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The Socialist Green New Deal

By Green Left - London Green Left Blog , September 26, 2022

In this document, we trace the development of a Green Socialist New Deal (GSND) from its origins in the ‘New Deal’ of the 1930s, to the more recent Green New Deal.

We believe that the latter can only be effective in tackling the multiple crises of finance, climate change, environmental degradation, social and global justice and peace through an eco-socialist alliance of workers and trade unions that challenges the current capitalist order.

We outline a set of interim policies in our GSND, concluding that these medium-term changes would reduce climate change and also enhance our democracy and human welfare.

Democratising Work in the 21st Century

By Isabelle Ferreras - Green European Journal, September 14, 2022

With digitalisation and shocks like the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather, the world of work is changing rapidly. But this transformation should not become an inevitability that workers must passively endure. Rather, it should be a democratic process shaped and decided by workers themselves. On the sidelines of the European Trade Union Institute’s Blueprint for equality conference, we sat down with Isabelle Ferreras, who has co-authored a new book calling for a re-organisation of the economy, to discuss democratising work in the 21st century.

Green European Journal: Digitalisation and automation are transforming how we work. How do you see the new face of work?

Isabella Ferreras: What is most notable about digitalisation is the loss of work’s physicality. As soon as jobs adopt technological tools that allow remote or computer-assisted working, workers cease to come together in the same place. In Marx’s analysis of the first age of industrial capitalism, the concentration of workers in factories was an important factor in the development of class consciousness. It enabled the working class to shift from what he called a “class in itself” to a “class for itself”. The opportunity to come together in one place, at a frequency imposed by industrial capitalism, meant that workers could get to know one another, take their breaks together, talk to one another. They realised that they shared very similar lives and problems that needed shared solutions.

The digitalisation of the economy individualises the experience of work. You might find an engineer based in Delhi, another in Boston, and a third who is subcontracted to write some lines of code from South Africa or Ukraine all working on the same project. All these people interact via an online platform, without getting to know one another and without the opportunity to realise that they are all part of the same “work investment” necessary for a business. By work investment, I mean all the workers required to successfully produce something or provide a service.

So the fragmentation of work, brought about by digitalisation, leads to a less social experience of work and, in the end, a loss of power for workers?

As this fragmentation has taken root, workers have grown more aware. Workers aspire to something else. We can see this in two ways. First, since the pandemic, there is a massive rise in people changing careers because they aspire to more meaningful work. There was a real misery for “non-essential” workers slaving away in front of their computers, stuck at home with this interface. In the hope of keeping their workers, some British companies have embarked on a full-scale experiment: the biggest ever trial of a four-day working week has just begun in the UK. About 50 businesses are implementing it, offering a better work-life balance for the same salary. Workers are expected to be just as productive over four days and gain a better quality of life.

Second, businesses are going to great lengths to improve job satisfaction. This is essentially a retention strategy whereby companies work to increase job satisfaction so that employees remain loyal. Employers are giving workers more say in decisions that affect them, such as combining working from home and the office.

In France, a survey conducted by the Association Pour l’Emploi des Cadres (APEC) in January 2021 revealed that 9 out of 10 managers are listening much more, building bonds within teams, and empowering employees as a result of the pandemic. This is an opportunity to be seized. On 16 December 2021, the European Parliament passed a historic resolution demanding, among other things, a revision of the European Works Council Directive. In Democratize Work, we call for a collective veto right for workers so that they can influence decisions taken by company boards or works councils.

The opposite trend is the growing physicality of work in the care sector. What does the rising need for care, both for people and the planet, mean for the world of work?

Alongside the trend towards automation is a realisation that we’re going to need more human labour and, let’s hope, not more unrecognised and unpaid exploitation. Taking care of both the planet and other human beings, like through public services, requires more and more work but nobody is talking about paying for this work. Neglecting the remuneration side of care comes from misconceptions about the future of work.

The intrinsic content of all jobs has changed with each technological revolution. But the key issue we must grasp here is that there’s much more work for us to do so that we’re no longer dependent on our energy slaves [the quantity of energy required to replace human labour]. We must also formalise that part of the care sector which just exploits women’s labour. Equalising living standards and giving men and women the same number of opportunities means investing massively in childcare, for example.

Book Review: The Future is Degrowth

By Timothée Parrique - Timothée Parrique, July 3, 2022

The best the degrowth literature has to offer served on a silver platter. That’s how I would describe The Future is Degrowth: A Guide to a World beyond Capitalism(June 2022) by Matthias Schmelzer, Andrea Vetter, and Aaron Vansintjan.[1] Reading it, I felt like Neo in The Matrix learning everything there is to know about Kung Fu all at once – “I know degrowth.” 

This kind of synthesis was long overdue. The degrowth literature has grown rather large and I cannot think of a single text that maps it all. Research on degrowth used to be my favourite guide to degrowth but there is only so much you can do in a 20-page article (plus, the literature has more than doubled since it was published in 2018). Degrowth: A vocabulary for a new era (2014) is a good pot luck of perspectives but lacks coherence and depth due to its multi-author, short-entry format. I tried my best in The political economy of degrowth (2019) but the end result is rather cumbersome. 

In The Future is Degrowth, the authors have achieved a colossal Spring cleaning of the field. Sufficiency, dépense, commoning, pluriverse, unequal exchange, conviviality, self-determination, and many more (I have counted more than sixty concepts throughout the book). With such an exhaustive span, this book is to degrowth what the IPCC is to climate science: the best available literature review on the topic. 

But warning: this book is not for the academically faint hearted. If you’re looking for a wide-audience introduction to degrowth, this is not one of them, and I would rather recommend The Case for Degrowth[G. Kallis, S. Paulson, G. D’Alisa, F. Demaria], a shorter, less demanding way of covering the basics. If you’ve never heard of the topic at all, Less is more[Jason Hickel], Post Growth: Life after capitalism[Tim Jackson], and Degrowth [Giorgos Kallis] are also good places to start. 

The Future is Degrowth is rather long (more than 100,000 words) but neatly organised. The literature is chiselled into six tidy lists: 3 dimensions and 7 critiques of growth, 5 currents and 3 principles of degrowth, 6 clusters of proposals, and 3 strategies for change. The book itself is divided in seven chapters. After a long introduction (12% of the total book length), the first two chapters deal with understanding economic growth and its critics (that’s about half of the book). The remaining chapters follow Erik Olin Wright’s famous triad: Chapter 4 is about the desirability of degrowth (11%), Chapter 5 about its viability (13%), and Chapter 6 about its achievability (11%). This leaves us with a short concluding chapter (5%) titled “The future of degrowth.” 

With such a monumental piece of work, I could not resolve myself to write a short review, which would feel like summarising all seasons of Game of Thrones in a single tweet. This book deserves a proper dissection, and so I will here process chapter by chapter, taking all the space needed to summarise its content and, in the end, analyse its (many) strengths and (very few) weaknesses.

Against a Climate Popular Front

By Graeme Goossens - Candian Dimension, April 18, 2022

I can’t forget those crisp November mornings. I’d stand respectfully still, a Scout’s red sash across my shoulder. I remember the veteran steadying himself with his cane, standing as straight as he still could, crying silently as the “Last Post” rang out.

“How many of you would have fought?” Ms. Allen had asked our class.

Every tiny hand was raised.

The heroism of the Second World War was etched into my memory.

For the left, there are few national myths fit for duty, but author, activist and organizer Seth Klein has called up the the greatest conflict in history to serve as the key parable in the fight against global warming. Just as Canada mobilized for the war, it must now mobilize for climate change. Klein’s recent book, A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, published by ECW Press in September 2020, makes a powerful case against defeatism and timidity.

Yet despite his impressive call to action (A Good War spent 12 weeks on the CBC Books non-fiction bestseller list), Klein misinterprets Canada’s wartime history and misunderstands the capitalist state. Ultimately, his cross-class strategy cannot deliver climate justice.

Klein’s vision of climate politics is unapologetically state-centric. The stunning wartime transformation of the Canadian economy, vigorously directed by the federal government, proves what is possible. Such a transformation can simultaneously create a more equal society, a development good in itself, while winning public support for a difficult program. And if this seems unimaginable in today’s political climate, Klein argues the war teaches us that public opinion can be shifted through bold leadership from actors primarily, but not exclusively, in the state.

A Good War is written for political impact and as such, Klein gets quickly to the point. The book is structured as a series of lessons we can learn from the wartime experience, introduced in boldface for those too busy to read to the end.

His central argument is a historical comparison: Canada’s success during the Second World War demonstrates what is possible and necessary in our fight against climate change today. So why has such a mobilization not yet been repeated in our contemporary struggle against runaway global warming? Here Klein casts a villain in his story. Though he considers picking the fossil fuel industry, he instead settles on what he terms the “new climate denialism” as the key impediment.

Previous denialism dismissed the science on climate change, but today, our primary enemy is a “way of thinking and practice” that accepts the science while obfuscating its implications. This must be overcome through bold leadership. For Klein, Canada demonstrated such leadership in its fight against fascism. Now, he argues, we must wield it again.

Bold leadership, in his view, must seek to rally the public onside. As in the Second World War, this will involve propaganda, but also efforts to combat the inequality which corrodes a sense of common cause. Wartime plans for post-war social democracy must be echoed by today’s Green New Deal. Klein believes economic barriers can be overcome through a massive expansion of state planning. The government should spend whatever it requires and tax as necessary, but also intervene directly through regulation and the creation of new Crown corporations. Concrete ideas such as a jobs guarantee, a federal high-speed rail network and an inheritance tax add texture, but Klein’s argument does not hang on policy specifics.

In part, his text reads as a direct plea to progressive lawmakers. “This book is an invitation to our political leaders,” he writes in the preface, “to reflect on the leaders who saw us through the Second World War and consider who they want to be, and how they wish to be remembered.” The work was researched through a series of interviews with Canadian politicians, activists and academics. He questions parliamentarians and ministers from various parties on the barriers they face, quotes their responses, and replies in good faith. Central to his rebuttal is a poll commissioned for the book demonstrating strong support for emissions mitigation. “The public,” he argues, “is ahead of our politics.” His role for social movements is ultimately to shift our politicians.

A Good War stands at the cutting edge of progressive climate politics. Along with closely related proposals for a Green New Deal, the climate movement has finally identified a program both adequate for the scale of the challenge and capable of assembling a coalition to achieve it. The book should be lauded for making clear that only the state can coordinate transformation at the speed and scale required.

Yet while A Good War is correct that only the state can bring emissions to zero, Klein is wrong to assume that the state can show the markets who’s boss. And because he misunderstands the capitalist state, he proposes a cross-class coalition aiming to inspire “bold leadership” in our elites. Klein’s program is solid, but this strategy cannot win. Capitalists will fight a just transition tooth and nail, and we cannot overcome their resistance in alliance with them.

Introducing...The Socialist Green New Deal

By Mark Douglas - London Green Left Blog, November 2, 2021

Web Editor's Note: There are several "socialist" versions of the Green New Deal that predate the following version (and sometimes when someone refers to their own version as "socialist" they're really implying that the others don't conform to their own party line, but no such sectarian undertone is evident here, except in the sense of inter-party debates within the UK, so we have included it as part of the discussion.

The Green New Deal remains the most potent political concept in recent years: it has undergone several phases and adoption by many political parties and movements. It has strong support across progressive trends in western Europe but has not been properly implemented anywhere.

Social Democratic parties think it is some solution to their lack of real policy to deal with poverty and the climate challenge. Left parties know that it presents a challenge to capitalism, if properly implemented, because greedy corporations cannot adapt and de-carbonise to reduce climate destabilisation.

In Green Left we say that a Socialist version of the Green New Deal needs to be fought for as part of the transition to a new political economy.

“That’s So F**king Imperialistic”: Responding to a Supporter of Cuba’s Government

By Daniel Fischer - New Politics, November 1, 2021

Following Cuba’s July 11th protests, University of Houston professor Bob Buzzanco posted on social media a strongly worded attack on New Politics, to which Lois Weiner and I responded with September’s “NP on Cuba: Consistent Opposition to US Imperialism and Support of Democratic Rights.” Buzanco’s subsequent critique titled “Doing Miami’s Dirty Work (Wittingly or Not): Responding to ‘New Politics’” asked the following questions of us anti-authoritarian and Third Camp leftists: “What will Left criticism of Cuba accomplish? How will it benefit the people in the streets of Cuba protesting? Where’s your solidarity?” These are fair questions, and they should be mainly asked to Cubans on the island. As a non-Cuban who hasn’t experienced Cuba’s everyday realities, I will respond with humility and with attention to local voices.

While Buzzanco claims that criticizing Havana aids Miami, a consistent defense of democratic rights actually makes our anti-imperialist movements more credible and strengthens our case for ending the unconscionable blockade. As critical leftists, we can provide a credible socialist alternative, both to the state-capitalist regime and to the neoliberal tendencies trying to co-opt the Cuban opposition. We can argue that respecting Cuba’s self-determination will not only improve the humanitarian situation but will also strengthen Cuba’s democratic dissidents by removing President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s ability to blame all his failures on Washington.

I actually agree with many of Buzzanco’s points, including his acknowledgement of Cuba’s accomplishments in ecology and health care. But I have my own questions for people like Buzzanco who stand fully behind the Cuban government. What is his message for Cubans who are becoming increasingly disillusioned with their leaders? What do you offer them beyond the bleak, Orwellian view that they should not protest until the U.S. blockade is lifted? Here is what he writes:

“[A]ny protest inside Cuba, no matter the intention, was going to have U.S. and Miami fingerprints on it and serve the interests of the Miami mafia and the American ‘National Security’ establishment […]

[A]ny disaffection in Cuba is generally engineered and absolutely and inevitably exploited by Calle 8 [8th Street in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood]”

I know that if I were Cuban, I would not take kindly to such condescending statements coming from a U.S. professor. I sent Buzzanco’s article to an Anarchist contact in Havana, and here was his response:

“That’s so fucking imperialistic in a pretty twisted way. We Cubans don’t owe shit to anyone. Not in Miami, not in Beijing, or in some office in Havana.”

Whatever a genuinely anti-imperialist approach toward Cuba might look like, it cannot be to rally behind a regime that denies Cubans some of their most basic rights. The most strategic way to build a socialist world, in fact the only way, is through critical though unwavering solidarity with the world’s oppressed. In consultation with Cuban leftists, we should explore what solidarity must mean when applied to a population that is suffering, firstly, from more than a century of U.S. imperialism, and secondly, from an authoritarian bureaucracy.

Building Bridges from Intersectional Ecosocialism to Radical Climate Justice and Systemic Transformation

By John Foran - Resilience, October 14, 2021

Ecosocialist strategic thinker Ian Angus has observed, with reason that “There is no copyright on the word ecosocialism, and those who call themselves ecosocialists don’t agree about everything.”

That’s true. One puzzle that many ecosocialists, especially here in the “global North,” seem to share is: Why are there so few ecosocialists?  For most of us – I count myself as part of the ecosocialist movement – it feels intuitively natural to hold a political orientation to the world based on the principles of the interconnectedness of an ecological approach and the universal solidarity, egalitarianism, and social justice orientation of a democratic socialism. Indeed, what other kind can there be after the authoritarian horrors of the 20th century?

Why, then, are we so few?

In my country, some may suppose that this can be explained away by the U.S. working class’s lack of consciousness of a world beyond capitalism, or by the pull that the values of feminism and racial justice exert on a younger generation preventing activists from recognizing the economic roots of the evils of the capitalist system that saturates our lives.

But aren’t these all caricatures? Are there not ecosocialists who have understood that race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, and indeed all systems of division intersect with class? Are there not working people and unions who live every day with the economic and political abuses of capitalism?  And are there not young social-justice activists who are acutely aware of how capitalism works to cause untold suffering?

There are, fortunately, in all these cases, and their numbers are growing.

I began thinking about this essay early in 2020. Now, in the waning months of 2021, everywhere, people live in a world transformed by pandemic, rebellion, and the multiple pre- and post-pandemic crises that remain with us. In a way, this new world only underlines the importance of ecosocialism’s promise, as well as gives life and urgency to my thesis that 21st-century ecosocialism will either be intersectional or remain marginal to the needs of, and alternatives to, our collective moment.

Art Francisco, carpenters rank and file strike leader, speaks in Seattle

Nina Wurz, striking Seattle carpenter speaks at Kshama Sawsnt rally

Washington Carpenter Revolt Swells Picket Lines

By Luis Feliz Leon - Labor Notes, September 17, 2021

Two thousand Washington carpenters went on strike yesterday, out of 6,600 who currently work under the master agreement with the Association of General Contractors (AGC). Five jobs were picketed, including construction projects at Facebook’s Building X, the Microsoft’s Campus in Redmond, and Alphabet’s Google.

“I didn’t know what to expect. People can talk on Facebook, but you don’t know until it’s time for people to show up,” said Joe Rice, a general foreman at Local 30.

Local 816 carpenter Bryce Owings was required to report to work, but he took the day off to stand on the picket line. “I’m a card-carrying carpenter” before anything else, said his superintendent at the jobsite, when Owings asked for a personal day to stand on the picket line.

“This is the beautiful part—now the membership is taking their union leadership and guiding them in the right direction,” said Jimmy Castillo Matta, Jr., a delegate in Local 41, who spent his 25th birthday on the picket line.

The support has also come from other trades. “The fight they’re having, we’re all facing. The AGC isn’t stupid,” said H.M., a member of Operating Engineers Local 612 who asked to use only her initials.

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