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What is ecosocialism?

An earlier post here promoted a international conference on ecosocialism to be held in France later this year. Flagged was the option of creating a "Ecosocialist International".

In the comment section, Derek Wall -- one of the keynote speakers at this event -- referred an inquiry to the Wikipedia definition of Ecosocialism.

I read the page and I say to myself, "gee I'm one of them.I'm an eco-socialist too."

So it looks like I can go out and buy myself another badge or t-shirt if I want.

But I'm nagged by the labeling because I tend to look upon "our" challenge as one of trying to turn the greens red and the reds green. Its' a polemical process, a dynamic of trying to get people -- such as comrade type people and greenie type people-- to think outside their own mandala.

This business is no longer an exercise in theory but an imperative. We have no choice no matter what colour we bat for. I see it as a challenge to get in amongst the fray and start the conversion by dint of argument and such and by dealing with real time environment issues, local and global.

In my view, for instance, I'd try to be transitional and address the question of energy production by arguing for a process of nationalisation that also sort to engineer a major and urgent shift to renewables. You couldn't separate the two elements.

So how is that advocacy improved if I say its ecosocialism? Is my argument improved if I employ an exotic word which by default also serves to mark my projected system off from already existing social isms?

I mean, do we need another brand of socialism or for that matter yet another international?

I think it is true that the green lefts aren't green enough and the left greens aren't left enough -- but that only proves how much work we need to do.

At the present time in the Socialist Alliance here we are debating (further) the core issue of emissions targets. The way it goes, your whole environment program hinges on what figures you aim for, in what time scale and how sharp is the retooling required. I guess it's a debate about how much socialism will be required within the window that is left to us.

Our task is to not only pick a few percentiles but thereafter go out among the population within the four walls of Australia and argue out how we can achieve them. That's the hard bit. Fortunately there are a few environment groups that share the sort of sharp turn advocacy we are prone to and who are better ecologists (& scientists in that mode) than most of us. So we're not alone. But we're conscious socialists and they're not.

Is our position enriched by saying that we're ECO-socialists

Part of this process is one in which we look for markers to define our advocacy. So our slogans for the upcoming federal election are: People Before Profits/Planet Before Profits. And part of that is we have to bring both our members and our propaganda up to stream and find accessible ways to argue our case. And, when you go electioneering, you need to go fitted out with platforms that pan our in real time. It's no good saying ,"under socialism carbon will be contained by the dictatorship of the proletariat." Instead you need to be very concrete and very much closer to home.

My view would be that there is one socialism -- the one you actually get by dint of struggle and such. And if it is a real socialism it's also a green or "eco" one. Derek Wall has written about green Venezuela and is very active in speaking to that topic. So my feeling would be that we can do a lot more for greening the left and lefting the green by being keener to talk up the Bolivarian process as a process that begins to prove how ecological socialism can be.

But then maybe as an old leftie I'm set in my ways....

1 Com:

Dave Riley | June 11, 2007

Ian Angus has flagged this post on the C&C blog. I'm not being picky in way of word play -- but rather I see it as a tactical issue, not one so much about categories. Are we better served by developing a new brand of socialism as though the one we've got lacks all the attributes we need? I'm not saying that name formatting isn't useful sometimes, but now after the collapse of Soviet Communism, and the new rise in Venezuela of a struggle for socialism why should we feel the need to separate off the marker with a fresh branding-- ecosocialism -- as though THE DIALECTICS OF NATURE or CAPITAL hasn't enriched us before in way of relating to the planet. I have often been enamoured with the term "dialectical biology" which has a strict and useful meaning for me as it relates to ecology, genetics, paleontology, etc. It was a term embraced by a few important scientists -- biologists(eg:Gould, Leewontin, Rose, etc) and psychologists(eg: Vygotsky & Luria especially) -- too whose work I cherish. I think it is a useful term as a carrier for the science of dialectical materialism.

The other aspect --and an argument I do indeed recognise -- is that "ecosocialism" defines and harnesses a current that goes way back to William Morris and one that tended to be dismissed in the socialist movement as too romantic. In this regard it offers features in way of principles that are not normally covered in socialist discourse --such as animal rights, the concept of anthropomorphism, or the importance of ethics or lifestyle.

However, what I do definitely believe in is that that discussion we began to have in the early nineties was displaced by a coarse electoralism and that discussion between green theory and socialism and Marxism has to be replayed and taken to a sharper and more relevant level in the face of the consequences that bear down on us.

In pursuit of that view my favorite marker is important discussion in A R.Luria's autobiography on 'Romantic Science".

...and any socialism -- whether it is eco-, democratic- or Bolivarian- -- is never a finished job.

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