2nd Congress of the ISL: The socio-environmental expression of the civilizational crisis. Topics for discussion

We may be witnessing an unprecedented historical moment. The logic of the capitalist system, based on a matrix of production and consumption functioning around private profit, with its monopolistic private property regime of large corporations and national borders artificially dividing the peoples of the world, places human civilization as we know it at a serious crossroad. We propose to approach one of the most imposing challenges of our time from a Marxist, socialist and revolutionary vision: how do we put forward a real rescue of our world from collapsing by a historically outdated matrix of production, appropriation and predation.

We fight for an integral reorganization of the economy, social relations, political life and the construction of a link between humanity and nature based on another rationality: one without the logic of capital and private accumulation as supreme law. Therefore, from revolutionary and internationalist socialism, we oppose the ecocidal course of the capitalist system with a socio-environmental perspective that we define as ecosocialist. For the left field the challenge is theoretical-political, programmatic, of orientation and construction regarding a new phenomenon which is full of contradictions. There is a hard ideological struggle in the socio-environmental movement that demands firmness in principles and strategy, but at the same time open-mindedness and collective elaboration to interpret the panorama without dogmas and contribute to its perspective. It is a real social operation of civilizational rescue. That is exactly what we are referring to.

At the same time, as an immediate task, there are compelling reasons why, from the ISL and its sections, we have to place value on this issue:

  1. The objective phenomenon of ecological destruction and social impact is global: there is no region of the planet exempt from the consequences of this dynamic.
  2. This issue still mobilizes leading sectors, except in some countries, with the massive climate strikes. However, due to humanitarian catastrophes such as the fires in Australia or South America, the floods in Pakistan or in Brazil now, hurricanes in the Caribbean, infernal heat waves and even pandemics as a recurrent calamity, the sensitivity for these issues has grown and implies the sympathy of massive swathes of the population. It already exceeds concern limited to small niches of specialists and is now on the world’s political agenda.
  3. There is a young activist vanguard, there are researchers and scientists critical of the pro-capitalist role of their peers in the establishment, there is specialized journalism and intellectuality in a broad sense that multiplies around this epochal phenomenon towards which we have to direct our positions in order to play to win for the integrality of the revolutionary program and the militant construction of the ISL and its sections. This is an opportunity for construction and organic strengthening for us.

For all these reasons, and as a contribution to the II World Congress, we would like to address the following issues:

*Dystopia is capitalism: the magnitude of the disaster. 

*The Ukrainian war and the energy crisis: from the current situation to our strategy.

*Shit food: farming planet, pandemic era and elements for another approach.

*Neither decrease, nor sabotage: controversies on the left with Saito and Malm.

*Programmatic keys to analyze transition

*Subjects and predicate: working class, party and State.

*Ecosocialism for a revolutionary transition.

Dystopia is capitalism: the magnitude of the disaster. 

Since 1760, with the industrial revolution, the way of burning coal and then the unbridled use of oil and derivatives accumulated a molecule that does not disintegrate easily and that was assimilated to the lower layer of the atmosphere operating as a mega-network that retains heat and prevents it from dissipating into outer space. This is carbon dioxide and it is this phenomenon that has transformed the planet into a “greenhouse” that alters all climate variables and, therefore, modifies the conditions of habitability on Earth that had been outlined for thousands of years and that had remained stable for the last 12,000 years. CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a regulator of planetary life. For example: Venus has exorbitant quantities of it and is uninhabitable due to the unbearable heat. Other planets, such as Mars, do not have enough CO2 and there is no life either. The last 250 years have upset a vital balance for human civilization and ecosystems.

From that reference point in the 18th century until now, the average temperature has risen by almost 1.5°C and the trend shows that in a few years it could reach an increase of 3°C or more, which will definitely change the world for human beings and the rest of the species. This perspective of already irreversible alterations present alarming symptoms of collapse today:

*Greenland is progressively melting: the ice accumulated over millions of years is fracturing, melting and sailing like huge icebergs that are breaking up in the sea.

*The frozen surface of the Arctic ocean glacier, which acts as a huge protective shield, is retreating: this melting phenomenon affects not only the native fauna, but also triggers complex feedback effects. To begin with, it releases the CO2 contained in the ice and thus increases global warming and sea levels. 

But that’s not all. There is much, much more.

*In 2022, Europe experienced the worst heat wave in its history. The Mediterranean area exceeded the forecast by 6 ° C and reached temperatures of up to 48 ° C in Portugal. Drought, floods, fires, deaths by the hundreds in the face of this reality, with public health systems, in addition, emptied by austerity policies.

*Also last year, the journal Current Biology published the results of a research conducted by a group of scientists from the Italian universities of Insubria, Torino and the British Antarctic Survey, where they documented the growth of the flora increase south of Antarctica. This, which may seem a colorful fact, is unusual: global warming at the poles causes vegetation to flourish, but releases huge amounts of CO2 and intensifies temperature rises in the rest of the world. A huge and amazing warning.

*Last summer, Germany suffered the most dramatic river drought in the last 500 years. The Elbe and the Rhine, which were both low, affected a large part of the country and hit the supply chains sensitively. The images were shocking.

*A wave of fires in Australia and Argentina, with 10 or 12 huge outbreaks in wetlands, forests and reserves at the same time, resulted in populations being deeply affected by the smoke and entire regions devastated.

*In China, the heat wave dried up half of the country’s longest river, which crosses 8 provinces and supplies 30 % of the population of this giant country. Last summer, China had the highest temperature peaks since meteorological records were kept in the country after the 1949 revolution. It is also the 3rd most important river in the world.

*The recent floods in Pakistan, which affected millions of people, resulted in thousands of deaths and billions in losses, was a real humanitarian tragedy as a result of the rains and flooding of rivers in the South Asian country.

*The Amazon suffered record levels of deforestation under Bolsonaro’s regime reaching 10,000 km² annually[1]. It is the largest tropical Amazon rainforest in the world, with an area of 5,500,000 km². It represents more than half of the planet’s rainforests and comprises the largest and most biodiverse stretch of land on Earth. It plays a key role as one of the world’s “green lungs”. At the same time, burning and logging release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide contained in the vegetation. The interests of agribusiness and timber companies predominate, devastating nature and native communities.

*According to a UN report in 2019, more than 1 million species of animals and plants are in danger of extinction. The abundance of native species in terrestrial habitats declined by at least 20% since 1900. Also more than 40% of amphibian species, 33% of corals and one third of marine mammals are threatened. We are clearly already going through the 6th mass extinction of species (the 5th was 65 million years ago, with the extinction of dinosaurs). However, the current one is the first caused by non-“exogenous” or “natural” reasons.

Every year, about 30 million people are forced to flee their homes as a result of extreme weather events. Latin America accounts for nearly 50 % of this figure. At the same time, these climate migrations have a clear class bias: poor sectors are the displaced ones since the socio-environmental consequences of the crisis hit social classes differently. Depredation is class-based and is directed against poor sectors.

There is one more fact, which presents the responsibilities in this disaster by taking the industrial revolution of the mid-eighteenth century as a reference .

Between 1751 and 2010 only 90 companies were responsible for 63% of the accumulated emissions, 50 of which produce oil, natural gas, coal and cement. They are what researcher Richard Heede[2] calls “the coal bosses.”

*The world’s eight largest fossil fuel corporations currently emit more carbon dioxide than the United States. ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, are responsible for 71% of emissions since 1988.

In addition, those economically responsible for the situation do understand this and have done so for at least 50 years. There is published documentation that proves this assertion with certainty:

*In 1971, an internal bulletin of the French company Total, stated the following: “If coal and oil consumption maintains the same rate in the coming years, carbon dioxide concentration will reach 400 parts per million around 2010.” Almost an over-fulfilled prophecy.

*In 1978, Exxon began to invest in scientific research and its advisor, James Black, explained: “A doubling of CO2 levels will raise the Earth’s temperature by 2 to 3°C, a point at which the glaciers of West Antarctica could become unstable. (…) Humanity has a margin of five to ten years before the need to make difficult decisions about changes in energy strategies becomes critical”. Categorical.

*In 1988, Shell said in an internal document that sea level rise was going to be a confirmed fact and that entire countries, such as Bangladesh, where hundreds of millions of people live, were possibly going to have to be abandoned[3].

With this information at hand, neither Total, nor Exxon, nor Shell stopped investing or profiting from their predictably predatory activity. Commercial secrecy, corrupt organic links with political sectors, trade union and media powers, kept this dramatic information hidden.

In summary: the magnitude of this disaster is global, no accidents or collateral effects. There is an intrinsic relationship between the way of production under capitalism in this historical epoch and the current collapse. Moreover, responsibility undoubtedly and clearly bears full names. The warming of the planet in the last 250 years in a magnitude greater than the previous 10 thousand years, matches the development of capitalism and expresses a qualitative leap since the second post-World War II last century.

The Ukrainian war and the energy crisis: from the current situation to our strategy.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine acted as a catalyst of previous tension in energy matters already existing at world level, and in particular, in Russia’s relationship with the European Union. At the same time, this conjunctural aspect on energy generation and its environmental effects are linked to a debate of strategic scope around the need to “de-fossilize” the world energy matrix, facing a fundamental transition towards renewable and clean vectors. Therefore, there are two layouts, albeit with a dialectic between the urgency that intensifies the war and global warming as an expression of civilizational crisis.

Let us appeal to unquestionable empirical sources of “Marxism” or “ecologist leftism”. We will use three reports:

*The first, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), an interdisciplinary scientific body created during the Cold War[4].

*The second, an IMF dossier entitled “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deepens the crises and opportunities of the energy transition”[5].

*The third, a consulting article from the Importers and Investors Club, entitled “Russia-Ukraine war: global energy crisis”[6].

Let’s start with some general data to provide the debate of some context:

*The European Union imports 90% of the gas it consumes with 50% coming from Russia.

*Russia is the third largest oil exporter in the world and a major supplier of natural gas.

*The price of a barrel of crude oil is currently trading at over 110 dollars. At the end of last year its price was around $80. The price of natural gas is reaching historic highs.

 *With the exception of France, which electricity depends essentially on nuclear power, the rest of the EU has a key supply in Russia.

What the war provokes in terms of alteration of prices of mass consumer goods and the impact on the social-political process is evident, along with an activation of class struggle around the claim for wages and against shortages. Strictly on the energetic level, the resulting bottlenecks are various, as well as the ecological effects. Let’s see:

*Capitalist investments in clean energy collapse: the rise in the price of fossil fuels encourages the concentration of capital in that field. Fracking is reinforced in the USA, Canada, Latin America and investment in Saudi Arabia.

*A leap in the re-carbonization of the energy matrix is verified: States and corporations disinvest in solar and wind energy, and resort to coal.

In short: petro-dependence is strengthened, the lukewarm and very limited capitalist investment in renewable energies falls abruptly and re-carbonization threatens with additional CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Record profits and rising gas prices have stimulated investments in the search for and development of new natural gas fields all over the world, especially in the Mediterranean area and the Middle East.

Forecasts from expert sources say that the combined effect of inflation, which makes the transition to renewable energies more expensive from a capitalist point of view, plus incentives to invest in fossil fuels, could possibly “tend to create lock-in effects for global warming mitigation in the EU that would take decades to disappear[7].

What to do then? The energy issue, in the hands of polluters and the beneficiaries of petro-dependence, is the shortest way to the precipice. Therefore, what is at stake is to present an anti-capitalist approach to the problem, comprehensive and systematic, including energy as a dialectically related part of the matrix of production, consumption and the socio-environmental limits of this matrix.

Let’s begin with the fact that the post-fossil transition is not an ongoing debate. It is a scientifically grounded urgency. It is possibly the most pressing ecological need of the planet and civilization. Some basic premises must be taken into account and several movements must be deployed simultaneously to achieve it.

On the one hand, the approach that assumes that the solution would be to use another energy fuel, clean and renewable, to back up the current production and consumption system is totally wrong.

Currently, the world energy map has thousands of coal mines and thermal power plants based on this input, more than 50,000 oil fields, 800,000 km of gas and oil pipelines, thousands of refineries, 300,000 km of high-voltage lines. Their net value is estimated at 20,000 billion dollars (almost a quarter of the world’s GDP). All this equipment should be dismantled and replaced, which includes freezing the proven reserves of coal, oil and natural gas on the assets side of the balance sheets of the sector’s corporations. Strategically, this should be the horizon of the transition, combining measures at the level of energy with measures at the level of production, mass consumption and, obviously, the political system:

  1. Expropriating oil, gas and coal corporations. The whole circuit of exploration, extraction, refining and commercialization has to pass into the hands of the State under the control of its workers and users. It is not a matter of “pressuring” the polluters into change: it is necessary to take the levers of the social damage they produce away from them.
  2. Stating a diverse matrix of clean and renewable energies development under social control. Solar, wind and tidal vectors, as a starting point, have an unlimited potential for supply, demand a lot of labor and although their generation and planning requires technical centralization, the form of distribution and maintenance is compatible with decentralization, which avoids the current waste of all energy and distribution systems under capitalism. These energies must be prioritized for their potential. At the same time, nuclear energy, a source of controversy, cannot simply be discarded in the transition. The disasters of Chernobyl or Fukushima obviously express the dangers of nuclear energy and it is a fact that waste management is problematic. However, without capitalism or Stalinist bureaucracy in an eventual transition, under a conscious and informed social control, we cannot rule out its use as a secondary support of the priority and clean vectors that also have limitations of not being continuous sources, depending on the sun or the wind.
  3. Democratically planning production based on the real social needs of the mass movement. Parameters of production and consumption are totally distorted under the logic of the law of value that governs the current system. That is to produce without social planning based on the expectation of realization of surplus value and private profit for accumulation. This anarchy derives in aberrations such as programmed obsolescence that produces goods of short durability so that the rotation cycle of capital is shorter and produces surplus value in more limited intervals. Ecologically, this pattern of accumulation is predatory and unsustainable. Consumption is artificially encouraged by advertising, which is also distorting: it must be replaced by the right to real, scientific public information, for a conscious cultural re-education.
  4. Nationalizing all privatized public services under social control and extending public transport. All current privatized public services must be nationalized without compensation and put into production under social control of mixed committees of workers and users. At the same time, qualitatively expanding efficient, cheap and quality public transport to discourage the use of individual transport.
  5. Reducing the working day shift, distributing the necessary work among all available labor and using technological innovation for the production of use values. Under capitalism we are told that “there’s a surplus of people” because “labor is in short supply” and “technology” replaces them. None of this is automatic or inevitable. Unemployment is inherent in capitalism as an extra-economic pressure factor to reduce wages. It is an anti-human aberration of this system. In order to move towards a post-fossil transition and to another production/consumption system, the entire available labor force is required. The tasks of socio-environmental repair, energy management and maintenance will demand much of all the human labor artificially idle under capital. In addition, social use of technological innovation should have the opposite purpose regarding its current use: not to replace the labor force in order to increase private profit, but to carry out part of the collective work and contribute in reducing individual working hours in favor of more free time.

This set of measures would provoke real revolutionary changes in the whole circuit of production, consumption, social relations and, therefore, in the dialectic of a new epoch of human civilization with nature.

However, the transition towards this horizon of structural changes also supposes a set of prerequisites that we cannot ignore:

*This whole program of radical transformations has to overcome national borders: democratic planning requires a regional and international perspective of complementary productive potentialities and socialist compensation of inequalities among the peoples of the world. In the face of imperialist and sub-imperialist relations of plunder and subjugation, we oppose democratic, internationalist and egalitarian collaboration among the masses of the world.

*None of what we propose references the so-called experiences of real socialism with the former Stalinized USSR or the current capitalist China. The socio-environmental balance of those projects was disastrous due to the total degeneration of their nature. The absence of democratic planning based on the direct participation of the workers, added to reactionary nationalism and coexistence with capitalist imperialism (beyond tensions and tactical disputes), resulted in real ecological disasters that under no circumstances can be blamed on socialism as a project, but on the bureaucratic and counter-revolutionary drift of those experiences under the command of usurper castes of workers’ power.

*On the other hand, the transition for which we struggle will have as a conditioning and determining factor, the process of class struggle which is presented as a real war against ecocidal capitalism. In which development, it will be the political-material needs of this implacable struggle that will determine all the decisions that the revolution will have to adopt in productive, energetic and socio-environmental matters. Unlike what happens under capitalism, they will be decisions resolved by the masses in a conscious struggle against the system of exploitation, oppression and ecological collapse that we propose to dismantle and replace by a true socialism with democracy, and compatible with the ecosystemic limits of the planet.

Farming planet, a time of pandemics and elements for another approach

The current agro-industrial, intensive, standardized and globalized model of food production generates the ideal conditions for the multiplication of viruses of pandemic planetary propagation. The damage capacity of these pathogens also increases at a dizzying rate due to capitalism’s way of producing.  Viruses act in a breeding ground that makes them become more complex, adapt and give rise to variants that are increasingly more harmful than previous strains.

This sinister process is possible because the capitalist agribusiness model works with thousands of animals living in overcrowded conditions, thus facilitating diseases produced by viruses to become enzootic (animal endemics). In turn, the overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions of the workers in the industry increase the likelihood of the virus being transmitted to humans. All of this has a basic reason, this form of production in large-scale feedlots is more profitable, both for the volume of meat, as well as for the conditions of worker exploitation. Public health, capitalist animal abuse and class struggle intersect[8].

The circuit is far from ending there. Agribusiness, as a source of pandemics, has another way of propagation: capitalist concealment when outbreaks of disease inevitably occur. Companies do their utmost to hide, since the commercial impact of the danger threatens their own private profitability.

We must add an additional responsibility to this current branch of production: deforestation caused by this same industry is one of the causes of numerous animals, reservoirs of viruses previously confined in closed virgin ecosystems of West Africa, South China or South America, coming into contact with people as a result of the predatory intervention of their habitats.

For example the origin of the recent COVID 19 with the wet markets of exotic animals in China, or in the case of West Africa where deforestation caused by the attempts of international capital to open the rainforest to world markets constitutes the most widespread hypothesis of the emergence of Ebola a few years ago.

Meanwhile, the official scientific community co-opted by large corporations (cross-links between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Organization for Animal Health (OAH), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Cargill, Monsanto, Smithfield Foods, Danone, Bayer and other multinationals) complete the picture of naturalization and construction of common sense around the cultural ways of eating around the planet.

In short: water pollution due to waste from huge pig and poultry farms; soil depletion and deforestation to expand agribusiness; animal suffering; labor exploitation and viral spread of diseases. This is the balance of today’s capitalist food industry.

In fact, we could say, paraphrasing Lenin, that we are living in an era of crises, wars, revolutions… and pandemics. It is clear that the prevention of diseases and future (and latent) pandemics is not exclusively related to the early detection of viruses (which is important), but rather with the characterization of the conditions that make their appearance increasingly possible: what from the field of critical science is called “hot spots” of emergence of new diseases of viral propagation[9].

Along these lines, by analyzing the dialectic between human, animal and environmental health, connecting with areas of forest destruction, it is possible to predict the “hot spots” from which a new pandemic will emerge. The interesting thing about this approach is that it incorporates as an additional “hot spot” for the detection of future pandemics the financial enclaves from where capital flows arise to organize the plundering of nature and exploitation of labor force for the business of the capitalist food industry: thus not only the forests of Guinea, Brazil or South China are mentioned, but also the stock exchange of Hong Kong, London or New York.

Let us add that the current capitalist food industry is responsible for most of our diseases. Nowadays four of the top ten causes of mortality are chronic diseases which connection to diet is already proven: coronary heart disease, diabetes, heart attack and cancer. The “Western diet” abounds in processed foods, a lot of meat, a lot of fat and a lot of added sugar, which makes us sick[10].

This model of global meat production deforests to clear land and extend the frontier of soy or transgenic corn, with the additives to stimulate consumption that harm us along with the vertical farms that are flooding the world with this food. In this framework, it is logical that animalist and vegan currents or variants with influence of the urban middle class are growing, especially among the youth, which beyond logical biases in their approaches and often a vision that does not take into account class and global inequalities, such as the dynamics of transition, have an unquestionable point of anchorage in reality that we cannot deny. On the other hand, there is a type of popular veganism, which we have to incorporate to the debate and to the enrichment of our vision and proposals.

We’d like to propose some coordinates to think of an alternative food scheme to this sickening capitalist model, which could be:

  • Labeling of everything we eat with the indication of its harmful condition for health.
  • State promotion and incentives for agroecological production to make it cheaper and extend it on a large scale, together with heavy taxes to discourage the production and consumption of commercial and standardized food.
  • Socio-environmental and food culture education at all levels.
  • Prohibit commercial advertising that stimulates artificial food consumption.
  • Expropriation of key food production companies.
  • Prohibit transgenic and agro-toxics.
  • Declare of social utility the territories of cultivation. Expropriation, agrarian reform and production with agroecological methods.
  • Short marketing circuits without capitalist intermediation to reduce costs.

Our approach aims to achieve the materialization of the social right of the masses to sufficient, accessible and healthy world food.

Neither decrease, nor sabotage: controversies on the left with Saito and Malm

There are two authors with strong circulation and influence in the field of socio-environmental activism in recent years: Andreas Malm, professor of human geography at Lund University in Sweden and environmental activist, who has several books where he seeks to connect Marxism with ecological issues; and Kohei Saito, a young professor at the University of Tokyo and a scholar of Marx. Our starting point is that both make interesting contributions from the left and a marxist perspective, to investigate and think of answers to the catastrophe produced by capitalism at global level. However, their programmatic and political orientations are mistaken.

Let’s begin with Saito. His central thesis would be that capitalism’s profit motive is destroying the planet and only “degrowth” can repair the damage, slowing down social production and sharing wealth. Humans would need to find a “new way of life,” and that means replacing capitalism. Saito is critical of all forms of green capitalism and sustainable development within the frameworks of this system.  Stating that that ideology is a new form of “opium of the people,” which proposes that environmental problems can be solved by encouraging the purchase of ecological bags or recycling plastic bottles at the individual level. He is categorical in denouncing that this is an ideological construction designed to mask the systemic causes of the disaster.

What this author finally proposes is to “put an end to mass production and consumption of waste products such as fast fashion”. He also insists on “decarbonization” through shorter working hours and prioritizing essential “labor-intensive” work, such as caring for people. In the end, what Saito promotes would be a kind of “left-wing degrowth model” or “degrowth communism” as he likes to call it[11].

Our point of view is different from Saito’s. On the one hand, under capitalism, growth and development of social productive forces are not the same, nor are they equivalent from a Marxist and revolutionary ecosocialist perspective. In capitalism, productive forces are measured in GDP volume. Their class distribution does not matter, nor the impacts on nature. Therefore, the system overproduces because its purpose is the accumulation of private profit, and it produces things that are primarily saleable and profitable (exchange values) and not socially necessary (use values). Moreover, instead of democratic planning by direct producers and with conscious control of the consumers there is anarchy of production and privatization of decision making processes that marginalize the majority of humanity from any sovereignty at this point. Thus, the result is anarchic capitalist growth that does not acknowledge the socio-environmental and physical limits of ecosystems and, therefore, is predatory and when globalized, ecocidal.

Therefore, rather than decreasing, it is a matter of completely changing the regime of ownership of the means of production, the social relations in production and the purposes of production. Thus, to the private and dictatorial anarchy of the proprietary minority, we oppose the conscious, democratic and mass planning of social production by the working class and consumers. This structural reorganization results in a form of relationship with nature completely different from the current one and, therefore, would have different impacts.

For example: rather than “decreasing in general”, we would propose to incorporate that enormous army of unemployed people functional to capitalist profit, to tasks of immediate ecological repair or to the decentralized maintenance and management of a new diverse matrix of renewable and clean energy (of high labor demand). And while we would propose to suppress whole branches of the harmful industry of present-day capitalism, we would propose to reconvert millions of workers industrially and professionally to new, ecologically sustainable productive branches. We would not propose “degrowth” as an end in itself. In any case, by planning consciously and democratically, the delirious waste of capitalism would be abolished. Not as a purpose, but as a consequence. This is not a secondary debate. Under a model with ecosocialist parameters, productive forces would develop and grow, not measured as under capitalism by GDP, but by its impact on the general standard of living of workers, in the reduction of greenhouse emissions, and in the recovery of part of the polluted and depredated by the inheritance of this system of exploitation.

For his part, Andreas Malm, is an expert in energy and has impressive research on fossil fuels, oil, economic-political framework of these businesses and their ecological consequences[12]. He is also an activist committed to the struggles of the environmental movement. Our discrepancies lie within the strategic proposals he formulates. What Malm proposes, in short, is that the combination of direct actions presented as radical (where sabotage occupies the central role as a tactic) leads to forcing states and their governments to make changes in environmental matters, bans on polluting industries and other variants of the same aspect. Behind this combination we find the same will to “put pressure” on the capitalist state and the fundamental idea is that there would be no other subject for the ecological transition than the existing capitalist state. Malm is explicit: “In the end it is the states that will impose the transition, or no one will[13].

Malm’s logic that not considering the dismantling of the capitalist (and ecocidal) State, nor taking into account a perspective where the working class with its own organizations (or organizations) of alternative power arising in the process of revolution, prepares the conditions for a new transitional State, is limited to a radical left reformist approach. Pressure on the bourgeois governments, instead of revolution to dislodge them from power on the basis of the mobilization headed by the working class as a point of reference to articulate the whole of the exploited and oppressed by capitalism. Therefore, although he speaks of “ecological Leninism”, he disregards an elementary requirement of the mechanics (or dialectics) of the revolution by Lenin: the need for a revolutionary party that is hegemonic in the working class, and from there, leads the whole of the mobilized sectors in the post-capitalist transition, towards socialism with democracy and conscious of the physical limits of nature.

Programmatic keys to analyze transition

The socio-environmental movement, and the debates in its sectors, demand from the ISL and all its militancy to study this issue since there is informed activism. It is a problematic issue that involves science, economics and other specialties and, therefore, to be a solid ideological personality in this front of intervention and militant construction, we have to give much importance to the struggle of ideas and be programmatically armed. In that sense, we want to raise a series of keys or “titles” to think and debate collectively:

*For the demand for the declaration of immediate Socio-environmental Emergency in our countries, directed to capitalist governments. To declare wetlands, forests, jungles, mountain ranges and other ecosystems fundamental for socio-environmental health as common goods of inalienable social patrimony.

*Energy transition towards clean and renewable energies based on the expropriation of hydrocarbon industries under workers’ control and a new diverse matrix, instead of petro-dependent.

*The above includes labor-professional reconversion of all workers in the affected industries with a guarantee of salary continuity and previous labor rights.

*To prohibit fracking, agribusiness, mega-mining and urban cementing for speculative purposes. Productive reconversion based on real social needs, based on democratic planning with the intervention of the working class.

*A new food model, based on agro-ecological parameters, without transgenics or agro-toxics, to guarantee food as a sufficient, healthy and accessible social right for the social majority. To question the model based on industrial capitalist agro-livestock farming, exploitative, abusive of plant and animal nature and polluting. Ban pig farms and feedlots. Comprehensive agrarian reform with expropriation without compensation of farms and landowners.

*Guarantee as a social right the use of public services, starting with state transport under social control of workers and users. Nationalization of all privatized companies and expansion of their infrastructure, as an additional way of discouraging the use of individual transportation.

*Reorganize health systems worldwide, based on unifying in a single public and state device, all public and private infrastructure, under the control of health workers and user committees. Strengthen budgets based on the cancellation of debts with the IMF and other international financial organizations.

*Sharing of working hours among all available labor and reduction of the working day. Massive incorporation of technology not to replace people with machines, but to alleviate the collective burden of work.

*Elimination of the packaging industry and reduction of waste based on separation at source, recycling and state socio-environmental education at all school levels.

*Prohibition of capitalist advertising industry that promotes artificial consumption, confuses and lies to the population. Replace with the social right to public information. General democratization of mass media based on state ownership with social control.

*Put forward binding popular consultation mechanisms so that the people are the ones to decide on any controversy about whether or not to develop certain industries that may pollute. Incorporate the “precautionary” principle of environmental law, which states that “any productive modality that could have a socio-environmental impact must be suspended and subjected to investigation and social debate”.

*Budget for environmental remediation and preservation of species, native forests and other common goods of nature, patrimony of humanity based on the expropriation of assets of polluting companies.

*Opening of all borders to climate migration flows.

These are approximate axes, which we can combine and use in each country, in an articulation discussed and resolved as appropriate to each unequal national reality. Of course, associated with the struggle for workers’ and for worker’s governments, on the road to regional and world socialism. It is a minimum standard of reference to act with political-programmatic unity as ISL on an international scale.

Subjects and predicate: working class, party and State.

There is a growing consensus in the widespread socio-environmental vanguard that capitalism is the cause of the world’s ecological emergency. However, there are other strategic debates and controversies that have much weight for us: the role of the working class, the need and the kind of political organization that is needed and the issue of the State.

On the first of these issues, the working class, we must take into account the conditioning factors that act to sow confusion, propagate false ideologies and feed reformist conceptions:

*Because of the weight of union bureaucracy and the social-democratic, Stalinist or nationalist-bourgeois currents, a consciousness that separates social and economic justice from socio-environmental rights predominates in the working class. The bureaucracy opposes “employment” to socio-environmental consequences.

*Dialectically, original oenegism and postmodern and reformist currents that intervene in the socio-environmental movement, “mirroring” the bureaucracy, focus on the impacts of capitalist production on ecosystems, but minimize or directly annul, any progressive policy towards the working class that takes into account their level of consciousness and immediate needs.

*They strongly spread ideologies that romanticize native peoples and peasant “social” movements in general, elevating them to the category of exclusive revolutionary subjects. It is a fact that rural communities in different regions of the world have been at the forefront in confronting projects of plunder and depredation, and this is used in part to support ideologies that ignore the working class.

*We should take into account, the social component of the most dynamic socio-environmental movement today: the youth, be it of middle sectors, urban, with practically no influence of any sector of the organized working class, and without great recent experiences of strong worker-student unity. This class component and this limitation in the experience of the class struggle imprints part of its features on the vanguard of the movement.

Regarding the party, the disastrous historical bureaucratic experiences, but also the existence of monolithic, dogmatic and vertical organizations of the left, feed distrust in the model of organic militant party organization for action.

In relation to the issue of statehood, political power and the mechanics of the revolution for the transition, there are also very important controversies: as in the case we mentioned earlier of Andreas Malm, the theories of civil disobedience, sabotage and pressure on the bourgeois state have ideological influence. Hence, consequently, the positions that elevate the social movement and strategic unity in action. The party, then, appears as a factor of artificial fragmentation or unnecessary division of the social movement to pressure the State. But deep down, around what we need to make strong and good propaganda, is the Marxist theory of the State, the mechanics of the permanent revolution and the transition program (including the ecosocialist topic) to end up developing a good explanation of the type of international (in the first term) and national organization that is required to replace the ecocidal capitalist State by another form of organization of everything: the economy, social relations, political life and metabolism with nature.

Without falling into sectarian workerism, which denies the need for a social articulation of all the sectors exploited by capitalism, but emphasizing the strategic weight in the social production of the working class, its decisive role in the world productive reconversion and, therefore, the task of gaining influence in it with our comprehensive program, which includes this new epochal challenge. This implies concrete tasks that make the profile and orientation of our intervention:

*Win the vanguard elements we recruit for the ISL organizations in this movement for our integral strategy, giving a consistent ideological struggle against all the pressures of the sector.

*To enrich our program for the workers’ organizations incorporating the tasks that make the socio-environmental rights, artificial and politically interested separation made by the bureaucracy and all the reformist currents.

Ecosocialism for a revolutionary transition

Like all phenomena in the class struggle, and under this era of capitalism of war against humanity and nature, the action of the system results in political reaction, mobilization and new processes. The socio-environmental front is a window of opportunity for our construction in the sector: it is a new front of militant activity.

There is a very positive component of questioning the ecocidal devastation of capital, a widespread internationalist sensitivity of the struggles, vocation for democracy to decide and direct action. At the same time, there is heterogeneity, ideological struggle and competition for the way out. Theoretical, ideological and political preparation is required to intervene, for a tough battle of ideas.

The ISL has to its credit the experience in several of its sections of militant accumulation in this process with successes, errors and programmatic elaboration. We have to be a political force that connects with the central concerns of the best of activism  in this movement and that responds to the need for a revolutionary transition that overcomes predatory capitalism.

Rhythms and realities are unequal according to the region of the world, as well as the different weight of ideological and political currents and the degree of development of our organizations in each country. However, using the ISL in this matter, based on its most advanced experiences, can help us to make progress throughout the world. There is recruitment potential for attracting young activists for our organizations and our program, practically everywhere.

The condition to connect with this group is to start from their needs and immediate level of consciousness. This implies having a policy and program for the sector. In fact, there are two dangers at risk: falling into the abstract propagandism of “socialism in general”, or in its antagonistic extreme, which would be “environmentalist unionism”. We have to fight the dialectics of the transitional program: starting with the immediate needs and towards the connection with our strategic exit.

*Our axis has to consist of participating in the struggles and actions that take place for these problems, with slogans and our own profile.

*Also, to take into account and participate in debate events, and national and regional meetings that exist, as well as to promote meetings of the ISL, as we have already done with a very positive balance, since it enriched us politically, raised the level of our militancy and allowed us to mobilize contacts and sympathizers and to organically recruit them.

*We have to produce more theoretical-political elaborations, and respond to debates with articles and publications with our perspective. We also need to prepare course material, workshops, seminars and internal training. All these inputs are fundamental for the struggle of ideas.

*Where we have the opportunity and strength, it is key to bet on building an organic revolutionary tendency or current within the movement. This supposes specific politics to try to influence the course of the movement where it is our turn to act, and at the same time, to make propaganda agitation of our basic program, to recruit. Not discarding the tactical use of making our grouping of the sector for nuclear activism, to be able to gather vanguard elements and win them for the general strategy. In some countries, such as Argentina, we use it more as a “particular identity” or as a “political brand” to participate in the movement.

This has been giving us results to compete, on the one hand, with a sector of the left that is very sectarian and dogmatic on the subject; and also, to delimit ourselves from the autonomist or anti-party currents or sectors.

All of the above has a priority objective: to recruit for the ISL and our national organizations, to form integral cadres for the revolution and to strengthen the political influence of our program in this positive – albeit contradictory – movement of struggle that is gaining world strength and will tend to grow.

Mariano Rosa, national leader of the MST and coordinator of the Ecosocialist Network (Red Ecosocialista).


[2]  https://climateaccountability.org/

[3] (Over) heated: Why is the climate crisis the most urgent problem of our time: Aizén, Marina and et al. Siglo XXI, (2022).

[4] https://council.science/es/publications/policy-brief-harnessing-data-disaster-response-recovery/

[5] https://www.imf.org/es/Publications/fandd/issues/2022/06/new-energy-imperative-wagner

[6] https://clubexportadores.org/newsletter-3-club-exportadores_antonio-bonet/

[7] https://council.science/es/publications/policy-brief-harnessing-data-disaster-response-recovery/

[8] Wallace, Rob. Big farms, big pests. Agribusiness and infectious disease. Captain Swing Ed (2015).

[9]Wallace, Rob. Dead epidemiologists: on the origins of COVID-19. Swing Ed (2021).

[10]Pollan, Michael. The detective in the supermarket. Temas de Hoy (2010)

[11] Saito, Kohei. Capital in the Anthropocene Era. Ed. Sinequanon (2021).

[12] Malm, Andreas. Fossil capital. Captain Swing (2021)

[13] Idem. How to dynamite a pipeline. Errata Na (2022).