DSA Ecosocialist Working Group: An Introduction

All over the world, the lines are being drawn between the winners and losers under conditions of a rapidly changing climate. Preempting heat waves, Silicon Valley billionaires build bunkers while Pakistani villagers dig mass graves. 40% of the world faces water scarcity while Nestle continues to privatize freshwater sources. International businessmen seize land almost as quickly as the seas threaten to swallow it. The world could see as many as 1.4 billion climate refugees by 2060, but international law may continue to lack an official asylum-granting status for them.

The melting of the Arctic glaciers is outpacing the rate of meaningful action to safeguard the living against climate catastrophe. With a situation so clearly dire, it seems unthinkable that our policymakers would refuse to take dramatic action. But it is only unthinkable if we operate under the premise that our global political system is responsive to the will of the people. Yet, as major political decisions routinely demonstrate, our systems of governance are not responsive to the people. They have only one master: profit. This is not some temporary glitch. It is the operating logic of a global system that drives our world -capitalism.

What is capitalism anyway?

As a review…

Under capitalism, private enterprises are under competitive pressure to keep prices low and do so by stealing wages from workers, exploiting the earth for its resources, and externalizing the costs of production onto people and the environment.  Under this system, saving 1% on overhead costs by dumping toxic waste into a river that provides drinking water for millions of people isn’t just logical — it is expected. Most perniciously, capitalism also uses existing hierarchies of race, class, gender, ability, and species to inform unequal distribution of material necessities like food, water, land, and clean air while ultimately keeping the lion’s share for the capitalist ruling class.

Because capitalist enterprises must remain competitive to survive, they must also constantly grow, and this means production and exploitation grow alongside them. The outcome is a globalized system of trade where production is outsourced to sweatshops in  the poorest nations, there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans by 2050, power is concentrated in the hands of the few at the cost of basic material necessities for the many, and the fuel that powers this machine, fossil fuels, is on the fast track to making the earth uninhabitable- yet the gears to this monstrous machine are making no effort to slow down.

What’s important to understand, and often is lacking in environmental activism and even leftist circles, is that this is a systemic process that is responsible for both societal and planetary crises we see today.

We need to think bigger than carbon taxes and 5 minute showers to stop the coming worldwide meltdown. One answer- our answer- is ecosocialism.

What is Ecosocialism?

Ecosocialism provides us with a framework for understanding the totality of capitalism as well as a transformative vision of the future. Ecosocialists understand that social injustice and environmental degradation are the outcome of a worldwide system of production driven by the pursuit of profit: Capitalism. Therefore, the liberation of people and the planet are necessarily intertwined and dependent on the dismantling of our exploitative capitalist production process and the remaking of society to serve the needs of people and planet, not profit.

Ecosocialists’ understanding of how capitalism employs imperialism, sexism, racism, ableism, and speciesism to create environmental devastation and global oppression guides our unequivocal support of justice movements worldwide; from Ferguson to Palestine, to struggles against corporate land grabs in the Global South to prison abolition and public housing here in the states, we see our struggle for climate and environmental justice as inseparable from all struggles against our global system of hierarchy, exploitation, competition, and domination.

Ecosocialists recognize that the oppression experienced today, in its many iterations, creates material inequalities as a result of the production process under capitalism. Basically, the production process, and thus how resources are allocated, is dictated by the elite few (who have the most to gain from exploiting the environment for its resources and people for their labor). Ecosocialists aim to transform the production process through public ownership and redistribution of resources as well as democratic planning for the benefit of people and planet.

Ecosocialists fight for so-called ‘transformative reforms,’ to urgently halt the genocidal accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and rapidly transition to renewable zero-emission energy systems that shift power from capitalists to the people exploited by them. We fight against new fossil fuel infrastructure and the privatization of public goods such as land, energy, and water. We fight for a just transition of workers in fossil fuel industries to green jobs, but ultimately fight to transform our relationship to work altogether. We fight to remake our society to correspond with our values: justice, democracy, material equity, and a deep understanding of our fates as interdependent with all living and nonliving entities that make up our planetary system.

Our work as ecosocialists is premised on a vision of radically transforming society through international solidarity and struggle, often beginning in our own communities. This is exemplified by DSA ecosocialist committees nationally, with projects like pipeline opposition, socializing and decarbonizing energy systems, community gardens, and fighting for a Green New Deal. These are just a few examples of the ways DSA is engaging in ecosocialist work locally to improve the material conditions of their communities while building power for the people.

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