Getting from Here to There: Can Ecosocialists Support Radical Reform Measures?

Ecosocialists critique the way the capitalist system destroys people and the environment. We envision a world of unalienated production for human needs in harmony with the environment. But how can we connect the two? How can we build a bridge from the consciousness and demands of the environmental movement today to the consciousness that system change is the alternative to climate change?

Many demands of the environmental movement are simply “no” – no coal, no fracking, no tar sands oil and gas, no Keystone XL Pipeline, no nuclear power, no pollution, etc. The bridge is to explain that the no’s constitute a rejection of the profit system and that ecosocialism is the necessary “yes.”

Some demands of the environmental movement are more complicated. “Cap and trade,” as implemented in the European Union and elsewhere, is a scam to let the corporations do as they please while pretending to curb them. The “carbon tax,” as proposed by conservatives like former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr., in a New York Times op-ed piece on June 21, would be a regressive tax harming workers and reinforcing the claim that government intervention to help the environment hurts people.

The “fee-and-dividend” proposal by former NASA scientist James Hansen and other environmental activists is intended to be a radical alternative to a carbon tax. Both John Bellamy Foster and Anders Ekeland have written positively about the proposal. This session will discuss “fee-and-dividend” proposal as a transitional demand that the left can raise. David Finkel, Against The Current editor, will discuss what socialists call “transitional demands” and how the “fee-and-dividend” proposal can be raised in this way.

Responders will ask questions and suggest other strategies for ecosocialists in order to stimulate discussion and facilitate a provocative session.

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