Monday, 26 May 2008

What must we do to prevent catastrophic climate change?

The latest issue of Workers Charter paper features responses to the question: 'What must we do to prevent catastrophic climate change?' Two responses from Don Franks, Workers Party member, and Daphne Lawless, RAM member, consider the idea of nationwide public assemblies to kickstart a climate change movement, which was raised on UNITYblog (see Nationwide public assemblies on climate change). Don Franks, Workers Party: A recent posting on the calls for a climate change movement: “which challenges the big corporations and politicians who would put profits before human survival". It goes on to suggest: "If leaders from trade unions, churches, political parties, environmental groups and other community organisations came together we could make it happen." And if marmite and butter would spread themselves I would not have to make my own sandwiches for lunch. Virtually all New Zealand trade union leaders, preachers, political parties, environmental groups and community organisations I’m aware of are absolutely fixated with the appeasement of big corporations and politicians. "Challenging the big corporations" meaningfully means breaking all the rules of the capitalist society we currently live in. It means taking the road of socialist revolution. Climate change is scary, but, like other horrors we’ve previously faced, like the threat of nuclear war, it will not turn wolves into sheep or bend the rules of class interests. The only way to save the planet is for the world’s workers to unite in action and destroy the private property system. I don’t lightly offer that as empty rhetoric; it’s my considered sober assessment of the required solution to the problem. Daphne Lawless, RAM member: The idea of nationwide assemblies on climate change bears some serious thought. The mere idea that ordinary people could get together and discuss what climate change means for us, and what could actually be done to stop it, flies in the face of everything we're taught by the media and the bosses – that the only thing we can do is hide in our houses and spend our too-hard-earned money on “green” products. It's the logic of the market, of money doing the talking, which has caused the problem, and it can only be mass action from below which changes it. Let's get together. The only question now is, who's going to make this happen? Which sector of people is going to take the initiative to start this mass conversation? You'd think it would be the lefty activists, in that the essence of socialist politics is that only mass action can change the world. Yet so many activists are writing off the possibility of radical mass action in advance – perhaps because they are sincerely convinced by the media propaganda that nothing can be done, perhaps because that gives them an excuse for not doing anything. So who is going to put up their hand and start organising this mass discussion? Because whichever party or movement makes that happen will be able to set the agenda, and will gain mass credibility in the eyes of ordinary people. What do UNITYblog readers think? Send your thoughts to or post a comment below.

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