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Can Ecosocialist Praxis be a Real Alternative?

By Gordon Peters - London Left Green Blog, December 17, 2017

How can ecosocialism respond to the operation of power in capitalist accumulation and reproduction? Does ecosocialism help provide answers to struggles taking place in the local state and in sites of contest?

I want to suggest that it does in 4 broad ways:

1] The Refusal Strategy

This has a long lineage in class struggles in many different ways, but came to be articulated by the Italian Autonomists. Here I can only draw together some links from very different places in recent times and which all have as their distinct characteristics a refusal to yield to the capitalist logic and to say no to displacement.

For instance, indigenous struggles in Latin America particularly against mining, deforestation and land grabbing demand an anti-capitalist sustainability and in Bolivia were enshrined in the Cochabamba Declaration and the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement when applied to fossil fuels and Leave It in the Ground, anti-fracking protests in southern England and in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and campaigns on housing rights against estate demolition are increasingly confronting the demands of corporate capital and in their own sites of struggle re-framing demands in terms of rights to land, community, place to live, clean air and water, and freedoms, which are essentially ecosocialist.

The housing struggles in London are having to resist speculation and maximising value from land which depends on further debt creation and the actual emisseration of working class people by displacement of social housing, and in some cases further polarising class relations by building blocks with separate entries for ‘affordable’ and higher price housing.

I am involved in Haringey with the StopHDV campaign where the local state and the multi-national corporation Lendlease aim to establish a financial nexus worth several billion pounds as a 'development vehicle’ and in the process re-make Tottenham and Wood Green thereby displacing thousands of people.

As the plaintiff in a Judicial Review I have taken this struggle into the High Court, along with a broad coalition of people on the ground. Marching and protesting against the Council we refuse to accept the Haringey Development Vehicle, and in the court our final submission to the Council/corporate argument is ‘we say not so’.

This is the Refusal Strategy and it echoes to some degree the methods of 'In and Against the State’, in the 1970s, where workers were employed by but refused to be co-opted by the local state. It is however broader and puts much more emphasis on the protection of place and the right to a decent environment, mobilising residents as well as trades unionists.

RMT union puts anarchist in charge of London

By anonymous - Freedom, January 15, 2017

Freedom has received the following, written by an anonymous railway worker with the RMT union

At the beginning of this year the RMT elected Andy Littlechild (pictured right), a longstanding anarchist and member of the Solidarity Federation (Solfed), to the RMT union’s National Executive Council as its London transport representative.

The role, which lasts for three years, takes responsibility for the entire battlezone of London Underground including trains, stations, engineers, all ancillary staff and contracted companies, along with Transport for London, Docklands Light Railway, Black Cabs and even Boris Bikes.

Andy, who’s worked for many years as a Tube track worker and union rep, stood unopposed for the position and was duly elected after receiving nominations from every RMT branch in the constituency. His unopposed win was generally linked to Andy’s perceived militancy and non-sectarian approach to organising, which endeared him to RMT’s London activist base and gave him a clear run.

Being elected in this way is not without its downside as it meant there was no election involving the members; and is equally controversial given a general trend of anarchist disdain for full-time union positions, not least within SolFed itself, which bars full-time union officers from membership.

Ed’s note: SolFed, and other anarchist groups, see trade union bureaucracy as taking agency out of the hands of workers and transferring it to people who are not at the site of, or affected by, the struggle taking place. The full-timer’s wages and community ties are linked to a national-level body removed from direct struggle, and their role is therefore based on what’s best for the institution, rather than the workers.
(For more on SolFed and anarcho-syndicalist thinking, try Fighting For Ourselves online|book)

Whether Andy’s decision to engage with the RMT’s executive will be productive or not is yet to be seen. The test will be in how and whether he manages to preserve his class-based anarchist politics in practice against the relentless industrial and political warfare in London, especially on the Tube where he has walked straight into the bitter, escalating dispute and strike activity around staffing stations, as well as several smaller skirmishes which are developing there as I write — and how Andy preserves his politics likewise in his dealings within the hierarchy of the RMT.

One thing we can say is only the RMT would put a known anarchist in charge of London.

Edit: There is one other union which has elected an openly anarchist member to a major position in recent times — Donnacha DeLong was president of the National Union of Journalists from 2011-12 and still sits on its NEC.

UK London Tube Strike: "It's Not About The Money"

By ReelNews - YouTube, August 10, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Don't believe the lies from London Undeground management - this strike is about safety and work-life balance, as all four tube unions take unprecedented joint action against the imposition of night tube shifts which will endanger passengers and drastically reduce the time workers can spend with their family and friends.

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