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No Business-As-Usual for Socialists

By Ben Courtice

How can a socialist organisation in a rich country with a huge carbon footprint ignore climate change? How can it remain completely aloof from the growing movement to stop climate change?

Australia’s largest socialist organisation on campus is Socialist Alternative, and their record on climate change is almost non-existent. They have a pamphlet on the issue (published some time ago, rarely seen on their stalls). They show up at big protests to sell their magazine (which occasionally has an article on why market solutions won’t fix climate change). In 2008 they had two members who were involved in organising the Melbourne Climate Emergency Rally, but have not lifted a finger since on climate issues. Their forte is handing out leaflets and putting up posters, but they wouldn’t even put up posters for the Switch Off Hazelwood protest on their regular poster runs.

One of the greatest weaknesses of the climate change movement is the lack of youthful and energetic new activists: much of the backbone of the movement is older, experienced or not, coming from suburban groups. The campus environment groups are small and just starting to come together to organise for climate movement events.

Socialist Alternative, who believe in the need for conscious political leadership of the working class (and students) on all matters of oppression, have a claimed 100 members in Melbourne. They have active clubs on several campuses. How much could their membership contribute if they really tried to support the climate movement? Even without abandoning other priorities, they could have a big impact.


1 Com:

Dave Riley | August 27, 2009

The complication is that most socialist groups are similarly distant from the climate change movement. While input varies, very few -- outside orgs like the Socialist Alliance -- consider climate change as a primary issue facing humanity so they aren't enagaged as they could be. Compare that to the Nuclear Disarmament Movement of the 80s and their absence is stark.

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