No socialism without ecology – new Socialist Resistance now available

No socialism without ecology
No socialism without ecology

To coincide with this weekend’s conference “Ecosocialism – Fracking, Climate and Revolution” hosted by Socialist Resistance and Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century the new issue of our magazine has a strong ecosocialist strand. It’s a significant event because it will be the first time two Marxist organisations have positively collaborated on the issue and it builds on the longstanding relationships we have established with many people in the Green Party. Speakers will include Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and prominent Green Marxist Derek Wall.

Full details of this Saturday’s conference in SOAS, Vernon Square, WC1X 9EW and how to register can be found here.

The seriousness with which we take the issue of ecology is reflected in the content of this issue. Jonathan Neale, a supporter of RS2, climate change activist and author of Stop Global Warming, Change the World has contributed a very important article which sets out in simple terms what exactly climate change will mean to everyone who lives through it. We know that the climate will become increasingly unpredictable. Droughts and floods will affect areas that haven’t previously known them and we saw this in England and Wales a few months ago. Crops will fail and yields will decline. As Pierre Rousset points out in his article the world’s poorest will be thrown into unimaginable poverty and we face a future in which countless millions of refugees are created by climate change. This will overwhelmingly be the people with the scantiest material resources.

This has implications for all of us. As Alan Thornett remarks in his book review, an increase in global average temperature of 2°C (3.6° F) constitutes the planetary tipping point with respect to climate change. This is the “climate cliff” over which our species is poised to fall. It will lead to irreversible changes we will not be able to control and the articles in this issue set out in great detail the gravity of the challenges we face.

If the “climate cliff” is to be avoided the rising carbon content of the atmosphere does not just have to be halted, it has to be reversed. We will have to start thinking about a world and an economy in which fossil fuels are left in the ground and our patterns of production and consumption are revolutionised.

The stakes for humanity are very high. As Jonathan observes in his article, the capitalist class does have some responses to climate change. They are unspeakably brutal and he gives the example of medical staff in New Orleans killing patients who could not be moved after Hurricane Katrina. Socialists, Greens, anti-capitalists and environmental activists have the responsibility of creating a political response and an alternative economic vision which can grip the imagination of millions and push them to action. This issue of our magazine is a small contribution to that process.


  1. “No socialism without ecology!” Eh? You mean, as in “No socialism without physics!”. I can’t help but agree in the value of studying scientifically “the interactions of organisms and their environments” along with the scientific study of “matter, movement, energy and force”. But I think you meant more than that. What, exactly?

    Maybe more like, “No socialism without medicine!” As in, a socialist world would always promote active management of ecosystems, along with research and practice of scientific medicine. Again, this interpretation falls short.

    Perhaps you mean a new form of stagism: “Say no to a socialist revolution if it doesn’t solve climate change!” I pray not. And actually, I would be overwhelmingly delighted, as would the working class across the world, and in particular in the third world, to see a socialist revolution on any ecological terms. And they would have good reason.

    Or, “No socialist is a comrade of ours (a true socialist) if they don’t believe that climate change is the biggest crisis of the working class!” A bit like “No socialism without feminism!” and “No socialism with racism!” But it’s not like that – the fight against racism and sexism is one of liberation from oppression, and absolutely requires a stance from socialists. It would be sheer nonsense to talk of liberating organisms and their environments.

    So what does the slogan actually mean? I don’t think you simply mean, “we have to think about ecological issues as they impact the working class in their day-to-day lives, and look to build class struggles around those issues”. What socialist is going to disagree with that? On the contrary, I can’t help but think that you mean something quite contrary, and more contentious: “We have to prioritise the fight against climate change ahead of the class struggle against poverty, oppression, exploitation and barbarism.”

    So if there’s a choice between the jobs created from a runway and reduced emissions from planes, we choose reduced emissions. If there’s a choice between the jobs created from a high-speed rail link and protection of woodland and meadows, we choose the woodland and meadows. And most radically, if there’s a choice between the people of the third world getting modern amenities and a reduction in the progression of global warming, we choose a reduction in the progression of global warming. No matter what the impact on the lives of working class people here and now, on their confidence and solidarity with each other, and on their ability to organise and fight for socialism. The same socialism that we’d agree is the only way to rationally manage the interactions of organisms and their environments for the benefit of humanity.

    Is this what you mean? That really would be a departure, not just from the traditional culture but also from the theory and practice of revolutionary socialism, from Marx onwards.

  2. Ah, yes. The call to arms that stated that there are (or shortly will be) too many people in the (third) world.

    “No socialism without ecology” is a naff, woolly slogan, hiding a political sleight of hand. The same call to arms said “Ordinary people will not change their outlook if they feel they are the only ones having to pay.” The only ones to pay? In the world as it is, how can you ask “ordinary people” to pay anything, in the process of building a class struggle?

    This ecosocialism is effectively asking the working class to “take one for the team” – to make a sacrifice.

    You want jobs? Only if they’re environmentally friendly will we support you in your demands (no matter how unrealistic the prospect of forcing governments and employers to create environmentally friendly jobs, because the struggle is at such a low).

    You want infrastructure and amenities? Only if it’s through low-carbon emissions will we support you (despite the prohibitive costs right now under capitalism to meet such a condition which mean it won’t happen without enormous pressure from a movement that is on its knees).

    A class struggle can’t be built on the condition that people make a sacrifice. The same people who find themselves living, disempowered and super-exploited, in the most barbaric world since the advent of capitalism.

    Well, folks – we know you’re desperate for jobs, but those jobs are dirty jobs. Yes, I know the company might offer you them, but we need you to make a sacrifice. Instead, we’ll demand a huge programme of public investment in clean jobs. OK, I know we’ve not got a hope until we’ve built a mass movement. So you’ll have to wait whilst we spread the word, and eventually we’ll have persuaded everyone of the need for an ecosocialist revolution. Then you can have jobs – clean jobs.

    The point is not about the policies required to manage the environment, it’s about the method to build the class struggle required to have a hope in hell (literally) of implementing those policies. To say nothing of the obscenity of telling today’s working class to make a sacrifice.

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