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What to Do with the Power of the IRS

June 6, 2013
By Greg Richards

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee Monday, we heard from Alexis de Toqueville’s “little battalions” of social relationships, political pedagogy, and cultural argument — i.e., the soul of American civic society.  These are the ones who were abused by the IRS in being denied timely consideration of their applications for tax-exempt status to put them on a level playing field with the forces of the left.  And shocking testimony it was, well worth watching on C-SPAN (, then look for “Conservative Groups Testify on IRS Scrutiny”).

In an essay three days ago in American Thinker, Herbert E. Meyer (who, as vice chairman for National Intelligence Estimates at the CIA, in the face of overwhelming conventional wisdom, including from the Agency itself, identified for William Casey and President Reagan that the Soviet Union, far from being a permanent presence on the world scene, was in fact decaying from inside and on the verge of collapse, thus providing the basis for Reagan’s strategy to win the Cold War) suggested that there would never be a smoking gun in the IRS conspiracy because (a) it is not necessary and (b) that is not the way things work at the top.  The leftists are all working from the same playbook.

Sander Levin, the ranking Democratic member of House Ways and Means, in what is doubtless his understanding of what went wrong, said in his opening statement, “The handling of these applications was gross mismanagement by the IRS Exempt Organization Division.”

But it wasn’t.  It was a well-executed mission.

Remember the status of the Tea Party.  It had sprung up spontaneously after Rick Santelli on CNBC struck a nerve by articulating the unfairness of the bailouts by the federal government.  The Tea Party had no organization.  It had no single leader or leadership structure.  And yet it struck the 2010 elections like a tuna hitting a fishing line and returned control of the House to the Republicans.

So when the left in all its components — and remember that there are no stronger advocates of high bureaucratic pay and big government than those who work for it — looked out at the coming landscape for the 2012 election, what was the greatest threat?  Another strike at the polls by the Tea Party, which at that time did not show up on conventional measurements of political activity and power.

The Tea Party and its confrères represented a real but unmeasurable threat not just to the Obama administration per se, but to the leftist project in general.  It was a new, anti-leftist force that had to be brought under control.

What is the real attitude of the IRS to conservatives?  Contempt.  Which we saw from both Mr. Shulman and Mr. Miller, former and removed acting commissioners of the IRS, last week.

Question to Douglas Shulman, IRS commissioner for five years until late last year: “It appears you visited the White House 95 times [since increased] during your tenure as IRS Commissioner.  What did you do on those visits?”

Mr. Shulman: “Participated in the Easter Egg Roll with my children.”

But if we are not likely to get a smoking gun and if the IRS has a culture of contempt for conservatives, what can we expect to get from these hearings?  A lot.  Not least the vocabulary to deal with the crisis.

Targeting of conservative groups and suppressing of conservative participation in the public forum by the IRS…

…is not “a mistake.”

…is not “a failure.”

…is not “due to incompetence.”

…is not “a breakdown.”

Rather, it is a manifestation of the leftist project.  A leftist storm has blown through the IRS, and we are seeing in the hearings the debris line left by that storm.  But now that the IRS has been infested by the leftist project, cleaning up the debris is not enough.

If conservative cultural and political activity is to continue unmolested in this country, the IRS must be eliminated.  It is too disdainful of American mores, and it is too powerful.  Neither of those things will change with a new commissioner and whatever is the final disposition of Lois Lerner.

Of course, the nation must have a revenue collection agency.  As a first cut, perhaps the new agency would have six regional and independent divisions.  They would be located in offices around the country, and there would be no single IRS commissioner in Washington.

The six agency heads would report to Congress every six months on the activities of their agencies on penalty of perjury.  There would be new offices of ombudsman for each regional agency.  The ombudsmen would testify to Congress along with the agency heads every six months as to the number and type of complaints they had received and what had been the disposition of those complaints.

All salaries in the new six agencies would start at 10% below the equivalent levels in the current IRS.  There would be no union in the six agencies, because the agencies must represent the interests of the country and that alone.  Something like that.

The current IRS is sick and corrupt.  This is what the Democrats, even the ones appalled by the activities just revealed, do not understand.  They think this behavior is isolated.  It isn’t.  It is the leftist project come to fruition, promoting unlimited power for government and brooking no opposition.

The limited government of enumerated powers created by the Founding Fathers and embedded in the Constitution is illegitimate in the eyes of the left.  That is why this mission was not “a mistake.”

We must act on this knowledge, or we will be complicit in the dispossession of our liberty.  They say about power, “Use it or lose it.”  We must act while we still can.


Americans never give up your guns

By Stanislav Mishin

These days, there are few things to admire about the socialist, bankrupt and culturally degenerating USA, but at least so far, one thing remains: the right to bear arms and use deadly force to defend one’s self and possessions.

This will probably come as a total shock to most of my Western readers, but at one point, Russia was one of the most heavily armed societies on earth. This was, of course, when we were free under the Tsar. Weapons, from swords and spears to pistols, rifles and shotguns were everywhere, common items. People carried them concealed, they carried them holstered. Fighting knives were a prominent part of many traditional attires and those little tubes criss crossing on the costumes of Cossacks and various Caucasian peoples? Well those are bullet holders for rifles.

Various armies, such as the Poles, during the Смута (Times of Troubles), or Napoleon, or the Germans even as the Tsarist state collapsed under the weight of WW1 and Wall Street monies, found that holding Russian lands was much much harder than taking them and taking was no easy walk in the park but a blood bath all its own. In holding, one faced an extremely well armed and aggressive population Hell bent on exterminating or driving out the aggressor.

This well armed population was what allowed the various White factions to rise up, no matter how disorganized politically and militarily they were in 1918 and wage a savage civil war against the Reds. It should be noted that many of these armies were armed peasants, villagers, farmers and merchants, protecting their own. If it had not been for Washington’s clandestine support of and for the Reds, history would have gone quite differently.

Moscow fell, for example, not from a lack of weapons to defend it, but from the lying guile of the Reds. Ten thousand Reds took Moscow and were opposed only by some few hundreds of officer cadets and their instructors. Even then the battle was fierce and losses high. However, in the city alone, at that time, lived over 30,000 military officers (both active and retired), all with their own issued weapons and ammunition, plus tens of thousands of other citizens who were armed. The Soviets promised to leave them all alone if they did not intervene. They did not and for that were asked afterwards to come register themselves and their weapons: where they were promptly shot.

Of course being savages, murderers and liars does not mean being stupid and the Reds learned from their Civil War experience. One of the first things they did was to disarm the population. From that point, mass repression, mass arrests, mass deportations, mass murder, mass starvation were all a safe game for the powers that were. The worst they had to fear was a pitchfork in the guts or a knife in the back or the occasional hunting rifle. Not much for soldiers.

To this day, with the Soviet Union now dead 21 years, with a whole generation born and raised to adulthood without the SU, we are still denied our basic and traditional rights to self defense. Why? We are told that everyone would just start shooting each other and crime would be everywhere….but criminals are still armed and still murdering and too often, especially in the far regions, those criminals wear the uniforms of the police. The fact that everyone would start shooting is also laughable when statistics are examined.

While President Putin pushes through reforms, the local authorities, especially in our vast hinterland, do not feel they need to act like they work for the people. They do as they please, a tyrannical class who knows they have absolutely nothing to fear from a relatively unarmed population. This in turn breeds not respect but absolute contempt and often enough, criminal abuse.

For those of us fighting for our traditional rights, the US 2nd Amendment is a rare light in an ever darkening room. Governments will use the excuse of trying to protect the people from maniacs and crime, but are in reality, it is the bureaucrats protecting their power and position. In all cases where guns are banned, gun crime continues and often increases. As for maniacs, be it nuts with cars (NYC, Chapel Hill NC), swords (Japan), knives (China) or home made bombs (everywhere), insane people strike. They throw acid (Pakistan, UK), they throw fire bombs (France), they attack. What is worse, is, that the best way to stop a maniac is not psychology or jail or “talking to them”, it is a bullet in the head, that is why they are a maniac, because they are incapable of living in reality or stopping themselves.

The excuse that people will start shooting each other is also plain and silly. So it is our politicians saying that our society is full of incapable adolescents who can never be trusted? Then, please explain how we can trust them or the police, who themselves grew up and came from the same culture?

No it is about power and a total power over the people. There is a lot of desire to bad mouth the Tsar, particularly by the Communists, who claim he was a tyrant, and yet under him we were armed and under the progressives disarmed. Do not be fooled by a belief that progressives, leftists hate guns. Oh, no, they do not. What they hate is guns in the hands of those who are not marching in lock step of their ideology. They hate guns in the hands of those who think for themselves and do not obey without question. They hate guns in those whom they have slated for a barrel to the back of the ear.

So, do not fall for the false promises and do not extinguish the light that is left to allow humanity a measure of self respect.

Stanislav Mishin

The article reprinted with the kind permission from the author and originally appears on his blog, Mat Rodina

Source: Pravda

Obama’s Soviet Mistake

By Xavier Lerma

Putin in 2009 outlined his strategy for economic success. Alas, poor Obama did the opposite but nevertheless was re-elected. Bye, bye Miss American Pie. The Communists have won in America with Obama but failed miserably in Russia with Zyuganov who only received 17% of the vote. Vladimir Putin was re-elected as President keeping the NWO order out of Russia while America continues to repeat the Soviet mistake.

After Obama was elected in his first term as president the then Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January of 2009. Ignored by the West as usual, Putin gave insightful and helpful advice to help the world economy and saying the world should avoid the Soviet mistake.

Also read: Pravda.Ru exclusive interview with Jean Marie Le Pen

Recently, Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society and he is ready to continue his lies of less taxes while he raises them. He gives speeches of peace and love in the world while he promotes wars as he did in Egypt, Libya and Syria. He plans his next war is with Iran as he fires or demotes his generals who get in the way.

Putin said regarding the military,

“…instead of solving the problem, militarization pushes it to a deeper level. It draws away from the economy immense financial and material resources, which could have been used much more efficiently elsewhere.”

Well, any normal individual understands that as true but liberalism is a psychosis . O’bomber even keeps the war going along the Mexican border with projects like “fast and furious” and there is still no sign of ending it.  He is a Communist without question promoting the Communist Manifesto without calling it so. How shrewd he is in America. His cult of personality mesmerizes those who cannot go beyond their ignorance. They will continue to follow him like those fools who still praise Lenin and Stalin in Russia.  Obama’s fools and Stalin’s fools share the same drink of illusion.

Reading Putin’s speech without knowing the author, one would think it was written by Reagan or another conservative in America. The speech promotes smaller government and less taxes. It comes as no surprise to those who know Putin as a conservative. Vladimir Putin went on to say:

“…we are reducing taxes on production, investing money in the economy. We are optimizing state expenses.

The second possible mistake would be excessive interference into the economic life of the country and the absolute faith into the all-mightiness of the state.

There are no grounds to suggest that by putting the responsibility over to the state, one can achieve better results.

Unreasonable expansion of the budget deficit, accumulation of the national debt – are as destructive as an adventurous stock market game.

During the time of the Soviet Union the role of the state in economy was made absolute, which eventually lead to the total non-competitiveness of the economy. That lesson cost us very dearly. I am sure no one would want history to repeat itself.”

President Vladimir Putin could never have imagined anyone so ignorant or so willing to destroy their people like Obama much less seeing millions vote for someone like Obama. They read history in America don’t they? Alas, the schools in the U.S. were conquered by the Communists long ago and history was revised thus paving the way for their Communist presidents. Obama has bailed out those businesses that voted for him and increased the debt to over 16 trillion with an ever increasing unemployment rate especially among blacks and other minorities. All the while promoting his agenda.

“We must seek support in the moral values that have ensured the progress of our civilization. Honesty and hard work, responsibility and faith in our strength are bound to bring us success.”- Vladimir Putin

The red, white and blue still flies happily but only in Russia. Russia still has St George defeating the Dragon with the symbol of the cross on its’ flag. The ACLU and other atheist groups in America would never allow the US flag with such religious symbols. Lawsuits a plenty against religious freedom and expression in the land of the free. Christianity in the U.S. is under attack as it was during the early period of the Soviet Union when religious symbols were against the law.

Let’s give American voters the benefit of the doubt and say it was all voter fraud and not ignorance or stupidity in electing a man who does not even know what to do and refuses help from Russia when there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead we’ll say it’s true that the Communists usage of electronic voting was just a plan to manipulate the vote. Soros and his ownership of the company that counts the US votes in Spain helped put their puppet in power in the White House. According to the Huffington Post, residents in all 50 states have filed petitions to secede from the Unites States. We’ll say that these Americans are hostages to the Communists in power. How long will their government reign tyranny upon them?

Russia lost its’ civil war with the Reds and millions suffered torture and death for almost 75 years under the tyranny of the United Soviet Socialist Republic. Russians survived with a new and stronger faith in God and ever growing Christian Church. The question is how long will the once “Land of the Free” remain the United Socialist States of America?  Their suffering has only begun. Bye bye Miss American Pie!  You know the song you hippies. Sing it! Don’t you remember? The 1971 hit song by American song writer Don McLean:

“And, as I watched him on the stage my hands were clenched in fists of rage.

No angel born in Hell could break that Satan’s spell

And, as the flames climbed high into the night to light the sacrificial rite, I saw…

Satan laughing with delight the day the music died

He was singing, bye bye Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good ol’ boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing…

This’ll be the day that I die

This’ll be the day that I die

So, the question remains:

How long will America suffer and to what depths?


Obama Ban on Youth Farm Chores Part of Larger Power Grab

Dredging up Dickensian horrors of child labor, the Obama administration has ordered the Labor Department to apply child labor laws to family farms. The new rules would make it illegal for children to perform a large number of labor tasks that have been performed by farm families for centuries. Traditionally, adults and children alike helped with planting and harvesting in the spring and fall, but the federal government is now determined not only to make this a historical footnote, but a criminal offense.


Kurt Nimmo
April 25, 2012

Under the rules, children under 18 would be prevented by the federal government from working “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials” and prohibited “places of employment would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”

In addition to making it far more difficult for families to work their farms, the new rules will revoke the government’s approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA and replace them with a 90-hour federal government training course, the Daily Caller reports.

In other words, the federal government will forcibly insert itself in the business of teaching animal husbandry and crop management, disciplines traditionally passed on by families and local communities.

Government apparatchiks will now oversee the business of local farming the same way Stalin did when he collectivized farms and “socialized” production at gunpoint in the Soviet Union. Resistance by farmers and peasants to Stalin’s efforts resulted in the government cutting off food rations, which resulted in widespread famine (the “terror-famine in Ukraine” killed around 12 million people) and millions were sent to forced labor camps.

The Labor Department’s effort to further erode the family farm falls on the heels of an unconstitutional executive order Obama issued last year establishing so-called rural councils.

“According to this new executive order, the Obama administration plans to stick its itchy little fingers into just about every aspect of rural life,” the Economic Collapse Blog noted at the time. “One of the stated goals of the White House Rural Council is to do the following….”

Coordinate and increase the effectiveness of Federal engagement with rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, education and training institutions, health-care providers, telecommunications services providers, research and land grant institutions, law enforcement, State, local, and tribal governments, and nongovernmental organizations regarding the needs of rural America.

Obama’s plan to make life miserable for family farmers coincides with an effort by the United Nations under Agenda 21. Section one of the executive order mentions “sustainable rural communities,” language right out of Agenda 21. (For more on the draconian aspects of Agenda 21 and the plan to roll back modern civilization under the aegis of “sustainability,” see Rosa Koire’s Behind the Green Mask: U.N. Agenda 21.)

The federal government has recently moved to clamp down on family farms. For instance, last year the Department of Transportation proposed new burdensome rules for farmers. Incidentally, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood holds a seat on the newly created White House Rural Council.

In Late May, the DOT proposed a rule change for farm equipment, and if it this allowed to take effect, it will place significant regulatory pressure on small farms and family farms all across America – costing them thousands of dollars and possibly forcing many of them out of business,” writes Mike Opelka. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the Department of Transportation (DOT), wants new standards that would require all farmers and everyone on the farm to obtain a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) in order to operate any farming equipment. The agency is going to accomplish this by reclassifying all farm vehicles and implements as Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs).”

Late last year, House Republicans moved to prevent the EPA from further burdening farmers with a rule that would ban “farm dust.” Outrage in response to the proposed regulation came fast and furious and EPA boss Lisa Jackson was forced to back down as Democrats complained that the government was not targeting small family farms with the proposed regulation.

A concerted effort by the federal government to attack small family farms cannot be denied. has covered dozens of efforts, including the attack on Rawesome Foods in California, numerous efforts by the feds to attack raw milk and dairy farmers (including attacks by the FDA on Amish farmers), and a recent effort by the Department of Natural Resources in Michigan to destroy open-range pig farms.

In addition to attempting to micromanage – and run out of business – family farms through federal labor regulations, the government is trying to insert itself in the relationship between parents and their children.

The ongoing attacks on family farming are not merely misguided efforts by control freak bureaucrats. They are part of a larger “comprehensive plan of action” to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations to institute “sustainable development,” a philosophy designed to bring humanity under tight control of the global elite.

As George H. W. Bush said on September 11, 1990, the plan is “based entirely on social control mechanisms.” For the elite, controlling food – especially healthy and natural food produced by family farms – is a primary objective in their plan for global conquest.


The Ticking Clock

Four reasons why — this time — you should believe the hype about Israel attacking Iran.



Washington Post columnist David Ignatius created a tempest last week when he reported U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s prediction that Israel will attack Iran and its nuclear complex “in April, May or June.” Ignatius’s column was as startling as it was exasperating. When the sitting U.S. defense secretary — presumably privy to facts not generally available to the public — makes such a prediction, observers have good reasons to pay attention. On the other hand, the international community has been openly dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue for nearly a decade, with similar crescendos of anticipation having occurred before, all to no effect. Why would this time be different?

Further, an Israeli air campaign against Iran would seem like an amazingly reckless act. And an unnecessary one, too, since international sanctions against Iran’s banks and oil market are just now tightening dramatically.

Yet from Israel’s point of view, time really has run out. The sanctions have come too late. And when Israeli policymakers consider their advantages and all of the alternatives available, an air campaign, while both regrettable and risky, is not reckless.

Here’s why:

1. Time pressure

In his column, Ignatius mentioned this spring as the likely deadline for an Israeli strike. Why so soon? After all, the Iranian program is still under the supervision of IAEA inspectors and Iran has not made any moves to “break out” toward the production of bomb-grade highly enriched uranium.

But as a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center discusses, Iran’s uranium enrichment effort continues to advance, even after the Stuxnet computer attack and the assassination of several of its nuclear scientists. According to the report, Iran seems to be successfully installing advanced, high-efficiency uranium-enrichment centrifuges, which foreshadows a significant increase in enrichment capacity and output in the near future. More ominously from Israel’s perspective, Iran is now installing centrifuge cascades into the Fordow mountain site near Qom, a bunker that is too deep for Israeli bombs to penetrate.

On-site IAEA inspectors are currently monitoring Iran’s nuclear fuel production and would report any diversions to military use. As Tehran undoubtedly assumes, such a “breakout” (tossing out the inspectors and quickly enriching to the bomb-grade level) would be a casus belli, with air strikes from Israel likely to soon follow. Israeli leaders may have concluded that Iran could break out with impunity after the Fordow site is operational and the enrichment effort has produced enough low-enriched uranium feedstock for several bombs. According to the Bipartisan Center report, Iran will be in this position later this year. According to the New York Times, U.S. and Israeli officials differ over their calculations of when Iran will have crossed into a “zone of immunity.” Given their more precarious position, it is understandable that Israeli policymakers are adopting a more conservative assessment.

2. Alternatives to military action now fall short

Israeli leaders undoubtedly understand that starting a war is risky. There should be convincing reasons for discarding the non-military alternatives.

The international sanctions effort against Iran’s banking system and oil industry are inflicting damage on the country’s economy and seem to be delivering political punishment to the regime. But they have not slowed the nuclear program, nor are they likely to have any effect on the timeline described above. And as long as Russia, China, India, and others continue to support Iran economically and politically, the sanctions regime is unlikely to be harsh enough to change Israel’s calculation of the risks, at least within a meaningful time frame.

Why can’t Israel’s secret but widely assumed nuclear arsenal deter an Iranian nuclear strike? Israel’s territory and population are so small that even one nuclear blast would be devastating. Israel would very much like to possess a survivable and stabilizing second-strike retaliatory capability. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union achieved this mainly with their ballistic missile submarine fleets, which were always on patrol and held each others’ cities at risk. Israel does not have large numbers of submarines or any nuclear-powered subs capable of long submerged patrols. Nor can it be confident that its policymakers or command-and-control systems would survive an Iranian nuclear first strike.

Even if Iran sought a nuclear weapons capability solely to establish its own defensive deterrent, the outcome would be gross instability in the region, very likely leading to one side or the other attempting a preemptive attack (the Iranian government denies that its nuclear program has a military purpose). Very short missile flight times, fragile early-warning and command systems, and no survivable second-strike forces would lead to a hair-trigger “use it or lose it” dynamic. An Israeli attack now on Iran’s nuclear program would be an attempt to prevent this situation from occurring.

3. The benefits of escalation

A strike on Iran’s nuclear complex would be at the outer boundary of the Israeli Air Force‘s capabilities. The important targets in Iran are near the maximum range of Israel’s fighter-bombers. The fact that Iraq’s airspace, on the direct line between Israel and Iran, is for now undefended is one more reason why Israel’s leaders would want to strike sooner rather than later. Israel’s small inventory of bunker-buster bombs may damage the underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, but they will likely have no effect on the Fordow mountain complex. Iran has undoubtedly dispersed and hidden many other nuclear facilities. An Israeli strike is thus likely to have only a limited and temporary effect on Iran’s nuclear program.

If so, why bother, especially when such a strike risks sparking a wider war? Israel’s leaders may actually prefer a wider escalating conflict, especially before Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state. Under this theory, Israel would take the first shot with a narrowly tailored attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Paradoxically, Israel’s leaders might then prefer Iranian retaliation, which would then give Israel the justification for broader strikes against Iran’s oil industry, power grid, and communication systems. Even better if Iran were to block the Strait of Hormuz or attack U.S. forces in the region, which would bring U.S. Central Command into the war and result in even more punishment for Iran. Israel’s leaders may believe that they enjoy “escalation dominance,” meaning that the more the war escalates, the worse the consequences for Iran compared to Israel. Israel raided Iraq’s nuclear program in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007. Neither Saddam Hussein nor Bashar al-Assad opted to retaliate, very likely because both knew that Israel, with its air power, possessed escalation dominance. Israel’s leaders have good reason to assume that Iran’s leaders will reach the same conclusion.

What about the rockets possessed by Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran’s proxies north and south of Israel’s population centers? Israel’s leaders may believe that they are much better prepared to respond to these threats than they were in 2006, when the Israeli army struggled against Hezbollah. There is no guarantee that Hezbollah and Hamas will follow orders from Tehran to attack — they understand the punishment the reformed Israeli army would inflict. Hezbollah may now have an excellent reason to exercise caution. Should the Assad regime in Damascus collapse, Hezbollah would likely lose its most important protector and could soon find itself cut off and surrounded by enemies. It would thus be a particularly bad time for Hezbollah to invite an Israeli ground assault into southern Lebanon.

4. Managing the endgame

An Israeli raid on Iran’s nuclear complex would probably not lead to the permanent collapse of the program. Iran could dig out the entrances to the Fordow site and establish new covert research and production facilities elsewhere, perhaps in bunkers dug under residential areas. Israel inflicted a major setback on Iraq’s program when it destroyed the unfinished Osirak reactor in 1981. Even so, Saddam Hussein covertly restarted the program. Israel should expect the same persistence from Iran.

So is there any favorable end-state for Israel? Israeli leaders may envision a long term war of attrition against Iran’s program, hoping to slow its progress to a crawl while waiting for regime change in Tehran. Through sporadic follow-up strikes against nuclear targets, Israel would attempt to demoralize the industry’s workforce, disrupt its operations, and greatly increase the costs of the program. Israeli leaders might hope that their attrition tactics, delivered through occasional air strikes, would bog down the nuclear program while international sanctions weaken the civilian economy and reduce political support for the regime. The stable and favorable outcome for Israel would be either Tehran’s abandonment of its nuclear program or an internal rebellion against the regime. Israel would be counting more on hope rather than a convincing set of actions to achieve these outcomes. But the imperative now for Israel is to halt the program, especially since no one else is under the same time pressure they are.

Israel should expect Tehran to mount a vigorous defense. Iran would attempt to acquire modern air defense systems from Russia or China. It would attempt to rally international support against Israeli aggression and get its international sanctions lifted and imposed on Israel instead. An Israeli assault on Iran would disrupt oil and financial markets with harmful consequences for the global economy. Israel would take the blame, with adverse political and economic consequences to follow.

But none of these consequences are likely enough to dissuade Israel from attacking. A nuclear capability is a red line that Israel has twice prevented its opponents from crossing. Iran won’t get across the line either. Just as happened in 1981 and 2007, Israel’s leaders have good reasons to conclude that its possession of escalation dominance will minimize the worst concerns about retaliation. Perhaps most importantly, Israel is under the greatest time pressure, which is why it will have to go it alone and start what will be a long and nerve-wracking war.


Tensions Brew In The Caspian Sea With Russia’s Latest Move

Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the nations that border the Caspian Sea – namely Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan – have quarreled over how to properly divide its waters. With as much as 250 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 200 billion barrels of potential reserves and 9.2 trillion cubic meters of recoverable natural gas, at stake, tensions have risen over recent moves by Russia to develop its offshore resources.

Tensions Brew In The Caspian Sea With Russia’s Latest Move

A Geo-Political Storm Could Be Brewing Over The Caspian Sea’s Energy Resources
Photo Credit: mwanasimba

On 16 November in Astrakhan Lukoil president, Vagit Alekperov told journalists that his company will spend over $16 billion over the next decade to develop the country’s Caspian offshore Korchagin and Filanovskii oil and natural gas fields in the Caspian, at the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Astrakhan Region.

An equitable division of the Caspian’s offshore resources have bedeviled the region since the December 1991 implosion of the USSR, putting the Soviet Union’s previous cozy arrangements with the Shah’s Iran “into the dustbin of history,” to quote Leon Trotsky.

Related: Russia Oil and Gas Industry

Related: Iran Oil and Gas Industry

Before the collapse of the USSR, the Soviet Union and Iran effectively divided the inland sea amongst themselves, according to the terms of the 1940 Soviet-Iranian treaty, which replaced the 1921 Treaty of Friendship between the two countries, which awarded each signatory an “exclusive right of fishing in its coastal waters up to a limit of 10 nautical miles.” The treaty further declared that the “parties hold the Caspian to belong to Iran and to the Soviet Union.”

Since 1991 three new nations have arisen in the Caspian basin to contest this bilateral arrangement – Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. For the past two decades the five nations have wrangled about how to divide the Caspian offshore waters, and little has been achieved.

Amidst the disagreements Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have tentatively moved cautiously to develop their offshore reserves in sectors that they believe would be indisputably within their future assignations under an eventual five-state agreement.

Even within these cautious offshore margins, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have increased their output in the last 15 years by 70 percent.

Related: Azerbaijan Oil and Gas Industry

Related: Kazakhstan Oil and Gas Industry

Related: Turkmenistan Export, Import and Trade

But at issue are the diametrically opposed positions of Iran and the Russian Federation about how to develop an international Caspian consensus beyond the now moribund 1921 and 1940 treaties. Iran insists that all Caspian nations should receive an equitable 20 percent of the Caspian, while the Russia Federation has consistently maintained that the five Caspian riverine nations should receive their portion based on the length of their coastline. Under the Russian formula, Iran’s sector would consist of 12 percent to 14 percent of the Caspian’s waters and seabed.


The stakes are high – in 2009 the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration estimated that the Caspian could contain as much as 250 billion barrels of recoverable oil along with an additional 200 billion barrels of potential reserves, in addition to up to 9.2 trillion cubic meters of recoverable natural gas.

Accordingly, all five Caspian nations have been delicately developing their offshore Caspian reserves in areas that will undoubtedly remain theirs whatever eventual agreement is hammered out between Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan. The Russian Federation and Iran are the last two nations to move “offshore.”

Alekperov said, “Five hundred billion rubles ($16 billion) will be invested in development. This huge amount will provide an opportunity for sustainable development in the region.”

Astrakhan Region Governor Aleksandr Zhilkin waxed lyrical on the importance of the agreement for the long-term development of Astrakhan’s shipbuilding industry, situated on the lower Volga, the Russian Federation’s major river emptying into the Caspian.

Zhilkin commented, “All shipyards in Astrakhan Region will have work for the next ten years. Vagit Yusufovich (Alekperov) mentioned that Lukoil is investing more than 500 billion rubles ($16 billion) over the decade.

Zhilkin’s remarks to reporters are hardly an idle boast, as he stated that Lukoil had paid more than $16.1 million in taxes last year to Astrakhan’s regional budget.

So, the Russian Federation, like its four Caspian neighbors, is now beginning to tiptoe into its offshore waters, all the while insisting that its vision of divvying the inland sea prevails.

Related: The New “Great Game” in Central Asia

Related: Energy: Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – Linked and Divided by Oil Pipelines

Related: The Nabucco Pipeline: Turkey, Russia and Petro-politics

The last two decades have seen an apparent pragmatism slowly evolve over the Caspian offshore resources, first in Baku, followed by Astana, Ashgabat and more recently and reluctantly, Tehran and Moscow. While the issue of a final disposition of the Caspian’s offshore waters remains significant if for no other reason than the various proposed undersea pipelines such as Turkmenistan-Baku, which could be an influential element in the European Union’s projected $15 billion Nabucco natural gas pipeline reverie, all five nations seem to be moving cautiously towards planting their offshore flags in areas unlikely to arouse their neighbours.

It will be interesting to see if they meet in the middle.

By John C.K. Daly,


How to make an Eco-Socialist revolution


Saturday, October 8, 2011
By Ian Angus

Ian Angus is editor of and co-author, with Simon Butler, of the new book Too Many People?. This is his keynote presentation to the recent Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne.

Meetings such as this play a vital role in building a movement that can stop the hell-bound train of capitalism, before it takes itself and all of humanity over the precipice. Building such a movement is the most important thing anyone can do today — so I’m honoured to have been invited to take part in your discussions.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Karl Marx predicted that unless capitalism was eliminated the great productive forces it unleashed would turn into destructive forces. And that’s exactly what has happened.

Every day we see more evidence that capitalism, which was once the basis for an unprecedented wave of creativity and liberation, has transformed itself into a force for destruction, decay and death.

It directly threatens the existence of the human race, not to mention the existence of the millions of species of plants and animals with whom we share the Earth.

Many people have proposed technological fixes or political reforms to address various aspects of the global environmental crisis, and many of those measures deserve serious consideration. Some of them may buy us some time, some of them may delay the ecological day of reckoning.

Contrary to what some of our critics claim, no serious socialist is opposed to partial measures or reforms — we will actively support any measure that reduces, limits or delays the devastating effects of capitalism. And we will work with anyone, socialist or not, who seriously wants to fight for such measures. In fact, just try to stop us.

But as socialists, we know that there can be no lasting solution to the world’s multiple environmental crises so long as capitalism remains the dominant economic and social system on this planet.

We do not claim to have all the answers, but we do have one big answer: the only basis for long-term, permanent change in the way humanity relates to the rest of nature, is an ecosocialist revolution.

If we don’t make that transformation we may delay disaster, but disaster remains inevitable. As the headline on Climate and Capitalism has always said: “Ecosocialism or barbarism: There is no third way.”

But what do we mean by ecosocialism? And what do we mean by ecosocialist revolution?

What is ecosocialism?

There is no copyright on the word ecosocialism, and those who call themselves ecosocialists don’t agree about everything. So what I’m going to say reflects my own perspective.

Ecosocialism begins with a critique of its two parents, ecology and Marxism.

Ecology, at its very best, gives us powerful tools for understanding how nature functions – not as separate events or activities, but as integrated, interrelated ecosystems. Ecology can and does provide essential insights into the ways that human activity is undermining the very systems that make all forms of life possible.

But while ecology has done very well at describing the damage caused by humans, its lack of social analysis means that few ecologists have developed anything that resembles a credible program for stopping the destruction.

Unlike other animals, the relationship between human beings and our environment can’t be explained by our numbers or by our biology — but that’s where ecology typically stops.

In fact, when ecologists turn to social questions, they almost always get the answers wrong, because they assume that problems in the relationship between humanity and nature are caused by our numbers or by human nature, or that they are just a result of ignorance and misunderstandings.

If only we all knew the truth, the world would change. All we need to do is to tinker with taxes and markets, or maybe advertise birth control more widely, and all will be fine.

The lack of a coherent critique of capitalism has made most Green parties around the world ineffective — or, even worse, it has allowed them to become junior partners in neoliberal governments, providing green camouflage for reactionary policies.

Similarly, many of the biggest green NGOs long ago gave up on actually building an environmental movement, preferring to campaign for donations from corporate polluters. Because they don’t understand capitalism, they think they can solve problems by being friendly with capitalists.

In contrast, Marxism’s greatest strength is its comprehensive critique of capitalism, an analysis that explains why this specific social order has been both so successful and so destructive.

Marxism has also shown that another kind of society is both possible and necessary, a society in which destructive capitalist production is replaced by cooperative production, and in which capitalist property is replaced by a global commons.

What we now call ecology was fundamental to Marx’s thought, and, as John Bellamy Foster has shown, in the 20th century Marxist scientists made major contributions to ecological thought. But on the whole, the Marxist movements of the 20th century either ignored environmental issues entirely, or blithely deferred all consideration of the subject until after the revolution, when socialism would magically solve them all.

What’s worse, some of the worst ecological nightmares of the 20th century occurred in countries that called themselves socialist. We only have to mention the nuclear horror of Chernobyl, or the poisoning and draining of the Aral Sea, to make clear that just eliminating capitalism won’t save the world.

Now there is an easy answer to that — we could just say that those countries weren’t socialist. They were state capitalist, or something else, so criticism of their environmental crimes is irrelevant. But green critics will rightly call that a cop-out.

People in the Soviet Union and the other soviet bloc countries thought they were building socialism. And for most people worldwide that was what socialism looked like.

So whether we call those societies socialist or give them some other label, we need to answer the underlying question: what makes us think that the next attempts to build socialist societies will do any better than they did?

Our answer has two parts.

The first is that eliminating profit and accumulation as the driving forces of the economy will eliminate capitalism’s innate drive to pollute and destroy.

While mistaken policies and ignorance have caused some very serious ecological problems, the global crisis we face today isn’t the result of mistaken policies and ignorance — it is the inevitable result of the way capitalism works.

With capitalism, an ecologically balanced world is impossible. Socialism doesn’t make it certain, but it will make it possible.

The second part of the answer is that history is not made by impersonal forces. The transition to socialism will be achieved by real people, and people can learn from experience.

This is demonstrated in practice by Cuba, which in the past 25 years has made huge strides towards building an ecologically sound economy, and which has repeatedly been one of the few countries that meet the World Wildlife Fund’s criteria for a globally sustainable society.

The lesson we must learn from that achievement and from the environmental failures of socialism in the 20th century is that ecology must have a central place in socialist theory, in the socialist program and in the activity of the socialist movement.

Ecosocialism works to unite the best of the green and the red while overcoming the weaknesses of each. It tries to combine Marxism’s analysis of human society with ecology’s analysis of our relationship to the rest of nature.

It aims to build a society that will have two fundamental and indivisible characteristics.

• It will be socialist, committed to democracy, to radical egalitarianism, and to social justice. It will be based on collective ownership of the means of production, and it will work actively to eliminate exploitation, profit and accumulation as the driving forces of our economy.

• And it will be based on the best ecological principles, giving top priority to stopping anti-environmental practices, to restoring damaged ecosystems, and to re-establishing agriculture and industry on ecologically sound principles.

A sentence in John Bellamy Foster’s The Ecological Rift precisely and concisely explains ecosocialism’s reason for being: “There can be no true ecological revolution that is not socialist; no true socialist revolution that is not ecological.”

What is an ecosocialist revolution?

When we say revolution, we are talking about a profound change in the way humans relate to the earth, in how we produce and reproduce, in almost everything humans do and how we do it.

What we’re aiming for is not just a reorganisation of capitalism, and not just changes in ownership, but for what Fred Magdoff, in an article in a recent issue of Monthly Review, calls “a truly ecological civilization — one that exists in harmony with natural systems.”

Magdoff lists eight characteristics that such a civilization would have.

It would:

1. stop growing when basic human needs are satisfied;

2. not entice people to consume more and more;

3. protect natural life support systems and respect the limits to natural resources, taking into account needs of future generations;

4. make decisions based on long-term societal/ecological needs, while not neglecting short-term needs of people;

5. run as much as possible on current (including recent past) energy instead of fossil fuels;

6. foster human characteristics and a culture of cooperation, sharing, reciprocity, and responsibility to neighbours and community;

7. make possible the full development of human potential, and;

8. promote truly democratic political and economic decision making for local, regional, and multiregional needs.

As Fred Magdoff says, a society with those characteristics would be “the opposite of capitalism in essentially all respects”.

Not easy or quick

Achieving such a change is absolutely essential — but we should not delude ourselves that it will happen simply or quickly. I’ve found that most environmentalists and most socialists seriously underestimate just how big a task we have set ourselves, how big the change will have to be, how difficult it will be, and how long it will take.

Forty years ago, in 1971, Barry Commoner, one of the first modern socialists to write about the environmental crisis, estimated that in order to reverse the environmental destruction that he could then see in the United States and to rebuild industry and agriculture on an ecologically sound basis, “most of the nation’s resources for capital investment would need to be engaged in the task of ecological reconstruction for at least a generation”.

The rate and extent of environmental destruction has accelerated rapidly in the four decades since Commoner wrote that. The time required and the cost of the repairs and reconstruction have increased substantially.

For example, the United Nations recently estimated that it will take 30 years to clean up the devastating damage caused by Shell Oil in the Ogoni peoples’ homeland in the Niger Delta. That’s for an area of just 386 square miles — about one-ninth the size of Sydney.

The Niger Delta is a particularly horrible example of capitalism’s ecocidal role, of course, but there are many more examples around the world, enough to dash any hope for an easy turnaround.

That means that the title of my talk today is a little misleading. I can’t tell you how to make an ecosocialist revolution, because the necessary changes will take decades, in circumstances we can’t predict.

What’s more, the transformation will undoubtedly require new knowledge, and new science. To paraphrase Marx, there is no recipe book for the chefs of the ecological revolution.

Getting to the starting point

But what we can and must discuss is, how to get to the starting point.

One of the pioneers of revolutionary socialism and environmentalism was the great British poet and artist William Morris. In 1893, he described the starting point this way:

“The first real victory of the Social Revolution will be the establishment not indeed of a complete system of communism in a day, which is absurd, but of a revolutionary administration whose definite and conscious aim will be to prepare and further, in all available ways, human life for such a system.”

We could combine William Morris’s statement with Fred Magdoff’s terminology, to summarise the central goal of the ecosocialist movement today: “A revolutionary administration whose definite and conscious aim will be to prepare and further, in all available ways, human life for an ecological civilisation.”

In our new book, Too Many People?, Simon Butler and I express that idea this way:

“In every country, we need governments that break with the existing order, that are answerable only to working people, farmers, the poor, indigenous communities, and immigrants — in a word, to the victims of ecocidal capitalism, not its beneficiaries and representatives.”

And we suggest some of the first measures such governments might take. Our suggestions include:

• rapidly phasing out fossil fuels and biofuels, replacing them with clean energy sources;

• actively supporting farmers to convert to ecological agriculture; defending local food production and distribution;

• introducing free and efficient public transport networks;

• restructuring existing extraction, production and distribution systems to eliminate waste, planned obsolescence, pollution and manipulative advertising, and providing full retraining to all affected workers and communities;

• retrofitting existing homes and buildings for energy efficiency;

• closing down all military operations at home and elsewhere; transforming the armed forces into voluntary teams charged with restoring ecosystems and assisting the victims of environmental disasters.

Our suggestions aren’t carved in stone, and I’m sure many of you can think of many other essential changes.

For other valuable ideas about what such a government would do, I encourage you to also look at the “short term agenda for environmental activists” in the final chapter of What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism, by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, and at the program proposed in Australia in the Socialist Alliance Climate Charter.

I stress that we shouldn’t wait for an ecosocialist government to make those changes. On the contrary, we should be fighting for every one of those measures today, as central elements of our fight for a better world.

Those are first steps, just the beginning — building a fully ecological civilisation will involve much more. The longer it takes us to build a movement that can get the process started, the more difficult the ecosocialist revolution will be.

Majority participation

I have stressed the complexity and size of the task before us not to discourage you, but to underline another essential point. Social changes this sweeping will not happen just because they are the right thing to do.

Good ideas are not enough. Moral authority isn’t enough. An ecosocialist revolution cannot be made by a minority. It cannot be imposed by politicians and bureaucrats, no matter how well meaning they might be.

It will require the active participation of the great majority of the people. In Marx’s famous words: “The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the workers themselves.”

This is not because democracy is morally superior, but because the necessary changes cannot be carried through, and will not be long-lasting, unless they are actively supported, created and implemented, by the broadest possible range of people.

Only majority support and involvement can possibly overcome the opponents of change. The only way to overcome the forces that now rule, the forces of global destruction, is to organise a countervailing force that can stop them and remove them from power.

That’s another fundamental truth about revolutions — there is no such thing as a win-win revolution, where everyone gains and no one loses. In a real revolution, the people who had power and privileges in the old society lose their power and privileges in the new.

A few of those people may join in the revolutionary cause, and if so we will welcome them to our cause. But most of them probably will not support the majority.

Today, as in every human society for thousands of years, there are powerful social groups that benefit from the existing situation, and they will resist change no matter how obvious the need for change may be.

We only have to look at the present US Congress or at Australia’s parliament to see powerful people who will resist change even to the point of destroying the world.

The climate change deniers are not isolated cranks. They are well-financed politicians, backed by some of the world’s richest corporations, and they are prepared to bring the world down to protect their power.

You know, whenever we talk about revolution, the powers that be accuse us of plotting violence. In fact, most of the ecosocialists I know are pretty nonviolent in their personal lives. I admit that many of us in Canada like hockey, and I’m sure there are some footy fans here today, but that doesn’t translate into our political outlook.

We don’t want violence, and we will be pleased if the transition to ecosocialism is entirely peaceful. Unfortunately, unlike in professional sports, what happens in a revolution isn’t entirely up to us.

As we’ve seen in many countries, the democratic election of popular governments by huge majorities has never stopped defenders of the old order from trying to regain power through violent means. And as the people of Venezuela and Bolivia have shown, the best way to minimise and counteract the violence of the reactionaries is to mobilise the largest possible number of people to defend the revolutionary process.

A tale of two cities

What forces will determine the outcome of the global environmental crisis in the 21st century? Less than two years ago we had a strong foretaste of the class lineup.

In December 2009, the world’s rich countries sent delegations to Copenhagen with instructions not to save the climate, but to block any action that might weaken their capitalist economies or harm their competitive positions in world markets.

And they succeeded.

The backroom deal imposed by US President Barack Obama was, as Fidel Castro wrote, “nothing more than a joke.” The follow-up deal that they negotiated in Cancun was no better.

The Copenhagen and Cancun meetings made it clear that our rulers do not want to solve the climate and ecological crises. Period.

They place their narrow economic and electoral interests before the survival of humanity. They will not change course willingly.

Five months after the Copenhagen meeting, a very different meeting took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

At the invitation of Bolivian president Evo Morales, some 35,000 activists, many of them indigenous people, came from more than 130 countries, to do what Obama and his allies refused to do in Copenhagen — to develop an action program to save the environment.

They drafted a People’s Agreement that places responsibility for the climate crisis on the capitalist system and on the rich countries that “have a carbon footprint five times larger than the planet can bear”.

The World People’s Conference adopted 18 major statements, covering topics from climate refugees to indigenous rights to technology transfer, and much more.

It is impossible to imagine such a program coming out of any meeting of the wealthy powers, or out of any United Nations conference.

Those two meetings, in Copenhagen and Cochabamba, symbolise the great divide in the struggle for the future of the Earth and humanity. On one side, a meeting dominated by the rich and powerful, determined to save their wealth and privileges, even if the world burns.

On the other side, indigenous people, small farmers and peasants, progressive activists and working people of all kinds, determined to save the world from the rich and powerful.

The Cochabamba conference was a big step towards a global movement that can actually change the world. It showed, in a preliminary way, the alliance of forces that must be forged in each country, and internationally, to end the environmentally destructive capitalist system.

We need students and academics and feminists and scientists — but we will not be able to change the world unless we win the active participation of working people, farmers, indigenous peoples and all of the oppressed.

These are the forces that the green left must ally with. These are the forces that we must win to the perspective of ecosocialist revolution.

What to do now?

Now at this point, you should be asking, “How can we do that? How do we win mass support for the program and objectives we know are essential?”

That is exactly the right question to ask. Because if we can’t translate our ideas and our program into action, then our ideas are irrelevant, and so are we. To cite another famous comment by Marx, our task is not just to explain the world, our task is to change it.

As Marxists, we use our analysis of the world as a basis for determining what to do. First we ask, “what’s going on?” Then we ask, “What is to be done?”

When we ask those questions today, we are all intensely aware that although the need for revolution is very clear to us, we are in a minority, not just in society at large, but even within the left and within the environmental movement.

As Marxist scholar Fredric Jameson has written, we live in a time when for most people, “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism”.

Most green activists do not see capitalism as the primary problem — or, if they do, they don’t believe an ecosocialist revolution is possible or desirable.

So the key task before us is not to proclaim the revolution from every street corner, but rather to find ways to work with the broadest possible range of people as they are today.

Latin American Marxist Marta Harnecker has expressed it this way: “Being radical is not a matter of advancing the most radical slogans, or of carrying out the most radical actions …

“Being radical lies rather in creating spaces where broad sectors can come together and struggle. For as human beings we grow and transform ourselves in the struggle. Understanding that we are many and are fighting for the same objectives is what makes us strong and radicalizes us.”

It is through struggles for change that we can win the people who today find it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

We cannot artificially create majority support, but fortunately we can depend on capitalism and imperialism to help us. Long ago, Marx and Engels said that what the bourgeoisie produces, above all, are its own gravediggers.

In 2011, we have seen capitalism’s future gravediggers come into direct conflict with authoritarian governments, with imperialism, and with capitalist austerity programs, in countries as diverse as Chile, Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Egypt, Britain and even the United States.

We cannot tell in advance where mass struggles will break out, or what forms they will take. That’s not under our control. The best slogans in the world won’t do it. But capitalism will make it happen.

The real question is, will the next radicalisation peter out, or be defeated — or will it move forward, and ultimately challenge capitalism itself?

The movement we need

There are no guarantees. Marxism is not deterministic. The ecosocialist revolution is not inevitable. It will only happen if people consciously decide that is necessary, and take the steps needed to bring it about.

As long ago as 1848, Marx and Engels posed an alternative: the class struggle would lead either to “a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large,” … or to “the common ruin of the contending classes.” In this century of environmental crisis, the common ruin of all, the destruction of civilisation, is a very real possibility.

One factor that will determine the outcome — in my opinion the single most important factor — is the role that will be played by the people in this room, and by others like you around the world.

Spontaneous uprisings such as those we’ve seen in Europe and North Africa this year are inevitable, but they are not, by themselves, sufficient to bring into being “a revolutionary administration whose definite and conscious aim will be to prepare and further, in all available ways, human life for an ecological civilisation”.

That will not be achieved unless we are successful in creating, in advance, an organised movement with a clear vision, an ecosocialist program, that can bridge the gap between the spontaneous anger of millions of people and the beginning of the ecosocialist revolution.

Meetings such as this one can be part of the process of building that movement. I don’t have a blueprint for how to build the movement we need. Indeed, one of the lessons we can learn from the failures of socialism in the 20th century is that centrally-dictated, one-size-fits-all plans for movement building will always fail.

Rather than a blueprint, let me suggest four characteristics that movements committed to ecosocialism must share if they are to have any chance of success.

1. Ecosocialists will extend and apply ecosocialism’s analysis and program.

This might seem obvious, but it’s very important. In the past century, many Marxists tried to freeze Marxism. After the death of Marx, or Engels, or Lenin, or Trotsky, or Mao — each group had its own cut-off point — their Marxism stopped developing.

From then on, no matter what the situation, all they had to do was consult the sacred texts. All of the answers were there. Some organisations on the left still do this today.

That approach is completely alien to Marxism, which gives us a method, but not all the answers. It doesn’t even give us all the questions.

In their lifetimes, Marx and Engels studied the scientific, technological and other discoveries of their time, and learned from the struggles of their day. They used their new knowledge to extend, deepen or change their political conclusions. Ecosocialism must follow their example.

There is not, and there will not be, a perfect and immutable ecosocialist program, no document we can point to and say, “that’s it, no more changes, we know what to do in all circumstances”.

A key task for ecosocialists everywhere is to take the beginning points that ecosocialism offers today, and to build on them using the method of Marxism, the best scientific work of our time and the lessons we learn in struggles for change. Then we must apply our new understanding in a wide variety of places and circumstances.

This hard to do, because it requires us to think, to understand our situations and respond appropriately and creatively, not just repeat the same old slogans.

Only if we do that can ecosocialism contribute effectively to saving the Earth.

2. Ecosocialists will be pluralist and open.

Another lesson we can learn from the 20th century is that monolithic socialist grouplets do not turn into mass movements. They stagnate and decay, they argue and they split, but they don’t change the world.

So I want to emphasise that I am not urging you to rush out and found yet another sect. Ecosocialism is not a separate organisation, it is a movement to win existing red and green groups and individuals to an ecosocialist perspective.

Our ecosocialist programs define who we are, they are the glue that holds us together. But within that broad framework, we need to understand that none of us has a monopoly on truth and none of us has the magical keys to the ecosocialist kingdom.

We will undoubtedly disagree on many issues, and our debates will be vigorous. But if you agree that “there can be no true ecological revolution that is not socialist; no true socialist revolution that is not ecological,” then what unites us is more important than our differences.

We need to build a democratic ecosocialist movement together.

3. Ecosocialists will be internationalist and anti-imperialist.

Within the broad environmental movement, ecosocialists must be the strongest voices for global climate justice. All serious environmentalists must be internationalists, if only because ecosystems don’t respect national borders.

In particular, there is no national solution to climate change. It must be fought for country-by-country, but only international change can defeat it. International communication, collaboration, and solidarity are absolutely essential.
But for those of us who live in the wealthy countries, the imperialist countries, there must be much more to our internationalism.

It’s been said many times that the people of the global South, and indigenous people everywhere, are the primary victims of climate change and other forms of environmental destruction.

What isn’t said as often, but is even more important, is that the primary environmental criminals are “our” capitalists in the North. That places a special responsibility on ecosocialists in the wealthy countries to combat the policies of our governments and of the corporations that are based in our countries.

Today, the most powerful and important struggles for ecological justice are taking place in the so-called Third World. At the barest minimum, we in the imperialist countries need to publicise those movements and expose the role our home-grown capitalists play. We need to show our solidarity as concretely as we can.

We must give particular emphasis and support to the demands raised in the Cochabamba Peoples Agreement.

• We must demand that our governments give financial support for adaptation to climate change, including the development of ecologically sound agriculture.

• We must demand direct transfer of renewable energy and other technologies, so that the poorest countries can have economic development without contributing to global warming. (I want to stress that unless and until we win this, no one in the North has any right to criticise the energy and development choices made by progressive movements and governments in the Third World.)

• We must oppose so-called market solutions, and the commodification of nature. This includes rejecting carbon trading in all its forms.

• We must welcome climate refugees to our countries, offering them decent lives with full human rights.

4. Ecosocialists will actively participate in and build movements for a better world.

Finally, and most important, ecosocialists must be activists.

We need to slow capitalism’s ecocidal drive as much as possible and to reverse it where we can, to win every possible victory over the forces of destruction. As I’ve said, our rulers will not willingly change — but mass opposition can force them to act, even against their will.

There are many environmental issues facing the world today, and I’m sure that ecosocialists will be active in a wide variety of campaigns. But the scope and potential destructiveness of the climate emergency make it the most important issue, and we need to give it the highest priority.

Our goal must be to bring together everyone — socialists, liberals, deep greens, trade unionists, feminists, indigenous activists and more — everyone who is willing to demand that governments act decisively to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. And at the same time, we need to unite the forces that understand the need to go beyond defensive battles and lay the basis for a movement that can in fact initiate the ecosocialist revolution.

Fortunately those two tasks are not in conflict. Fighting for immediate gains against capitalist destruction and fighting for the ecosocialist future aren’t separate activities, they are aspects of one integrated process.

It is through united struggles for immediate gains and environmental reforms that working people and farmers and indigenous people can build the organisations and the collective knowledge they need to defend themselves and advance their interests.

The victories they win in partial struggles will help to build the confidence needed to take on bigger targets. And it is only by participating in and building such struggles that the ecosocialist movement can grow, can win a hearing from wider numbers of people, and can ultimately make an ecosocialist revolution possible.

The challenge we face

The People’s Agreement adopted in Cochabamba eloquently expresses the challenge before us.

“Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life. It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.”

There, in three sentences, is the case for building a movement to save the world, the case for an ecosocialist revolution. As I’ve said, it will not be easy, but I cannot think of a more important and worthwhile cause.

Working together, we can put an end to capitalism, before it puts an end to us.

Original Article

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