Toward a Revolutionary Environmental Movement

  • Posted on: 5 October 2019
  • By: thecollective
Toward a Revolutionary Environmental Movement

From CLAC

The following text was written by the CLAC,  the IWW and Montréal Antifasciste and was distributed at the Montreal climate demonstration on September 27, 2019. It can also be downloaded to print here.

 

1. GOVERNMENTS WON’T SAVE US

Those who benefit from poisoning the land and exploiting people you care about won’t be reformed. They’ll make it seem like they hear your voices and occasionally put on grand spectacles to temporarily appease your anger. They’ll encourage you to channel your anxiety into pointless practices that only reinforce individualism. So while some of us compete to take shorter showers or to reduce our trash output, government officials, universities, and corporations shamelessly invest in more pipelines, host uncritical academic conferences, or fly jets to fancy meetings where empty promises are made.

The impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases on climate has been known since the late 19th century. The view that carbon dioxide affects global warming has been widespread since the 70s. Since the 80s and 90s, observations and computer models have overwhelmingly pointed to human-made activities as important factors in climate change. It’s been more than 30 years since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created to compile information and advise world governments on how to minimize the anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change that has already claimed innumerable human lives and caused the extinction of many other animal species. This same panel now says we only have 10 years left before we reach a point of no return towards the death of this planet. Our countries are consuming the bulk of the planet’s resources. Yet here we are, asking for the same colonial governments and political class that put us in this mess to ban plastic straws and increase carbon taxes. We have been begging them for decades now. It’s time we start taking power ourselves.

 

2. CAPITALISM AND THE CLIMATE CRISIS

Capitalism is a socioeconomic and political system under which a privileged few own what the rest of us need to survive. That means the worth of sentient beings and plants is based on their ability to generate wealth. It’s the idea that land, workplaces, trees, animals, housing, and water, are to be owned privately by individuals or corporations, which gives them power to exploit these things however they want, regardless of our concerns, needs, and well-being. This economic system is why corporations are free to build fossil fuel infrastructures on unceded Indigenous land as governments use militarized police to suppress any form of resistance.

To exist, capitalism must uphold hierarchy, power, and obedience. That’s why your acts of rebellion are framed differently than their acts of systemic violence (e.g. stealing food from Walmart vs stealing land from Indigenous peoples). Our efforts towards a better future are meaningless without a radical departure from the system that made violence and destruction the normal (and legal) state of affairs.

 

3. COLONIALISM, RACISM, AND DESTRUCTION

To be green is to also to oppose colonialism and racism. Both of these things have everything to do with the climate crisis.

Atmospheric pollution can’t be calculated without taking into account past and present colonial realities. Our understanding of how different countries contribute to climate change must take into account historical greenhouse gas emissions, and most importantly, who profits from the destruction. Industries and empires have been built on the labor of Black and Indigenous people and other people of color. Canadian and American companies murder land defenders for minerals in Latin America and Africa, poison air and waterways in Asia, and put our trash on boats to be dumped far from our eyes.

Repeatedly in Canadian history, ecological devastation has been used as an intentional weapon against Indigenous peoples. Overhunting of bison by settlers led to famine in the Prairies in the 19th century, which was consciously encouraged by the Canadian government under John A. Macdonald as a tool of genocide to “clear the West.” Such practices continue to this day. Grassy Narrows is an Indigenous community near Ontario’s border with Manitoba; its water was contaminated by tons of mercury dumped into its water system by an upstream paper mill. One study estimated that 90 per cent of the population suffers from some degree of mercury poisoning, which can cause everything from cognitive impairments to hearing loss and emotional changes. The heavy metal can be passed from mothers to babies they carry, making it a problem that lasts generations. This is the legacy of Canadian colonialism and genocide; for many people the ecological catastrophe is already centuries old.

In so many ways, the most oppressed always pay the price for Western lifestyles and the out-of-control growth that accompanies them. Droughts, floods, and famines, are increasingly common and displaced people need new places to call home. Thus, as we fight climate change, we must also fight the system of borders that values some lives above others. We must fight the police entering migrants’ homes in the middle of the night to take parents away. We must fight the construction of a migrant prison in Laval that has kids growing up behind bars. We must fight against oil wars that leave entire countries destroyed. We must fight white-supremacy whether it takes the form of neo-fascist militias, conservative columnists, or colonial states claiming sovereignty over Indigenous land. Ultimately, we must also confront anyone who accepts any of this is without feeling profound anger. We can’t allow the most privileged people on this planet to use terms like « overpopulation » or « migrant crisis » because they are too scared and selfish to stand up to real perpetrators of the destruction of our world.

 

4. RESIST SCAPEGOATING AND THE FAR RIGHT

Certain groups are taking advantage of the catastrophes taking place to put their own hateful and nightmarish ideas into practice.

Following hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005, white supremacist militias took advantage of the disaster to murder random Black people they found trying to survive the floods. More recently, in 2019 in both Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas, neo-nazi gunmen committed massacres, killing dozens of people of color, in attacks which they explicitly framed as being to “save the environment.” All over the world, many people in the rich nations which are creating the most ecological damage are demanding tighter border controls and restrictions on immigration, often citing the need to protect natural resources. At the same time, some racists suggest that there are too many people in the world and target racialized people and people in the Global South with coercive “population control” measures. Here in Quebec, members of far right anti-immigrant groups have sometimes found themselves welcomed in environmentalist spaces and mobilizations, while the concerns of people of color and anti-racists have been simply brushed aside.

This legacy of eco-fascism must be confronted, otherwise the movement to save the planet could very easily find itself manipulated and turned into an instrument to oppress and do violence to those already most directly harmed by the catastrophes capitalism has unleashed.

 

5. WHAT WE CAN DO!

  • Reject legality, especially when laws are made by colonial states (e.g. Canada, Quebec) unrecognized by the first inhabitants of the land.
  • Listen to and make space for Indigenous voices in the struggle against the colonial and capitalist destruction of ecosystems.
  • Recognize when our struggles are being co-opted by political parties or companies to amass sympathy and capital.
  • Avoid political parties, non-profits, or anyone pretending to fight domination while reproducing power hierarchies.
  • Learn about alternative (anarchist, communist, feminist, anticolonial) ways of organizing social life.
  • Attack the symbols of capitalist power: banks, mining companies and multinational corporations.
  • Make the fight against all forms of oppression an active part of your militancy and do your part to ensure the burden of dealing with uncomfortable realities linked to climate change don’t fall on the shoulders of those patriarchy deems responsible for the role of care.
  • Practice consensual decision-making and cultivate consensual relationships.
  • Get informed, end isolation by finding accomplices within your communities, and build networks of resistance with others who are willing to stand up to power.
  • Only take calculated risks and practice security culture.
  • Oh and obviously if we’re going to get arrested, let’s make it worth it.

This flyer was written and is distributed on unceded Indigenous land and a gathering place known to he Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Nation as Tiohtiá:ke (Montreal).

 

OTHER GROUPS AND RESOURCES OF INTEREST

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Comments

Lots of links to maoists and leftists and marxists but no anarchists?

i guess you're not familiar with the long sad unintentionally ironic story that is CLAC, which used to be NEFAC. still neo-Platformists, which means sub-Leninists, which is why they find it (too?) easy to ally themselves and collaborate with all sorts of authoritarian creeps, and why no other anarchist outfit worthy of the label will have anything to do with them. it's been that way for as long as the neo-Platformists have been around making noise.

Montreal's undying big tent. Or undead... depends on the perspective. Just when you thought they were just dead for good.

Aw gripes... and all this lack of solidarity to Hong Kong protesters by so-called "anarchists" around here is soooo telling. Chan Yin Lam and Jimmy Sham were not anarchists, right? RIGHT?

"neo-platformist", "subleninist" <--- Do you actually talk this way in real life?

nah, i bet that’s just impromptu insults.

that comment wasn’t made be me, btw, but if i ever want chat to you, should i emulate it?

is insulting reds senileoldtroll’s bat signal? ; )

I'm just as amused by the American context where the "red menace" seems like a legitimate concern instead of the paper thin, cheap scam that only older folks are still gobbling up and handwringing about

yeah, some people drag in some funny habits when they come from the right to anarchy, instead of from the left.
makes for nice variety. also people develop personal gripes from beefs in cliques then project and...

i have nothing to add just chatting with you!!

Well to answer your question, it's any sort of manic projecting of the dreaded, evil OTHER on to what is obviously just petty bullshit.

That's one of my "bat signals", I guess lol

I find it morbidly fascinating because of the functional purpose of dehumanization categories. At best, they get used to lazily paint over complexity and at worst, to justify the usually unjustifiable.

So whether it's facebook leftists being awful to somebody who just lacks social skills and jargon, or the far right trying to make the margins in to The Enemy, it's all the same danse macabre to me.

wow!

well said

dats y ur bae <3

Oh stawp! ;)

"Do you actually talk this way in real life?"

sure do. why is that a question you feel needs answering? does a sparse or extensive vocabulary determine the relative import of what's being discussed?

Did you not read the rest of the discussion or do you need me to reframe the topic in red scare rhetoric so you feel safe?

Lol. Why take on the role of apologist for Single Party police states? Or perhaps a left unity naïf? Or Che fan? If “red” means communist, then Bolshevism isn’t and was never red, it was always just Machiavellianism, elites, secret and not so secret police, betrayal of experimentation and the collective imagination, centralized planning and power, a marriage of state and capital, etc. Dupes of Bolshevism/ the KGB are no more intelligent or aware than dupes of Democracy/ the CIA.

Trolling or belligerently opposed to reading my other posts? Seems it must be one of the two...

my irritation at neo-Platformist sub-Leninist bullshit does not come from a "red menace" perspective. on a practical level i am convinced that Leninism is a spent historical force, but that doesn't mean its influence isn't still pernicious. anarchists have had plenty of reasons for opposing Leninism that have, let's see... 0% in common with bourgeois paranoia. principled anarchist rejection of and opposition to Leninism (and various other forms of Marxism) derives from both theoretical and practical experience. you know, that goofy thing called history. strategically, Leninism, as a form of social democracy, is based on the takeover of the state apparatus. that means that their organizational form, even prior to that takeover, was centralizing and hierarchical. that meant they were now the new police force. naturally enough they soon came into conflict with anarchists and other non-aligned revolutionaries, and their reaction was violent subjugation -- just like all cops. they were able to defeat all internal opposition to their consolidation of state power, which culminated in the dissolution of the Makhnovshchina and the bloody repression of the Kronstadt Commune. the lesson that Makhno and Arshinov took away from their defeat was to out-bolshevize the Bolsheviks, by creating an explicitly militarized organization with a centralized command hierarchy. when NEFAC started, they latched onto the ridiculous idea of Theoretical and Tactical Unity (tm), which had been condemned by most anarchists in 1926 when Makhno et al published their call for a (thankfully failed) General Union of Anarchists, and which remains an absurd, oxymoronic, and self-defeating organizational strategy for anti-authoritarians. again, this condemnation of neo-Platformists has nothing to do with bourgeois objections to any and all manifestations of "communism."
of course anarchists of whatever stripe are free to organize or collaborate with anyone they prefer. but if their preference is to form alliances with Leninists, nationalists, or other authoritarian types -- all of whom, throughout history, have been happy enough to use anarchist energy to further their own idiotic agendas and who then easily enough dispense with troublesome freethinkers and lawbreakers (often homicidally) once they've served their purpose -- then it's natural that other anarchists would call them on it.

Sure ok but wtf did you project all of that on to me? You clearly just fling this shit at anyone who twitches the wrong way. Hardwired your brain to cut/and/paste stupid accusations of "apologism" on to everything that moves. Put your gun away "comrade" and I'll stop returning fire ;)

i didn't project anything onto you. you reacted to my calling neo-Platformists sub-Leninist with your allegation of using a "red menace" argument. i proved your allegation to be 100% false, and now you whine that i started the argument that you can't possibly win. i have not accused you of being an apologist. perhaps you're flinging your own shit at any and all who dare to contradict you? i guess you really are senile. in any case, i'll keep firing as long as it amuses me.

The exact words were "why take on the role of apologist[...]?" And that's definitely not what's happening.

Are you not the same anon? If not, my mistake but the posting style is very similar..?

In any case, I think you need to read more carefully and assume fewer things.

Instead, just stop taking the Viagrismo dude!

different anon, clearly and obviously; our respective styles are actually quite different. your mistakes throughout. i think you need to read more carefully and assume fewer things.

"Attack the symbols of capitalist power: banks, mining companies and multinational corporations."

...but let your local hipster barber shops, bar & grills, taco shops, etc have it their way. Trendy terraces in the streets, in everyone's way including even pedestrians, aren't symbols of capitalist power, they're FULL communist expression of proletarian power, da-uh!

150 years old anti-cap analysis applied to 2019, bravo.

lol, you dumb troll, what do you have against haircuts lol

are you literally unironically for "destroy the passerby"

what an insufferable fool

seriously, small businesses are not by default benign, and symbolic places are sometimes unimportant operationally, but there certainly is a hierarchy in the importance and criticality of certain targets, it's not all the same

Overexternalization allows you and your buddies to be nice liberal caps and feel good at it; while the bad caps, i.e the "fat cats", "dem billionaire robber barons", collect all the hate coins for themselves (but they're not, since you never stick it up to them anyways and rather prefer taking down those not part of your gang... hey, coz it's easy!). Win-win situation I guess.

What's wrong with haircuts? Let's see...

- Civilization?
- Culture?
- Commodification of the reified self?
- Conformity?
- Being a bunch of consumer robots?
- All of the above?

But of course that's all fine in my book if you go up against the extractive industry, yet, yet, yet they'll find other ways to get what they want so you can get your new Apple product for your "art project".

In a nutshell, you are blind.

Yeah I know... No one likely has ever told you that. Or you just don't recall.

So here your mind opens to a whole new universe, leftist!

You fucking nitwit dumb fuck...
I wrote the fucking book on anti-civ...with my finger on the sand...did you thik I used paper? You moron.
I've abolished 3 languages and exploded 21 carbon mines and 74 small businesses.

You couldn't even manage to stop civ from emerging in any of the greater primates that are currently entering the "stone age" by independently discovering, learning and sharing the use of tools like spears and rock hammers and even learning to use and control fire. You can't even recognize the patriarchy and oppressive social structures present in many multicellular lifeforms, mammals and insects alike.

Don't fucking come at me saying that I don't get shit just because I don't windmill arms into the the lampposts or the stop signs because they are civ. Do you tear your nails and leave your finger bones exposed from digging at the asphalt with your bare hands?

You fuck, I've never had a haircut in my life, but I don't go around public transport knocking everyone's phones from their hands and hurling shit at them. You misrepresent a position that has valid critiques and has contributed with important knowledge and you just devalue it with your moronic portrayals of trolls that derail and encumber meaningful conversation.

I fought a stop sign one time! … As you may have guessed, I'd been drinking ...

haha, you're excused, just don't do it again, don't get hurt lol

"Don't get hurt fighting civilization" they said ...

pssshhhhhhhyeah, i want you around...

It's actually a good topic, compared to these grandiose calls for some (improved) revolution.

(in reference to the commenter who once fought a stop sign. It's a rich subject that almost deserves a TOTW!).

If only you frame it in a short paragraph with not spelling errors and then send it to thecollective in an email, your dreams would become reality

Gunna pots tath l8ters!

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