Saturday, August 27, 2011

‘Ecosocialism or barbarism: There is no third way’

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ian Angus
Ian Angus is a veteran of the socialist and environmental movements in Canada and internationally. He is a featured guest speaker at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference, which will take place in Melbourne, from September 30 to October 3.

Angus is the founder and editor of, an online journal that focuses on capitalism, ecology and the ecosocialist alternative.

Patrick Bond, the director of the Centre for Civil Society at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, has said climateandcapitalism is “the most reliable single source of information and strategic insights for climate justice”.

Angus’s latest book, co-written with Green Left Weekly coeditor Simon Butler, Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis, will be launched at the Climate Change Social Change conference.

He will also deliver a keynote address at the conference on how to build the kind of movement that can carry out an ecosocialist revolution.

He will argue that “building such a movement is the most important thing anyone can do today”.
“When we say ecosocialist revolution,” says Angus, “we are talking a profound change in the way humans relate to the earth, in how we produce and reproduce, in almost everything humans do and how we do it.
“What we’re aiming for is not just a reorganisation of capitalism, but for what US Marxist Fred Magdoff has termed an ‘ecological civilisation’.”

Aiming for such a revolution is a daunting task, especially because, as Angus says, “there are powerful social groups that benefit from the existing situation, and they will resist change no matter how obvious the need for change may be”.

Another problem is that “most green activists do not see capitalism as the primary problem — or, if they do, they don’t believe that an ecosocialist revolution is possible or desirable”.

But he will argue that movements to halt environmental destruction cannot hope to win lasting change without confronting the capitalist system, which threatens to “take itself and all of humanity over the precipice”.
Angus says: “One hundred and fifty years ago, Karl Marx predicted that unless capitalism was eliminated the great productive forces it unleashed would turn into destructive forces.

“And that’s exactly what has happened. Every day we see more evidence that capitalism, which was once the basis for an unprecedented wave of creativity and liberation, has transformed itself into a force for destruction, decay and death.

“It directly threatens the very existence of the human race, not to mention the existence of the millions of species of plants and animals with whom we share the earth.

“Many people have proposed technological fixes or political reforms to address various aspects of the global environmental crisis, and many of those measures deserve serious consideration.

“Some of them may buy us some time, may delay the ecological day of reckoning.

“Contrary to what you may have heard, no serious socialist is opposed to partial measures or reforms — we will actively support any measure that reduces, limits, or delays the devastating effects of capitalism.

“And we will work with anyone, socialist or not, who seriously wants to fight for such measures. Just try to stop us from joining in!

“But as socialists, we know that there can be no lasting solution to the world’s multiple environmental crises so long as capitalism remains the dominant economic and social system on this planet.

“We do not claim to have all the answers, but we do have one big answer: the only basis for a long-term, permanent change in the way humanity relates to the rest of nature, is an ecosocialist revolution.

“If we don’t make that transformation, we may delay disaster, but disaster remains inevitable.

“As the headline on Climate and Capitalism has always said: ‘Ecosocialism
or barbarism: There is no third way.’”

[For more information about the World at a Crossroads: Climate Change Social Change conference, visit ]

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