Massive demonstrations of high school students against the degradation of the climate: capitalism is a threat to humanity!

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Teivos
Massive demonstrations of high school students against the degradation of the climate: capitalism is a threat to humanity!
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Hi comrades! I have read the text of the ICC (https://en.internationalism.org/content/16637/massive-demonstrations-hig...), watched a few videos and read some information on the internet on this issue. There is a real indignation within the working class and other isolated layers of society for the lack of perspective that capitalism gives on the most fundamental foundations of society: its relation with the rest of nature. Each generation that is born has a more terrible perspective on its living conditions while nature is being sacked by the capital accumulation competition process, threatening the planet with reaching irreversible limits. The protest has started clearly avoiding the traps of “we are too much people on the earth”, “we consume too much individually”, and has focused correctly on a systemic failure although with not much clarity about what is exactly wrong with the system or which system are we talking about. It has been massive, it extended in space and in time -which are both important for the spontaneity and solidarity of the working class to take place- and opened the way of open discussion.

However, according to what I could see, it seems that there is quite a lack of clear working class composition, and as a consequence a lack of working class perspective. It is not (yet?) as in May 68 when in solidarity after student protests the working class could give an organizational and future perspective to the movement.  

The danger of the state penetrating in the direction of the movement, and its resultant institutionalization is clear from the beginning. In some countries where it is “extending” I have doubts if it is a genuine extension or a trap.

The feminist mobilization has perhaps contributed to dilute the “change the system” perspective into an intersectional struggle which deviates the indignation into “changing within the system using the system”. 8M day was on Friday. But at the beginning the climate protests were on Thursdays. Now it has become Fridays4Future. I don´t really know if this is relevant but it is at least something strange.

The bourgeoisie is trying to make it a dead movement which just gets mobilized in front of parliaments and making photos with hashtags. It is trying to use certain figures as leaders to be followed in a democratic perspective -not only public institutional figures-, and it is trying to make it a “child and childish strike” that “gives adults a lesson”.

A global strike has been called for the 15th of March, the same date as the Indignados 2011 movement started in Spain. I think that it is necessary to understand if it still has certain working class potential perspective of “we can´t solve the problem with the system that created it” or, on the other hand, it has become a mobilization completely jailed on a democratic perspective. It is important to evaluate this for our organized intervention.

I hope that this intervention contributes to the discussion.

Fraternal regards!

Comunero
I don't know if there is any

I don't know if there is any element at all here to make us think this isn't just another NGO/Leftist movement to profit from a real concern. A strike (and even more, a student strike) means nothing by itself, as was once again proved last Friday.

Teivos
Article mistaken

Sorry, I made a mistake. The ICC text I was referring to is in spanish and french language. I thougt that the one I said was the same version in english (I couldn't find it)

Spanish: https://es.internationalism.org/content/4402/el-capitalismo-amenaza-el-p...

French: https://fr.internationalism.org/content/9869/combat-futur-lhumanite-mani...

Teivos

Comunero
I still don't see any element

I still don't see any element there that suggests it's anything different from another ecologist citizen movement. They don't carry national flags, but that means nothing in itself.

It's not only that it isn't "as strong as Indignados" (which was quite more harshly criticised than this by the ICC, rightly IMO) because there are no assemblies, it's that the whole movement is articulated around the idea of "citizen action". That's quite more than a limitation!

So, besides a global protest (as, say, feminist protests), what are the positive elements here? Quoting the ICC:

" (...) So what better basis could there be for diluting the proletariat, making it forget its own class inter­ests, drowning it in an amorphous mass where there is no longer any distinction of interest between workers, shopkeepers ... or the ruling class itself? The constant ideological barrage about the environment thus complements all the campaigns about democracy and ‘people power’ unleashed after the fall of the eastern bloc.
 

Look at how they twist the ecological issues to suit their needs. These problems are so terri­fying, so urgent, they say, surely they’re more important than your egoistic fight for higher wages or against job losses? Indeed, aren’t most of these problems due to the fact that ‘we’ in the advanced countries ‘are consuming too much’? Shouldn’t we be prepared to eat less meat, use less energy, even accept this or that factory closure ‘for the good of the planet’? What better alibi for the sacrifices demanded by the crisis of the capitalist economy.

(...)

But it would be an error to think that the ecological issue per se can be a focus for the mobilisation of the proletariat on its own class terrain today. Although certain limited aspects of the problem (eg health and safety at work) can be integrated into authentic class demands, the issue as such doesn’t allow the proletariat to affirm itself as a distinct social force. Indeed, as we have seen, it provides an ideal pretext for the bourgeoisie’s inter-classist campaigns, and the workers will have to resist actively the various attempts of the bourgeoisie, particularly its Green and leftist elements, to use the issue as a means of dragging them off their own class ground. It remains the case that it is above all by struggling against the effects of the eco­nomic crisis - against wage cuts, unemployment, growing impoverishment at all levels - that the workers will be able to constitute themselves into a force capable of confronting the entire bourgeois order."

(IR, 63)

I fully agree with the view expressed above, and don't see how it doesn't apply now to this movement. Being "spontaneous" (in case it really is so) doesn't change its nature.

Comunero
Text replaced?

It seems that the link you (Teivos) posted is now dead, and the article has been substituted by a fairly different one, which doesn't express such optimistic views over the nature of the movement.

I think the new one is far better, but IMO swapping suddenly one text for the other, no reflection or explanation given, is a mistake. If the first one has been published, surely the comrades did think it was good, and even more if it has been given out as a leaflet in Belgium. In the past, the ICC has rightly criticised other organizations for doing this.

So, I ask the comrades, why has the other text been removed like that? If it expressed wrong views, why not explain the readers of both the original article and the leaflet what was wrong with it, and what took the organization to initially think it wasn't? I think that once a text is published, if the authors (in this case the ICC) change their views they should explain the reasoning behind that change. Silently swapping one text for other is worse than publishing a wrong analysis.

Teivos
About the two articles and further discussion

It is difficult to say whether in its beginnings there was a rejection of being enlisted behind trade unions and parliaments. It is difficult to know if the first impulse had some, timid, proletarian characteristics and was quickly re-directed to bourgeoisie politics; or, on the contrary, from the beginning the perspective was faithful in democracy.

According to the first published article the protest began by rejecting ideas of isolated individuals being guilty of contributing to climate change, as if it was a domestic problem. On the contrary, the movement approach seemed to be against a system whose nature was, however, still not clearly identified. It was also against nationalist (mostly regionalist) divisions. And apparently, it extended. However, the feminist strike was also apparently “international”. Postmodernist ideology is ever-more international pretending that it can join interests of isolated individuals all around the world. So, in this case it will join everyone concerned about the climate, in other cases every woman on earth, in others… every black homosexual.

The second article gives the impression that this approach was never there and that the slogan "fight the system", "the climate cannot be fixed with the system that destroys it" was from the beginning simply a vision oriented to change some kind of policy (juridical system?) and a negotiation with the European parliament and so on.

The second article perhaps represents a better understanding of the situation according to the ICC, and the reason for removing the previous one without explanation may be in order not to give contradictory ideas (given perhaps as a result of an error), at the precise moment when it is necessary to intervene with a clear pamphlet. However, I agree with Comunero that the ICC should clarify this mistake. Even more if the previous pamphlet was distributed.

I have also a criticism of the new article. The identification made between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat with, respectively, "a minority that is getting richer and richer" and "a majority that is getting poorer and poorer". I think that it might lead to mistake it with the bourgeois sociological concept of social class and make a small concession to the bourgeois democratic reasoning of abstract majorities and minorities. This was very dangerous and could be seen in the Indignados-Occupy slogan "we are the 99%". While it is true that the working class is an increasingly widespread class in society, it is not this majority character that gives it authority or characterizes it. The working class was not exactly the majority in 1917, at least in Russia. It is the class that behind its social perspective can agglutinate the rest of society, since it tends to the dissolution of classes. This is, by the way, a clear statement of the text.

Fraternal regards!

Teivos

jk1921
"The young people who

"The young people who participate in the movement must understand that they are not 'future citizens' but, in their vast majority, future precarious, future unemployed, future exploited, who will have to unite in their struggle against capitalist exploitation the fight against war, environmental catastrophe, moral barbarism, etc. that this system of exploitation permeates all its pores."

Come now comrades, why so pessimistic? You could get yourself elected at the age of 29 to the United States Congress where you could propose a sweeping "Green New Deal," issue ominous tweets about the world ending in 12 years, tell people they might want to reconsider having children and demand that the entire built environment be retrofitted in a decade. Seriously, no discussion here of the Green New Deal? It is quite the opposite of the series of localist half measures that the article describes as the hallmark of modern envrionmentalism. What is the Green New Deal then? A serious program for fixing the environmental crisis that alas simply can't be realized within capitalism or is it a dopey, catastrophist form of virtue signalling culture war politics that gets us nowhere--not even as an incipient set of demands that can't be yet realized?

Moreover, the content of this article seems to clash to some degree with sentiments expressed in other threads towards the Yellow Vests. If demands to fix the environment through austerity are on the same bourgeois terrain as demands to fight austerity that coincidentally harm the envrionment, what point is there in making some kind of distinction (moral, strategic, tactical or otherwise) between the legitimacy of these sets of competing demands? They both end up in the same place, don't they? Yet it seems some comrades were ready to write-off Yellow Vest demands over gas price hikes as "petty-bourgeois" and reactionary, while the climate demonstrations were seen as some kind of incipient social movement with a real chance for deepening. Has this changed?