What do we mean by “ecosocialist”?

We describe Socialist Resistance as an “ecosocialist” magazine. This is a new word for many socialists and environmentalists so we should offer a definition of it. It means a lot more than using environmental issues to have another kick at capitalism.

Last year we published a book called Ecosocialism or Barbarism in which we said:

“Hardly anyone now doubts that humanity is facing an enormous environmental crisis. The recent report by the International Panel on Climate Change, although watered down to meet the objections of the worst polluters, spells out what this means in graphic detail. …It is now obvious that this morbid phase of capitalism has brought upon humanity the biggest ever threat to its existence – the threat of environmental catastrophe.”

Our political conclusion is:

“This new phase of capitalism forces an inevitable conclusion – only by a total transformation in politics and production, in other words a transformation of our social relations, can a sustainable future for humanity be established.”

Ecosocialism is the cross-fertilisation of ecological ideas in the Marxist left and the spread of Marxist ideas in the green movement. It is becoming more and more common for environmentalists to point at the ecological situation and attribute much human created global warming and environmental destruction to the capitalist economic model. At the same time some socialists have been rethinking their own assumptions about continuous growth of production as a requirement of a socialist society and many of us owe a great debt to the pioneering writings of John Bellamy Foster who has reminded us of Marxism’s contribution to ecological thinking.

The transformation of politics and production we are fighting for will oblige us to replace capitalism with a society in which common ownership of the means of production has replaced capitalist ownership, and in which the preservation and restoration of ecosystems will be central to all activity. Capitalism’s need to make profits and produce destructive, wasteful useful things is not something that we will be able to modify with reforms. To do that we need a revolutionary change in the way we govern, produce, distribute and consume. From this it follows that economic and political power have to be taken away from capitalists and their politicians and put in the hands of working people and their communities.

Ecosocialism is much more advanced outside the rich world. That’s especially true in Latin America, where anti-imperialist governments headed by Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, and Raul Castro in Cuba, are pressing for strong anti-capitalist, pro-environment measures. In countries like Bolivia global warming is melting the glaciers on which millions of people rely for water. Bringing ecology into politics is a matter of life and death all across the planet.

This new magazine has set itself the ambition of becoming the principal English language ecosocialist publication. Our future coverage will take up the debates that are taking place in the working class and environmental movements in Britain and internationally. We are also committed to building actions, mobilisations and movements. Our supporters helped build the successful Campaign Against Climate Change trade union conference on 9 February which saw 300 TU activists gather to discuss developing trade union policy to build the widest possible coalition for effective action. This was the first of its sort anywhere and we argue that to achieve a massive reorganisation of society we must win the trade unions’ millions of members to committed action.

In Britain the campaign against the Third Runway at Heathrow is a key episode in the fight to stop New Labour and the big corporations vastly expanding air traffic. The Brown government engages in green-washing rhetoric, sets targets which it does not intend meeting, and wants to see people concentrating on individual measures at the expense of the bigger picture, leaving it free to continue pursuing its policies of expanding air traffic and roads and eco-hostile housing regardless of the devastating consequences to the environment. The Climate Camp last year made a big media impact; it is vital that this early success is built on to defeat the plans. Be there on 31 May!

Speaking at the trade union conference Tony Kearns of the Communication Workers Union said that there are now two types of trade unionist. Those who take the environment seriously and those who don’t – but very soon there will only be one type. We want to make the same thing happen with socialists and ecologists. We all have to start thinking of ourselves as ecosocialists.

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