Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Greening the WFTU

There are plenty of global eco-manifestos from greens of various sorts. Here is a recent  one- for May Day-  from global reds: from the ‘General Principles of the World Federation of Trade Unions for the global environmental problems’:

‘It is common knowledge that over the last fifty years the environment, both in planetary and regional level, is receiving increasing pressure from the way the productive forces develop in the conditions of the imperialist new order. The consequences of these pressure are more and more intense for the working class, the farmers, the poor and middle strata of the city, in other words, the majority of the planet’s inhabitants, whether they belong in the developed or the developing countries. Their root cause is none other than the very nature of the exploitative system. On the one hand, the number of workers who participate in the production of wealth is increasing. On the other hand, the number of exploiters who accumulate in their hands the means of production and appropriate the wealth is decreasing, which as they procure to increase their wealth just for themselves.

The relentless hunt for super profits by transnational monopolies causes enormous disasters to the planet, condemns the one third of the planet to starve and live (if they survive) in miserable conditions. Lack of protection against natural disasters, global warming, reduction of the protective ozone shield, depletion of natural recourses, forest destruction, desertification, genetically modified organisms, nuclear and toxic waste, dangerous nutritional dependence on transnational monopolies, air pollution, destruction of ecosystems and pollution of the natural reserves, lack of access to clear water and also military invasions and civil conflicts incitement, are only a few of the results of the imperialist new order. And it could not be otherwise, since for capital and its political exponents, the environment, the planet (in general the “Mother Earth”, as the native people of Latin America called it), is nothing else than an abstraction, a source for looting of the finite natural resources of the planet [and] the natural space in which they carry on their uncontrollable (as it seems) activities and discard their waste’.

It adds ‘Amidst the sharpening of the capitalist crisis, the catastrophic activity of capital against the environment is increasing as well, and planetary problems sharpen because: the inter-imperialist contrasts become stronger, in search for new markers or redistribution of those already existing [and] the accumulated earnings of capital seek to find exits, new fields to invest in, leading towards further commercialization of a growing range of activities and of more public social goods and resources’. But ‘Imperialism, capital, monopolies and the governments that serve them do not play without an opponent. They have against them the working class, the poor and the middle farmers, the self-employed, the small business owners, the working intelligentsia in the developed and developing countries, the vital interests of which are identical with the need for a harmonious cohabitation between people and nature.’

The WFTU considers ‘the socialist way of production an important tool in our hands,’ enabling us to ‘understand a completely different man–nature relationship, as well as the tools to materialize it.’ They look to a planned economy based on the belief that the ‘long-term combined satisfaction of the people’s needs are the only stable basis for a harmonic man and environment symbiosis, for their common progress and development’.   Sharpen you dialectical skills on that!

Most on the left will no doubt agree with Kolya Abramsky who, in a recent paper, argued that common or collective ownership and control of relevant productive capacity, including land, raw materials, energy resources and infrastructure, as well as knowledge and technologies is a key issue. However, the issue goes well beyond UK concerns with Clause 4 and the like. He says  ‘taking collective control over means of production in core countries is necessary, but not sufficient. The problem is these means of production should not really exist, in the form that they currently do, or in the places that they currently do, in the first place. As generators of wealth within capitalist relations, they are, essentially, the accumulated stolen wealth and labour of generations of workers (waged and unwaged) in the core countries and, especially, workers and communities in the southern countries.

He adds ‘ In order to address this, and to break the uneven technological development, especially in relation to production of means of production, a highly targeted non-commercial technology transfer of renewable energy technologies based on reparations is necessary. However, collective control of production in north is necessary in order to give a serious material basis for the reparations and technology transfer, since this process would require huge transfers of material wealth and it makes no sense to even conceive of this being possible to implement within a market based on private accumulation.’

From 'Beyond Copenhagen: Common Ownership, Reparations, Degrowth and Renewable Energy Technology Transfer', Kolya Abramsky. See his book  ‘Sparking a World- wide Energy Revolution’ (AK Press)  www.akpress.org
And also www.oekosozialismus.net/The+Crises+of+Capitalism.+Saral+Sarkar.+2011.pdf

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