Response to “On the Ecological Crisis and Solidarity’s Role in the Movement as Ecosocialists” (Pre-Convention Document)

by Barry S.

Posted June 18, 2013

Back to pre-convention documents list

In Number 3 of the Solidarity pre-convention discussion bulletin, there are two submissions on ecology.

The second article in Bulletin Number 3, also on ecology, by Jan C. and Dianne is a welcome relief.

It gives an overview of the whole of the ecological crisis facing humanity, which includes but is not limited to climate change. This is a sobering summation of the problem.

The authors find that the source of the problem is the capitalist system itself, and gives a brief explanation of this fact which forms the basis of Solidarity’s outlook: “In order to stop capitalism’s destruction of nature – and humankind that is part of nature – it is necessary to break with that model [capitalism] through a revolutionary transformation.”

Jan and Dianne say we should raise in the ecology movement our anticapitalist critique of the source of the crisis.

They look at the real movements that ecology activists have participated in, from opposition to the XL pipeline and fracking, to struggles in Black and other communities against environmental racism and injustice, dumping toxic wastes, building nukes, and toxic incinerators in these communities. Solidarity is urged to participate in these battles, and others such as mountain-top removal mining, etc.

We should join in the divestment efforts regarding fossil fuels on campuses. Any moves for cities to municipalize electric companies should be supported, and by implication any moves to nationalize them, although that hasn’t materialized yet while there have been moves on the city level.

We are urged to bring these issues into all aspects of our work, particularly labor and community work.

In transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources, which will take much time and effort, we should fight to make sure that it is not the workers who bear the costs. Our view is “based on the belief that humanity is capable of self-emancipation and solidarity. Whatever problems encountered in reducing toxic waste from our world, a society not driven by competition and market forces can use scientific evidence as the basis for it’s planning.”

I think this main thrust the article can provide a basis for Solidarity’s intervention in the next period.

I do have some questions about aspects of Jan’s and Dianne’s article that begin to propose what we say about our view of the future.

They state, “While ecosocialists’ critique of capitalism provides an understanding of the crisis we now face, we do not view ‘state socialism’ as the answer.”

The term ‘state socialism’ has been used in different ways. One way has been as shorthand for Stalinist systems. This use of the term is wrong. The USSR, China, etc. never achieved socialism of any kind, “state” or otherwise. It is not a useful or accurate term to denote those societies, or to explain what was wrong with them. We should not give up the position of all the tendencies that came out of the Left Opposition that Stalinism wasn’t socialism of any sort. Socialism has never been achieved anywhere, including in Soviet Russia in its healthy days. Soviet Russia achieved only a workers state, not socialism. And as Lenin said after the depredations of the civil war and imperialist intervention, and the failure of the revolution to extend into the West, that it was a “workers state with bureaucratic deformations.”

But there is a more dangerous possible interpretation of Jan’s and Dianne’s rejection of “state socialism,” and that is the idea that after an anti-capitalist revolution the workers will not need to establish a workers state as a prerequisite to the gradual transition to socialism, but could leap over this necessary stage, and go right to socialism.

The formation of workers states after anti-capitalist revolutions is not only necessary to carry out the more or less gradual process of nationalizing the means of production to eliminate capitalism, a prerequisite to the gradual emergence of socialized property, but to overcome all the “old crap” including in workers’ consciousness inherited from capitalism. It is also necessary for the overcoming of the ecological crisis through the nationalized and planned economy necessary to deal with it. Overcoming the ecological crisis itself is necessary before socialism can be achieved.

We should make clear that we are for the formation of workers’ power, a workers state, after an anti-capitalist revolution, which will open the door to eliminating over time all the “old crap” including the horrible ecology we will inherit, itself no easy task, to lay the foundations of the emergence of socialism and the withering away of the state altogether.

Jan and Dianne should clarify what they mean.

Back to pre-convention documents list