of national liberation movements was replaced by free international competition shaped by multinational corporations. The division of the world has given way to a struggle for the control of trade routes, of places of production, of energy supply... In Harvey’s words, capitalist logic and territorial control combine in new ways.

The growing instability of the world that results of this situation leads to a rise of militarism, to growing tensions that have forced the US to redeploy its forces while seeking the support and involvement of the old powers, Europe, Japan and the emerging countries to maintain the world order. This policy is a failure which has led to growing instability and the development of religious and terrorist fundamentalism, a factor of permanent instability.

6) At the same time that global capitalism reaches the limits of the planet, it causes an unprecedented global ecological crisis which raises the question of the future of humanity. The logic of profit leads to a worldwide organization of production which completely disregards the people and the ecological balance.

The combination of the ecological and climate crisis with the economic and social crisis represents unprecedented challenges for humanity. There is no way forward without the end of capitalism, no solution within one country, without democratic planning based on worldwide cooperation according to social and ecological needs.

The crisis encourages an internationalist awareness, not only in the sense that “our homeland is humanity” but also in the sense that, locally and globally, the struggle against the threats that endanger the planet is one that transcends borders. A struggle which is part the fight for socialism in connection with the social and political class struggle.

The ecological question and the social question are related, both must be tackled together.

7) The tragedy of the migrants epitomizes in a shocking way the effects of the process of social decomposition caused by wars, economic neoliberalism, the control of transnational corporations, the dispossession of land and the destruction of large sections of the peasantry, the rise of fundamentalist reactionary forces along with the ecological and climate crisis.

These extreme and irreversible trends have reached a point not seen since World War II. They feed on the instability generated by capitalist globalization, the permanent state of war to answer the ongoing instability in which it has plunged both the Middle East and a large part of Africa. They also feed on the acute competition between old great powers and new ones, between regional powers, such as the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Also, on the social war major financial groups and their states are waging against the workers and peoples. The focus of the crisis is in Europe and reveals the failure of the construction of a capitalist Europe.

We are facing a grave humanitarian crisis. Our response must take into account the solidarity movements that take place especially in Europe. If our policy cannot restrict itself to humanitarian aid, it is nonetheless part of our action in particular in trade unions or labor organizations.

Migrants are part of the proletariat of Europe, of the USA and elsewhere.

This crisis generates more and more fear and xenophobic rejection and impacts all political forces. It can be a revolutionary ferment in the sense that international solidarity is the only solution against those who promote war and police repression to contain the dramatic instability caused by their policies.

8) Expanded financial accumulation based on the exponential growth of credit and debt has reached such limits that it leads, in Harvey’s words, to the development of “accumulation by dispossession”. Unable to develop the economy to increase the mass of surplus value needed to feed the appetites of capital, capitalism finds a way out of its accumulation difficulties in a double offensive against the workers and against the peoples to impose an increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

This results in a bitter struggle for the control of territories, of sources of energy, raw materials and trade routes... Free global competition turns into a struggle to control wealth, reshape the world, but with power relations that are radically different from those of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The development of the crisis since 2007-2008 has exacerbated tensions.

The situation in the Middle East demonstrates that the US can longer impose its hegemony on other powers and nations. The US is forced to adapt to new power relationships both to maintain its own hegemony and world stability. The two are linked. The hegemony of the USA is conditional on its ability to maintain world stability, “global governance”. It requires that the dominant power gives credibility to its claim to act in the public interest.

But today it is no longer able to do so. No power is able to. Hence the rising tensions and militarism. The emergence of new powers with imperialist views or regional powers which defend their own interests increasingly undermines America’s leadership capacity and makes the international situation more chaotic. The US response is Trump’s policy “Make America great again”, to assert their economic and military supremacy through trade war, protectionism and militarism.

How far can the tensions and imbalances go? In the long run, nothing can be ruled out. We need to understand the possible evolution of the world situation to formulate a solution to the crisis we are being dragged into by the ruling classes. There is no reason to rule out the worst hypothesis, a globalization of local conflicts or a widespread conflagration, a new world war, or rather a globalized one. The evolution of the war in Syria is another example of that as was the war in Ukraine.

The key issue is the nature and possible developments of Chinese-US relations.

A more aggressive imperialist policy of China could result from its internal contradictions, from the inability of the Chinese ruling classes to address social issues, to perpetuate the social order without providing an outlet for social discontent. We are not there, but nothing allows us to rule out the possibility that a war for global leadership may be the outcome.

The answer is conditional upon the ability of the proletariat and the peoples to intervene directly to prevent the worst from happening. The question is not to predict but to base our own strategy on the understanding of the development of class and international relations.

The ruling classes and countries face a crisis of hegemony which opens a revolutionary period. It creates the conditions for the birth of another world.

The rise of a powerful international working class

9) The world working class has grown considerably within a global labor market in which workers compete, jeopardizing the gains of the “labor aristocracy” in the old imperialist countries and undermining the material basis of reformism of the last century.

The working class is more numerous than ever: in South Korea alone, there are more wage-earners than there were in the whole world at the time of Marx. The working class forms between 80 and 90% of the population in the most industrialized countries and almost half of the world population. Overall, the number of industrial workers rose from 490 million worldwide in 1991 to 715 million in 2012 (the data is from the International Labor Organization). The industry’s rate of growth was even higher than that of services between 2004 and 2012! It is not the industrial sector that has declined, but the agricultural sector whose overall workforce has dropped from 44% to 32%. If the industrial working class has shrunk in the old capitalist powers its role in the class struggle remains preponderant. The proletarianization of services has created new wage-earning sectors in the old capitalist countries, workers who have started to struggle, in cleaning, retail and fast food companies with the Fight for 15 movement in the United States.

10) It is not true that the development of part-time work makes the working class unable to wage important struggles and play its revolutionary role. In the past, at a time when the workers’ condition was much less secure, and in the absence of big industries, the Parisian workers were able to “storm heaven” during the Paris Commune… and today, workers find a way to fight back despite all the obstacles created by the capitalist onslaught. The biggest strike in France in several decades, in terms of numbers and in length, was the 2009-2010 strike of undocumented workers. That strike involved 6 000 strikers, including 1 500 short-term contract workers, organized in a strike committee, over a period of ten months. By reorganizing industry worldwide, capitalist globalization has created new working classes in southern countries, whose strength was shown recently with the wave of strikes in China since 2010, the massive strikes in Bursa, Turkey, in 2015, the formation of important trade unions in Indonesia, the role of the trade-union movement and mass strikes in the resignation of South Korea’s Prime Minister at the end of 2016...

Never has the world’s working class had such power, one that makes it the class capable of bringing together all the oppressed to end capitalist domination. It is necessary to contribute to its political organization on the basis of class independence and to develop a systematic political intervention in relation to it. We must make our main concern the task of rebuilding or building a class consciousness.

11) “The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie”, wrote Marx in the Communist Manifesto describing the unceasing fight of the proletariat to organize itself “into a class, and, consequently into a political party”. Today, this fight takes place on an international scale and the proletariat’s activity is felt daily on the whole of society even if its old parties have collapsed or integrated the bourgeois order and even if its trade unions are mired in class collaboration. The competition between workers on a global scale undermines the social benefits enjoyed by workers in the most developed capitalist countries on which the bourgeoisie and the states relied in order to reach a consensus on the basis of their policies and maintain class collaboration. That era is over.

Today, the bourgeoisie and the states seek to involve the proletariat in their economic and commercial war in the name of protectionism and nationalism, of national neoliberalism.

The labor movement is on the defensive but is engaged in a long and deep process of reorganization we want to help and contribute to its organization as a class, “as a party”.

Defining a revolutionary strategy

12) Strategic questions have to be considered in a new light at a time when the proletariat is the target of a global and reactionary drive after the collapse of the political movements born from the workers’ movement and the nationalist currents that led the colonial revolutions.

The evolution of capitalism has several implications in terms of revolutionary strategy. We can try to summarize the main trends of this evolution.

It tends to undermine the material basis of reformism because it limits imperialist superprofits, which were once the cement of class collaboration at a time when we witness a considerable concentration of wealth, growing inequalities and impoverishment. Whether they serve it or not, the dictatorship of capital leaves no leeway to states or politicians who stay within the system. The tragedy of Greece and the capitulation of Tsipras illustrate this fact.

It gives internationalism a concrete expression rooted in the daily life of millions of proletarians. Social issues and international issues are perceived as much more interdependent than in the past. The increasing instability of international relations is as much the result of domestic tensions as that of the rivalry between major powers, or between major and regional powers. An instability which opens new opportunities for the intervention of the exploited classes.

The neoliberal and imperialist offensive has completely changed the old political relations even in the oldest and most stable countries of capitalist Europe. The French presidential election has illustrated this further. The parties like the institutions are fully under the control of capital, with no independence or room to manoeuvre whatsoever. The old left-right parliamentary divide is devoid of any content.

The only relevant divide is a class divide, the irreconcilable opposition between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between the exploited classes and the capitalist class.

The fight against the rise of reactionary, nationalist, neo-fascist, or religious fundamentalist forces generated by the social decomposition produced by the policies of the capitalist classes is now the central political issue. The solution lies in a class policy for the revolutionary transformation of society.

13) Terrorism and Jihadism, the most radical forms of religious fundamentalism, spring from the policies of the great powers but are more broadly the child of liberal policies that generate poverty and exacerbate inequality as never before.

In rich countries, it would be a mistake to prioritize threats. The threat of religious fundamentalism feeds the threat of neo-fascism in western countries. Both are the enemies of progress, of democracy and freedom, enemies of the workers and the peoples they would like to dominate.

The fight against the rise of reactionary, right-wing, fascist and religious fundamentalist forces requires a global struggle against the social and political decomposition generated by the policy of the capitalist class.

Such a situation where national and international problems, social and political issues are bound together in a complex manner renders Manichean, campist or moralistic stances inadequate, if not dangerous. We fight everything that may or might, one way or another, trap us in a clash of civilizations, in communitarianism. We determine and develop our policy with the interests of the international working class in mind, a policy of class independence capable of giving substance to the democratic aspirations, solidarity, of the popular classes, against all forms of racism.

Our approach aims to reveal the objectives pursued by the great powers, the link between class-war and the war against the peoples, between global competition and international rivalries between countries.

We denounce the so-called fight against terrorism and radical Islam by the Western powers which leads to war and encourages religious fanaticism which seeks to subject populations.

We condemn these forces unambiguously and fight them, we are in solidarity with the progressive movements that oppose or resist them while denouncing at the same time the propaganda of the great powers invoking a new version of the “clash of civilizations” to justify their policy. This solidarity cannot be confused in any way with the policy of the great powers.

Our struggle for peace, democracy, for the rights of peoples is inseparable from our fight for socialism.

14) In this context of rising reactionary forces caused by the effects of capitalist globalization, women’s struggle for gender equality and women’s rights is of particular importance. It represents a major revolutionary factor. We are fully involved in all aspects of this struggle be it in the workplace or in the living places or in education. We make our own the democratic demands against male domination and the patriarchal family, a corollary of private property, which is a form of oppression and domination of women and youth more and more at odds with the modern world and social progress.

Women are the first victims of exploitation as well as the victims of the devastating consequences of neoliberal globalization. At the same time, more and more women are wage earners. Their struggle is that of all the exploited and oppressed people. Far from dividing oppressed people, far from opposing the women’s and men’s struggles, we campaign for the entire labor movement to make feminist struggles its own, for the political and social emancipation of women. The two struggles are one and the same. If the woman is the proletarian in the home, men can only be truly emancipated when they treat women as their equals.

The struggle for gender equality is inseparable from the struggle against fundamentalism and prejudice promoted by religions, all of which justify and support the subordination of women.

15) Our solidarity with the peoples cannot appeal to the so-called “international community” nor the UN, whose role is to provide a democratic screen to the policies of great powers, a role which is increasingly neglected. Our position is to underline again and again the necessary solidarity between the workers and the peoples. It is the only way to put an end to the aggressive and militaristic policies of the great powers that manipulate the peoples and set them against each other.

Being an internationalist means striving to define an independent policy for the working class combined with the struggle against our own bourgeoisie.

16) The experiences made and the results of the strategy of building “broad parties”, without clear programmatic and strategic delimitations lead us to question it. Such a strategy was based on the perspective of a process of recomposition that could have been boosted by the collapse of the former USSR and Communist parties. Independently of the assessment that we can have of it, it no longer takes into account the new trends of the period.

This evolution underlines the idea that to get rid of this odious dominant order the working class needs to organize and fight capitalism utterly, and to commit itself to a revolutionary transformation of society.

The experience of the workers’ movement of at least a century and a half teaches us that this struggle demands a party that is both radical and well-formed, having endorsed the conceptions of Marxism, in short a socialist, revolutionary communist party.

There is no third way. Either the workers or organized youth are aware not only of the threats that the continuity of capitalism poses to all mankind but also of the necessity and possibility for the working-class to conquer the right to decide and to control the future of society, in a word, power, or society will be caught in the trap of the various dead-ends of reformism as it has been repeatedly paving the way for the reactionary forces, for the far right.

A revolutionary party cannot be proclaimed. It is formed in the struggles and will only play a decisive role when it becomes a mass party and has the political and organizational means of putting forward a consistent revolutionary orientation, of organizing mass struggles and of leading broad sectors of the working class.

If struggles and mobilisations are the necessary conditions for the growth of revolutionary forces, this development requires an organized nucleus, united by a common consciousness based on the vision of the future of human society, on a transitional approach and program.

Aware that this mass party cannot be the result of a linear development of any small organization whatsoever, we seek to bring together and unite the revolutionary forces, organizations and militants who fight against capital and the bourgeois order, for the abolition of the capitalist system and for socialism.

We know the price paid by the exploited class because of reformist illusions, the dangers represented by the various reformist ways, including their modern form of leftist populism. We know that the proletariat has always paid dearly for the experiences of the impasses of reformism. Consequently, our efforts of political and organizational regroupment can in no way allow any misunderstanding: an association of revolutionary and reformist forces can ultimately only weaken the strength of our program and our intervention. At best, this can lead to centrist organizations, which are also incapable of building a revolutionary party ready to seize power. Failing to have the strength and the will to put forward a revolutionary perspective, we adapt to electoral policies at the risk of postponing indefinitely our objective of overthrowing the capitalist system.

Experiments with so-called broad parties (including revolutionary and reformist parties) have nowhere contributed to the creation of a revolutionary party, a prerequisite for the decisive struggle of the working class. Being clear about what we want is a sine qua non for regrouping revolutionary forces, training cadres, convincing newly politicized forces and converging greater forces into common fronts, into new organizations and - ultimately - a mass revolutionary party.

Moving in this direction implies that we should define the central elements of a transitional program for the twenty-first century and its declination according to the different regions of the world, especially at the level of Europe, and from there, the bases and the framework from which we could combine construction policy and initiatives for regrouping anti-capitalists and revolutionaries.

It is a political and programmatic work which can only be collective and requires time and energy but it is an indispensable and unavoidable task.

17) The great global shift is no mere rhetorical formula. It is written in drama and blood and forces us to reconsider everything. How can we help emerge a revolutionary movement on a national, European and international level? The question is raised again in new terms.

We must promote a strategy to regroup anti-capitalist and revolutionary forces on the basis of a program for the revolutionary transformation of society, rooted in the basic demands of the exploited, the guarantee of decent wages and pensions, the end of unemployment by the sharing of work among everyone, the defence of public services, which raises the question of the conquest of power to cancel the debt, of the creation of a public banking monopoly and the socialization of the major industrial and commercial groups.

If this strategy and this program are adapted to each situation and country, they are organized around a transitional approach that raises the question of the workers’ and the population’s power, that of the 99 %, to abolish the debt and to ensure that banks and multinationals can do no further harm.

We must identify from past defeats and setbacks as well as from current upheavals the elements that contribute to the revolutionary transformation of society, to help the independent organization of the working class to enable it to express the social, democratic, ecological demands of other social classes, of all society.

In response to the ravages of globalization, the reactionary forces exploit the despair and fear of the working classes to develop their xenophobic and nationalist propaganda. At the opposite, we must unify the working class against capitalism and its institutions.

We work for the unity of the exploited classes, their organizations on the basis of this class independence.

We are well aware what difficulties we face. The collapse of the old parties born from the struggles of the workers’ movement sows demoralization, disorientation and disarray while the bourgeois and reactionary forces are on the offensive. But we believe that in this context of fragmentation of the anti-capitalist and revolutionary forces the IV has an important role to play.

Building a new international, regrouping the anticapitalists and the revolutionaries

18) The Fourth International, like all other international groupings, cannot claim to represent by itself the future of the revolutionary movement. It must strive to build other regroupings in order to pave the way for a new revolutionary international.

The future depends on those who want to gather revolutionary forces in the same movement by breaking with the past sectarian and undemocratic practices that have divided the revolutionary movement.

In the short and medium term, the great instability in the world opens opportunities the new anti-capitalist and revolutionary movement must seize.

We cannot embody revolutionary internationalism alone. We must seek to bring together revolutionaries from different traditions, based on a shared understanding of the situation and tasks.

To help the gathering of forces claiming to be revolutionary Marxists we need to work on the development of strategic and programmatic answers for the movement as a whole, to put on the agenda the discussion of a socialist program, a revolutionary communist one.

Beyond the diversity of tactics adopted by the revolutionaries in the construction of their party depending on countries and situations, building revolutionary parties, parties for the seizure of power, for socialism and communism remains the strategic objective.

13/04/2017

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Seize the Opportunities, build an international for revolution

PRE-CONGRESS, 17TH WORLD CONGRESS

 

Let’s seize the opportunities, and build an international

 

for revolution and communism

 

Thursday 27 July 2017

This text was submitted by IC members Manos (Greece), Jeff M. (SA USA) and supported at the IC by permanent guests: Gaël, Mathilde (NPA and French section).

We leading members of FI sections submit this text, in order to present an alternative to the documents proposed by the majority of the IC. The alternative platform is meant to be put to the vote in all national congresses preparing the incoming World Congress, and in the World Congress itself.

We want to build this alternative with all comrades in the FI, whose views are similar to those that we have collectively expressed in the document below, which we have submitted to the IC of February 2017. We also want to discuss with all those that share our concerns about the future of our International, even if they don’t completely share our formulations. This is why we call for a conference in Paris, on November 11-12, where all comrades who agree with our basic views, as expressed below, are warmly invited to work on an alternative platform. We invite all those comrades to contact us for this purpose.

In such a historic circumstance, the next World Congress has to be a really political debate, involving all members and sections of the FI. This is why, all documents have to be discussed in national congresses or conferences in all countries, put to the vote and be proportionally represented among the delegates in the World Congress, and the FI Bureau should help organize this process.

I- The current state of the Fourth International

A) The “broad parties” policy: balance sheet of a catastrophe

The FI leadership replaced the strategic goal of building revolutionary parties with the building of “broad parties”. A century after the Russian Revolution, some ask: Is the principle “no revolution without a revolutionary party” outdated? We do not believe it is. Over the last few congresses, the FI leadership has been explicitly aiming at building “broad” parties, without clear programmatic and strategic boundaries. What are the results of this policy?

In recent times, we’ve seen major failures. In the Spanish state, Anticapitalistas is preparing to form a joint majority with Pablo Iglesias, thus adapting to a bureaucratic leadership that explicitly seeks to govern in the framework of capitalist institutions. By trying to gain electoral or mainstream media influence, we are led to sacrifice our goal — the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The Syriza experiment was embraced to such an extent that the Greek FI section, which refused to support it, was even accused in the IC of being counterrevolutionary. Syriza was presented as a model for some time, yet it amounted to a catastrophe. It was introduced as an “anti-austerity” party and government. But it revealed itself to be a destructive machine against workers and the people. The worst onslaught we have seen in decades has been led by Syriza against youth and the working class.

But these are only two examples in a series of catastrophes, and no serious analysis of these disasters has been undertaken to help draw conclusions. The list of failures is long: in Brazil, the FI section participated in the Lula government; in Italy, the FI comrades supported in Parliament the formation of a Prodi government and voted for the war budget; in Portugal, the section recently supported the SP government agenda. The common feature in all these failures is the support of political forces or governments acting in the framework of capitalist management, resulting in the dislocation of the FI sections.

The policy of building “broad parties” instead of revolutionary parties did indeed lead to the dissolution of our forces into reformist coalitions. Indeed, why build a revolutionary current if there is no revolutionary communist program to stand up for? The situation is alarming. Over the years we have seen FI sections disappear, dissolve or adapt at an accelerating rate. Our ability to defend either the principle of class independence or to maximize the ability of our social class to act independently from the bourgeoisie and its State, is undermined when support is given to a politician linked to a bourgeois party, like Bernie Sanders, or to a personality with no ties to the labour movement, like Pablo Iglesias.

B) “New situation, new program...” or the present relevance of the revolution and a revolutionary communist program?

Why has the FI leadership been steadily pursuing this policy for years in spite of the series of failures? It implicitly gave up on the relevance of revolution, seeing it as something to be accomplished in the distant future. In its view, the balance of forces is so unfavourable that the task of the hour is to rebuild an elementary class consciousness, based on the struggles of the oppressed in reaction to the ruling class onslaught. There is no need for a revolutionary compass, no need for an organized battle for a transitional program, and no need for a communist program. It is sufficient for them to regroup all those who are ready to resist, reformists and revolutionaries alike, to slowly accumulate experience and strength, and to wait for better days. In order to accomplish that goal, the adequate tool is indeed the “broad party”.

This becomes a justification for allying everywhere with social forces who are not even reformist in the classic meaning of the term. They look to forces with no communist programmatic basis and with no social basis in the working class.

Yet the present relevance and necessity of a revolutionary program was demonstrated by the revolutionary processes south of the Mediterranean Sea and by the situation in Greece: the rising and more radical forms of class conflict call for revolutionary responses. Wasn’t it absolutely necessary to stand for the abolition of the debt, the nationalization of the banks and key sectors of the economy under workers’ control? These demands are not reserved for contemplation in history books of the Russian Revolution. The FI leadership did not support its Greek section who, with its modest forces, tried to implement such a revolutionary policy. This of course implied a political battle against the Syriza leadership. That precise battle wasn’t waged. In the name of the necessity of a “new program” and “new parties” adapted to the “new situation”, the FI leadership supported Alexis Tsipras right up to the 11th hour (quote from the FI declaration of August 2015). The example of Greece is extremely telling. It demonstrates the impossibility of reformism as a solution in periods of capitalist crisis. Not only did the Syriza-led government prove to be one of the harshest of bourgeois governments, but Syriza itself switched almost totally, in just about one year, from left reformism to bourgeois social democracy. The formation of the government along with the nationalist bourgeois ANEL party — which was never protested by those who later formed the Popular Unity party, currently the party that the FI leadership supports in Greece — the inclusion in it of many former political and administrative personnel from both main bourgeois parties, ND and PASOK, and above all the break with the vast majority of its youth and militant base, have irreversibly changed the character of Syriza party. This is a fate that is shared by all reformist parties that wish to handle the crisis inside the framework of capitalism, despite the intentions of their leadership. This is a conclusion that the FI leadership never reached. Instead, it refers to an unexplained "capitulation" of Tsipras, deprived of any class content. The practical consequence is the FI leaders’ eagerness to repeat the same mistakes. It continues to ally with and to adapt to Iglesias’ policy today, via the majority of the Spanish section.

C) A militant deficiency and a serious democratic problem

FI International Committee meetings are now reduced to debates of analysis of no practical consequence. The debates go on without any internationally coordinated campaign being defined or planned. Yet, all around the world we have comrades leading struggles in direct confrontation with capitalism. Theoretical discussions must be informed by practice: balance sheets of the sections’ activities should feed the discussion. The confrontation of ideas should lead to defining common tasks. Without common goals, on an international scale, and without political and material mutual support, it is impossible to grow our organizations beyond a certain point in each country. But above all, our international has to be more than a discussion club; it must be a tool for revolutionary action. Tackling the political problems of worldwide class struggle together, and thinking about the problems we encounter in each of our countries, and trying solve them together – that is what a “world party” should do. Building such an international party, at least taking steps in that direction is today’s task.

The recent expulsion by the majority of the Spanish State section of the Anticapitalistas minority, which enjoyed 20 per cent support at the last congress, and which now constitutes IZAR, reveals a serious democratic problem. The leadership refuses to allow criticism of the majority orientation of the Fourth International. Worse, the refusal to allow the Spanish minority current to address the IC, on the pretext of a veto by the section, is contrary to all of our principles of workers’ democracy. That includes the possibility of defending oneself in the process of an expulsion. The principle exists in many reformist organizations. But it didn’t exist in the FI for the IZAR comrades. So it became acceptable for the majority of a section to expel its minority at will... without any opportunity of appeal. Fortunately the majority of the French section comrades, members of the NPA, do not hold this authoritarian view of political differences and did not act that way towards its minority! Our Socialist Action Canada comrades were expelled, and still are victims of the same kind of exclusion now. Of course there is a political logic at work behind those expulsions. Basic democratic rules are cast aside when it concerns comrades who disagree, to the left of the leadership’s policy. At the same time, heads of the FI favour working with groups outside of the International, and apply pressure on the section to isolate it, as happened in Greece. The FI leadership often introduces our international organization as the “most democratic” international tendency. Indeed, confronted with situations of split caused by political differences, the IST in the Spanish State and the IWL in Brazil showed more openness by maintaining, in both cases, relations with the various groups that emerged from the splits.

We cannot avoid drawing the balance sheet of the policy advocated by the majority at the latest (2010) congress of the FI. The next IC must set the date and launch the discussion leading to the world congress, which must be held in 2018.

II- A situation with opportunities for the revolutionaries and for communist ideas to grow stronger

We do not share the FI leadership’s appreciation of the current situation. While it does feature an increasingly violent onslaught by the bourgeoisie, it is nonetheless contradictory and holds possibilities for revolutionary communists to be heard and to gain strength.

A) The tendency of the rate of profit to fall: the root of the crisis

The fundamental problem for capitalists still is the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. The ecological crisis is combined with the economic crisis, and thus capitalism is in a situation of protracted crisis, which it cannot escape spontaneously. To restore the rate of profit, capitalists are forced to turn their mode of domination upside down, by inflicting an historical defeat on the working class. That is the meaning of the ongoing capitalist onslaught. Inter-imperialist tensions are rising and military interventions are multiplying. The number of refugees is exploding, racism and xenophobia are openly encouraged by the governments of every great power. Barbarism is not just a predictable possibility for the future; it is the reality for a major part of humanity.

B) Traditional leaderships and the “new reformism” — Adapting to the current capitalist onslaught

Far from fighting the capitalist offensive, the labor movement traditional leaderships are adapting to it. Social-democracy is completely integrated into the state apparatus and the leaders that arose from Stalinism go along with the national bourgeoisie’s policies.

The massive retreat of the social democracy and labor party-type formations is not limited to Europe. It is worldwide. In Canada, for example, we saw the trade union-linked New Democratic Party (NDP) leadership pledge, in the campaign culminating in the October 2015 federal election, a "balanced budget" come-what-may. Implementation of that policy would prevent an NDP government from reversing most of the harsh austerity measures introduced by the previous Stephen Harper-led Conservative Party regime. The political default of the NDP, and the "strategic voting" stance of much of the union bureaucracy, funnelled workers’ discontent with austerity into a victory for the Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau, which briefly feinted to the left of the NDP.

As far as the so-called “populist” currents in South America go, they demonstrated their inability to change the situation to any important degree, and they reject any clear break with imperialism and domestic capital.

The so-called “new reformisms” are a symptom of rising political awareness, a reflection of the rise of struggles. But Syriza’s policy in power shows the extent to which these forces adapted to capitalism in crisis, in record time, and are ready to implement the bourgeois agenda themselves, even lacking the mass working class roots the “old” reformists had acquired.

The anarchist or autonomous currents manage to channel part of the youth revolt. We must have a policy to address these currents, sometimes with possibilities of tactical agreements with some of them. In any case, we should not abandon the field of radicalism to them, while explaining why their policy is at an impasse.

C) Chronic instability of the system, mass resistance and politicization

The balance of forces is very unfavourable to us. But mass resistance shakes every continent. The crisis of the system feeds a chronic political instability.

The brutality of the capitalist onslaught feeds phenomena of social and political regression. The traditional left, when it comes to power, leads the capitalist onslaught, thus opening a space for the far-right. But this is far from being the majority sentiment in the working class. In the electoral base of these far-right currents, we can nonetheless find a significant number of workers, who have been among the first victims of capitalism. A solid fightback of the working class, winning significant victories, could regain many of those who have been temporarily captivated by far-right demagogy.

The effect of the onslaught, in the context of crisis, is not one-sided. It also spurs mass resistance movements and a new politicization. The dynamic of polarization is well illustrated by Trump’s election. Although he symbolizes the increasingly reactionary policy of the ruling class, he was elected in a situation where mobilizations are on the rise and the interest in socialist ideas is higher than in decades inside the main global power. In the same way, worldwide possibilities for social explosions and collective struggles are rising.

Among significant sectors of youth and the working class, there is a perception that this is a rotten system leading to failure. Most of the time, struggling masses know what they do not want anymore, and have profound disgust for the capitalist system, without knowing with what to replace it, and how. But we are not only observing struggles as a mechanical response to the attacks, but also processes of accumulation of experience, politicization, regroupment and organization. Massive national mobilizations against the challenge to the Labor Law in France, the struggle of low-wage workers for the right to form a union and win a $15/hour minimum wage, and the rise of Black Lives Matter in the United States, the unprecedented student mobilizations in Quebec, the massive workers’ strikes in Asia, particularly in China and India, are renowned. But we also see the renewed interest in socialism illustrated by Jeremy Corbyn’s double leadership victory in the British Labour Party, and the renewed interest in socialist ideas in the United States. All these signs indicate that the elements for anti-capitalist awareness are present. It is, nonetheless, a very uneven and limited process. Currents hostile to socialism are reaping the fruits of the deep discontent. The electoral audience of the FIT in Argentina, the recomposition of the union movement in South Africa, despite the limitations of both experiences, and above all, the renewed interest in “socialism” in the United States indicate that anti-capitalist ideas can acquire a mass audience.

III - The working class always plays a central role

A commonly held view in militant circles feeds scepticism concerning the present relevance of revolution. It contends that the neo-liberal onslaught supposedly eliminated full time work and weakened the working class so badly that it no longer plays a central role.

In fact, the working class is globally more numerous today than ever. In South Korea alone there are as many wage-earners today than there were in the whole world at the time of Karl Marx. The working class, which in our view is composed of wage workers who do not exercise management power, today constitutes between 80 and 90 per cent of the population in the most industrialized countries, and almost half of the total global population.

Globally, the number of industrial workers worldwide went from 490 million in 1991 to 715 million in 2012 (ILO data). Industry even grew faster than services between 2004 and 2012! The industrial sector did not shrink, but the agricultural sector did, from 44 to 32 per cent of the global workforce.

It is true that the industrial working class dropped numerically inside the old capitalist powers. But its role in class struggle is far from being secondary, as was proved for example by railroad and oil refinery workers in France in the mass strikes of 2010 and 2016. And the proletarianization of services created new wage-earning sectors in the old capitalist metropolises who recently proved their combativity. Cleaning workers, for example in the historic strikes in Netherlands in 2010 and 2012, and retail and fast-food workers involved in the Fight for $15 movement in the United States, reflect this trend.

It is not true that the rise of part-time work made the working class unable to lead significant struggles and play a revolutionary role. In the past, much less job security and the absence of big industries did not stop the Parisian workers from taking power during the Commune of 1871. Today, workers find the path to mobilization in spite of the obstacles created by the capitalist onslaught. The biggest strike in decades in France, biggest in numbers and length, was the strike of undocumented workers in 2009-2010, which involved 6000 strikers, including 1500 short-term contract workers organized in a strike committee, over 10 months. The 2009 general strike in Guadeloupe showed the ability of workers to unite the oppressed and threaten the power elite.

By reorganizing industry worldwide, capitalist globalization created new working classes in the southern countries, whose potential was shown by the recent mobilizations: the wave of strikes happening in China since 2010, the 2015 massive strikes in Bursa, Turkey, the formation of mass militant unions in Indonesia, the role of the union movement and of mass strikes demanding the resignation of South Korea’s Prime Minister in late 2016.

These struggles develop, for the most part, despite the union leaders. For these struggles to end up challenging the system, it is necessary to rebuild a worldwide class struggle workers’ leadership. Building a class struggle wing of the labor movement, independent of the official union leaderships, particularly able to launch the building of organs of self-organization, strike committees, is a central task for a revolutionary international. Differentiation or breaks inside the labor movement indicate the opening of new possibilities. Examples include the process of creation of a new union confederation, breaking with the ANC in South Africa, differentiation inside the CGT in France, and discussions on the prospect of forming a class struggle “workers’ block” after the Labour Law Reform movement.

If we take into account all these factors, the global working class never had such a potentially powerful role. Every sector of the working class does not have the same objective weight in the production apparatus and is not able to play the same role. And we have to take that into account in our efforts to organize and recruit. But the revolutionaries have to take seriously the central role of the working class, and develop a solid political intervention in relation to it. This task should be taken on not only by the national sections, but be the subject of regular discussions at the international level.

IV- Our proposals

A) Building revolutionary vanguard parties — the present relevance of Leninism

Here is how Lenin in Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder defined party discipline, how a party of cadres for the revolution is built, the opposite of the Stalinist caricature:

“The first questions to arise are: how is the discipline of the proletariat’s revolutionary party maintained? How is it tested? How is it reinforced? First, by the class-consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution, by its tenacity, self-sacrifice and heroism. Second, by its ability to link up, maintain the closest contact, and—if you wish—merge, in certain measure, with the broadest masses of the working people—primarily with the proletariat, but also with the non-proletarian masses of working people. Third, by the correctness of the political leadership exercised by this vanguard, by the correctness of its political strategy and tactics, provided the broad masses have seen, from their own experience, that they are correct. Without these conditions, discipline in a revolutionary party really capable of being the party of the advanced class, whose mission it is to overthrow the bourgeoisie and transform the whole of society, cannot be achieved. Without these conditions, all attempts to establish discipline inevitably fall flat and end up in phrase-mongering and clowning. On the other hand, these conditions cannot emerge at once. They are created only by prolonged effort and hard-won experience. Their creation is facilitated by a correct revolutionary theory, which, in its turn, is not a dogma, but assumes final shape only in close connection with the practical activity of a truly mass and truly revolutionary movement.”

“No revolution without a revolutionary party.” This means that beyond the diversity of tactics revolutionaries may adopt in building their party according to the country and the situation, building revolutionary parties, parties to take the power and for communism, is still the strategic goal.

In order to build revolutionary organizations who are not content with proclaiming principles, our goal is to build a party of cadres capable of giving life to the programmatic principles, which means trying to give each of our members the means to acquire the highest possible level of education, to be able to play a part in the destruction of capitalism and the building of another society. But education must be consistent with our political militant practice. To be able to get rid of the system that generates exploitation and oppression, we have to narrow the gap between the private sphere and the public sphere as much as we can. That gap is the product of the capitalist system we live in. Against that logic of “separation”, we consciously pursue the prospect of revolution and are consistent in our choices and ways of life. It’s the complete opposite of individual frustration. On the contrary, it is a freely agreed emancipation and association against the dominant ideology disseminated by the state, school and family. It is designed to regroup in order to reach a common goal — the destruction of the capitalist system, based on exploitation and oppression, to build another society, the communist society.

Seeking to plant roots in the working class and in oppressed sectors is instrumental. It must be systematically discussed and conducted with dedicated tools. The present relevance of the insurrectionary general strike as the main “strategical hypothesis” in most of the world, our analysis of the central role of the working class thus must have immediate consequences in practice, in our sections and internationally. What does it mean? It means that we have an active approach to gaining a base in the key sectors of the capitalist economy. An effort must be made in that direction, in each section, but also that the International should help to reach that goal, and participate in the effort. Through theoretical input, but also centralization of information. It also means that we systematically develop an independent political intervention to address our class.

Every revolutionary must think about how we can fight back against both the austerity policies and the capitalist-patriarchal system. The only way to defend our social achievements and to gain new ones is still the mobilization of the working class and the youth. Every social achievement has been reached as a result of the mobilization. Twentieth-century history demonstrates it. Workers’ and women’s rights have not been gained at the polls but through strikes and demonstrations. In that sense, our main task is to re-build class consciousness. The most effective way to do so is still by the struggle of the working class interest against that of the bourgeoisie. Rallies, demonstrations, occupations, assemblies, strikes — those are still the best tools for raising the consciousness of the oppressed. This does not mean that we ignore parliamentary elections. But we do subordinate them to mobilization. In our strategy, the elections cannot be a goal but a means for strengthening our class’s mobilization towards raising class consciousness. The workers and the youth must adopt the struggle against every kind of oppression and link it to their struggle for class emancipation. For doing so, it is necessary that the working-class mass organizations include in their platforms elements like equal pay for equal work, respect for LGBTQI rights and the socialization of domestic labour.

The strategic hypothesis we advance to end capitalism and patriarchy is a non-stop series of mobilizations that make the working class aware of the necessity of taking power for real social change. Strikes are not a fetish but an essential route to raise workers’ reliance on their own potential power. Strikes are "schools of class struggle" because they are moments in which the working class can self-organize. It is by means of conflict that workers create automatic responses and mechanisms to resist the bourgeoisie’s policies. Revolutionaries should not ignore today’s struggles, even if they are small. To the contrary, we must take part in them. Therefore, we need to find solutions to our deficiency in having a strong presence within the working class and taking part in its battles.

A revolutionary International that does not prioritize youth is doomed to disappear

Youth still plays the role of tactical vanguard. The theory developed by Ernest Mandel is still relevant today. Whether we look at the processes of the Arab revolutions, or at the mobilizations in Latin America, in Mexico and Chile, or in France in the mobilization against the CPE, and in all likelihood soon in the USA with the anti-Trump mobilizations, we see this. Its role in struggles is always paramount, and recruiting youth is plainly vital for any revolutionary organization. To be consistent with that stance, we reaffirm our current’s theoretical, practical, and militant hallmarks. We stand up for youth autonomy, an autonomy subordinated to the proletariat and its historical interests but with forms of organization that are not independent but autonomous from the labor movement organizations and the parties we build. So we set as a goal, when it is possible, the building of revolutionary youth organizations. The youth sectors in our parties are a mediation to achieve that goal. We should also have a specific orientation to address students. It is a part of youth that actively participates in the overturns during revolutionary processes. So the international youth camp plays a fundamental role for this policy. But it should not become a space where voicing disagreement with the FI leadership is excluded. Forbidding the participation of the NPA youth sector in the last camp shows a worrisome theoretical and practical/political weakness. Similarly disturbing was the refusal to allow four IZAR comrades into the camp to have a workshop. Some of them have been building the FI for 15 years. They had to host their workshop in the parking lot, with over 70 young comrades who wanted to understand, debate and share, in attendance. These episodes are symptomatic of a paralyzing and fearful sectarianism. It is a de facto form of mis-education, as young comrades become accustomed to such exclusionary practices on the pretext of ideological purity and struggle against “factionalism”.

There is no Chinese Wall between the project for the society we advocate, communism, and the party we are trying to build. There has to be consistency between those two forms. Our party won’t be an island of communism because it lives and develops in a framework of social relations determined by patriarchy and the capitalist system. But we must get as close as we can to our goal. This of course regards the relations between members, which have to abide by democratic principles and not contradict our program of struggle against all oppression. But beyond that, it is the freely agreed association of men and women struggling for communism and abiding by relations which cannot be in contradiction with these emancipation principles. We oppose every form of “separation” forged by Capital between intellectual work and manual work, between men and women, between nationals and foreigners, between the private and public spheres. We reject every form of taboo inside the organization, but instead build a programmatic and practical/militant unity of all the comrades, through debate and verification in practice.

B) Advocating for a transitional program for the 21st century

The FI should advocate a set of key measures, a transitional approach, starting with everyday issues and demands, linking them to the question of power and to the aspiration for a new society. Eventually, the connection of the current struggles is established to the aim of challenging the pillars of the capitalist system.

A primary focus of this program is the expropriation of the key sectors of the economy. The bank crisis and bail-outs provided a new opportunity to explain and popularize the need for bank nationalization. Company bankruptcies, massive lay-offs, and the struggles to which they give rise, also offer an occasion to bring the struggle for workers’ control up to date and explain the need to requisition the great means of production, distribution and exchange. A transitional approach is embodied in the demand “No layoffs, for workers’ control over hiring.”

Fossil and mineral resources are not infinite. The maximum peak of extraction will soon be reached. Capitalism with its structural logic aims always to increase consumption — to utilize more raw materials and energy. The goal of capitalism is to always produce more and maximize profit. Capitalism cannot be “green”. Capitalism destroys the environment and species. It destroys our planet. But, once again, there cannot be a consistent ecological policy without a consistent struggle against capitalism and without understanding that the only subject able to end capitalism, and the ecological disaster it provokes, is the working class. If we share this analysis, we should draw the conclusions from it, in terms of our social basis, our intervention and our orientation. Indeed, the working class, allied with other sectors, is the one force, in the face of the ecological catastrophe, that is capable of imposing a program of anti-capitalist ecological transition. Such a transition will focus on replacing fossil and nuclear energy with green, sustainable alternatives, and on the need for a worldwide planned economy.

The capitalist world still is structured and organized by imperialism whose interests are never bound by any commitment to any people. This is notwithstanding the fact that Capital can sporadically choose to support a specific struggle with its own methods and goals.

Anti-imperialism should be a central focus of our propaganda and activity. We are against all imperialist interventions and for the withdrawal of all imperialist troops. By standing in solidarity with, for example, the Kurdish people, we do not avoid pointing to the central responsibility of imperialism for the development of reactionary currents such as ISIS, and for the horrendous conditions experienced by the peoples of the region. Even so, recognizing that the reactionary currents also have their own logic and autonomy, we participate in demonstrations to defend the Kurdish people, while linking our unconditional defence with our clear-cut rejection of imperialist intervention. That is why we do not endorse calls to action that ask our government to provide weapons to the Kurds. We do not foster the illusion that our bourgeoisie could defend the peoples of the region.

Facing our own imperialism, it is not our role to create illusions on the theme: arms, not bombs. That is exactly what happened when the Red Green Alliance members of parliament voted for the war budget on the pretext that it would allow sending weapons, but who were very quickly faced with the second step, the only important one for the Danish government, and the others, sending Danish F-16 jets which are today bombing Iraq, in alliance with France and the United States.

Insurgent working classes will have to confront both “their own” national state apparatus and international imperialist institutions such as the European Union. “The main enemy is at home" means that we fight simultaneously against the international imperialist coalitions in which "our own" bourgeois class takes part. While firmly opposed to any nationalist, capitalist alternative, we know that an anti-capitalist revolutionary policy is incompatible with membership in the EU.

We know that the struggle against imperialism, racism, austerity and capitalist domination is not a struggle to be waged only at the level of a single country. But neither can it be waged without breaking with the capitalist policies of the EU, the ECB, with European finance capital, with the xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies of “fortress-Europe”. To attack the national bourgeoisie’s power is to break with all the institutions of the EU. Against the Europe of the Troïka we defend international solidarity, we strive for a free socialist alliance of the workers and peoples of Europe.

Inseparable from the imposition of worldwide austerity is the corresponding rise in imperialist wars and interventions. Led by U.S. imperialism, the world’s sole superpower, and its historic imperial European counterparts, we are almost daily witness to wars of saturation bombing, mass murder, wars of privatized or mercenary armies, drone wars, sanction and embargo wars, and near-secret wars, as is the case with the U.S. Africa Command’s re-colonizing and plundering of Africa. French imperialism too, as well as other former European colonizing powers, increasingly intervene in Africa and elsewhere to maintain and expand their interests.

There are no “humanitarian wars” conducted by the imperialist beast. There never have been. The term itself is repulsive to revolutionaries, whose raison d’etre is opposition to all imperialist interventions and wars. Unconditional support for the right of oppressed nations and peoples to self-determination is a fundamental revolutionary socialist principle. The FI must unconditionally reject any and all calls on imperialism to aid in the defeat of local tyrants and dictators. Such “aid” inevitably comes with strings attached – lethal strings that are more akin to the hanging rope than to any kind of “benign” or “democratic” assistance.

The liberation of the oppressed can only be achieved through their own independent mass organizations and through the construction, in time and regardless of the difficult circumstances, of revolutionary socialist parties of the Leninist type. Rejection of imperialist intervention in all its variations is the prerequisite for successful national liberation struggles, and for all other gains. Free from the imperialist yoke, oppressed nations are best positioned to determine their own future and to effectively challenge their own bourgeoisie.

In the face of imperialism’s incessant wars of conquest, the FI’s central demands should focus on “Bring the Troops Home Now!” and “Right to self-determination for all oppressed nations!”

We defend the peoples’ right to self-determination. But we do not follow the leadership of any national bourgeoisie, even if it comes from an oppressed nation. In the oppressed nations we support a balance between the democratic fight for the right to self-determination and the fight for a society without classes. It means that, according to our strategy, the struggle for national freedom can be useful for working class emancipation only when led by the working class itself. Thus, we fight for working class independence from the bourgeoisie in the oppressed nations. For example, the struggle for the right to self-determination of the nations oppressed by the Spanish State would be useful if linked to the fight against capitalism and lead by our class.

This program is not an electoral platform, a program for government. It can only be realized by a joint mobilization of the working class and the oppressed, bringing a Workers’ Government to power, to destroy the bourgeois state by relying on self-organized organs arising from the mobilization of our class in alliance with all sectors of the oppressed.

C) Building a revolutionary international

We insist, we have to set as a goal the building of a militant international, an organization capable of leading internationally coordinated campaigns. Even with modest forces, an organization based in several countries, acting in coordination, can magnify the effectiveness of its political intervention.

Our international must renew its discussion of a revolutionary communist program that addresses the reality of 21st century capitalism, instead of holding disjointed theoretical discussions with no real link to political practice.

We, alone, cannot embody the revolutionary communist international. We must try to unite revolutionaries from various traditions, based on an agreement on the current situation and the tasks. It is through common practice that political discussions may lead to principled unity. Regroupment of revolutionaries internationally should be one of the goals to be discussed in the FI. Building a revolutionary international capable of having a significant influence will not happen only by recruiting to our organization. The FI should invite other revolutionary national or international groups to start discussing the need for a common response to the crisis of capitalism, common campaigns, and to address what type of organization can and should be built.

We know that a policy of seeking discussion with militants from other political traditions won’t lead to unity in the short term. We realize that leaders of each of the various Trotskyist “internationals” are convinced that they are correct in their programmatic, strategic and tactical stance. Moreover, it is the rule that each group is convinced of the need to build an “international” around its own group exclusively. Even so, we have to recognize that we won’t build an international for revolution and communism simply by primitive accumulation around our own nucleus. There is always something to learn from the various Trotskyist revolutionary traditions, and even from forces beyond that sphere. There are different experiences and activists of value in many currents and organizations. It is through theoretical and programmatic debates, in creative combination with intervention in the field of class struggle, that the national and international explosions, regroupments and recomposition of forces will occur.

Temporary conclusion

This contribution is the basis of a first unified effort to launch a debate leading to the next FI world congress. We defend the present relevance of an international that grasps the opportunities in the present situation, and that builds an international for revolution and communism. Based on the political key points of this contribution, we want to foster a broad debate addressed to revolutionary currents both inside and outside of the FI. We will advocate our ideas at the International Committee meeting, and beyond, anticipating and insisting that the next FI congress, which cannot reasonably be postponed any longer, and really must be held in 2018! From that point of view, we will initiate a debate with every FI comrade and section willing to communicate with us. We intend that this debate be respectful of differences, and for the unfolding process to help reinforce our international in a context of global capitalist crisis. To that end, we will organize an international conference as a further step in that direction, and to promote a political regroupment inside the FI in relation to providing an alternative to the current FI majority. Our over-riding aim is to build a political current as broadly as possible to defend the prospect and to affirm the present relevance of building an international for revolution and communism.

Submitted to the FI by :

Xavier Guessou, Comité Politique National NPA, Armelle Pertus, Comité Exécutif NPA, Gaël Quirante, Comité Exécutif NPA, Juliette Stein, Comité Politique National NPA, Jeff Mackler, National secretary Socialist Action, Michael Schreiber, editor, Socialist Action newspaper , Christine Marie, political committee, Socialist Action, Kleanthis Antoniou, Political Bureau OKDE-Spartakos, Taxiarhis Efstathiou, Central Committee OKDE-Spartakos, National Coordination Body ANTARSYA, General Council of ADEDY (public sector workers’ national confederation), Fani Oikonomidou, Political Bureau OKDE-Spartakos, Manos Skoufoglou, Central Committee OKDE-Spartakos, Central Coordination Committee ANTARSYA, Kostas Skordoulis, Control Commission OKDE-Spartakos,

A number of FI comrades from various countries have already expressed their support to the views expressed above. Not all of them have been permitted by the FI Bureau to formally sign the text, as they are not formally members of FI sections, in most cases (Spanish State, Canada) because they have been undemocratically excluded from those sections. Since they are still comrades of the FI political project and since they have participated in its elaboration, we have to mention their names here.

Mariajo Teruel, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Malaga), Javier Castillo, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Madrid), Tomás Martínez, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Almería), Rubén Quirante, dirección política estatal (IZAR-Granada), Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’Action Socialiste, Elizabeth Byce, federal treasurer, SA/LAS, Julius Arscott, central committee member, SA/LAS, Giuseppe Caretta, Collettivo Guevara, Italy Angelo Cardone, Collettivo Guevara, Italy,

Capitalist Destruction and the Ecosocialist Alternative

PRE-CONGRESS, 17TH WORLD CONGRESS

 

The capitalist destruction of the environment and the

 

ecosocialist alternative

 

Wednesday 9 August 2017

 

This draft resolution is being circulated and discussed and will be finalised after the discussion in the Ecology Commission and then Bureau in September and October 2017.

Contents

Introduction

1. The acceleration of the destruction of the human environment and its consequences

1.1. Almost all the indicators are red

1.2. Climate change as a central question and a major threat…

1.3. … But not the only one

1.4. The dangers are underestimated rather overestimated

1.5. A major amplifier of the social crisis

2. Ecological crisis, crisis of capitalism

2.1. Points of no return are exceeded

2.2. The systemic crisis of capitalism threatens the humankind and its environment with major destructions

2.3. The imposture of "Green capitalism"

2.4. Populism, nationalism and climate denial

3. Struggles, demands and ecosocial strategy

3.1. An ecosocialist emergency plan

3.2. Wage-labor, alienation and ecosocialism

3.3. Women struggles and ecosocialism

3.4. Agrarian question and ecosocialism

3.5. Indigenous peoples, buen vivir and ecosocialism

3.6. Self-management, control and political outlet

3.7. Science, technology, self-management and decentralization

3.8. Environmental destruction and the social role of scientists

3.9. Self-organization of the affected populations

3.10. Localization, decentralization and internationalism

4. Ideological Fights

4.1. Ecosocialism as an ethical struggle and a project of civilization

4.2. Marx’s Ecology: source of inspiration, work in progress

4.3. De-growth and ecosocialism

4.4. Ecosocialism and “true nature”

4.5. Religion and ecological crisis (to be written)

5. Conclusion: ecosocialism or barbarism (to be written)

Introduction

INT.1.The pressure humanity exerts on the Earth System has been growing ever more rapidly since the 1950s. At the beginning of the 21st century, it reaches an extremely alarming level, and continues growing in almost all areas. The risk is now real and serious that this increasing quantitative pressure, observable everywhere and in most fields, leads at any moment to a qualitative shift that could be abrupt (a few decades) and largely irreversible. The Earth System would then enter a new dynamic equilibrium regime, characterized by very different geophysical and geochemical conditions, and a marked decrease in its biological richness. At the least, in addition to the consequences for other living creatures, the transition to this new regime would endanger the lives of hundreds of millions of poor people, especially women, children and the elderly. At the most, an ecological collapse of global proportions could lead to a collapse of our own species.

INT.2. The danger increases day by day, but the catastrophe can be conjured, or at least limited and contained. It is not human existence in general that is the determining cause of the threat, but the mode of production and social reproduction of this existence, which also includes its mode of distribution and consumption, and cultural values. The mode in force for about two centuries - capitalism - is unsustainable because competition for profit, which is the driving force, implies a blind tendency to limitless quantitative growth, incompatible with the limited flows and cycles of matter and energy in the Earth system. During the 20th century, "really existing socialism" was unable to offer an alternative to the productivist destruction of the environment. At the beginning of the 21st century, humanity is confronted with the unprecedented obligation to control its development in all fields in order to make it compatible with the limits and the good health of the environment in which it has developed. A political project can no longer ignore this conclusion of scientific studies on "global change". On the opposite, every political project must be assessed first of all on the taking into account of the risk, the systemic responses it brings, the conformity of these responses with the fundamental requirements of human dignity, and their articulation with its program in other areas, particularly in the social and economic sphere.

1. The acceleration of the destruction of the human environment and its consequences

1.1. Almost all the indicators are red

1.1.1. Anthropogenic pressure must be understood in its entirety, by grasping all the facets of environmental degradation, their interactions with each other, and their interactions with human development. The IGBP’s work identifies nine parameters of resilience to ensure the existence of the humankind under right conditions: climate change, destruction of the ozone layer, damage to the integrity of Biosphere (loss of biodiversity), introduction of new entities (chemical molecules, nanomaterials and radioactive materials), ocean acidification, freshwater consumption and impact on the hydrological cycle, soil degradation, alteration of the biogeochemical cycles of nitrogen and phosphorus, and aerosol atmospheric loading.

1.1.2. For each of these parameters, the researchers proposed a threshold of dangerousness. The first study, published in 2009, estimated these thresholds were crossed in three areas: climate change (the dangerous level of atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases is most likely exceeded), damage to the integrity of the biosphere (The current wave of extinction of species - the sixth in the history of the Earth - is faster and wider than the previous one, sixty-five million years ago, which corresponded to the disappearance of dinosaurs), alteration of the nitrogen cycle (human activities convert more atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates that asphyxiate aquatic life than all natural processes taken together). The update of the study, published in 2015, added a fourth threshold: changes in land use (deforestation, extension of cultivated land, drying of wetlands, fragmentation oh habitats). There was no assessment of safety thresholds for “new entities” and atmospheric aerosols.The state of the stratospheric ozone layer is the only area where the planet’s global health bulletin is improving (emissions of ozone-depleting gases have decreased by 80% since the entry into force of the Montreal Protocol, in 1989). This single positive point shows it is possible to act but does not change the general picture: the overall situation of the human environment is already catastrophic.

1.2. Climate change as a central question and a major threat…

1.2.1. The increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature as a result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is more than likely the most important parameter of ongoing destruction, and this parameter is connected to several others ( acidification of the oceans, loss of biodiversity, changes in land use, atmospheric loading in aerosols, in particular). The average global temperature has risen with 1.1 ° C since the pre-industrial era (warming is three times greater in the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsula) at a 0,17°C/decade rate between 1970 and 2015 (170 times greater than the average Holocene variations). Without radical measures, global average warming could reach as much as 6 ° C during the 21st century (nearly twice as much as the increase in temperature since the last glaciation, 20,000 years ago). Between 1970 and 2015, atmospheric CO2 increased 75 ppmv, a rate of 16.6 ppmv/decade which is 550 times greater than from the mid-Holocene just prior the Industrial Revolution and 100 times greater than estimates of the natural CO2 increase during the last glacial termination. By 2017, the atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 410 ppmv (parts per million by volume), unprecedented for at least 3 million years.

1.2.2. This phenomenon of unprecedented rapidity is almost entirely due to the anthropic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and various industrial gases (with high radiative power - "warming" potential). The most important anthropogenic emissions are carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) and, to a lesser extent, deforestation. The current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide significantly exceeds the threshold of dangerousness, which would be around 350 ppmv. Anyway, we are very close to a tipping point from which climate change would begin to wriggle non-linearly as a result of "positive feedbacks". It is almost certain, for example, that the summer retreat of the Arctic sea ice is an irreversible phenomenon; this reduction means less solar radiation is reflected by the Earth (albedo effect), and therefore the acceleration of warming. Another positive feedback is the release of methane from thawing permafrost; it is very disturbing because the radiative power of this gas is some thirty times higher than that of CO2. Up to now, forests and oceans continue to absorb about half of the CO2 emitted each year, playing the role of carbon sinks. A weakening of this absorption capacity (the transformation of the Amazon into a savanna, for example) would constitute a major tipping point. But maintaining the CO2 absorption capacity of the oceans is hardly less serious: the dissolution of carbon dioxide leads to water acidification, which threatens marine life as a whole.

1.2.3. There is no doubt that we are in the danger zone close to very large, non-linear and irreversible changes involving, inter alia, a several-meter rise in sea level (6-13 m according to paleoclimate stdies), an intensification of extreme weather events and a decline in agricultural productivity. The urgency is maximum: according to scientists, the humankind will have exhausted within 15 years at most the "carbon budget" giving it a 66% chance of not exceeding a 1.5 °C warming, compared to the pre-industrial era. However, it is not certain that a warming of this magnitude would not itself have very serious consequences.

1.3. … But not the only one

There are many indicators that Earth’s biota is suffering major deleterious changes especially from the last decades to the present. For instance, the population of vertebrates in the wild declined 58% between 1970 and 2012, due to the combined pressure of overexploitation (including overfishing), environment destruction, degradation and contamination, climate change, invasive species and diseases. Oceans are not only becoming warmer (temperature approaching one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels), but much more acidic and with 2.1% less oxygen in only 50 years. Ocean acidification is already 3-7 times greater and 70 times faster than it was during the termination of the last glacial and global change scenarios of little to no mitigation are projected to make the cold oceans subsaturated with respect to aragonite (one of the forms of calcium carbonate) before the end of this century, making it impossible for many forms of life to survive, with impacts in all marine trophic levels. The loss of oxygen is directly associated with climate change, as warming the water surface enhances stratification and inhibits vertical motion and mixing, reducing the oxygen flux to the deep ocean. Another enormous threat to marine life is the huge amount of trash, as there is now one ton of plastic for each five tons of fish in the Earth’s ocean with chances of reaching a 1:1 proportion as early as 2050, in a business-as-usual scenario.

1.4. The dangers are underestimated rather overestimated

1.4.1. The uncertainties of scientific projections do not in any way call into question the reality of the threat or its imminence. In many cases, it is to be feared, on the contrary, that they result in underestimation rather than overestimation of danger. All projections are tainted with greater or lesser uncertainties. It is known, for example, that the influx of phosphorus into the waters can cause the death of the oceans by anoxia and that this phenomenon already occurred abruptly in the history of the Earth, but the threshold of dangerousness remains undetermined. Uncertainties of this kind do not doubt the reality of the threat or its possible imminence. In many cases, it is to be feared, on the opposite, that they result in underestimation rather than overestimation of danger. By way of example, the negative consequences of the 100,000 molecules produced by the chemical industry, which do not exist in nature, and of which some are not or very difficultly decomposable, are becoming increasingly well known (many of them are carcinogens or endocrine disrupters that affect reproductive capacity), but the cocktail effects of these substances are less known, and the impact of nanomaterials even less: it is more than likely that better knowledge in these fiels will lower the threshold of dangerousness relative to this parameter, which could thus be crossed as well.

1.4.2. Actually, every advance in knowledge leads to the conclusion that the dangerousness thresholds must be lower than in previous estimates. As an example, the two degrees of warming are no longer considered a safe limit. The underestimation of hazards is well established in the climate field: climate science is increasingly fine, but the reality of the observed effects, while confirming the theoretical assumptions, is often considerably worse than the projections - the annual increase observed for sea level, for example, is clearly higher than the projections by mathematical models. This underestimation of hazards is due in particular to the conservative nature of research syntheses (the case of IPCC reports) and the difficulty of capturing non-linear dynamics. However, subjective phenomena, such as self-censorship of researchers who are often reluctant to fully take into account their own most extreme conclusions, must not be overlooked. At the same time, the ideological conceptions of scientists can also bias their conclusions in the direction of underestimating possible solutions, so that the possible outcome seems to come only from faith in technological breakthroughs, not in the ability of humankind to self-regulate its development and its exchanges with the environment. The IPCC WG3 provides an obvious example of ideological bias: "Climate models assume markets that operate fully and competitive market behavior" (IPCC, AR5, WG3). Scientific policy, as well as funding mechanisms for research, facilitate these ideological biases, leading to questionable conclusions. Consequently, effective and relatively obvious proposals to avert the catastrophe or at least to limit it are not taken into account because they call into question the social mode of production and the resulting relationship between the humankind and the rest of nature, which is enough to classify them as "utopian".

1.5. A major amplifier of the social crisis

1.5.1. The destruction of the human environment is now a major amplifier of the social crisis. It affects health systems, especially as they are undermined by austerity policies everywhere. Air pollution causes almost 3 million premature deaths every year worldwide. Fine particles caused by fossil fuels combustion are responsible for 6% of lung cancer deaths. For example, air pollution is the main environmental health risk in the EU-28 and its cost to health systems is estimated between 330 and 940 billion Euros / year. According to the World Health Organization, some five million deaths each year are attributable to chemical poisoning.

1.5.2. Just as it is at the center of environmental destruction, climate change is at the center of the social impacts of environmental destruction. Many examples, including examples from the so-called "developed" countries, show that it exacerbates social inequalities - class, gender, race. In addition to direct casualties, extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves, cyclones, etc.) destabilize the livelihoods of indigenous peoples, contribute to the ruin of small farmers, accelerate the concentration of land ownership, the private appropriation of places and resources, degrading the living conditions of the poorest layers of society. The rise of these climatic risks reduces certain territories and those who inhabit them, favors speculation on others.

1.5.3. Warming, rising sea levels, salinization of soils, desertification, thawing of permafrost, etc. are now new determinants of population migration, in particular the rural exodus that swells the megacities surrounded by slums. This in turn creates new social and ecological problems. Social feedback is generally negative, particularly for women, who are faced with greater difficulties in securing their livelihood and that of their children without the relative autonomy afforded them by their often major role in food production. The environmental causes of migration are generally combined with human causes, such as chronic underemployment, racism, repression of democratic freedoms, major new infrastructure (dams in particular), mining, wars and the like. More than 160 million refugees are estimated to be, at least in part, environmental refugees. Climate refugees alone would already be over 25 million. Most of these people are internally displaced, but in the extreme cases of some small Pacific island states, whole peoples are threatened with uprooting because their country will disappear.

1.5.4. The control on resources threatens to become a new cause of conflicts, including water wars in arid or desert regions. 150 to 200 million people may be forced to move in the coming decades as a result of an 80cm rise in the ocean level. Overall, under the current mode of production, there is no possible adaptation to a warming by 3 ° to 4 ° C with the human population of nine billion people projected by the end of the century. Having no status, ecological refugees are those who run the greatest risk of being considered "too much" in relation to the "carrying capacity" of the planet. Reprinted in green and combined with racism, nationalism and imperialism, Malthus’ anti-poor logic, by "naturalizing" the humanity-nature relationship, risks making the ideological bed of an unprecedented planetary barbarity whose premises are already before our eyes.

2. Ecological crisis, crisis of capitalism

2.1. Points of no return are exceeded

2.1.1. The acceleration of global change appears clearly in the profile of the curves showing the evolution of the different parameters of the ecological crisis as a function of time: all show a very marked inflection point in the early fifties of the last century. The connection with the post-war long wave of economic expansion is evident. Since the 1970s, there has also been a clear link between continuing increases in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and aerosols and the "just in time" globalization of production and trade, including the transformation of China into the workshop of the world, highly dependent on coal, and the explosion of transport. There is also a clear link between the so-called "Green Revolution" and the global acceleration of chemical poisoning, pressure on freshwater supplies, declining biodiversity and changes in land use.

2.1.2. These accelerations are such that a series of no return points are already exceeded in the evolution of the Earth System. The hundreds of species that have disappeared because of human activity are forever; The level of the oceans rose by 20 cm in the twentieth century; The increase resulting only from the supplement energy already accumulated in the Earth System (not taking account the future emissions) will cause inevitably and at least a new rise by several tens of centimeters by the end of this century, and could exceed three meters in equilibrium (in a thousand years or more ); Many synthetic chemical compounds will remain tens of thousands of years for lack of natural agents capable of decomposing them; Radioactive materials will continue to contaminate the environment for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years.

2.1.3. These are irreversible impacts on the geological scale of time, the traces of which will remain inscribed in the physics and chemistry of the globe. It is justified to draw the conclusion that the Earth has entered a new geological epoch (or even a new period or era), which succeeds the Holocene. It is also justified to consider that this era begins after the Second World War, for geology takes into account only the geological facts - not their premises, which do not fit into the earth’s crust. The fact of calling this era "Anthropocene" is questionable, because this denomination may tend to impute change to the human species rather than to its historical mode of production of its existence. But (i) the consequences of capitalism will not disappear with ecosocialism; (ii) the proposed dating displaces this ahistorical and essentialist interpretation; (iii) it is a question of learning from the long history of pre-capitalist environmental destructions, as well as the recent experience of the serious environmental destruction committed in the 20th century by the USSR and other post-capitalist countries: the abolition of capitalism is only a necessary condition, in no way sufficient to the resilience of the Earth System.

2.2. The systemic crisis of capitalism threatens the humankind and its environment with major destructions

2.2.1. It is not nature that is in crisis, but the relationship of humankind to the environment, which is determined by the form of social relations. The exponential growth of the resources taken and the waste discharged which marks the entry into the Anthropocene stems from the very nature of capitalism. This mode of production only aims at the production of surplus value through the exploitation of unpaid labor. This exploitation has been imposed historically by the violent private appropriation of resources, a dispossession the system reproduces and expands unceasingly, for it conditions its existence. Market competition constantly forces capitalists to increase labor productivity by replacing workers with machines, to lower their costs. They can thus reduce their prices and increase their market share, hence their profit. But they then contribute diminishing the average amount of human labor needed, and thus the value of the goods. The effects of the resulting decline in the average rate of profit can be offset only in four ways:

-  by increasing the rate of exploitation of the labor force, 
- 
-  by increasing the mass of goods produced (thus the amount resources exploited) 
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-  by plundering more free natural resources (hence the tendency of capital to extractivism), 
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-  and by reducing the cost of the reproduction of the force (by transferring them to the free labor carried out mostly by women in the domestic sphere and decreasing the value of consumer goods). 
-  2.2.2. The capitalist development now encounters a double limit, social and physical. On the one hand, compensating for the fall in the rate of profit by raising the exploitation rate and reducing the cost of reproduction is met with resistance and other social difficulties. On the other hand, compensation by the increase in the mass of goods depletes certain resources and worsens the destruction of the environment in general, to the point of threatening the stability, even the survival, of capitalism. The fact that competition compels Capital to increase efficiency in resource use, recycle waste, and even promote a "circular economy" does not solve the problem. Increased efficiency and recycling are aimed at increasing the quantity of goods to compensate for the decline in the rate of profit, not at reducing the environmental pressure. Moreover, this increase is a decreasing function of investment which also contributes to a reduction in the average rate of profit, and consequently leads to an increase in the exploitation rate and the mass of goods as well as to the reduction of the reproduction costs of the force ... The so-called "dematerialization" does not bring a structural solution either: the information and communication technologies need huge amounts of energy. Generally speaking, all these developments are based on a massive, concentrated and centralized global accumulation of fix capital financed on credit, so that the relationship between needs and production is profoundly reversed. Thus, the very dynamics of capital lead it more and more to "Producing to produce", which also means "consuming to consume", always more and more quickly. The resulting contradictions cannot be solved otherwise than by a gigantic "creative destruction" of capital.

2.2.3. Earlier societies in history remained based directly on natural productivity. In these societies, a crossing of the ecological limits was temporary, and was paid in cash. Pushing the limits was possible by developing the population, knowledge and agricultural techniques, but respecting a "metabolism" with nature. Capitalism has broken this metabolism. Thanks to fossil energy resources, science and technology, it has been able to develop "above ground": the destruction of European forests has been reversed by the replacement of wood by coal, disruption in the nutrient cycle has been stopped by the invention of synthetic fertilizers, the depletion of natural resources has been circumvented by petrochemical products, and the acidification of the rains has been greatly reduced by the regulation of sulfur and nitrogen emissions. These responses may have seemed to have immediate positive ecological effect, but they would bring the fundamental problem of the limits of development back to the future, making it more complex and creating new environmental threats. As warnings by scientists, particularly over half a century ago, have not been heard, the problem comes back in the form of a crisis that is no longer local and partial but global, general and systemic. Capital is caught up by the long-delayed effects of the fundamental antagonism between its need for growth and the finiteness of resources. This crisis reveals the destructive force it has borne in it from the beginning, which has only grown in the course of its development and which is freed periodically. It is so profound that "creative destruction", as at the end of the 1930s, is likely to include once again a barbaric destruction of "surplus" labor power, by war or other means.

2.3. The imposture of "Green capitalism"

2.3.1. The crisis undermines legitimacy and threatens the stability, even the very survival of the system. Most capitalist leaders are now aware of this. They are particularly aware of the need to act to limit climate change. The previous successful actions to save the stratospheric ozone layer show this is not impossible. But to cancel the greenhouse gases emissions, particularly the CO2 emissions, by way of the kind climate measures of regulation and quota that have proven effective in banning the production and use of ozone-depleting gases is no longer possible today without calling capitalism into question. This is the result of the urgency of global warming and of the centrality of fossil fuels in the economy - as a source of energy, raw material and the basis of key sectors such as car industry, aviation, etc. Climate policy therefore remains neoliberal, and therefore insufficient ecologically, while being socially unfair.

2.3.2. The example of Germany, the imperialist country most advanced in the energy transition, is enlightening. The exit of nuclear power is planned, but increasing areas are sacrificed to the exploitation of lignite, the costs of the transition to the renewable sources ("Umlage") are transferred to the consumers, several thousand large companies are exempted in the name of competitiveness, "gray emissions" in imported products are not accounted for and governments are hampering the reduction of emission standards in the car industry. The development of wind energy cooperatives attests to the possibility of a decentralized renewable energy system, socialized and placed under the democratic control of the populations. But capitalist social relations have another dynamic: in a first phase, "citizen" cooperatives attract mostly the savings of the upper middle strata, which more than compensate for the extra cost of electricity imposed on households; in a second phase, these cooperatives are involved in the process of concentration and centralization of capital. As a result, the transition is destructive, inferior to opportunities and necessities, and the disadvantaged are the only ones to pay for it.

2.3.3. The agreement reached in Paris at COP21 illustrates more generally the ecological impotence and social injustice of "green capitalism". In accordance with the methods of "governance", this agreement was prepared undemocratically by "high-level strategic dialogue" between major powers, international institutions and major capitalist groups. It is silent on fossil fuels and contains no concrete measures to lower the emissions. Nationally determined contributions put in perspective a warming at least twice as high as the maximum 1.5 to 2 ° C warming target adopted at the COP.

2.3.4. "Green capitalism" is an imposture. It combines technological fetishism (the myth of a technological breakthrough in reconciling the crisis and the revival of growth), the fetishism of commodities (the myth of an internalization of externalities - carbon tax or feed-in-tariff – as a way to achieve sustainability), widespread appropriation / commodification of ecosystem functions in order to (try to) ’offset’ emissions, and biased indicators (the share of renewables tends to substitute for the atmospheric concentration of CO2eq, while both can increase at the same time, as is the case, though). This strategy is doomed to failure because it does not question accumulation nor private ownership of the energy sector. The same criticism must be addressed to the idea of a carbon tax, the product of which would be fully shared among all citizens and which would function as an incentive to take over the ecological transition by these citizens. This proposal (fee-and-dividend) does not guarantee compliance with the constraint in terms of reducing emissions. It remains within the framework of the strategy of green capitalism - the internalization of externalities - and in the liberal ideology of consumer freedom.

2.3.5. The key issue of accumulation appears concretely at three levels: the carbon bubble (at least 4 / 5th of the fossil reserves must be destroyed as capital), competition between firms (to grow or to die), and geostrategic competition between powers (which relay competition between companies). The North-South issue is an additional challenge and an expression of the same puzzle. Indeed, without massive transfer of clean technologies and finance, and above all without fairly sharing the "carbon budget" on base of historical responsibilities, the countries of the South should choose between the evil and the deep blue see: to give up development, or to accelerate the disaster.

2.3.6. The absolute urgency overlooks everything. At the current rate of emissions and absorption, the still available 1.5°C "carbon budget" will be depleted in about 2030. Confronted with this challenge, capital takes on three directions: a senseless revival of nuclear energy, the widespread appropriation of "ecosystem services" as a new field of valorisation, and geoengineering technologies.

- Despite the accidents at Three Miles Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as the risks of nuclear weapons dissemination, the IEA is counting on a growth of more than 60% of the world’s nuclear power capacity, mostly due to investments in the so-called "emerging" countries. More than 70 nuclear reactors are under construction and 160 are planned.

- The widespread capitalist appropriation of ecosystems and their capacity to absorb carbon is openly advocated by "green capitalism" think tanks that require governments to create attractive conditions and guarantee property rights for this investment in what they describe as “infrastructures ".

- However, these responses promise to remain insufficient, and investors are increasingly interested in geoengineering technologies. The most mature of these technologies, Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS), combines the uncertainties of geological carbon sequestration and threats, either on food production or on biodiversity, or on both, because the area needed to produce biomass energy would be huge. On the one hand, the social and ecological consequences of this kind of absurd technological choices are likely to be incalculable. On the other hand, this project BECCS in particular is especially attractive for capital, because it combines a service it can be paid for by the collectivity (removing carbon from the atmosphere) and power production. In the event that this insane project would effectively postpone yet again the hour of truth of capitalist productivism (as the invention of synthetic fertilizers did from the end of the 19th century), the result would be to put the thermostat of the globe, so to speak, in the hands of Capital, which would then have unprecedented absolute power over the humankind.

2.4. Populism, nationalism and climate denial

2.4.1. Despite its ideological biases, scientific expertise sheds light on capitalist impotence and objectively charges the sectors of capital most opposed to an ecological transition. This impotence and this indictment are unbearable for the fossil fuel sectors and for the most reactionary layers of the capitalist class. Through the controversies about tobacco and the hole in the ozone layer, capitalist trusts have developed a perverse method to undermine scientific expertise in name of pseudo-science and the right to debate. This method has been applied in particular to deny the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This denial funded by fossil capitalists has been defeated on the ground of science, and defeated within the "elites" of big capital, who rely on "green capitalism". But the fossil lobbies that finance the "doubt merchants" do not admit defeat. They are inspired by how the tobacco industry has managed to protect its profits. To achieve their ends, they are counting on the rise of populism, which opens up new possibilities for them. The election of Trump is a success for these capitalist circles who have been acting for decades to cancel the EPA.

2.4.2. The climate negationism of the new US President does not invalidate the capitalist awareness of the climatic emergency. It is either an element of a protectionist and nationalist populism that demagogically amalgamates scientists with the "elite", environmental regulation with statism and climate agreements (among others) with globalization, and thus with the destruction of jobs and the democracy. In addition to the pressure of the fossil lobbies, in particular coal mines, this climate negationism is a facet of a global reactionary spirit that also includes machism, racism, creationism, anti-Semitism, hatred for equal rights, malthusianism, extractivism ... In short, in name of the freedom, the refusal of any constraint imposed on the rich, and the will of the rulers to maintain their privileges at all costs, crushing the struggles for emancipation, designating scapegoats and destroying the planet. Trump’s climate declarations are seen as aberrant by the majority of international and US big capitalists. The fact that such a person was able to become the president of the first world power shows the depth of the systemic crisis. This crisis favors a rise of the irrational within the ruling class and accentuates the relative autonomy of the political sphere. Within this framework, in certain circumstances of acute political crisis, individuals can play a decisive role to the point of imposing their own project.

2.4.3. Trump’s climate-denialism is counter to the ongoing capitalist energy transition - including in the United States. It will encounter severe diplomatic, economic, institutional and social obstacles. But no capitalist leader will break with the United States to save the climate of the planet. So, the danger is real. The actual impact will have to be measured in practice. Although US emissions account for only 10% of global emissions, Trump can significantly deepen the gap between the official target of Paris on the one hand and the commitment of nationally determined contributions (NDC) on the other. The NDC of the USA is insufficient, and the measures taken by Obama only allow to realize 83%. The Clean Energy Plan, abolished by Trump, represented 14% of the US commitment. By eliminating certain other measures (engine efficiency, building insulation, gas leaks, etc.), Trump could reduce the US commitment by 50% or more. Such a policy would further enhance the difficulty and urgency of future policy in trying to catch up with the damage. In a capitalist framework, the risk would increase in particular to see the capital resort to geoengineering. However, the biggest threat is not the widening of the climatic-negationist plague to other countries but a shift in the social forces (favored by unemployment and racist poison), populist-protectionist contagion and a global change in relations between powers, with an escalation of geostrategic tensions, and even wars for hegemony. In this scenario, the climate issue would be returned to the 10th priority (there was a precedent under the presidency of L. Jonhson: contrary to Trump, Johnson had been made aware of the climate threat, but the Vietnam war came in the forefront). A runaway climate change would then become inevitable and terrifying weapons (chemical, nuclear, depleted uranium, etc.) would cause death and destruction on an unprecedented scale.

3. Struggles, demands and ecosocial strategy

3.1. An ecosocialist emergency plan

3.1.1. An entirely different relationship of humankind to the environment, based on the "caring" of humans and the environment, is an urgent necessity. The development of science and technology creates objective conditions more favorable than ever, but this different relationship can only materialize in the context of a completely different relationship between humans, necessitating the total and complete eradication of capitalism. This eradication is indeed the sine qua non condition for a rational, efficient and careful management of the matter exchanges between humanity and the rest of nature.

3.1.2. The response to environmental destruction in general and the danger of climate change in particular is not support for green capitalism and the Paris agreement as a "lesser evil", but a global emergency policy that satisfies real human needs, that is, the needs determined not by the market, but by a democratic deliberation, allowing the populations to emerge little by little from the market alienation. Such a policy has as a precondition to break with the productivist logic of capital accumulation by the implementation of profound structural reforms aimed at eliminating poverty and radically reducing social inequality as well as the sphere of the commodity.

3.1.3. The key demands in this perspective are:

3.1.3.1.- the socialization of the energy sector: this is the only way out of fossils and nuclear power to rapidly make the transition to a renewable, decentralized and efficient system, according to ecological and social imperatives;

3.1.3.2.- the socialization of the credit sector: this is essential given the interweaving of the energy and financial sectors in heavy and long-term investments and in order to have the necessary financial resources for transition investments;

3.1.3.3.- food sovereignty and protection of biodiversity through land socialization, agrarian reform, and the transition to local ecological and local peasant agriculture, recognized as being of public interest, free of GMOs and pesticides, with reduced production / consumption of meat and respect for animal welfare: this is a decisive way to reduce emissions, increase absorption, protect biodiversity, clean up the environment and promote environmental awareness;

3.1.3.4.- socialization of water: this is absolutely necessary within the framework of a policy aiming at social equality and promotion of an ecological agriculture based on the peasants;

3.1.3.5.- the abolition of the patent system, in particular the immediate prohibition of patenting living organisms and energy conversion / storage technologies. Significant public refinancing of scientific research and the end of systems that submit research to industry

3.1.3.6.- the abolition of private ownership of forests and their public management in accordance with the needs of biodiversity, water resources management, carbon storage and their social function

3.1.3.7.- recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples

3.1.3.8.- the abolition of unnecessary or harmful productions (weapons, petrochemical, nuclear), planned obsolescence, with collective retraining of workers, under workers’ control,

3.1.3.9.- the development of public enterprises aimed at job creation through the implementation of the ecological transition regardless of profit, under workers ’and citizens’ control (in particular in the fields of electricity generation, construction-insulation-renovation of buildings, mobility of people through the exit of the "all-car" system, recycling of waste and repairing of ecosystems)

3.1.3.10.- the collective radical reduction of working time without wage loss, with lower work rates and proportional hiring: together with the development of the public sector, it is the best way to reconcile production reduction, full employment and democratic transition;

3.1.3.11.- the extension of free goods (basic food products) and services (public transport, education, health care, etc.)

3.1.3.12.- the abolition of public debts (without compensation, except for small holders) and a redistributive tax reform to bring capital and wealth to bear;

3.1.3.13.- at least one per cent of the GDP of the rich countries for development aid. The absolute distinction between this aid and the fulfillment of Green Fund commitments ($ 100 billion / year) to be made in the form of grants (no loans). Public management of the Green Fund, not by the World Bank but by the representatives of the countries of the South, under the control of communities and social movements;

3.1.3.14.- the taxation of international air and maritime transport;

3.1.3.15.- the extension of the workers right to organize and exert control in the workplace, in particular on occupational health, product sustainability, production efficiency, etc. Protection of early warners (alert launchers? “lanceurs d’alerte” in French) on these issues within companies;

3.1.3.16.- refugee status for victims of ecological / climatic disasters, freedom of movement and settlement and full respect of democratic rights for refugees in general;

3.1.3.17.- a long-term urban reform aimed at breaking land speculation, "disartifying" the city (urban agriculture) and freeing it from the car for public transport, fostering community gardening and soft mobility;

3.1.3.18.- a long term socio-economic policy favoring a rebalancing of urban and rural populations consistent with the objectives of ecological agriculture, food sovereignty and ecosystem care;

3.1.3.19.- a family planning policy based on sound social security systems, ensuring adequate life and pensions, including the right of women to voluntary abortion and to free contraception.

3.1.4. This program is not exhaustive: it is and will continue to be enriched continuously by concrete struggles. What is common is defined by the social process of its democratic construction, not by nature which would make certain things "common", while others would be doomed to private appropriation. The above demands do not therefore constitute a key door-to-door solution: they indicate the general way forward for an anti-capitalist, internationalist, ecosocialist and ecofeminist issue that will change all spheres of activity (production, reproduction, distribution, consumption) and will be accompanied by a profound change in cultural values. They are applicable separately, but an end to the crisis is possible only through their coordinated and planned application.

3.1.5. These measures form a coherent whole, incompatible with the normal functioning of the capitalist system. There is no other way to deal with the urgency of the situation. This coherent whole responds to the major contradiction of capitalism already highlighted by Marx and that is today more acute than ever: whereas the general productive force of society (science and technology) could radically reduce working time, render to labor its sense of conscious collective activity, producing a good life to which each one could contribute according to his abilities, the accumulation of value continues to depend on the theft of the working time of others, a miserable base whose Capitalism cannot do without, for it is its very essence. In this context, the strategic importance of the radical reduction of working time without loss of wages and the extension of the sphere of free provision as well as of the public sector under democratic control must be stressed.

3.2. Wage-labor, alienation and ecosocialism

3.2.1. The exploited and the oppressed can alone lead the environmental struggle to the end because the abolition of the capitalist system corresponds to their class interests, but capital incorporates the worker by the purchase of his labor power. Chosification and destruction of the environment are therefore not an external consequence of the wage-labor relationship, but a constituent element of it - just as the chosification and destruction of the wage-earners themselves, as well as the invisibility of the work of reproduction, or the ruin of the small peasant. Under the "normal" circumstances of the capitalist mode of production, the daily existence of the proletarians depends on the functioning of the system which mutilates them directly and indirectly - by mutilating their environment. This contradiction makes it very difficult to mobilize the labor movement in the ecological struggle. The difficulty is increasing in the present period due to mass unemployment, the decline in class consciousness and the deterioration in the balance of forces with employers.

3.2.2. The majority leadership of the trade union movement is in favor of class collaboration with the project of "green capitalism": the "just transition" "with respect for business competitiveness" (ITUC Vancouver Resolution). They have the illusion that the capitalist transition, if concerted, will massively reduce unemployment by reviving growth through "green" production. Faced with this dominant trade union trend, certain sectors are inclined towards populism and protectionism, or even climate denial, in reaction to the fact that climate defense serves as a pretext for capitalist attacks, or in the illusion that they will be able to avoid the destruction of jobs in the fossil fuels sectors. Fostering a debate on ecosocialist alternatives and helping to uncover a left-wing left with capitalism and class collaboration in trade unions is therefore a task of prime strategic importance.

3.2.3. Left-wing sectors are taking part in environmental struggles – f.i. "Trade Unions for Energy Democracy" and the “Climate Jobs Campaigns”. However, these sectors are generally in a minority and are not always clearly antiproductivist. Developing, coordinating and radicalizing them requires a lot of patience and tact. But it is possible because the consciousness of the gravity of ecological destruction of the planet by the race to profit also grows in large layers of the working class. It grows in a diffuse way, which leads too little to ecological positions assumed by sectors of the labor movement, but it materializes at other levels and can suddenly turn out in case of general mobilization. Apart from such mobilizations, the huge objective constraints of the transition - in particular the necessary global decrease in material production to stabilize the climate system - seem impossible to the mass, which contributes to fueling a feeling of helplessness, or retreat into individual lifestyle changes.

3.2.4. The defense of the health of workers is an important means by which the ecological struggle can be taken over by trade unionism as such. Indeed, the deterioration of the balance of power between capital and labor has resulted, in particular, in a deterioration in working conditions, which has led to a worsening of capitalist attacks on the health of workers, particularly the most precarious workers. The fight against the increase in occupational diseases thus constitutes a lever to encourage the employees’ awareness of the fact that Capital destroys both the Earth and the laborer. This destruction of the laborer includes rising psycho-social risks, resulting not only from the forms of organization and control of workers, but also from the environmental damage that many workers are forced to realize on the order of capital. The defense of the health of workers is also a lever for the often difficult convergence of the demands of the workers of polluting companies, the surrounding populations - which also suffer from this pollution - and movements for the environment.

3.2.5. Plans aiming at job creation through a regulated ecological transition ("One Million Climate Jobs", etc.) is another way of driving the worker’s movement into the struggle for the environment, linking this struggle to the fight for defense and the extension of a public sector under democratic control of the population. But it is not enough to show that transition can create jobs, it is necessary to do it respecting the ecological constraints and the principle of the differentiated responsibility of North and South countries in the warming. Workers in a company or sector who require their employment through conversion to green products must be supported unconditionally. However, comprehensive plans to create "climate jobs" on the scale of developed countries cannot circumvent the necessary global reduction in material output. It is therefore decisive that these plans incorporate the radical collective reduction of working time without wage loss, alongside the demands for the development of the public sector. The CRWT is indeed an antiproductivist claim par excellence. Marx had already noted this: it is the privileged means of "rationally managing the exchanges of matter with nature in the respect of human dignity", that is to say reconciling full employment and suppression of useless or harmful productions, and planned obsolescence.

3.3. Women struggles and ecosocialism

3.3.1. Indigenous peoples, peasants and youth are at the forefront of environmental struggles, and women play a leading role in these three sectors. This situation is the product of their specific oppression, not their biological sex. Patriarchy imposes on women social functions directly linked to "caring" and place them at the forefront of environmental challenges. Because they produce 80% of food production in the countries of the South, women are directly confronted with the ravages of climate change and agribusiness. Because they take on most of the child-rearing and home maintenance tasks, women are directly confronted with the effects of environmental destruction and poisoning on health and education.

3.3.2. On the ideological level, women’s movements remember the experiences of instrumentalization of women’s bodies in the name of science (forced sterilization campaigns, etc.), which favors a critical view of pseudo-scientific mechanistic rationality as an instrument of domination and manipulation.

3.3.3. Women also have a special, valuable and irreplaceable contribution to the development of a global anti-capitalist consciousness which favors the integration of struggles. By fighting against the patriarchal appropriation of their bodies as well as their natural reproductive capacity, and against the exploitation of the free domestic work which they carry out to a large extent, women stimulate the understanding that capitalism relies not only on the appropriation of nature and the exploitation of the labor force by wage labor but also on the patriarchal invisibilization of the labor of care and reproduction of the labor force. These three pillars of capitalism have, in the last instance, a common denominator which is the appropriation of natural resources, of which human workforce is a part. Women’s struggles (i) for the right to control their bodies, sexuality and reproductive capacities, (ii) against sexist discrimination in the wage labor market and in production in general, and (iii) for social recognition and the sharing of domestic work are thus an integral part of the ecosocialist struggle. They deepen it and widen its horizons.

3.4. Agrarian question and ecosocialism

3.4.1. Farmers and agricultural workers are the world’s most heavily involved social sector in the fight for the environment in general and climate in particular. This vanguard role is attributable to the brutal aggression of capital which wants to eliminate the independent peasants to make agricultural workers or franchised workers - producing cheap goods at low cost for the market rather than quality food products for local populations - or unemployed, weighting on the wages. It is also the result of the organizational and awareness-raising work carried out by peasant unions such as Via Campesina.

3.4.2. Unlike salaried workers, small-scale farmers are not incorporated into capital. Although production for the market tends to impose productivist objectives and methods on them, they also retain the mentality of the craftsman who is anxious to do "fine work". Aggressed by a powerful capitalist enemy, they mobilize to retain or reconquer the ownership of their means of production. But the very unequal balance of power in the face of agribusiness and large-scale distribution forces them to seek alliances with other social movements, especially with employees. They also understand the extra legitimacy they can get by explaining and assuming the ecological importance of their struggles. As for agricultural workers, especially illegal seasonal workers who are over-exploited, they mostly have little prospect of becoming peasants or of leaving the ultra-precarious margins of wage-earners. Anti-capitalist struggle is their only alternative.

3.4.3. The importance of the agrarian question should not be judged by the proportion of farmers in the labor force, but based on five objective facts:

3.4.3.1.- The challenges of human nutrition and the threats that mass distribution, agribusiness and industrial fishing pose to farmers, fishermen, communities, consumers and the environment, as well as to the emancipatory struggles in general (through dependence on world markets, which gives multinationals a terrible means of pressure on peoples). Changes in consumer behavior cannot drive the ecological transition, but their food choices can support reorientations at the production chain level that have a significant ecological impact. This also contributes to breaking the feeling of powerlessness in the face of the ecological crisis. At the same time, this issue has an acute class nature, as consumer choices are limited by the capitalist tendency to lower the value of the reproduction of the labor force and by wage policies that impoverish workers. So, large-scale, low-cost distribution plays a major role: it enforces a massive solvent demand for junk food and poor agribusiness products, including micro-credit. The agrarian modes of production are thus at the center of decisive stakes of human health (obesity, cardiac diseases, allergy…) and the protection of the environment, which reveal the destructive force of capital. The demand of "food sovereignty" makes it possible to unify consumers and producers around a fight and practices generating anti-capitalist consciousness.

3.4.3.2.- The important role of women in agricultural production and the impact of women’s oppression on the productive deficit. Women make up 43% of the agricultural workforce in so-called "developing" countries. Patriarchal discrimination is reflected in the smaller size of their farms and livestock, the lower level of mechanization, a heavier workload for a lower yield (due to the weight of non-productive chores - water and timber), less access to training and credit, and, for employees, status that is more precarious than that of men. The emancipation of women farmers as women is one of the decisive conditions for addressing both the challenge of food and ecological agriculture. It is therefore an ecosocialist issue in itself.

3.4.3.3.- The agricultural-forestry sector as a whole (including upstream - production of inputs, machinery, etc. - and downstream - processing and distribution) is responsible for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Agribusiness is also a key agent for chemical poisoning of the biosphere, while industrial fishing and water pollution by agribusiness are key determinants of the biodiversity loss in aquatic environments. At the same time, warming threatens land productivity and acidification due to warming threatens that of aquatic ecosystems.

3.4.3.4.- Biodiversity loss will not be stopped mainly by the creation of nature reserves but by the development of an ecological agriculture instead of agribusiness. Moreover, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero is no longer sufficient to curb climate change. In the coming decades carbon must be removed from the atmosphere. Peasant farming and rational forestry are the only means of achieving this removal efficiently and safely, without resorting either to geoengineering or to the generalization / appropriation / commodification of ecosystems. Thus, the protection of biodiversity and of the climate 1 °) reinforce the need for the ecosocialist alternative 2°) materially found the decisive place of the agro-ecological farming / food alternative in this overall alternative.

3.4.3.5.- The transition to environmentally friendly agriculture (and fisheries and forestry) is a major condition for building an ecosocialist society. This aspect is of the same importance as the democracy of producers and the use of 100% renewable. However, agroecology is more labor-intensive than industrial agriculture. The transition to sustainable forestry and the restoration / protection of ecosystems entail an increase in the share of the population invested in these activities. Yet the example of countries such as Venezuela, where nearly all the population is urbanized and depends almost exclusively on the world market for its food, shows that it is very difficult to reverse the trend. Avoiding this extreme point requires a long-term policy of upgrading agricultural trades, training workers and equipping rural areas with infrastructure and personal services.

3.5. Indigenous peoples, buen vivir and ecosocialism

3.5.1. In North, Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, indigenous peoples are also in the front line. Their struggle often combines with that of peasants and rural communities, but it is specific. Indigenous peoples produce their social existence from a direct relationship with the environment they have shaped and which constitutes their environment of life. As a result, these peoples are on the road to many powerful capitalist players who are eager for natural resources to plunder: oil, gas, mining, wood, pulp, meat multinationals, agribusiness, Pharmaceutical sector, not counting the carbon offsetting financiers disguised as ecological defenders of the forest (and environmental NGOs completely integrated with green capitalism and the imperialist system). All of these extractivist plunderers generally act with the complicity of national governments and local authorities, who invoke development goals and ecological needs to conceal their greed and neocolonial contempt for indigenous peoples. For their part, these peoples generally have no title or property to the resources of their environment. They have no other means but the struggle not to end up as wretched agricultural workers or as sub-proletarians in a shantytown. Through their struggle, the indigenous peoples protect and make known their cosmogony, which is a precious asset to the whole of humanity and an inspiration for ecosocialism. But it is not this cosmogony that explains their role as a vanguard: this role derives rather from the fact that these peoples are pushed their backs to the wall in their last entrenchments after centuries of spoliation and colonial humiliations. In this unequal struggle, they fully and rightly use the "ecological crisis" to find allies among other social movements and thus improve the balance of power in their favor.

3.6. Self-management, control and political outlet

3.6.1. The profound changes in lifestyle and development prospects that ecological transition requires cannot be imposed from above, either authoritatively or technocratically. They are only feasible if the majority of the population acquires the conviction that they are indispensable and compatible with a significant improvement in their living conditions, hence desirable. It is a question of spreading popular education (“éducation permanente” in French is a specific concept, don’t know the equivalent in ENGL) about the severity of environmental destruction and its causes. In the face of capitalist impotence, it is a question of stimulating democratic processes of active control, of taking charge of transition, of intervening in public decision-making, and even of joint appropriation of production and social reproduction, as well as the protection of endangered ecosystems. By their very nature, these processes combine with the struggles of oppressed nationalities for their social rights and democratic right to self-determination. It is a matter of sketching in practice the invention of emancipated relationships between human beings, and between humanity and the rest of nature, to show that "another world is possible". Through these practices, and through the social sectors most involved in struggles, it is a matter of weighing on the workers’ movement to combat the influence of productivism within it.

3.6.2. The movement for the divestment of fossil fuels and the transition towns movement must be encouraged and actively supported. In general, the experiences of workers’ control, citizen control, participatory management and even self-management, as well as women’s struggles for social recognition and the sharing of domestic tasks, favor an anti-capitalist consciousness and project including the ecosocialist dimension. Experiments in cooperative ecological agriculture, particularly in Europe but especially in Latin America, demonstrate this and have an influence also in the labor movement. Many self-management production experiments also involve licensed workers, excluded and precarious workers, even “sans papiers” migrants and asylum-seekers. These alternatives provide an immediate response to massive and permanent social exclusion, which degrades the lives and dignity of people. They have an important place in an ecosocialist strategy because they refuse fatalism, create solidarity, exceed the circles of environmental activists. It is, however, an illusion to believe that their generalization by contagion to society as a whole would make it possible to avoid the ecological catastrophe: structural socio-economic measures, in particular the socialization of credit and energy, are absolutely necessary. Transition initiatives must be based on the requirement for democratic transition planning that includes both meeting social needs and respecting ecological constraints. Without such an articulation, these initiatives may have an effect of depoliticization, or even constitute a siding.

3.6.3. The struggle against major fossil infrastructures is a key element in the general movement of interference, control and transition. Mass demonstrations, occupations of sites, mines, and civil disobedience campaigns make it possible to concretely oppose the "growth" and "extractivist" dynamics of capital. These fights have a key importance in defending the ecosystems and the human communities that live there / who have shaped them. They are of strategic importance in defending the climate because the current level of infrastructure constitutes a bottleneck in the development of fossil capital. They constitute a privileged means of laying bridges between the struggles of peasants, indigenous peoples, youth, women and, from there, to challenge the labor movement to join the struggle. The international networking of these resistances makes it possible to improve the balance of power, to dispel the accusations of NIMBY and to reinforce the legitimacy of the demands. In some cases, this can lead to partial victories, or even impose reforms which, while remaining within the capitalist framework, can serve as a basis for subsequent radicalization.

3.6.4. The necessary convergence of social and environmental struggles is not a gathering on a stable compromise between the environment and the social. It is a dynamic process of clarification, recomposition and radicalization. Such a process involves multiple conflicts between social sectors, particularly conflicts with sectors of the labor movement that engage in class collaboration with productivism. While demonstrating the necessary tactical sense and emphasizing the benefits of the ecological transition to the workers (especially in terms of jobs and health), it may be necessary to dare the conflict with the worker’s movement under productivist influence. This conflict must then be conceived and used carefully, without provocation, to stimulate debate on alternatives, to find allies and to awaken among workers a sense of human responsibilities deeper and more fundamental than the sense of responsibility subsumed by capital. In this way, the ecosocialist struggle can contribute to uncovering within the unions a leftist break with capitalism and class collaboration.

3.6.5. To win the labor movement and other social movements in the struggle for an ecosocialist transition program is ultimately achievable only by the emergence of political alternatives with a majority vocation, the objective of which is to apply a comprehensive plan of structural anticapitalist reforms that satisfies both social needs and environmental constraints. Without the construction of such political alternatives, and without their articulation on social movements, this joint satisfaction will always be a chimera, so that the environmental will be sacrificed on the altar of the social, or the latter on the altar of the first. The creation of an ecosocialist government that breaks with capitalism through social mobilization is the cornerstone of an ecosocialist emergency program. But there is no possible ecosocialism in one country. The formation of such a government is, in its turn, only a transitory stage of a permanent process which aims at the overthrow of capitalism on the whole surface of the globe. So, this government bridges a revolutionary internationalist outcome to the systemic crisis of capitalism.

3.7. Science, technology, self-management and decentralization

3.7.1 "The Commune is the political form finally found of the emancipation of labor," wrote Marx in his work on the Commune of Paris. In the 19th century, capitalism created an increasingly uniform and centralized energy system, whose technical and political control involved a large bureaucratic apparatus and a complex system of delegations of power. This system is obviously not the cause of the bureaucratic degeneration of the USSR - which was the result of the Stalinist counter-revolution - but it has favored it to some extent. Conversely, the flexibility and modularity of renewable technologies are no guarantee for socialist democracy, but they open up new possibilities for anticapitalist structural reforms aimed at decentralized territorial development, organized around the democratic control by local communities of the renewable energy resources available on the site and its use. This is particularly the case for the use of solar potential (thermosolar power stations) in semi-desert regions, hydroelectric potential (micro-power plants as an alternative to mega-dams) in mountainous regions, wind and marine potential in Islands and coastal regions, etc. But the realization of these possibilities depends on the class struggle. The confiscation of only part of the fortunes accumulated by the Arab petromonarchies would suffice to finance regional projects of alternative development of the Near and Middle East based on the solar energy and directed towards the satisfaction of the social needs at the local scale. Similarly, it is deplorable that the so-called "progressive" Latin American governments have not invested the revenues of fossil exploitation in social and ecological phasing out transition plans aimed at another type of decentralized development: democratic, more balanced urban-rural, community-based and 100% renewable.

3.7.2. Renewable energy technologies also modify the link between structural measures and control or self-management experiences at the territorial level, with new possibilities for energy autonomy opening up. The project of a democratic eco-social society based on a network of decentralized bodies of power thus regains topicality and credibility. This field of struggle is particularly important for the countries of the South, as part of an alternative development model to the imperialist model, also including food sovereignity.

3.8. Environmental destruction and the social role of scientists

3.8.1. Capitalist responses are insufficient ecologically and socially unjust because they are biased by the assimilation of market rules, which are social rules, to unavoidable natural laws. This reality pushes some scientists to engage in public debate and struggle. Their commitment is against the background of the increasing fragmentation of research and its increasingly strong subordination to the needs of capital and its temporality. In this context, an opportunity arises to redefine "knowledge" and return it against capital. It is further enhanced by the rise in certain sectors of the ruling class of irrationality and the denial of objective facts, two reactionary traits embodied in particular by Donald Trump. Ecosocialists must help to ensure that this opportunity is seized with all hands. It is not a question of subjecting the social movement to the dictatorship of "science" or of experts, but rather of putting expertise at the service of the social movement and subjecting it to its criticism. This can greatly increase the credibility and legitimacy of anti-capitalist options. In particular, the experience of international cooperation of scientists is an important asset to develop internationalism.

3.9. Self-organization of the affected populations

3.9.1. The means of warding off the catastrophe that is coming are terribly behind schedule. "Anthropogenic" ecological disasters are therefore likely to multiply, particularly due to extreme weather events (floods, cyclones, etc.). This creates situations of disorganization and chaos exploited by speculators and exploited for domination (political, economic, geostrategic). At the same time, these same situations may be conducive to initiatives aiming at building solidarity networks that are alternative to imperialist agencies, as well as self-organization of aid, reception of refugees and even reconstruction of social life in general. These initiatives then benefit from a great legitimacy because they become vital in these circumstances and are more efficient than international aid. The subjective factor is decisive for such opportunities to materialize. This perspective is an integral part of our ecosocialist strategy as a revolutionary strategy. More generally, the capitalist impotence persisting in the face of the development of the ecological crisis contributes to creating an objectively favorable situation, either to barbarism or to revolution.

3.10. Localization, decentralization and internationalism

3.10.1. In the ecosocialist emergency plan, the requirements of localization of production and food sovereignty are part of a self-management and internationalist perspective that is radically opposed to both capitalist globalization and free trade on the one hand, and to capitalist protectionism and national sovereignty, on the other hand. In developed countries in particular, the greatest vigilance is required in the face of far right recovery attempts. The far right tries to shift ecological demands towards nationalist pseudo-responses that are always at the service of capital and bridge the racist, islamophobic and reactionary-traditionalist themes in general. The issues of localization of production and food sovereignty are among the most frequent areas of these attempts. It is therefore crucial to frame these requests carefully, to avoid any recovery (“récuperation” in French is not equal to recovery, don’t know the ENGL equivalent).

3.10.2. We oppose the relocation of companies to low-cost countries, and are in favor of localization of production in general, but do not support the demand for relocation in imperialist countries of companies that have moved towards low-cost countries. This idea would entail that workers in low-cost countries should lose their jobs so that those in the imperialist countries will regain their own. Instead of uniting the workers of different countries against their exploiters, this demand puts them in competition, and therefore disarms them in the face of the pressure of employers for competitiveness on the markets. The location of production is part of an entirely different project, based on ecological and social needs, in particular the right to employment and income for all, close to their place of life. Similarly, food sovereignty, for us, is not a national sovereignty, but a sovereignty at the level of territories defined as geophysical entities, regardless of the borders of states. This food sovereignty is not part of the nationalistic tendency to close borders, but rather of an internationalist tendency to abolish them, in order to leave the field open to the networking of self-managed territories, their exchanges and centralization at the level of larger geographic regions. This networking is indispensable not only for economic and social reasons, but also for ecological reasons such as the need for integrated management at the level of river basins, for example.

3.10.3. In general, the various formulas of "Left-wing Protectionism" support the idea that competition from low-wage countries that do not protect the environment are the decisive cause of industrial losses in developed countries. Yet the main cause of these job losses is the increase in labor productivity in a context where the historical movement to reduce working hours is blocked by the deterioration of the balance of power. By adopting the obsolete vision of a global economy based on competition among countries, while the dominant role today is played by multinationals, "left-wing protectionists" divert attention from the capital-labor contradiction to an interclass front in defense of competitiveness. "Left-wing protectionism" pretends being internationalist, but it is silent on the destructive competition of low-cost agribusiness exports from developed countries to the South and other manifestations of imperialist domination. The danger of racist contamination from sovereignist positions is significant. Indeed, in the more developed countries, the defense of employment by safeguarding the competitiveness of firms against the competition of low-wage countries can easily transform in the defense of employment by combating illegal or foreign workers’ competition, since the latter represent, so to speak, "a third world at home". It is precisely in this deadly trap that the extreme right wants to attract the labor movement and the environmental movement.

3.10.4. Faced with an ecosocialist government that would effectively begin to break with capitalism on base of the mobilization of the exploited and the oppressed, we would of course defend the right of this government to protect its policy by measures such as the monopoly of foreign trade, control of capital movements and so on. But this does not mean protecting capitalist companies from international competition. On the opposite, it is a matter of protecting the anti-capitalist policy while calling on the exploited and oppressed of other countries to join the fight for and spread it to other countries, in the internationalist perspective of the overthrow of world capitalism. Such a policy is at the very opposite of "protectionism", which always amounts to subordinating ecological and social demands to the needs of strengthening national capitalism on the world market, that is to say, ultimately, to free trade.

3.10.5. Ecosocialism can begin at the national level but can only be achieved at the world scale, for the rational and prudent management of the Earth System asks global democratic planning. The global scientific work realized by bodies like the IPCC, the IGBP and others shows this global democratic planning is possible. What scientists can do at their level could be done by democratically elected representatives of the social movements, too, and is partly done today by organizations like Via Campesina and other unions.

4. Ideological Fights

4.1. Ecosocialism as an ethical struggle and a project of civilization

4.1.1. We opt for a radically anti-capitalist, humanist, internationalist, feminist and self-managed ecosocialism based on a triple finding that determines its content:

- the need for an anti-capitalist transitional program to be developed with due regard for ecological constraints to respect from now on, without referring them to the post-capitalist period;

- the impossibility of carrying out this program as a whole other than through the direct, revolutionary, democratic and self-organized convergent action of the exploited and oppressed: workers, women, LGBT people, youth, peasants and indigenous peoples;

- the profound crisis of meaning and values arising from the inversion between needs and production, between living and dead labor, between living and inert: capital alienates the human being from its nature as a thinking animal, consciously and collectively producing its social existence.

4.1.2. Ecosocialism for us is not only a strategy of struggle and a program: it is also an ethical fight. "Nature" is the inorganic body of humanity, destruction of the environment is our destruction and that of our children. As a result, the ecological crisis is much more than a crisis in the functioning of ecosystems due to the logic of profit: it is a global crisis of human civilization. To put an end to it is a necessary condition to abolish market production and to substitute a society based on the use value defined by the satisfaction of the real, democratically determined human needs. But this necessary condition is by no means a sufficient condition. First, because ecological destruction, like the oppression of women, existed before capitalism, albeit in a different way. Secondly, and especially because "truly existing socialism" has developed a specific form of "bureaucratic productivism" that has been as destructive of the environment as capitalist productivism.

4.1.3. This balance of the USSR, China and the Eastern European countries cannot be attributed exclusively to the bureaucratic Stalinist degeneration of the revolution. On the ideological level, it was facilitated in part by the impregnation of the revolutionary movement by the mechanistic scientist conceptions developed by the bourgeoisie. These conceptions, which must be analyzed in their historical context, have determined a vision of the environment as a matter to be dominated and shaped without limit according to the will. These conceptions were present in most of the tendencies of the workers’ movement, including among the left-wing opponents to Stalinism, especially Trotsky.

4.1.4. Just as the emancipation of women requires an autonomous movement and the construction of a socialist tendency within it, the end of ecological destruction requires the construction of an ecosocialist current intervening, so to speak, in the name of nature, in a an anti-capitalist, internationalist and anti-bureaucratic perspective. It is a question of developing step by step a new ecological consciousness, a new cosmogony, a new culture carrying values of respect, care and prudence. Humanity has caused a lot of ecological destruction, but there is no reason to think that human intelligence and sensitivity cannot allow us to re-learn what mechanistic conceptions of nature have made us forget, to rebuild what can be and to invent, in doing so, a new culture of our relationship with the rest of nature.

4.1.5. We do not claim any monopoly on ecosocialism. We are open to collaboration with all the other currents of the concept, and debate with them primarily on the basis of the relevance and coherence of the answers they propose to unite social and ecological struggles.

4.2. Marx’s Ecology: source of inspiration, work in progress

4.2.1. We rely on Marx’s critical analysis, especially the following ideas that directly concern the humanity-nature relationship and the criticism of this relationship under capitalism:

- Nature and labor are the only sources of all wealth; nature is the principal source of use values;

- Capitalism presupposes the separation between producers and natural resources, the appropriation of resources by capital, the purchase of labor power against wages and the constantly enlarged reproduction of this movement of expropriation /alienation;

- the race for surplus value is constantly urging capital to plunder natural, mineral and organic resources - notably the tendency towards a fishing industry destroying fishery resources and the tendency towards an increasingly intensive agricultural industry which exhaust soil, practices monoculture and favors meat production;

- the only rational agriculture is that which is based on the independent peasants or on the collective ownership of the soil (exact citation). The only rational forestry is that which escapes the race for profit;

- Capital is a social relation of exploitation of labor fed by inputs in natural resources and aimed at the production of surplus value. The only limit of capital is capital itself;

- The production of surplus value necessarily involves the breakdown of the metabolism between humanity and the rest of nature. Capitalist accumulation exhausts both the Earth and the laborer, whose labor power is also a natural resource. Stopping the plundering of resources (the rational management of the relationship between society and nature) requires the abolition of the exploitation of the labor force and the reduction of working time.

4.2.2. Despite the richness of these contributions, Marx and Engels” work is marked to a certain extent by scientism and by the illusions of progress stemming from "the unlimited growth of the productive forces". Otherwise, their thinking must be scrutinized by (eco) feminist analyzes of patriarchy.

Marx’s formula that capital exhausts the only two sources of all wealth, land and the laborer, gains to be developed in order to explicitly integrate agricultural labor and reproductive labor: by the logic of its development, capital tends to Increase the exploitation of wage labor, the patriarchal oppression of women (who freely assume most of the reproductive care within the family), the destruction of the environment and the ruin of small peasants. This dynamic vision founds the historical necessity of the convergence of workers ’, peasants’, feminist, youth and ecological struggles.

Marx’s idea that the human labor force is a resource not only social (generated by the forms of cooperation) but also natural underpins its assertion that the private appropriation of the Earth will appear one day as barbaric as the private appropriation of one human being by another. But the implementation of the labor force is gendered and "in the family, man is the bourgeois, the woman the proletariat" (Engels). Consequently, the appropriation of women’s bodies, the domestic work they provide free of charge and their discrimination in the productive sphere constitute a specific form of appropriation of wealth by capitalism, which must be highlighted to complete the analysis of this mode of production. This form combines with the exploitation of wage labor and the plundering of resources - which in turn leads to the ruin of independent peasants and the destruction of indigenous communities.

4.2.3. Our ecosocialism integrates all these aspects. Women’s struggles are an integral part of, but not limited to, the class struggle because patriarchal oppression is one of the foundations of capitalism. Environmental struggles are an integral part of, but not limited to, the class struggle because the insatiable appetite of capital for the consumption of resources is the counterpart of its dependence on living labor which transforms these resources into value, on the one hand, and reproduces the labor force within the framework of the family, on the other hand. Ecosocialism is therefore not only an antiproductivist alliance of the social and the environmental, and therefore a socialist workers-peasant alliance: it is also integration of feminism in the social and in the environmental spheres, thus socialist eco-feminism. For us, the concept of ecosocialism is not only justified by the need (i) to differentiate itself from the bureaucratic productivism implemented by "real socialism" in the name of "the liberation of the productive forces," (ii) To get rid of the "productivist slag" present in Marx and Engels, and even more so among most Marxists after Marx. The ecological crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy, as well as its social crimes, are not attributable to Marxism. But "the ecology of Marx" is a work in progress. Our eco-socialism also aims to continue its construction and transcend its limits.

4.3. De-growth and ecosocialism

4.3.1. It is pure idealism to believe that a mode of production based on the appropriation of the body of women and on the exploitation of the human labor force as a natural resource could generate in the majority of the population a social conscience respectful of natural resources and nature in general. In a system of generalized commodity production, that is, of generalized "chosification", the dominant ideology towards "nature" is necessarily the market ideology, which considers the environment as a reservoir of free resources. Ecological struggle must bind itself to economic and feminist struggles to give birth to the social force of transformation of the existing order. The issues of labor, production, reproduction and development are therefore central to our ecosocialism. The nature of Homo sapiens is to produce socially its existence through work, which is an inescapable relation between humanity and nature. Each generation is lifted on the shoulders of the previous generation, so that development is consubstantial to the species. But human nature exists concretely only through its historical forms. The answer to the ecological crisis is not to "get out of work", "to get out of development", "to get out of consumption", to "get out of growth", etc., which are ahistorical abstractions. It consists in getting out from the abstract labor producing value, and thus from the capitalist mode of development oriented towards the growth of the GDP, and the mode of distribution / consumption / reproduction which results from it.

4.3.2. An overall degrowth in physical production and transport is essential to the ecological transition. But "degrowth" is not a program because the overall need for "degrowth" in general does not solve anything: there are sectors to be abolished, others to be reduced, others to be developed, taking into account levels of development. The calls to "decolonize the imaginary" remain hollow formulas as long as there is no concrete indication of how the reduction of global material production can be articulated with satisfaction of the mass of dissatisfied social needs, what sectors must grow, how investments are directed towards these sectors, how employment will be guaranteed (or not), respecting the "ceiling" of environmental constraints, especially climate. Nor does degrowth constitute a project of society, for it says nothing of the production and property relationships.

4.4. Ecosocialism and “true nature”

4.4.1. We reject the different variants of the idea that "nature" suffers from humanity as a disease. Humanity is part of nature that it transforms. The mode of this transformation is not "natural" for all that (as was the case in geological history because of other species). It is historically determined by the social relations of production. The carrying capacity of our species is thus historically and socially determined. Any progress in general is not "inherently" ecologically regressive. The capitalist mode of production produces before our eyes and more and more quickly a transformed and impoverished nature. This "destructive progress" does not threaten "the planet" nor "life on Earth" in general: even without oxygen, bacteria would remain, as at the beginning of life on this planet. On the other hand, it is destroying thousands of forms of life, threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people, threatening humanity’s shift into barbarism, and, eventually, possibly threaten the human species as a whole.

4.4.2. The vision of "true nature" as nature without the human being is anhistoric and misanthropic. It brings no real solution, since this "true nature", virgin, exists nowhere on the surface of the globe. Faced with this impasse, the cosmogony of the indigenous peoples (Mother Earth) is a source of inspiration for another conception of humanity-nature relations, a conception freed of value monomania, instrumental rationality and the icy waters of selfish calculation. But it is a source of inspiration, not an export product. A communist society, without class, will resemble in some respects the so-called "primitive" societies, but will be quite different, given the level of development of the productive forces. In the same way, this society will develop a conception of human-nature relations which, probably, will resemble in some respects that of indigenous peoples, but will nevertheless be different. A conception in which the ethical notions of precaution, respect and responsibility, as well as the wonder at the beauty of the world, will be nourished permanently, not by a magical apprehension but by a scientific apprehension more and more precise while being at the same time more and more clearly incomplete.

4.5. Religion and ecological crisis.

The Encyclical Laudato Si! Its importance, its weaknesses and the origin of these. The issue of women’s rights as the major contradiction of this text, key to our ecosocialist critic.

5. Conclusion: ecosocialism or barbarism

The warning of Rosa Luxemburg before the First World War and to draw a parallel with "the catastrophe that is coming".

Chinese Regime attacks LGBT+ community

LGBT+: China unleashes the moral police against what it calls an ‘abnormal’ community

Fiona Keating, Shan Williams

China has sent out the moral police. And in doing so, it has essentially designated the entire LGBT community as “abnormal”.

Online regulation

The China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) recently published regulation [1] banning images of all “abnormal” sexual behaviour online. But alongside talk of sexual violence, the list also includes images, video, documentaries, and anime of LGBT relationships. In other words, the whole gay community in China was essentially labelled “abnormal” and compared to violent criminals.

The regulation read [online translation]:

"Internet audio-visual program service-related units should adhere to the correct political orientation, value orientation and aesthetic orientation, prohibit the production and playback of the following contents of the network audio-visual programs…

(6) rendering obscene pornography and vulgar low taste…

2. Performance and display of abnormal sexual relations, sexual behavior, such as incest, homosexuality, sexual metamorphosis, sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual violence…"

Social media and video upload sites would be required to employ censors to trawl through content.

Tightening online control

In 2016, US human rights group Freedom House called China the world’s “worst abuser of internet freedom” [2]. Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, insists that the government has “tightened control over nongovernmental organizations, activists, media, and the internet” since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013 [3].

The latest regulation is seen as another step in Chinese authorities’ efforts to tighten control over online media. Last week, for example, China’s top micro-blogging site Weibo vowed to block unlicensed videos after warnings from the government; which in turn caused its stock value to plunge.

It’s a long and winding road

Homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997, but it was still deemed a mental illness until 2001 [4]. And while a Chinese court recently ruled against a case of forced “conversion therapy” in an unprecedented case [5], such “compelled treatment” is reportedly not uncommon [6].

China is experiencing a growth in LGBTQ+ civil society [7] and a shift in traditionalist values. But the community is still pushing for more rights. In 2015, for example, a college student sued China’s Education Ministry over academic textbooks that described homosexuality as a ‘disorder’ [8]. And in the same year, as the US Supreme Court extended gay marriage rights nationwide, a Chinese same-sex couple demanded the same right from the Chinese government [9]; suing the Chinese registry for refusing their application to marry in December 2015.

Many scientists recognise that diverse sexuality is normal [10], and that there’s a wealth of scientific studies which show sexual orientation is determined biologically [11]. But China is far from being the only government which doesn’t appear to accept that [12]. So in China and around the world, the fight for equal rights continues.

Shan Williams

* THE CANARY. JULY 14TH, 2017:
https://www.thecanary.co/2017/07/14/chinas-internet-crackdown-abnormal-lgbt-images/


China causes outrage by banning online content of ’abnormal’ homosexual relationships

Human rights group condemns China as the ’worst abuser of internet freedom’ in the world.

New regulations issued by Bejing will prohibit portrayals of homosexuality, prostitution and drug addiction. The China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) is targeting what they consider “abnormal” sexual activity.

The rules which were issued on Friday demand that online video platforms hire at least three “professional censors”. They were ordered to view entire programmes and take down any considered not sticking to the “correct political and aesthetic standards,” according to the latest regulations.

The move is seen by human rights groups as the latest tightening of censorship in China [13]. Government officials had closed down celebrity gossip blogs that authorities claim were “catering to the public’s vulgar taste,” according to Channel News Asia [14].

Other online material deemed offensive include damaging the national image, criticising revolutionary leaders or portraying the supernatural such as “conjuring spirits”.

Those who don’t adhere to the new rules face being reported to the police for further investigation, according to Xhinua state news agency.

One of China’s most famous sexologists condemned the latest move. “First of all, from the perspective of an artist, very few countries in this world set up a censorship system that violates its citizens’ freedom to create arts,” Li wrote on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website. “Second, it also violates the rights of sexual minorities to express their sexual preference.”

In 2016, Freedom House, which promotes democracy and human rights, condemned China as the “worst abuser of internet freedom” in the world.

China has a poor record on gay rights [15]. According to a survey by Peking University, less than 15 per cent of homosexuals said they had come out to their families, and more than 50 per cent of those who had revealed their sexuality, said they had suffered discrimination as a consequence.

Homosexuality in China [16] was decriminalised in 1997 and remained on the official list of mental illnesses until 2001.

The Chinese government banned all representations of LGBT people on TV in 2016, stating that “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”

Fiona Keating

* The Independent Online. Saturday 1 July 2017 15:20 BST:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/china-gay-online-ban-homosexual-a7818166.html
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Footnotes

Socialists in Lebanon condemn attack on Syrian refugees

Lebanon

Statement of condemnation and clarification by the Socialist Forum

This statement was issued by the Socialist Forum in Lebanon on 16 July 2017.

On Friday June 30th, 2017 at dawn, a faction of the Lebanese Army raided two Syrian refugee camps (Nawar and Qareiah) in the town of Arsal, in what was officially designated as a "preventive raid" in search of "terrorists" based in the camp. 

As a result, several people were killed, amongst them a child, and several soldiers were wounded due to a suicide bombing inside the camps. This was followed by the arrest of more than 350 Syrian refugees based on their alleged potential link to "terrorist” organizations. Soon after, photos of the detained held under inhumane conditions and subject to torture and humiliation, were circulated in the press. 

A few days later, on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, the army announced that four Syrians who had been arrested during the raids on the camps on Friday (June 30th) died in detention as a result of "chronic diseases and climatic conditions." However, the images that were circulated through social media channels clearly revealed bruises, wounds and the effects of torture on the bodies of the victims.

The Army’s statement about the circumstances that led to the death of the detainees was rendered even more dubious when they exerted pressure on the families of the victims to bury the bodies immediately, without the right to a coronary or forensic examination, access to lawyers, or even photographing the deceased.  

In addition, the Military Intelligence intervened on July 7th, 2017 to disrupt a judicial decision issued by the Judge for Urgent Matters in Zahle, authorizing the examination of samples from the autopsies. Military intelligence personnel confiscated the evidence held at Hotel Dieu hospital from the lawyer granted power of attorney by the families of the victims, in a clear case of judicial obstruction by the military courts in order to withhold evidence related to civilians who were not definitively shown to have been involved with any terrorist associations. 

This attack on Syrian refugees is not the first of its kind. It indicates a dangerous escalation within the framework of an organized racist campaign against refugee populations by ruling class parties, who are using various state apparatuses in Lebanon to impose curfews, close the border to those fleeing the war in Syria and deprive them of their most basic rights, which are universally guaranteed under international law. Furthermore, the General Security has imposed impossible conditions for the renewal of residency permits since the beginning of 2015. These conditions are only aimed at turning refugees into illegal aliens, making them easier to exploit and increasing the precarity of their living conditions. This policy of limiting mobility has gone hand in had with raids, evictions and arbitrary arrests over the last two years, as well as the continuing threat of forcible repatriation to a country still embroiled in war.

Within this context, a large group of Lebanese activists gathered on July 13, 2017 to organize a solidarity rally for Syrian refugees, against racism, and against the repression that occurred following the events in Arsal. The goal was to attempt to restore, and strengthen, the relations between Lebanese and Syrians, hoping to counter the discourse of hatred and racism. The Socialist Forum called for a sit-in in solidarity with Syrian refugees to take place on Tuesday July 18th, 2017 at the Samir Kassir Square in Beirut. Three members of the organisation were in charge of getting the permit clearance from the Municipality of Beirut, following the usual legal procedures for organizing a protest in Lebanon. However, given the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that followed the widespread incitement campaign that was launched by a shady intelligence Facebook page called the “Syrian People’s Union in Lebanon”, and taking into account the numerous threats received by some of the organizers, the Socialist Forum decided to cancel the sit-in.

However, it is important for us to clarify that contrary to what is being circulated in the media and on some social media platforms, the Socialist Forum is not attempting to incite against the Lebanese Army. As per its statement on July 13, 2017, the Socialist Forum is simply asking for:

1. A transparent and independent investigation to uncover the causes of the suspects’ deaths.

2. A strict public accountability for all those involved in torture, murder, and other forms of abuse.

3. Revealing the fate of the remaining arbitrary detainees, their release and compensation.

4. The end of the exploitation of the refugee issue for political manipulation, and to stop treating it as a security threat.

5. Abolishing all racist decisions against refugees, and the end of practices that forces them to return against their will to brutal killings and massacres, as the regional and international community remains suspiciously and criminally silent.

We, at the Socialist Forum, condemn all the rumours and accusations made against our comrades in the media and through social media or social networking platforms. We strongly condemn the leaking of the protest permit request document from the Beirut Municipality which mentions the names of three comrades and their telephone numbers. We also condemn the bias media coverage and the circulation of the a names and photos (and Facebook pages) of our comrades by many of the local television channels. The circulation of this leaked document has put the three activists under serious and severe danger reaching death threats. The Socialist Forum would like to point out that Beirut Governor, Ziad Chebib, specified to the news that the protest permit request has nothing to do with the “Syrian People’s Union in Lebanon”, and that the protest request had no mention of the Lebanese Army, but was rather planned as a sit-in against racism towards the refugees, as opposed to what rumours are claiming.

Despite the fact that the Socialist Forum has organized numerous solidarity meetings with Syrian refugees over the years, this is the first time that the call for a sit-in has received so many open threats. We believe that this incitement is aimed at paving the way for an all-out war in Arsal, and imposing a deal with the Syrian regime within the framework of a settlement that would require the forcible transfer of Syrian refugees to so-called “safe-zones” within Syria.

Therefore:

1. We categorically reject any alterations to the objectives of the sit-in that puts it in the context of a confrontation against the Lebanese Army, especially that the Socialist Forum has previously condemned the bombings that targeted the Lebanese Army in Arsal on June 30, 2017. It also condemned the kidnapping of the soldiers and security forces in that region and called on the Lebanese state to take responsibility on this issue.

2. We call for the Beirut Municipality to provide an explanation for the publication of the permit request document in such a way, to cause incitement and marginalization, and we hold it responsible for any harm that might be inflicted on members of our political organization.

3. We ask media outlets to circulate a clarification containing the accurate statements and information, including the calls for the sit-in and this clarification statement.

4. The Socialist Forum shall resort to the Lebanese judiciary at any time it sees fit to prevent any bodily or physical harm on its members .

The Socialist Forum in Lebanon

Beirut

16-07-2017


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