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Capitalist Destruction and the Ecosocialist Alternative



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.



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)


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) 
-  by plundering more free natural resources (hence the tendency of capital to extractivism), 
-  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: 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; 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; 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; 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; 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 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 recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples the abolition of unnecessary or harmful productions (weapons, petrochemical, nuclear), planned obsolescence, with collective retraining of workers, under workers’ control, 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) 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; the extension of free goods (basic food products) and services (public transport, education, health care, etc.) the abolition of public debts (without compensation, except for small holders) and a redistributive tax reform to bring capital and wealth to bear; 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; the taxation of international air and maritime transport; 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; refugee status for victims of ecological / climatic disasters, freedom of movement and settlement and full respect of democratic rights for refugees in general; 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; 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; 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: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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:

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:



Socialists in Lebanon condemn attack on Syrian refugees


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.


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



From International Viewpoint

How is Leninism relevant today?

 Paul Le Blanc


Paul Le Blanc is the author of numerous books, including Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and, most recently, Left Americana: The Radical Heart of U.S. History. In this speech presented in London in February at a conference about the Russian Revolution sponsored by the UK organization Counterfire, he considers the relevance of Lenin and the experience of Russia’s Bolsheviks for revolutionary socialists today.

Over the past decade, we have seen the academic-intellectual phenomenon of a striking increase in significant Lenin studies and related studies. Important contributions have come from Lars Lih, John Riddell, August Nimtz, Alan Shandro, Tamas Krausz, Antonio Negri and others.

Why is this happening? Such things would not be written or published if they did not speak to the deepening concerns of an expanding layer of potential readers. They would not be appearing if they were not—to borrow a capitalist term—marketable.

Such works are appearing in a period of ongoing economic, social and political crisis, with a decline in the quality of life generating the rise of protest and insurgency in many parts of the world. While it is hardly the case that a majority among the rising tide of rebels and activists embrace—or even have much knowledge of—Lenin, there are two essential connections.

The most elemental connection is this: At the very heart of the Bolshevik and Leninist tradition is the struggle against oppression. The proliferation of such struggles generates an atmosphere in which there is likely to be a growing interest in the revolutionary ideas and traditions associated with Lenin.

That relates to the other connection: Lenin and his comrades spoke to the most urgent concerns of those who hope to overcome oppression. Following Marx, they developed a profound understanding of the interconnection between the nature of oppression and the dynamics of capitalism, the dimensions of class struggle and the way it can develop into effective struggles for reform and revolution, and how socialists can organize themselves in a way to make this so.

Among left-wing activists in recent years, on the other hand, even the term Leninism has been seen as problematical. For the most part, socialist organizations that consciously strive to follow a Leninist model are quite small and have little influence. But striving to follow this model and actually doing so are not the same thing.

I believe would-be Leninist organizations are unable to follow this model in part because of the very different objective reality in which we are enmeshed and in part because there are fundamental misunderstandings of what Leninism means—if we are referring to the "Leninism" of Lenin, his basic orientation and political practice.

One aspect of the present capitalist reality that we must understand—as Marxists, as Leninists, as Trotskyists—is that our world is quite different from what it was in the time of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.

Some things that they emphasized had to do with a very different situation than the one we face. That affects the way I have viewed the Occupy movement, in which I was quite active, the Black Lives Matter movement, and now the amazing anti-Trump upsurge.

Lenin lived in a time when there was a massive international workers’ movement animated by a very high degree of class consciousness, with a highly organized and very large socialist (later Communist) component, nourished by a very rich and substantial labor-radical subculture.

That disintegrated under the impact of fascism, the Second World War and postwar developments. Proclaiming the truths of revolutionary Marxist theory in the latter years of the 20th century—as many of us were inclined to do—in the absence of a class-conscious labor movement will have a different impact than what was true in the time of Lenin.

(In a way, the reality of our labor movement, certainly in the U.S., seems to correspond more to that of Marx’s time in the early 1860s—very undeveloped and fragmented.)

Today’s working-class movement (like the modern-day working class) has been in a process of recomposition.

The Occupy movement involved large, very broad sectors of what were, for all practical purposes, working-class youth. Their protests against the tyranny of the 1 Percent over the 99 Percent resonated powerfully among a majority of the people of the United States—who are, in fact, working class but largely self-identify as "middle class."

The inability of Occupy to cohere around a socialist program was inevitable. Those distressed by this had unrealistic expectations. Within this mass upsurge, however, socialists could be supportive, could participate, could help with practical and logistical matters and could share socialist ideas that some participants would consider further, particularly in the wake of Occupy’s inevitable collapse.

Such mass phenomena as the Occupy movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-Trump protests are part of a recomposition process of working-class protest, struggle and consciousness-building.

These are among the preconditions for the rebuilding of a working-class movement that can challenge the power of capital and, eventually, bring a socialist future. Instead of being impatient with these developments we should embrace them as part of the process which will allow for greater numbers to consider and draw strength from the insights of Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky and other revolutionary comrades.

We do not have a revolutionary party in the United States, although we badly need one, and some of us want to do what we can to bring that into being.

There are groups aspiring to become a revolutionary party—and that often generates problematical dynamics which create serious obstacles to being able to help bring a revolutionary party into being. In contrast to this, there are other groups seeking to contribute to the creation of a revolutionary party, but understanding that they, by themselves, cannot become such a party.

Groups in this category realize that: one, a revolutionary party can actually come into being only when a class-consciousness layer of the working class is prepared to move in that direction; two, there must be ongoing preliminary processes that will contribute to the crystallization of such a working-class layer; and three, the group must join with revolutionaries in other groups, with radicalizing activists who are not and will not be in the existing groups, and with people who at the moment are neither radicals nor activists, and that together—in the future—we will all be helping to forge the revolutionary party we need.

For many, the question of "democratic centralism" gets at the heart of the problem of Leninism. We can define democratic centralism as freedom of discussion, unity in action. But those words can be understood and implemented in very different ways.

For a group viewing itself as the repository of Revolutionary Truth and aspiring to become the revolutionary party, democratic centralism tends to be defined in a restrictive manner. In order to preserve the group’s ability to become the unadulterated revolutionary party, a certain orthodoxy is established to which all must adhere, limiting discussion and generating a climate in which disciplinary actions and splits become all too common.

A healthy conception of democratic centralism involves a critical-mindedness, an openness, a political courage that characterized the way in which Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg and other such comrades functioned.

Shades of difference and outright disagreements are normal and necessary—especially given the complexity of the realities we face. That understood, it remains a fact that revolutionary socialists need to work together, as a democratic collective, to be effective in advancing the interests of the workers and the oppressed, creating the possibility of revolutionary party, and building a mass socialist movement that can bring revolutionary change.

Understood in this way, I think democratic centralism is a necessity, but it will be very different from what passes for "democratic centralism" in groups having a stilted understanding of themselves.

In 1924, Trotsky wrote: "Without a party, apart from a party, over the head of a party, or with a substitute for a party, the proletarian revolution cannot conquer. That is the principal lesson of the last decade [since the 1917 Russian Revolution]."

Trotsky was contrasting the failures of socialist uprisings in Germany, Finland and Hungary to the success of the revolution in Russia. But in the 90 years since these words were written, it can be asked: "Hasn’t the sheer quantity of time changed the quality of this argument? Doesn’t a century of revolutionary history discount the tradition of Bolshevism?"

The answer to this is yes and no. It is true that things clearly cannot be just the same as they were 90 or 100 years ago. But certain aspects of the Bolshevik tradition transcend the amazing changes that have taken place over nine decades.

Jean-Paul Sartre once said the continued existence of capitalism means Marxism "remains the philosophy of our time," since we have not gone beyond the circumstances that brought Marx’s analyses into being. I think similar points can be made about the Bolshevik tradition.

In our discussions and debates about "Leninism," we must never forget that the term has multiple and contradictory meanings.

Most people, of course, are not familiar with the term Leninism. Of those who have heard of it, many cannot give a definition.

Of those who could give a definition, there are some who would indicate that it is consistent with the practices and mindset of the bureaucratic-authoritarian and murderous tyranny that arose in Russia, particularly with the rule of Joseph Stalin. There are others who would associate it with the practices and perspectives of various left-wing sects proclaiming themselves to be "Leninist."

A very small number, compared to the others just mentioned, see the "Leninism" of Lenin and his co-thinkers—in contrast to Stalinism and small-group sectarianism parading under the Leninist banner—as representing something important and necessary for the workers and the oppressed.

When some sincere people on the left announce that "Leninism is finished," the "we" who constitute this small number feel compelled to say: "No, Leninism is not finished. It is unfinished." Since it is our conviction that most people do not comprehend what Leninism actually is, we have a responsibility to explain—including why its history and meaning have been partly obliterated and partly distorted.

As with anything like this, there may be information and insights that some of some of us do not have, and differences among us on how best to understand what actually happened in history. There is a collective retrieval process of this historical Leninism that is far from complete, so in this sense Leninism is "unfinished."

There is yet another way in which it is unfinished, and this relates to Lenin’s methodology.

Reality is dynamic and ceaselessly changing. There are always new things to understand, new analyses to be elaborated, revolutionary strategies that must be adapted to new situations, new tactics to be learned, and new ways to apply tried-and-true tactics. Our situation is not a duplicate of that faced by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and our efforts to do what they did can only be successful if we are critical-minded and creative in our application of their approach.

This is a point Lenin often made in discussions with comrades in the various parties that belonged to the Communist International. It is truer now than ever before. In this sense, too, Leninism is—and must be—unfinished.

I want to conclude with the words of our comrade Rosa Luxemburg. In her important critique of the Russian Revolution, she emphasized a point that resonates today and has powerful implications for tomorrow’s struggles.

"In the present period," Luxemburg wrote, "when we face decisive final struggles in all the world, the most important problem of socialism was and is the burning question of our time," involving "the capacity for action of the proletariat, the strength to act, the will to power of socialism as such."

In her opinion, "the party of Lenin...grasped the mandate and duty of a truly revolutionary party and...by the slogan "All power in the hands of the proletariat and peasantry" insured the continued development of the revolution. Whatever a party could offer of courage, revolutionary far-sightedness and consistency in an historic hour, Lenin, Trotsky and all the other comrades have given in good measure."

The tragic failure of later years in no way wipes out their inspiring triumph of 1917. It remains for activists of today and tomorrow to revive and complete the work that Luxemburg describes. We must push forward to actually place political power in the hands of the laboring majority, and to actually replace capitalist tyranny with socialist democracy.

The contributions of Lenin and his comrades, critically utilized and developed, will be helpful to those engaging in that task.


The Russian Revolution: Workers in Power

 Peter Solenberger

October 1917:
Workers in Power
Fred Leplat and Alex de Jong, editors
London: Resistance Books, IIRE and Merlin Press, 2016, 256 pages, $23 paperback.

THIS YEAR IS THE centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. In February 1917, by the Russian calendar of the time, workers in Petrograd, starting with women textile workers, began a series of strikes and demonstrations demanding bread, peace and freedom.

The Petrograd garrison came over to their side, the Czar abdicated, and the revolution spread across the empire. Peasants, the large majority of the population and of the army, joined the uprising, adding their demand for land.

The February Revolution established the dual power of a Provisional Government and workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ councils (soviets). The Provisional Government, initially led by liberal representatives of the propertied classes and then by moderate socialists, claimed that it supported the demands of the masses but refused to meet them. The workers, soldiers and peasants took matters into their own hands as much as they could, but they needed a government of their own.

On October 25, by the calendar of the time, the Petrograd Soviet, led by the Bolsheviks and Left Social Revolutionaries, overthrew the Provisional Government. The next day the All-Russian Congress of Workers’ and Peasants’ deputies endorsed the insurrection, took power, and adopted decrees on land, peace and workers’ control. The October Revolution established the first workers’ government since the 1871 Paris Commune and the first ever to last long enough to change the social order.

October 1917: Workers in Power is a fine tribute to the Revolution, with articles by Paul LeBlanc, François Vercammen, Ernest Mandel, David Mandel (unrelated), Rosa Luxemburg, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, as well as a chronology, a list of people, places, events and organizations, and a bibliography. It should engage readers new to the subject, radical historians looking to connect their work with real life, and activists looking to connect their work with revolutionary history.

The book defends the October Revo­lution and the revolutionary tradition of October from a Trotskyist perspective, but it also critically assesses both. It asks and attempts to answer, What went right? What went wrong? And most importantly: What can we learn from the experience and apply in our own time?


October 1917: Workers in Power takes off with Paul LeBlanc’s “Introduction: Making Sense of October 1917.” His first sentence states a truth many historians and even some activists would like to forget: “A hundred years on, the Russian Revolution of 1917 continues to be as much of a political battlefield as it ever was.” (1)

LeBlanc frames his introduction by referring to four books about the revolution by the sympathetic American observers Louise Bryant, Bessie Beatty, John Reed and Albert Rhys Williams. He moves on to Leon Trotsky’s classic History of the Russian Revolution, William H. Chamberlin’s The Russian Revolution 1917-21, and the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) Short Course, whose writing was overseen by Joseph Stalin.

The four American observers, Trotsky and Chamberlin drew a similar picture of the revolution: a workers’ upsurge and insurrection led by a mass revolutionary party with a dynamic and often conflicted internal life and many leaders, of whom Lenin and Trotsky were the most prominent. The Short Course reduced the revolutionary process to the genius of the infallible Lenin and his disciples, of whom the chief was Stalin, leading the working class to victory.

LeBlanc identifies several Cold War scholars who followed the Short Course in stressing the unity of Lenin and Stalin, from a very different political viewpoint, and then returns to two left-wing historians who understood the difference, E.H. Carr and Isaac Deutscher. Both were attacked by the Cold Warriors and Stalinists, for whom the identity of Lenin and Stalin was a central tenet. LeBlanc briefly follows the academic debate to the present.

LeBlanc’s introduction shifts from the literature to his own explication. The Russian Revolution consisted of multiple insurgencies: a democratic revolution against the autocracy, a workers’ revolution against capitalism, a peasant revolution against the landowners, a soldiers’ revolution against senseless slaughter, a revolution of oppressed nationalities against Russian domination, and a revolution of women against patriarchy.

The introduction stresses that the revolution required a revolutionary workers’ party. “Essential for the making of the Russian Revolution was interplay between the broad masses of workers and peasants, in all their variety, with an organization of revolutionary intellectuals and activists having a predominantly working-class base and a Marxist ideology. This was the Bolshevik party whose central leader was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov — known to the world as Lenin.” (13)

LeBlanc contrasts the Stalinist and Cold War versions of Lenin with the real person as described by the four American observers, Trotsky, Chamberlin, Carr, Deutscher and more recent sympathetic scholars, including Moshe Lewin, Stephen Cohen, Lars Lih and LeBlanc himself.

I was particularly interested in LeBlanc’s references to Lars Lih, author of Lenin Rediscovered: What is to Be Done? In Context. According to LeBlanc, he and Lih agree that the Bolshevik Party was an essentially democratic collectivity, not a one-man organizational dictatorship, and that Lenin’s model of the party he sought to build in the 1890s and early 1900s was the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), which was certainly mass, working-class and democratic.

But LeBlanc thinks Lih goes too far when he “suggest[s] that Lenin’s outlook was basically indistinguishable from Kautsky’s prior to 1914 (after which Lenin denounced him for betraying their common revolutionary perspective). While there was certainly much overlap between Lenin and Kautsky, however, recent work by Tamás Krausz, Alan Shandro and others compellingly presents Lenin’s perspectives as having their own quite distinctive quality.” (14)

This seems to me a mild rejoinder to Lih, who in Lenin Rediscovered included LeBlanc with Tony Cliff and John Molyneux among activists who shared the “textbook view” that Lenin in his 1902 What Is to Be Done? expressed “worry about workers.” That is, they had a pessimistic view that workers naturally tend toward trade-unionist reformism and had to be led from outside by revolutionary intellectuals.

Lih contrasts this with what he sees as Kautsky’s and Lenin’s real view that the workers crave the information (“good news”) revolutionaries bring, and will become revolutionary when they have access to that information. (Lars Lih, Lenin Rediscovered: What Is to Be Done? In Context, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2008: 14, 18-20.)

Lih quotes nothing from LeBlanc that suggests to me “worry about workers,” Lenin’s or his own, and I see nothing in LeBlanc’s introduction along that line. I agree with LeBlanc that Lenin’s organizational perspectives had a quite distinctive quality.

I raise this point not so much to side with LeBlanc, although I do, as to emphasize that these historical questions are complicated, differences are inevitable, and the tension among opinions can be clarifying. Did the organizational differences between Lenin and Kautsky arise only in 1914? Was Luxemburg right to criticize the SPD years before? Does it matter?

(See also the exchange on the same subject between Paul LeBlanc and Charlie Post around Post’s article “Party and Class in Revolutionary Crises” in ATC 150, January-February 2011, at http://solidarity-us.org/node/3119.)

Returning to the text, LeBlanc asks, What went wrong? He places himself in the Trotskyist tradition.

“Key elements in this analysis flow from an understanding that economic democracy (socialism), allowing the free development of each person as the condition for the free development of all people (as Marx and Engels had posited in the Communist Manifesto), depends on the immense economic surplus and productivity, plus the complex of socio-economic and global relationships among people and resources, built up by the modern world capitalist economy. An attempt to build socialism in a single country with a low level of economic development cannot be successful ... Stalin’s commitment to building “socialism in one country” was a recipe for bureaucratic tyranny.” (17)

LeBlanc concludes by asking, What now? Are there things that we can learn from the past and apply fruitfully to our own time? LeBlanc doesn’t try to answer those questions, but the book itself is an answer. Yes, there is much we can learn and apply.

Stages of the Revolution

François Vercammen’s contribution fills out the earlier chronology not only with detail but also with two critical elements. The section “Parties of the revolution” lists the contending parties, the positions which set them off from each other, and some of the internal debates.

“The international counter-revolution” section canvases the revolutions of 1918 to 1923, most importantly in Germany, which could have ended the isolation of Russia and opened the way for a socialist Europe. Their failure all but guaranteed the degeneration of the Soviet Union.

Vercammen summarizes well, but one aspect of his summary seemed off to me. Vercammen writes “in March and April 1917 the growth of a new opportunist wing (Stalin-Kamenev-Zinoviev), a majority — ready to support the liberal government, to accept the continuation of the war — which was opposed by the radical theses of Lenin” and “Finally, in October, there was the debate with the right wing of the party over insurrection, a discussion which was replayed again and again, in many different keys, during subsequent years.” (31)

Vercammen’s summary is correct, but oversimplified. How could central leaders of the Russian Revolution stray so far? Why were they still included in the top levels of the Bolshevik Party and the government? The danger is that readers may accept the glib dismissal of the “opportunist wing” without thinking about the issues.

LeBlanc praises Lih for his insistence that the Bolshevik Party was a collectivity and his attempts to rehabilitate some of Lenin’s comrades, including Kamenev and Zinoviev, who have been dismissed not only by Stalinists but also by Trotskyists. “Lih even suggests (quite controversially) that Kamenev was more right than wrong in the debate over Lenin’s ‘April Theses’ of 1917, and that he essentially won the debate.” (14)

Again, I agree with LeBlanc, not Lih, but activists need to understand both sides of such debates to assess their meaning and to apply their lessons to today.

Coup d’État or Social Revolution

Ernest Mandel’s contribution was published in 1992, soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in August 1991. It was an attempt to counter the campaign of denigration of the October Revolution underway both in the West and in Eastern Europe.

Mandel rejects the arguments that the revolution was a coup d’état, a bloody utopian attempt to establish socialism immediately, or the work of a party-sect of fanatics. He places the revolution in the international context of the First World War. The Bolsheviks carried out their international duty by pulling Russia from the war, clearing the way for the German Revolution of 1918, which ended the war.

The Russian Revolution could not advance to socialism because it was isolated in a backward country surrounded by capitalist enemies. That was the responsibility of the reformist workers’ parties, which had supported the imperialist war and then opposed workers’ revolution in Russia and at home. Still, the revolution brought Russian workers and peasants peace, land, food, control of their places of work, and democracy — freedom of speech, press and assembly, and the right to elect deputies to the soviets, which formed the government.

Ernest Mandel asks whether the price of the October Revolution was too high and he answers that it was not. “The choice was truly either victory of the socialist revolution or victory of a counter-revolution that would have been among the most bloody ever known, which would have brought to power a Russian Hitler still worse than the German Hitler we know.” (67)

Having defended the revolution as a necessary and correct response to the circumstances, Mandel critically analyzes Bolshevik policies. “The bureaucratic degeneration, in the 1920s and 1930s, was certainly not initiated nor fundamentally caused by the orientation of this party. It also had its roots in the objective contradictions of Soviet society and the international situation which then prevailed.”

However, mistakes also contributed to the bureaucratization. “The most serious of these mistakes was the banning of the soviet parties at the very moment that the revolutionary government had definitively won the civil war of 1918-20.” (69)

Complex Problems

The situation was, I think, more complicated. The Bolshevik Party banned factions in April 1921, but not tendencies or election to leading bodies based on platforms. The party was initiating the New Economic Policy (NEP), partly substituting markets for the requisitions of the civil war. They knew this would lead to the development of capitalist relations in agriculture and artisan production. They felt that party unity was essential to combat this.

The ban on factions was, in my view, a mistake, if an understandable one. But the banning of soviet parties, that is, parties elected to the soviets, was even more complicated. I agree with E.H. Carr’s balance:

“The fiction of a legal opposition was, however, long since dead. Its demise cannot fairly be laid at the door of one party. If it was true that the Bolshevik regime was not prepared after the first few months to tolerate an organized opposition, it was equally true that no opposition party was prepared to remain within legal limits. The premise of dictatorship was common to both sides of the argument.” (E.H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1985, 183)

The Bolsheviks had a dilemma. The opposition socialist parties, marginal by then, refused to remain within the legal limits. Should their transgressions be tolerated, which would strengthen the capitalist counterrevolution? Or should the parties be banned, which would strengthen the bureaucratic counterrevolution? There was no good answer.

Mandel asks, “Did the organizational conceptions of Lenin open the road to the excesses of the October Revolution and the Stalinist dictatorship?” (79) Like the other authors in this volume, he argues that they did not. “In reality, we have never seen a workers’ party with so many differences of opinion and so much freedom of expression, including in public, as the Bolshevik Party of this period — and certainly not the German or Austrian social-democratic parties even in their best moments.” (85)

Mandel concludes his article with a discussion of strategy. “The October revolution raises the key strategic question which confronts the whole of the socialist workers’ movement: how should a party, which identifies with the working class and socialism (or communism), behave in a revolutionary situation?” (90)

He rejects fatalism and voluntarism and makes the question more concrete: Should the Bolsheviks, via the soviets, have taken power in October 19177? He answers, “The revolutionary Marxists of today, like those of 1917 and the following years, remain convinced that the answer is an unreserved ‘yes.’” (93)

After reviewing the gains and losses of the revolution, Mandel concludes with a section called “Hope.” He quotes Maxim Gorky to express the historical meaning of the revolution: “’Come with us, towards the new life for which we are working. Forward to liberty and beauty of existence.’” (106)

The elephant in the room, so to speak, was that the Soviet Union had collapsed a few months before Mandel finished and published the article. Why no mention of it? I can’t answer that. But 25 years later the elephant requires a comment. Knowing that capitalism would be restored in the Soviet Union, should revolutionaries still give an unreserved “yes” to the seizure of power in 1917?

Capitalist restoration was always a possibility, even an inevitability, if the revolution didn’t spread to Western Europe. As Trotsky wrote in the 1938 Transitional Program, after the bureaucracy had consolidated power, “The political prognosis has an alternative character: either the bureaucracy, becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers’ state, will overthrow the new forms of property and plunge the country back to capitalism; or the working class will crush the bureaucracy and open the way to socialism.” (https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/tp/tp-text2.htm)

Whatever the outcome, the October Revolution put workers in power long enough to show what socialism could do, as well as the mortal danger of imperialist encirclement and bureaucratic degeneration. Given the chance, the Russian workers, led by the Bolsheviks and other revolutionaries, had to try.

Factory Committees and Legitimacy

David Mandel’s essay “Economic Power and Factory Committees in the Russian Revolution” is a joy to read. It covers familiar ground, but with awe-inspiring detail.

The movement for workers’ control that arose in the wake of the February Revolution was not in the program of any socialist party. Workers organized factory committees, beyond trade unions, to ensure that production would continue despite the resistance and often sabotage of the owners.

Their initial goal was workers’ control, starting with access to information, not workers’ management. They were forced beyond control to management by the capitalists’ refusal to cooperate. The factory committees supported the soviets’ seizure of political power and sought to find their place as the economy was nationalized and militarized to preserve the revolution.

Beyond the rich detail, I found most interesting Mandel’s discussion of the tension between socialism and workers’ self-management.

“There is an obvious contradiction between centralism, an essential element of planning, and, therefore, of socialism, and self-management, also an essential ingredient of socialism, since the more power is concentrated in the centre, the less room there is for workers to participate meaningfully in managing the enterprise. This contradiction can, however, be managed (it need not be ‘antagonistic’) and can even become a positive factor, if certain conditions are present. In particular, the degree and scope of central control has to be limited and the economy must ensure the workers’ needs for material security at a minimally decent standard. In the absence of these conditions, self-management cannot be meaningful, nor can workers develop the consciousness necessary for them to willingly sacrifice local group interests to the more general class interests. In conditions of civil war, industrial collapse, and severe food shortage, the Soviet state could meet none of these conditions.“ (143)

David Mandel’s additional essay “The Legitimacy of the October Revolution,” makes the now-familiar argument that the October Revolution was a popular revolution, not a conspiracy by a small group of Marxist ideologues. Again, it covers familiar ground with awe-inspiring detail.

Apart from the detail, I was most struck by the author’s description of the subjective side of the bureaucratic degeneration: “But when the time came to make a new revolution, the working class, which had already led three revolutions, could not find the strength for a fourth.” (164)

The only place I found myself disagreeing with Mandel was his presentation of Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) at the end of his factory committees essay. Mandel writes: “A 1987 Law on Enterprises provided for the election of works councils and directors. However, it was only after Gorbachev annulled this law in 1989, having decided to restore capitalism,that a genuine movement for self-management arose.” (148)

I’m sure he’s right about the genuine movement for self-management, and I’d like to learn more, since it had little coverage in the U.S. media. But in my view, even as late as 1989 Gorbachev sought to incorporate elements of bourgeois democracy (glasnost) and capitalist markets (perestroika) to revive the Soviet economy and preserve a milder version of bureaucratic rule.

Gorbachev’s policies failed, and set off a scramble of each against all leading to the breakup of the Soviet Union, capitalist restoration, the economic and human disaster of the 1990s, and the consolidation of capitalism with a strong state under Vladimir Putin.

Again, my point is not to draw out a difference, but to illustrate that differences are inevitable and often useful in assessing complex historical questions.

Luxemburg and Lenin

The inclusion of pieces by Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky gives readers a sense of what it was like to live through the October Revolution and its repercussions.

In her May 1917 article “The Old Mole” Luxemburg writes: “The outbreak of the Russian Revolution has brought an end to the historical standstill engendered by the continuation of the world war and the simultaneous failure of working-class struggle. It is as if a window had suddenly been opened in Europe whose musty air has been suffocating everyone for three years, admitting a fresh and invigorating breeze.” (166)

After a description of the effects of the invigorating breeze on German politics, she concludes “History, you old mole, you have done your work well! There now resounds through the International and the German proletariat a slogan, an admonition, only ever called up by great turning points in world history: Imperialism or Socialism! War or Revolution! There is no third way!” (171)

October 1917: Workers in Power includes two pieces by Lenin. The first is an appeal “To the Population” published on November 5, 1917, eleven days after the insurrection. The new government had as yet almost no administrative capacity. Lenin urges:

“Comrades, working people! Remember that now you yourselves are at the helm of state. No one will help you if you yourselves do not unite and take into your hands all affairs of the state. Your soviets are from now on the organs of state authority, legislative bodies with full powers.

“Rally around your Soviets. Strengthen them. Get on with the job yourselves; begin right at the bottom, do not wait for anyone. Establish the strictest revolutionary law and order, mercilessly suppress any attempts to create anarchy by drunkards, hooligans, counterrevolutionary officer cadets, Kornilovites and their like.” (173)

The second is a “Letter to American Workers” published in August 1918, five months after the civil war had begun and a month after the United States had had sent 13,000 troops as part of a great-power military intervention. Lenin denounces the imperialist war and appeals to American workers.

“The American people have a revolutionary tradition which has been adopted by the best representatives of the American proletariat, who have repeatedly expressed their complete solidarity with us Bolsheviks. That tradition is the war of liberation against the British in the eighteenth century and the Civil War in the nineteenth century...

“The American workers will not follow the bourgeoisie. They will be with us, for civil war against the bourgeoisie. The whole history of the world and of the American labour movement strengthens my conviction that this is so…

“We know that help from you will probably not come soon, comrade American workers, for the revolution is developing in different countries in different forms and at different tempos (and it cannot be otherwise). We know that although the European proletarian revolution has been maturing very rapidly lately, it may, after all, not flare up within the next few weeks. We are banking on the inevitability of the world revolution, but this does not mean that we are such fools as to bank on the revolution inevitably coming on a definite and early date...Before the world revolution breaks out a number of separate revolutions may be defeated.” (181, 185)

Revolution came to Germany three months later and ended the world war. Exhaustion from the war and sympathy for the Russian Revolution made continued imperialist military intervention impossible. The foreign armies withdrew, and the Bolshevik-led government won the civil war. But Russia remained isolated, and the October Revolution was ultimately destroyed from within.

In Defense of October — Trotsky

October 1917: Workers in Power includes “In Defense of October,” a speech to the organization of Social-Democratic students in Copenhagen in November 1932. Leon Trotsky traveled there from Turkey, where he was in exile.

Trotsky thanks the students, says forthrightly that he is a political adversary of social-democracy, and presents his defense of the revolution. He asks three questions: 1) Why and how did this revolution take place? 2) What have been the results of the October Revolution? 3) Has the October Revolution stood the test?

He starts with theoretical concepts: the materialist conception of history, the place of revolutions in history, the law of uneven development (countries are at different levels of economic development), and of combined development (countries affect each other, so that backwards Russia had some of the most advanced production in Europe and hence a very advanced working class).

He moves to Russian specifics. The advanced working class was vastly outnumbered by the peasantry, whose lack of land made the agrarian question revolutionary. Russians made up 43% of the population and dominated the other 57%, making the oppressed nationalities a second reserve of the revolution.

Russia’s uneven and combined development meant that the Russian working class could arrive at power sooner than the proletariat of more economically advanced countries. The revolution would be an uninterrupted “permanent revolution,” in the sense that it would go beyond the bourgeois revolutions of the past and bring to power a workers’ government.

The workers in power would not only establish democracy, redistribute land, allow national self-determination, and enact a shorter workweek and other measures favorable to workers; it would also expropriate the big capitalists and open the way to socialism. The revolution could not succeed, however, unless it spread to other countries more advanced than Russia.

Trotsky lists the prerequisites for October, from the conditions of Russian society to the “dress rehearsal” of the 1905 Revolution to the imperialist war. “But all these conditions, which fully sufficed for the outbreak of the Revolution, were insufficient to assure the victory of the proletariat in the Revolution. For this one more condition was necessary...The Bolshevik Party.” (200)

Trotsky acknowledges that “in the Soviet Union there is no Socialism as yet. The situation that prevails there is one of transition, full of contradictions, burdened with the heavy inheritance of the past and in addition is under the hostile pressure of the imperialist states. The October Revolution has proclaimed the principles of the new society. The Soviet Republic has shown only the first stage of its realization. Edison’s first lamp was very bad. We must learn how to discern the future.” (203)

Trotsky draws a positive balance sheet of the October Revolution and its place in history: “The October Revolution proclaimed and opened the domination of the proletariat. World capitalism suffered its first great defeat on Russian territory. The chain broke at its weakest link. But it was the chain that broke, and not only the link.” (208)

Trotsky ends his speech with a paean to the future of human society. The book continues with a valuable list of people, places, events and organizations, and a bibliography for readers who want more.

1917 and the Future

Trotsky’s speech is persuasive and moving to anyone open to its message, today as it was in 1932. I couldn’t help but think of the timing, however.

Four months later Hitler became Germany’s chancellor. Stalin and the leadership of the Communist International refused to acknowledge the defeat or to make any self-criticism. When no critical voices were raised anywhere in the International, Trotsky and his co-thinkers decided that new parties and a new International were needed. By the mid-1930s the Purge Trials in the Soviet Union showed that only another workers’ revolution could dislodge the bureaucracy.

Trotsky and his co-thinkers developed their analysis to take account of events, as revolutionaries have had to take account of events since then, including the incorporation of Eastern Europe into the Soviet Bloc; the Chinese, Vietnamese and Cuban revolutions; and the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and China.
Despite all the changes, revolutionaries today have every reason to think that the mole of history keeps burrowing. Future upsurges will come. When they do, the experience and lessons of the October Revolution will inspire and inform the revolutionaries who lead those upsurges. October 1917: Workers in Power is a fine compendium of those experiences and lessons.


From Against The Current, No 189, July-August 2017

The unbearable burden of being an Indian farmer : shot dead for demanding debt relief-- by Sushovan Dhar

“There are reports in the media that clear instructions were issued to use maximum force against the agitating farmers”.

A nondescript district in the centre of this vast country has suddenly become a most sought after destination for politicians and media people. Lamentably, this transformation has come at the cost of human lives. Farmers in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh started their protests since June 1 demanding higher crop prices and debt relief. This was no great news since popular protests from the peasantry have erupted time and again in different parts of the country demanding crop prices and debt-relief as the country is reeling under acute agrarian distress with over 300,000 farmers committing suicides cumulatively due to debt-burden [1]. However, what turned this case different was that as the farmers’ agitation turned militant, the administration clamped curfew to snuff out their protests. Unable to do so, the police openly fired on the agitating farmers killing five of them. Another died of lathi (baton) charge. The ruthlessness is further explained by the fact that there have been 45 FIRs against protesting farmers, but not one against those who murdered 6 farmers in cold blood. There are also reports in the media that clear instructions were issued to use maximum force against the agitating farmers.

This incident is an indication of a deeper malaise plaguing the Indian agriculture. Between 2001 and 2011, nine million farmers left their ancestral homes and migrated to cities. A study suggests more than 2,000 farmers are heading to cities every day to make a living. [2] And, this is towards the most precarious work in the informal sector. It is disgraceful to note that an overwhelmingly agricultural country like India doesn’t have a proper national agricultural policy. The neo-liberal policies adopted by the successive Indian governments in the last two and a half decades promoted market forces at an unmatched rapidity. It has forced agriculture on to a purely commercial footing and integrated domestic agriculture into the world markets. The consequences have been terrible with farmers mired in huge debts and facing terrible situations that have given rise to problems at multiple levels.

 Acute distress caused by prices of crops crashing

The Mandsaur region like other parts of western Madhya Pradesh has seen prices of crop falling 60 percent below the corresponding prices for last year. In the state of Maharashtra, earlier this year, “millions of Indian farmers look set to switch from growing pulses and oilseeds after a government campaign to boost output became a victim of its own success by flooding markets with the crops.” [3] This has also been the case with most of the crops that has seen bumper harvest. Local prices for oilseeds have plunged around 40 percent between October 2016 – March 2017, while lentils have dropped by nearly a third during the corresponding period. The almost withdrawal of the procurement at Minimum Support Prices (MSP) has been catastrophic. In this case, the government plans to buy a meagre 2 million tonnes of lentils at MSP prices against a record harvest of around 22 million tonnes in the 2016/17 crop year (July-June), up 35 percent from a year earlier. [4] Moreover, the prices offered by the government is 50,500 rupees against the previous year’s average prices of 110,000 rupees. Traditionally, agricultural crisis was attributed to the failure of crops due to droughts, flood or other natural catastrophe. However, it is being increasingly observed that bumper crops are also instigating such crisis.

The period that followed the implementation of the Structural Adjust Plans (SAP) witnessed rising input costs on one hand and dwindling produce price realisation on the other. The crisis started surfacing since the government planned to dismantle the measures that was built up, in stages, from 1947 to 1992-93 to safeguard the Indian farmers from the market fluctuations. This was also done without giving any adjustment time to Indian farmers. Such protectionist mechanisms, basically built on a combination of input price subsidies and output price support was not always perfectly implemented. However, it had enabled the Indian peasantry to take up production of various crops in a comparatively stable price environment. The implementation of SAPs not only saw the government slashing subsidies on major inputs, but also the withdrawal of procurement and distribution of farm produce. Subsequently, with the prices of farm inputs going up, private players took advantage of the situation and raised prices further. This was combined with the rise in rates of interests on institutional credits, the narrow window of such credits becoming narrower, forcing huge sections of the peasantry into the grips of private usury. And all these carried on with the inability of farmers to abandon cultivation in the absence of decent alternative livelihood sources.

The impacts of economic liberalisation with the abolition of agricultural subsidies and the opening of Indian agriculture to the global market has been severe. Small and medium farmers are frequently trapped in a cycle of unbearable debt, leading many to take their lives out of sheer desperation. This is currently a major human rights issue of epic proportions in the country and has impacted the peasantry in profound ways. The lives of the small and medium peasantry are entirely ruined. Their rights to life, water, food and adequate standards of living exists under the shadow of threat by market forces. It is scandalous that the government has taken no effective measures and the minuscule relief measures do not effectively address this issue as there is no attempt to deal with the broader structural issues that is at the root of this disaster.

Moreover, the suicide numbers fail to catch the enormity of the problems as entire categories of farmers are left out of the official listing since they do not possess land titles. This mostly includes women, dalits and indigenous people. In the case of Mandsaur and other parts of western Madhya Pradesh demonetisation and other faulty policies, like import of wheat and pulses, led to this fall in prices of farm produce despite a good harvest. It is reported that post-demonetisation, traders are paying 2 percent less on cash transactions to farmers at grain mandis (markets).

 Switch over to cash crops

The post-reform period also witnessed Indian agriculture turning towards cash crops. As there was a demand for cash crops like cotton in the international market, a sizeable part of Indian agriculture saw a government promoted shift from food crop to cash crop cultivation. However, excess production soon saw prices crashing making cash crops losing viability. Input costs sharply increased over the years since but the increase in market prices lag behind a long distance. These phenomena since the mid to late 1990s saw farmers suicides being recorded on a large scale. A report produced by Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York observed that “The government has long been alerted to the cotton farmer suicide crisis, yet has done little to adequately respond. Cotton exemplifies India’s general shift toward cash crop cultivation, a shift that has contributed significantly to farmer vulnerability, as evidenced by the fact that the majority of suicides are committed by farmers in the cash crop sector. The cotton industry, like other cash crops in India, has also been dominated by foreign multinationals that promote genetically modified seeds and exert increasing control over the cost, quality, and availability of agricultural inputs.” [5]

Last year, a severe agricultural crisis took place in the South Indian state of Karnataka. The coastal and Malnad regions have been bright spots in the state’s agriculture economy for the past two decades. However, “Farmers have been shaken by a steep drop in prices of three major cash crops --- arecanut, coconut and coffee ---- which have fallen roughly by 15- 50% from the historic highs of previous years. While Karnataka is the largest producer of arecanut and coffee in India, it stands third in coconut production. The market turmoil has hit arecanut and coconut right around harvest, when supplies are most abundant and grain prices are at seasonal lows.” [6] The report by Center for Human Rights and Global Justice also observed that “(a)s a result of economic reforms, Indian cotton farmers were thrust into competition with the international market, making them extremely vulnerable to price volatility. As new economic policies integrated India into the global market, the resultant devaluation of the Indian rupee dropped prices and increased demand for Indian crops. To capitalize on this potential source of revenue, the Indian government urged farmers to switch to cash crop cultivation, and India quickly redeveloped its agricultural sector to be export-oriented. Cash crops, such as cotton, can lead to short-term revenue gain but are ultimately subject to high levels of price volatility. India’s sudden switch to cash crop cultivation led to an over-saturation of the global market with cotton exports, and, in turn, a depression of cotton prices for these farmers.” and, “(d)espite these problems, the Indian government has continued to encourage farmers to switch to cash crops. Though India is currently one of the world’s leading cotton producers and exporters, like most cash crop commodity markets, the cotton market has become dominated by a small group of multinational corporations that exert increasing control over the cost, quality, and availability of agricultural inputs. In addition, in a cotton market where a corporate middleman ferries farmers’ products to the global market even those farmers who see high crop yields may not benefit from the prices their crops eventually fetch in the market. Finally, it is important to note that, although the focus here is on cotton, the general problems described continue to be a major concern for all Indian cash crop farmers for whom “investment in agriculture has collapsed,” leading to increased “[p]redatory commercialization of the countryside.” [7]

 In lieu of conclusion

It is high time that the government declares a comprehensive National Agricultural Policy putting a halt to commercialisation of agriculture. It must also implementation of the recommendations of the officially constituted National Commission on Farmers. The agricultural policy of the country should be designed to assign farmers’ rights to decent life and livelihood at the core of government policies and programmes. Otherwise, farmer’s debt would increase in an unhindered manner pauperising a large section of the population.

Access to institutional credit for peasants must be prioritised facilities extended to all farmers including women, dalits, indigenous people irrespective of the fact whether they have land titles or not. Right to water including irrigation remains another vital issue. These combined with other social protection mechanisms could be the only way out of this insurmountable indebtedness that is plaguing the Indian peasantry in such epic proportions.


[1The National Crime Records Bureau statistics say 318,528 farmers committed suicide between 1995 and 2015.

[3Off the pulse: India farmers switch crops as lentil prices plunge:


[5Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India (New York: NYU School of Law, 2011).

[7Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India (New York: NYU School of Law, 2011).

The Recent British Elections -- An Assessment in Socialist Resistance, organ of British Fourth Internationalists

A stunning result for Corbyn and Labour

Protesting Theresa May's visit to Ealing, west London May 20. Photo: Steve Eason

Alan Davies argues:

The election result is a triumph for Labour. Although the party has fallen marginally short of enough seats to form a government, Jeremy Corbyn has pulled off the biggest swing from one major party to another during the span of an election campaign since 1945. The polls were predicting a Labour share of the vote of 26% or 27% but ended up on the night at 40%—which is 12.8 million votes. This is more than Tony Blair got in 2001 or in 2005.

With 649 seats declared, the Conservatives have 318 seats, down 13, Labour 261, up 29, 35 seats for the SNP, down 21, the Lib Dems up 4 to 12, Plaid Cymru remain on three, the Greens on one and UKIP wiped out. Kensington and Chelsea is yet to declare. One recount has already taken place and the count has been suspended until 6pm tonight.

The turnout is up by 2% to the highest since 1997. The turnout amongst young people was unprecedented in modern times. The UKIP vote collapsed. Nuttall, who has resigned, came a distant third in Boston and Skegness.

Labour made significant gains in both Scotland and Wales. The SNP remain the largest party in Scotland but the Conservatives have won 12 seats off them so far, Labour have won seven and the Lib Dems three. In Wales Labour took back Gower, Cardiff North, and Vale of Clwyd from the Conservatives.

Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell are right to say that they are ready to form a minority government but it is clear that May will attempt to do so. The result, therefore, is not just a hung parliament, but the slimmest and most precarious of hung parliaments with effectively a coalition between a crisis ridden Tory Party and the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party – one of the most socially conservative political parties in Europe.

Its members deny climate change, oppose abortion and marriage equality and are mostly Biblical creationists. Its candidates were endorsed by the Ulster Defence Association, a sectarian murder gang which is now involved in racketeering and drug dealing.  This lash up gives the Tories a majority of  two. Even if this gets off the ground it is likely to extremely unstable and we should prepare for another election before the end of the year.

Labour’s election campaign was spectacular and had a huge impact. The outcome is a personal triumph for Jeremy Corbyn, who was vilified in the most brutal way from the start of the campaign until the end. The Tories weren’t even able to use the two horrendous terror attacks to their advantage.

The manifesto changed the politics of the election campaign the moment it hit the streets. It mobilised hundreds of thousands of young people to register to vote, join the campaign and vote in, what for many,  the first election in which they had participated. Young people how have been abused and used by successive government have struck back with a vengeance.

We are seeing tectonic shifts taking place at several levels in British politics. Labour’s anti-austerity election platform has appealed to many of the same marginalised people who were drawn towards a Brexit vote. The vote is a massive rejection of austerity—bringing about a fundamental change in British politics. There is a new generation on the scene for the first time, completely open to the kind of radical alternative Labour is putting forward. For example, it was the student vote which took Canterbury for Labour which has been Tory for ever.

Corbyn is now in a powerful position inside the party. The Labour right who have campaigned for two years to discredit and get rid of him have been politically defeated and have some decisions to make. Every one of the predictions they made about Corbynism have been proven wrong. It is time now to back Corbyn or stand aside.

In this situation the job of the radical left is clear. Join the Corbyn movement if you have not done so yet, help him to change and democratise the Labour Party. Deepen the political trajectory that he has initiated, and stand ready to fight the next election as and when it comes.