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Digital Ecosocialism: breaking the power of Big Tech

By Michael Kwet - ROARMag, April 4, 2022

In the space of a few years, the debate on how to rein in Big Tech has become mainstream, discussed across the political spectrum. Yet, so far the proposals to regulate largely fail to address the capitalist, imperialist and environmental dimensions of digital power, which together are deepening global inequality and pushing the planet closer to collapse. We urgently need to build a ecosocialist digital ecosystem, but what would that look like and how can we get there?

This essay aims to highlight some of the core elements of a digital socialist agenda — a Digital Tech Deal (DTD) — centered on principles of anti-imperialism, class abolition, reparations and degrowth that can transition us to a 21st century socialist economy. It draws on proposals for transformation as well as existing models that can be scaled up, and seeks to integrate those with other movements pushing for alternatives to capitalism, in particular the degrowth movement. The scale of needed transformation is massive, but we hope this attempt at outlining a socialist Digital Tech Deal provokes further brainstorming and debate over how an egalitarian digital ecosystem would look and the steps we might take to get there.

#8March – Declaration of the Peasant Women of La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa

By staff - La Via Campesina, March 31, 2022

Declaration of working women of La Via Campesina and Allies during the two days’ workshop held at MVIWATA Headquarters, Morogoro, Tanzania

We women, representing our fellow working women from the smallholder farmers’ organizations from 10 countries under the umbrella of La Via Campesina, Political parties and Social movements from various African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and Eswatini.

Our two days meeting aimed to advance our struggles and we have identified the following:

  1. Despite the differences we have in terms of cultures, geography and environmental conditions, together we have similar challenges that require our unity and solidarity in addressing it including the right to acquire, own and use land, commercialization of women bodies and social services including education, water, and health; the increasing violence against women and children and the general oppression of the working class, especially working women. This manifest itself in various forms of economic, social, physical and psychological.
  • These challenges are systemic and are indicative of the system’s failure to recognize and protect working women and their rights in economic, social, political and cultural spheres.
  • The existing women and men relationship are the product of a wide-ranging system of exploitation and oppression whose signs and symptoms manifest themselves in the face of increasing sexual violence especially against women, exploitation of one sex by the other, mistrust between the two sexes. The rising assumption that these two sexes are enemies, the collapse of family values ​​and the disintegration of families with the aim of pursuing employment.
  • That oppressive systems, hidden within neo-liberal policies and that use a man as a tool to abuse women through patriarchy that manifests itself through various economic, social, cultural and political relations in our society have continued to affect us and our society as a whole.
  • Gender-based violence has long and deep roots rooted in the patriarchal system that has been plagued, created and expanded over the years and so the revolution of that system is the solution to violence against women.
  • The solution to these challenges is a systematic change to create equal rights that require strategies built through unity and solidarity of peasant women and men, activists and all friends who support the struggle to overthrow the abusive, oppressive and perpetual system of violence against women.

Can a Just Energy Transition Occur Under Capitalism?

Youth Strikes Worldwide Demand Climate Action That Centers 'People Not Profit'

By Jake Johnson - Common Dreams, March 25, 2022

"We live in a broken system, one where the richest 1% of the world population are responsible for more than twice the pollution as the poorest 50%. That's why we strike."

From Dhaka, Bangladesh to Turin, Italy and beyond, youth climate strikers took to the streets across the globe Friday to demand that political leaders stop ignoring the scientific community's deafening alarm bells and take action to slash carbon emissions before it's too late.

Organized by the international Fridays For Future movement, the latest mass demonstrations stressed that worsening global class inequities and the climate emergency are deeply intertwined and must be tackled together—a message encapsulated in strikers' rallying cry of "People Not Profit."

"We live in a broken system, one where the richest 1% of the world population are responsible for more than twice the pollution as the poorest 50%," Iris Zhan, campaign coordinator for Fridays For Future Digital, said in a statement. "That's why we strike today to demand climate reparations to kickstart a transformative justice process in which political power returns to the people."

As Fridays For Future organizers put it in their preview of the new global strikes, "Climate struggle is class struggle."

Challenges and perspectives of a just transition in Europe

Putin’s Carbon Bomb

By Ted Franklin - System Change not Climate Change, March 8, 2022

At a time when the entire world needs to focus on radical climate policy changes, he has thrust us into a war that might be as existentially dire as the climate crisis.

On day three of the Russian invasion of Ukraine a worldwide group of scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) gathered on Zoom to put the final stamp of approval on the UN body’s latest devastating report on the world’s feeble progress on climate.

A dark gloom hung over the proceedings as war threatened to derail global action on climate for years to come. Then Svitlana Krakovska, a Kyiv-based Ukrainian climatologist leading her country’s delegation to the virtual meeting, breached the IPCC’s longstanding commitment to apolitical discourse with a trenchant observation.

“Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots — fossil fuels and our dependence on them,” she reportedly told her colleagues during a break from the air-raid sirens blaring intermittently in the Ukrainian capital. “The money that is funding this aggression comes from the same [place] as climate change does: fossil fuels. If we didn’t depend on fossil fuels, [Russia] would not have money to make this aggression.”

After Krakovska spoke, scientists and climate diplomats from the 195 IPCC nations listened in amazement as Oleg Anisimov, the head of the Russian delegation, apologized “on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict.”

The Global Tapestry of Alternatives: Stories of Resilience, Existence, and Re-Existence

By Shrishtee Bajpai - London Left Green Blog, February 14, 2022

Our food systems are not just the work of humans. They are the work of the mountains, of Pachamama [Mother Earth], of the sacred, the whole community which is centered on reciprocity, solidarity, and respect for elements of life. This is buen vivir (‘living well’) for us.

That’s according to Quechua residents of Potato Park in the Peruvian Andes, where the community has for the last three decades been involved in an inspiring process of conserving and sustaining their own livelihoods over the vast landscape where the potato originated. They were speaking to us through the dialogue series initiated by the Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA) to highlight stories of community resilience and wellbeing in the face of Covid.

The pandemic has shown the deep fractures and baseless promises of wellbeing that the capitalist model made to the whole world. Of course, several other crises pre-exist Covid, from the climate, biodiversity loss, and pollution, to inequality, conflicts, authoritarianism, and right-wing fascism across the globe.

Occurring alongside all this is a long process of colonization or post-colonial hegemony, and the domination of certain cultures and knowledge systems. Combinations of these interconnected challenges have significantly impacted our individual lives, whether it’s alienation from nature and from each other, or a heightened sense of meaninglessness or hopelessness.

It’s in the context of these multiple crises that GTA attempts to foster a dialogical space to show that there are alternative ways of being, knowing, working, dreaming, and of doing things — that the modern capitalist or nation-state dominated system is not the only system around.

Along with processes of resistance, across the world there are tens of thousands of attempts to construct alternative realities, either through sustaining things from the past which are still relevant, equitable, and just, or creating new ones — especially from within industrial systems or the so-called ‘developed’ systems of the world.

The Global Tapestry of Alternatives is a network that was seeded through experiences of networks of alternatives in India, Mexico, and Colombia. After several conversations and endorsements of movements across the world, GTA was officially launched in 2019 as a horizontal process of weaving with non-hierarchical ways of functioning.

With a strong commitment to highlighting the emergence and visibility of an immense variety of radical alternatives to this dominant regime rooted in capitalist, patriarchal, racist, statist, and anthropocentric forces, GTA seeks to create solidarity networks and strategic alliances amongst all networks of alternatives on local, regional, and global levels.

Over the last two years, GTA has organized over 22 sessions ranging from the responses to Covid by indigenous communities in Peru, Mexico, India, and Bolivia, to the responses of women in Rojava to Black Lives Matter and eco-socialist organizing for radical transformations.

Jobs, Justice, and a Livable Earth!

By CJ Lapointe - London Left Green Blog, February 11, 2022

The overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists agree, highlighted in the UN IPCC reports, that global warming/climate change is an urgent threat to the environment, which needs emergency action to cut greenhouse emissions in half by the end of the decade. 

However, the failure of the 2021 UN climate summit, COP26, to take real leadership in addressing the crisis shows capitalism’s inability to put the planet and human life before profit. In fact, countries like the U.S. and China are ramping up the use of fossil fuels, as competition between the two imperialist nations for markets and resources drives extractive industries for coal, petroleum, and rare minerals.

Competition over markets by competing imperialist powers puts an undue burden on the global South, which faces the worst effects of climate change. Instead of reparations in the billions of dollars, countries in Africa, for example, will face deeper environmental racism through exploitation of their labor and resources, and the destruction of air, land, and water.

Daniel Tanuro, agronomist and eco-socialist author writes in his assessment of COP26, “The issue of loss and damage is even more explosive by far. Take the example of Somalia. It has contributed to 0.00026% of historical climate change … but is suffering repeated droughts, clearly attributable to warming. In 2020, 2.9 million people were severely food insecure. International aid is highly insufficient. Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda are experiencing the same drama.”

Tanuro continues, “Who will pay? And who will pay for future disasters? The NGO Christian Aid estimates that, with unchanged policies, climate change will cause the GDP of the poorest countries to fall by 19.6 per cent by 2050 and 63.9 per cent as an annual average by 2100. 

If we limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C, these figures would be -13.1 percent and -33.1 percent respectively. The bill for losses and damages will quickly rise to several thousand billion. The principle of financing by rich countries is enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, but imperialist governments plainly refuse to respect it. Period.”

People living in one third of the counties in the United States experienced climate change-driven billion-dollar catastrophes with high death tolls such as arctic temperatures in Texas, Hurricane Ida, and California wildfires. Most of them are working families with a disproportionate number from Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other oppressed communities. 

One of the most recent climate-related tragedies occurred in the U.S. in December as tornadoes ripped through Kentucky and Illinois. A heartbreaking scene played out when six died at an Amazon facility and eight died at a candle-making factory in each of the respective states. Workers’ text messages reveal that the companies refused to allow their workers to leave for safety.

John Leslie, a retired union carpenter and writer for SR News reported, “According to the National Climate Assessment, ‘Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and new and stronger evidence confirms that some of these increases are related to human activities.’ 

A Green New Deal for Transportation: Establishing New Federal Investment Priorities to Build Just and Sustainable Communities

By Yonah Freemark, Billy Fleming, Caitlin McCoy, Rennie Meyers, Thea Riofrancos, Xan Lillehei, and Daniel Aldana Cohen - Climate and Community Project, February 2022

The transportation system is the connective tissue that transforms pockets of communities into a networked society. It links home, school, work, and play. It drives economic growth, social mobility, and employment opportunities. 

The transportation sector currently emits more carbon pollution than any other sector in the US economy. The automobiles we drive, the trucks, trains, and ships that deliver our goods, the airline flights we take, and other transportation activities account for about 28 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions. The passage of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is replete with new funding for state and local highway expansion, and seems likely to further exacerbate the sector’s emissions. More than 120 years after electric vehicles briefly achieved popularity in the 1900s, petroleum products still power over 91 percent of today’s transportation system. Americans collectively drive more than three trillion vehicle miles per year, most of those as a single driver in an automobile. Life in the United States is organized around personal automobiles powered by petroleum. For a Green New Deal in transportation to be possible, that has to change. A climate-safe future requires a swift and just decarbonization of the transportation sector, a major expansion of public and active transportation, and the parallel decarbonization of the electricity sector.

Transportation often exacerbates social inequity and racial injustice within and between communities. Its infrastructure speeds the movement of those who are better off, to the detriment of those who are most in need. In far too many communities, governments, planners, and engineers prioritize vehicles over people and efficiency in travel time at the cost of quality of life. Choices made by elected officials and transportation agencies about how funds are allocated at the federal, state, and local levels have played a major role in reinforcing these outcomes over the past century.

In 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – the centerpiece of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. It provides substantial new funds for intra-city public transit, intercity passenger rail, and new electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It also includes $7.5 billion in new discretionary funding for innovative transit projects in the RAISE program (formerly BUILD and TIGER), along with new incentives for roadway repair and maintenance. However, the bill also allocates $350 billion towards new road and highway projects that will be administered by state and local departments of transportation. Much of this funding is likely to be spent on highway expansion projects. In short, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is poised to invest in a small number of innovative, low-carbon public transit projects alongside a massive new investment in roads and highways – locking in higher emissions for the sector than those that predated the bill. In other words, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could invest dramatically more on highway expansion than on innovative, low-carbon public transit projects. That dynamic has to change.

In this report, we propose a series of critical opportunities for new transportation-related policies to improve equal access, mobility, and opportunity in our transportation system, reduce emissions, support global climate cooperation, and develop long-lasting infrastructure and workforce development strategies on a changing planet. We argue for a move away from past policies that encouraged the release of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants while furthering social inequity. Crucially, this report aims to shift the conversation surrounding the transportation sector and decarbonization from focusing exclusively on electric vehicles and high-speed rail to addressing the many disparate parts of America’s transportation system. This includes a focus on intra- and intercity rail in addition to high-speed rail; an approach to electric vehicles that pairs supply-side policies (e.g. manufacturing tax credits) with a more progressive demand-side approach that benefits low and middle-income households with few public transit options instead of wealthy, coastal city residents who tend to purchase high-end luxury electric vehicles (e.g. Tesla).

Instead, the transportation system should be viewed as a strategic lever for investing in good-paying low-carbon jobs, justice, and a decarbonized economy. We build on the important progress Congress members have made through their introduction of bills such as the Moving Forward Act to identify a series of policies that would further that ambition.

Read the text (PDF).

Ecosocialism and Degrowth: a Reply

By Simon Butler - Climate and Capitalism, January 6, 2022

David Schwartzman makes some very good points about the ecological benefits of ending militarism. I was also pleased to read his arguments about the strong potential for 100% renewable energy to meet global energy needs, although I cannot judge if his specific calculations about global per-capita energy are correct.

I’m not a degrowther per se. I think the fundamental problem is capital accumulation, of which capitalist growth is a product, but there are some questionable aspects to Schwartzman’s critique.

First, there is a claim about political strategy: that degrowth will appeal only to “the professional class” (I suppose this means middle class/petty bourgeois/intellectuals etc) in the North and would alienate the “global working class.”

That’s a strange formulation because it seems obvious that it’s not the “global” working class that Schwartzman and similar critics are worried about convincing, but the working class in the North who, they fear, will be repelled by a message that emphasises sharing resources with people elsewhere. The degrowth answer to this is that living standards for working people in the North can still improve even if economic growth is halted, as long as there is significant wealth redistribution.

I suspect that hostility to degrowth ideas among some ecosocialists in the North is linked to glossing over the sharp inequalities that divide “the global working class.” Any worthwhile ecosocialist strategy must address the North’s unequal access to the South’s mineral resources & soil nutrients. We in the North cannot hope to form international alliances with mass movements in the South if we neglect to do this. It’s imperialism that so destructively distorts the economies (and political cultures) of the South and the North, producing glaring inequalities and reproducing the ecological rift on a global level.

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