Earth Day Must Be Anti-Capitalism Day
Originally Posted April 22nd, 2018
Joint Statement of the Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group and the Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All Campaign Committee
To truly affirm a commitment to environmental stewardship this Earth Day, we must oppose the destructive and inhuman practices endemic to capitalist production. Earth Day, in other words, must be celebrated as Anti-Capitalism Day. The U.S. economy’s foundation on profit for the few is a contributor to the lack of access to both quality health care and a healthy environment. We are well past the point where the half-measures and compromises propagated by green-washing capitalists should have any appeal or be viewed as legitimate solutions to multiple, global crises. It is time to reorient the system to address the needs of the planet and of people rather than the pursuit of endless growth and profit. Only a clear-thinking, ecosocialist program anchored in a working-class politics that puts the ruling class on its heels can save us from environmental catastrophe.
In the shorter term, the ever more apparent effects of climate change have made life worse for people everywhere, most so among oppressed and marginalized communities. It is low-income Americans who overwhelmingly are found living in proximity to polluting industries, freeways and contaminated rivers; and having access to only contaminated water and toxic air. Urban air pollution has increased the percentage of children with asthma, an increase that has been felt disproportionately by poor people and people of color. Rising and erratic summer temperatures have increased heat-related deaths, especially amongst the elderly. The quest for “energy dominance” through fracking has impacted the health of countless people, many in poor rural areas lacking the capital to stop predatory companies from building fossil fuel infrastructure in their backyards. Purposefully derelict infrastructure and fracking wells contaminate drinking water, dangerous pipelines snake through neighborhoods, and workers are exploited through empty promises, all to feed unending thirst for more oil and gas.
Climate justice is health justice. Just as much as climate justice activists put their bodies on the line to blockade pipelines, so too do they recognize the need for a healthcare system that addresses the needs of those sickened by the environmental effects of capitalism. Similarly, just as healthcare activists aim to build a mass movement for single-payer healthcare, they also recognize that health justice is predicated on the habitability of the earth for all, making the defeat of both fossil fuel interests and private insurance barons a shared goal. Our battles are linked because the war is against capitalism, and for a system that prioritizes the health of people and the planet. Both struggles are animated by concerns for universal human rights, and it is no surprise that leaders in the fight for universal healthcare, such as National Nurses United, have made environmental justice central to their political work.
In addition to the many international Earth Day demonstrations this week, April 21st and 22nd are the first coordinated National Days of Action for the Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All campaign. Over 35 chapters and organizing committees are going to be running actions in a national display of DSA’s organizing ground game. Our aim is to build a mass movement capable of challenging the corrupt and exploitative private insurance industry. It is this same mass constituency that we need in order to take on the fossil fuel oligarchs and mitigate some of the disastrous effects of climate change.
Members of the Democratic Socialists of America are engaged in multiple, intersectional battles to begin the process of transcending our dystopian world, but we are united in the fight against capitalism. We thus celebrate Earth Day today by building a working-class movement ready to take on the capitalists in the private insurance industry and beyond.