On 26 October, rs21 is hosting ENDGAMES? Capitalism and the Climate Emergency, a day of anti-capitalist discussion on the politics of the climate crisis. Harry Holmes introduces the event, and explains why you should come.
The climate emergency is finally imposing itself on the political imagination of people across the world. Extinction Rebellion groups and the climate strikes have re-energised the climate movement, with coordinated actions in global north and south. As we enter what could be termed the ‘climate decade’, the ten years that are crucial for mitigating emissions, it is clear that the left must engage and mobilise to fight for a just ecological world.
It’s in this context that rs21 have organised Endgames? Capitalism and the Climate Emergency, a day on capitalism and climate emergency. On the 26 October, at Elvin Hall in London, activists from different backgrounds will come together to discuss the ecological crisis. Through four key discussions, rs21 hopes to help contribute to the theory and practice of anti-capitalist climate activism.
Plan for the day
The first discussion of the day Converging crises will focus on how climate change is entangled in capitalism, imperialism, borders and the far right. Zita Holbourne (National Vice President of the Public and Commercial Services Union), Ida Picard (activist with Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants) and Al Jackson (rs21, Plan C and Midlands Anti-Fascist Network) will be tackling this topic. They will be introduced and chaired by Asad Rehman (Executive Director of War on Want).
Then, the discussion will turn to left programmes for decarbonisation in Reaching for the emergency brake. Lola Seaton (author of ‘Green Questions’, New Left Review 115), Paul Allen (Zero Carbon Britain), and Angus Satow (Co-founder of Labour for a Green New Deal) will engage with the different proposals that socialists have presented, all with their opportunities and challenges. Chairing this exciting discussion will be Taisie Tsikas, a London-based rs21 activist.
The issue of how the climate crisis shapes movements around the world, and how Marxism confronts climate emergency is the topic for discussion in Climate, insurgency and Marxism. Joining in this discussion is Brendan Montague (editor of The Ecologist), Alice Swift (co-founder of Fossil Free UK, activist from Plan C, Reclaim the Power and Ende Gelände), and Nick Evans (editor of rs21.org.uk). This event will be chaired by Hazel Graham from the One Million Climate Jobs campaign and Cumbria Action for Sustainability.
The final discussion of the day is Building movements and solidarity, focused around how to engage with growing climate movements and develop solidarity. This event includes contributions from Junayd Ul Islam (Youth Strike for Climate), Clara Paillard (One Million Climate Jobs and Red Green Labour), Hannah Barker (Extinction Rebellion) and Willie Black (founder of Scot.E3). Chairing this final discussion is Ian Allinson, former Unite General Secretary candidate.
System change not climate change
The urgency of these discussions cannot be overstressed. There is a fundamental conflict between our current economic and political system and climate change. Reformist strategies and the introduction of market-driven ‘solutions’ have failed consistently to stop extractive capitalism and rising emissions.
This is not a minority view. An increasing number of the public are recognising that to tackle runaway climate emergency we must have deep-seated systemic change. They are tired with the same old greenwash and inaction, demanding that bold ideas are put forward to tackle the crisis.
Those who have been advocating fundamental change to our economy and politics on the left are therefore well primed to promote their ideas and work with environmentalists. There is an opportunity not just for the environmental movement to learn from the left, but also the left from the environmental movement. The coming together of movements demanding systemic change is not only fruitful but, with the scale of the climate crisis, necessary.
The climate struggle is political
Worryingly, the tendency to view environmental concerns as ‘beyond politics’ allows the continuation and sometimes strengthening of reactionary positions within the environmental movement. The climate movement must be entrenched in social justice, anti-racism, and anti-sexism, or the right will be allowed to promote themselves.
For example, some Extinction Rebellion activists lauded the attendance at their recent demonstration of Stanley Johnson, father of the Prime Minister. This is the same man who suggested that he would have liked his son to ‘go further’ when he made Islamophobic comments about veiled Muslim women. Additionally, Rupert Read, an XR spokesperson, has argued that ‘large-scale migration’ causes climate change, and that Greens and Labour must be more aggressive in attempting to limit migration.
These incidents undermine the many activists within new environmental movements like Extinction Rebellion who are demanding climate justice. Those organising for liberation movements within environmental groups are facing a battle against the reactionary elements of their organisations.
The threat is real. There are increasing efforts to organise green nationalists, recently shown in the UK with the formation of ‘British Revival’. This group, linked with fascist Generation Identity, attempted to present itself as a ‘patriotic’ alternative to Extinction Rebellion.
As the climate crisis continues, environmental nationalist and fascist voices and movements like above will increasingly try to make themselves heard. It is crucial that activists work to prevent this from happening, and to ensure that social justice is wedded to climate justice. Bringing together anti-fascists on the left at events like Endgames to engage with environmentalism is key to this challenge.
Not only must the left have a clear and effective case for the sort of anti-racist, anti-sexist ecosocialism needed to combat fascism and nationalism, but it must also be organised to make that case.
This is why the upcoming Endgames event is so important. It represents a serious attempt to bring together socialists, environmentalists, and anti-racist campaigners to tackle the climate crisis. In attempting to find a route out of our planetary emergency, we can begin making the case for a just ecological worldview and build movements to get there.
Book now for:
Endgames: Capitalism and the Climate Emergency
A day of anticapitalist discussion on the politics of the climate emergency.
9.30-17.00, 26 October 2019
Elvin Hall, Institute of Education, London WC1H 0AL
Free professional childcare
£10 waged • £5 unwaged • £20 solidarity (help fund unwaged tickets and childcare)
Organised by rs21