The socio-environmental debate was not at the center of the FIT-U Conference, but it was raised. The only presentation on the subject was developed in a few minutes by the member of the legislature of Cordoba for the MST, Luciana Echevarría. One of the parties that make up the front, the Izquierda Socialista, questioned it. So in this article we clarify our perspective.
By Mariano Rosa
Dogma can operate as a refuge. Forced and false controversies, as a cover-up. A refuge for what? A cover up how? A refuge for political impotence, theoretical inconsistency. A cover up for the lack of accumulated experience or intellectual laziness, of those who prefer not to take chances. In other words, it is a kind of political “packaging”. We start the article here, because our party founded 6 years ago a national current to intervene in the socio-environmental front: the Ecosocialist Network. This tactical determination came after 3 or 4 years of participation in the resistance against mining corporations, in the denunciation of agribusiness, in the patient (but constant) tenacity to try to understand this new phenomenon of systemic decline, interact with the vanguard of its movement, and fight ideologically with different currents proposing a revolutionary program from the left. Almost 10 years of national and international learning has passed. We have organized campaigns, promoted meetings, assemblies, workshops. We have been invited to events in Latin America and Europe. We must have published between 150 and 200 articles with debates that go from the analysis of extractivism in the country, to the experience of the bureaucratic planning of Stalinism and its ecological drift. In short: we have not just arrived, nor are we improvising in this front of anti-capitalist struggle. Therefore, the most basic seriousness to raise a controversy is to study the opponent with some detail. Izquierda Socialista, did not even do that basic job. But, finally, let’s leave the analysis of the debate to explain with arguments, once again, some of our strategic positions.
The point of no-return
Is everything more of the same in the world and there is therefore nothing new to think about? Let’s see. The environmental conditions that have prevailed since the last ice age – the only conditions in which human civilizations have existed – are being buried. Climate change is the most obvious example: the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now much higher than in any period of the last two million years. Let’s repeat: 2 million years. This element of the global crisis is not a secondary aspect: it is fundamental and new due in its scale and dynamics. Capitalism pushed civilization to various limits in recent decades. What we are saying is that capitalism is regressing life on the planet. One proof is all the series of new zoonotic diseases (viruses, bacteria and parasites that pass from wildlife to humans and domestic animals) that emerge every 4 or 5 years around the world because of the way in which production is devastating the primary forests replacing them with monocultures in order to expand profitability margins. In destabilized ecosystems there are more chances for diseases such as Ebola, the Zika virus, swine flu, other new flu, and now Covid-19 to spread to nearby communities. Global warming worsens the situation by allowing (or forcing) carrier pathogens to leave isolated areas where they have existed, going unnoticed for centuries or longer. Climate change also weakens the immune system of people and animals, making them more vulnerable to disease, and more likely to experience extreme complications. The attacks on public health systems, to subsidize corporations or pay foreign debts, completes the picture. So: does this reality not need that Marxists open our heads to think creatively, with political courage and innovation? Well, the (eco) socialists of the MST, have said yes a long time ago.
Marx and the ecological question
The imputation that IS made to us would be more or less like this: “As there are currents or personalities who call themselves ´ecosocialists´ and are reformists, you, MST militants who build the Ecosocialist Network are also reformists”. And the syllogism continues: “and as those reformist ecosocialists (some at least), support the DSA in the United States, and in that party there is a current of ecological reformism, guess what?: you are reformists too”. Well, this was the “controversial argument” used against us at the FIT-U Conference. With that way of reasoning, we could say that Stalin also said that he was a Marxist. IS says they are Marxists. So IS is Stalinist. No? Fortunately, Marx studied, with a wide open mind. And for that reason, his thinking left methodological coordinates (not recipes, nor absolute truths), that more than 150 years later still have political and theoretical potential to understand new processes.
The metabolic rift: as a category dedicated to explaining the rupture and dissociation that the logic of profit produces between human civilization and ecosystems. Capital exhausts the two fundamental sources of social wealth: human force and nature. This is relevant to apply today.
Rational management; the proposal of the need to recover a sustainable exchange with the environment, and for that, the democratic planning of production. Another vital concept.
Replace exchange values with use values; the suppression of capitalist private property and commodity fetishism. Today, applicable to planned obsolescence or commercial advertising that encourages artificial overconsumption. This, as a political research path, is also from Marx. And he came to draw these approximations, (because he was not an “ecologist”), studying the chemist Liebig, then Carl Fraas, a proto-climatologist and thus developed the idea that capitalism multiplies destructive, non-productive forces at a certain limit. That is, he did not repeat preconceived formulas. He encouraged, explored, hypothesized.
In short: of course there are reformists and of course there are traffickers of sugarcoated Marxism. They are a danger. But the medieval custodians of Marx also spread false ideologies. We fled from that niche.
That healthy son of skepticism
The transition to socialism includes assuming the entire inheritance of the capitalist disaster to overcome it. The survival of this form of social organization, already in decline, causes unforeseen phenomena. Technology is not neutral in general, it depends, as does science, on the class orientation that uses it. But at the same time, capital at this stage develops techniques of production that are themselves harmful, regardless of which class controls them. Abolishing entire branches of production is a destructive and revolutionary task posed for the working class in power. And reconverting those branches, with a guarantee of work continuity as a priority. At the same time, for the “church going” left, it is a taboo. For us, a novelty.
The society we fight for must be based on the rationality of another class, the working class and the exploited. And at the same time, integrate the socio-environmental vector as a parameter for a rescue plan for ecosystems from capitalist predation. This is also a novelty. Our purpose is the collective ownership of the means of production, for a democratic planning of everything. Our conception is not that of the limitation of “general consumption”, but a change in the production matrix, a global re-education of consumption, the end of ostentation, waste, alienation and accumulation that prevails in the capitalist order.
Technological innovation to alleviate the collective burden of socially necessary work. Work for everyone and less work. Mass social free time as a prerequisite for a class based political democracy, too.
For all this, as an anti-capitalist and socialist project, a mobilized, self-organized working class and a revolutionary and internationalist party are required, because the scale of our strategic perspective is that. Once again: dogmatism is another healthy child of skepticism. Because he who does not believe, does not prepare. It is sectarian because it is self-preserving or it is opportunistic, because it clings to what is closest at hand, what has already been thought. But it also leaves the “new”, the “difficult”, the “contradictory” for later, totally missing. It is not our case. We are in a hurry and we move the boundaries of what is possible. We make hypotheses, we study, we struggle, we evaluate, we appeal to trial and error. So that’s why we are effectively and proudly revolutionary (eco) socialists. That is the truth.