Ian Angus is editor of climateandcapitalism.com and co-author, with Simon Butler, of the new book Too Many People?. This is his keynote presentation to the recent Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne. * * * Meetings such as this play a vital role in building a movement that can stop the hell-bound train of capitalism, before it takes itself and all of humanity over the precipice. Building such a movement is the most important thing anyone can do today — so I’m honoured to have been invited to take part in your discussions.
After the April 20 Deepwater oil well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, many commentators have tried to explain why it happened. Many blame greed and arrogance in BP’s executive offices. Others blame it on the military-oil-government alliance that views free-flowing oil (and free-flowing oil profits) as something to promote at all costs. But some writers identify a different cause. Bonus-seeking executives, corrupt politicians and oil-hungry generals all played a role, but they were only front men for the real villains — consumers.
Not long ago, a lot of socialists around the world had little to say about environmental issues. The environmental movement was focused on individual (change your light bulbs) and capitalist (create a market for emissions) solutions to the ecological crisis. In 2007, immediately after the founding of the Ecosocialist International Network (EIN), I wrote a Canadian Dimension article on the challenges facing ecosocialists. In it, I discussed two trends that seemed to indicate a new wave of anti-capitalist and pro-ecology action:
In Australia, the question of environmental protection has increasingly been linked to the need to reduce or contain the nation’s population level size. This is often tied to the argument that the high level of consumption in First World countries is unsustainable.
Immigrants to the developed world have frequently been blamed for unemployment, crime and other social ills. Attempts to reduce or block immigration have been justified as necessary measures to protect “our way of life” from alien influences.
February 12, 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Robert Darwin. His masterwork, On the Origin of Species, was published 150 years ago, in November 1859, initiating a revolution in science that continues to this day.
From the first day it appeared online, the masthead of the Climate and Capitalism blog has carried the slogan Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.
“If the government cannot lower the cost of living it simply has to leave”, a demonstrator said in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “If the police and UN troops want to shoot at us, that’s OK, because in the end, if we are not killed by bullets, we’ll die of hunger.”