Ecosocialism conference brings together feminists and anti-war activists

‘The 21st century will the century of free women’ - Nilufer Koc - EcoSocialism Conference 2021
Nilüfer Koç: 'The 21st century will be the century of free women.' Photo: Rachel Evans.

Nilüfer Koç, from the Kurdistan National Congress, and Kavita Krishnan, Indian socialist and feminist, were among the featured speakers at the  of this year’s .

The conference, sponsored by Green Left and Socialist Alliance, was first held last year and will become an annual event.

This year, under lockdown conditions for many states, it attracted 250 paid registrations and included eight feature sessions and workshops over three days. It was held online, with in-person hook-in points in several locations.

“There can be nothing more important than the need to nurture an ecosocialist and feminist politics of resistance against capitalism and imperialism,” Krishnan told the opening session.

She highlighted the Indian farmers movement — in which women play a key role — as an example of the grassroots struggle needed to defeat a rising right-wing authoritarianism.

Koç outlined the challenges faced by the Kurdish-led liberation movement in North Syria and Turkey, arguing it is a strategic battle against global imperialist interests. She also gave an insight into imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s views on “killing the dominant male” — challenging sexist and patriarchal habits, assumptions and ideas — as central to the Kurdish social revolution.

Philippines-based socialist, Reihana Mohideen, and  editor, Ian Angus, argued the case for ecosocialism on .

Historian David Brophy and Socialist Alliance member Peter Boyle discussed a socialist response to the imperialist warmongering against China on another . We should neither sugar coat the human rights abuses of the Chinese government nor sign up to the AUKUS-enforced cold war against China, Brophy said.

The Australia Institute’s Alison Pennington, on a panel on “Workers' rights in the age of COVID-19”, said this is the first recession in history where corporate profits have increased while one million jobs were lost. She outlined a vision of a worker-led response to the pandemic.

Tim Gunston from the United Workers Union said that “action overcomes fear” and is the key to advancing workers’ rights. “Health and safety is the simplest thing in the world,” he said. “It is all the bosses’ problem and if it's not safe you get to stop and they pay you.”

Greens councillor Jonathan Sri and Socialist Alliance co-convenor Sam Wainwright addressed a panel on strategies for building the anti-capitalist left.

Wainwright argued that mass struggles and campaigns that unite people with different political views can build the political power necessary to create an anti-capitalist formation with real weight.

Other sessions featured: socialist election campaigns in NSW local government, sovereignty and land rights for First Nations people and a .

“Capitalism and imperialism cannot deliver liberation of women nor liberation of humanity,” Green Left co-editor Susan Price told the opening of the first session. This ecosocialism conference was a part of building the alternative that can.

The  regional conference, also supported by Socialist Alliance, will be the next similar event for discussing socialist ideas.