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The coming economic recession and its interaction with climate change

I have thanked John Pratt for sharing this article, and do so again.

Here is an expanded version of my first explanation of why:

Thanks for pushing along this discussion about the relationship between climate change and general environmental havoc (eg species depletion) and capitalism’s current drift into recession.

The two are interconnected and that’s the big reason why a green – labour alliance is the way of the future. In Australia, we must call out against the shameless and opportunistic apparatchiks in both the ALP and the Greens who attack each other (and then endorse policies that only mildly at best deal with the interacting crises) instead of working on a common PEOPLE’S programme and public support for it.

The SEARCH Foundation is one such organization that wants a green-red (or red-green) alliance to happen. (Go to Facebook page here.) Another is the internationally organised Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. See here and here. We know there must be others, and I am sure there are activists in both the ALP (LEAN) and the Greens who want to also. (At this time however, no where near enough.)

This bit in the article is interesting: “Recessions can force a rethink of the status quo; they demand efficiency and innovation. In short, during a recession, the economy must figure out how to do more with less. That’s exactly the challenge we face now that the science is absolutely clear that radical change is our only hope to stop climate change before irreversible tipping points kick in.”

The interaction of growth without inequality, impending recession (not if but when), and rampant climate disaster requires more than just “efficiency and innovation” and thus a clearer definition of what “radical change” might be.

It is not trite to say that the system – 21st century capitalism – is the problem. At it’s heart is the desperation for maintaining and increasing profitability and that requires an increased rate of exploitation of people and nature or, to put it in a better way “people-nature”. “The economy” itself cannot sort itself out because it’s internal dynamic – as a capitalist society – cannot do that.

“Radical change” must mean a synthesis of the struggles for nature – especially the focus on climate change – for equality, for peoples democratic control over the struggles, and new types of governing that are not solely dependent on the parliamentary form.

Looking from afar, the big strategic problem for the campaign against Adani is how to interconnect powerfully with the mine workers who dig the coal. These mine workers, using the sophisticated machinery actually dig the coal. Their employers do not.

The mine workers are therefore exploited as is the earth they dig. Last time I looked it was a hyper rate of exploitation. The mine workers are smart people with sophisticated knowledge of energy and mechanical systems. They are physically strong and proud of their heritage and their know-how. They are very smart, smart enough to not always let on how smart they are. To some extent, they are organised. They either love their communities or, as in the fly-in fly-out cohort, yearn for something like it. Many mine-workers recreate in the nature that is near to them: the bush, rivers, mountains and desert. They don’t want this to disappear for their daughters and sons. Many are strongly connected to First Nations peoples, and First Nations Peoples are mine workers.

They are in the Change the Rules Campaign … against their experience of inequality. Mine workers are capable of governing their communities in better democratic forms that currently exist. They are capable of creating and building climate temperature reversing energy systems, restoring nature.

There are dozens of peoples organisations engaged mainly in struggles against the effects of what is happening. These include unions, even though in Australia they operate as institutions mainly. Each one of them expresses at some level of complexity what the people want instead: for example a green space retained and nourished instead of being sold off to a property developer.

The urgent challenge is for all of these demands to be synthesised in a participatory way, by the people themselves, into a common and popularly known list of demands: a Peoples Eco-economic and Political Programme (PEEPP?) that becomes the measuring stick of what old parties (eg the ALP and the Greens) are doing and to which they should be held accountable, even if it is not in their platform. A Programme though is not a strategy. The  strategy (strategies) at the moment is not adequate for the situation that human-nature is in.

With such a Programme in mind though, the movements of the 90% can learn to rise up mindfully, and with greater determination than we have seen for several decades.

That’s the minimum of what is required. We start by driving towards that minimum and then we build from there.

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