A speech by Laurence H. Shoup undefined

(a member of the Green Party and System Change Not Climate Change)

April 6, 2019


Dueling Value Systems and Our Current Situation

1. Life is Interdependent: An Ecosocialist Value System

— believes that nature and human life is interdependent, that life depends upon connections and relationships.

–stresses that everything is connected, humans are part of nature and relationships of cooperation, empathy, equality, democracy, solidarity, social justice and love are central to life.

–strives to create a unifying movement to protect and enhance life.

2. Separation and Supremacy: A Capitalist-Fascist Value System

–believes that nature and humanity are separate, and that nature exists for humans to exploit      via capitalist ecocide especially.

–believes humans are divided into races that have nothing in common.

–stresses that European-American males are superior and should rule via white male supremacy.

–aims to continue the divide and conquer strategy used by wealthy ruling classes for centuries with competition as a central feature.

Believers in this second value perspective, led by capitalist corporations, their politicians, especially the oil and gas giants and allied banks, are knowingly and criminally destroying the livability of our planet, thereby putting billions of human and other kinds of lives in jeopardy. This is both the most significant event and greatest crime in world history. The mainstream media and mainstream politicians from both major parties are especially complicit in this crime because, with few exceptions, they have failed to use their power to inform the people about the existential threat of ecosystem destruction and resulting climate chaos. A revolutionary change is now needed within a short time to save humanity and other species from extinction or near extinction. Tinkering at the edges of the problem will not succeed.

The Ecosocialist Green New Deal: Building Mass Consciousness Around the Plan We Need

During the past almost 30 years there have been numerous climate summits and U.N. reports that have had almost no effect, an abject failure by the established powers worldwide. Meanwhile, the very small and almost powerless Green Party has developed a Green New Deal (GND) plan. The initial proposals came from European Greens in 2008. In 2010 several U.S. Greens, including Howie Hawkins for Governor of New York, ran on a Green New Deal platform. In 2012 and 2016 Jill Stein ran for president on the Green Party ticket using the GND as a key part of her platform. The central conception behind the GND is to create bottom-up prosperity for working class and oppressed people through government guaranteed-work at living wages and benefits. The work would be focused on ecological restoration and other projects that would promote healing our planet, thereby limiting climate chaos.

The media and political powers that be refused to take Green Party candidates and proposals seriously, and no mass constituency has so far developed. Then the Democratic Party began to adopt a version of the GND after the 2018 election, fully a decade after the GND was first proposed. The arrival of the Democratic Party has been contradictory, both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it is a conversation starter, the media and pundits at least began to treat the proposal seriously, if critically. The Alexandria Cortez-Ed Markley GND proposal of February, 2019 recognizes four of the five key sectors of the economy driving the climate chaos problem and offers at least preliminary ideas about what should be done in each case. These four areas are electric power generation, transportation, manufacturing and agriculture. Their plan is nevertheless seriously deficient in several ways. First and most important, militarism and imperialism is left out. This is one of the key drivers of climate chaos and has been at least since World War II. Second, the section on agriculture fails to even mention agro-ecological farming and forest management, areas of economic life where solutions exist, as this type of agriculture can pull carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester the carbon in plants, trees and soil. Third, the section on transportation fails to stress the need for a massive increase in adequate, efficient and inexpensive public transportation, to get people out of their cars. Finally, the funding mechanism is inadequate. Large-scale funding is needed to implement a serious and effective GND.

A virtue of the Green Party’s GND plan was to cut military spending by 50% and close all foreign bases. This alone would free up something like $400 billion a year and the super wealthy could be seriously taxed to generate billions more. The serious shortcomings in the Cortez-Markley proposal raises the question: is this merely an election ploy on the part of the Democratic Party, to generate youth excitement especially for the 2020 Democratic Party campaign.

The Fight for Our Lives: Direct Action and the GND

In my opinion, for a meaningful GND to be successful, large numbers of working class and professional class people from many walks of life need to be convinced that their lives and the lives of their loved ones are on the line and that a vast direct action people’s movement struggle for an ecosocialist GND and an ecosocialist society is needed. This comprehensive mass movement must bring together all who share our values into a kind of a united front to confront capitalist ecocide and the imperialist system. Our ecosocialist GND needs to be shaped so that all oppressed groups and all who believe in the unity and interdependence of life feel that their needs and perspectives are being addressed. This movement must include youth and children in central roles, as they have most of their lives and futures to lose if things do not change radically. A 16 year-old Swedish youth – Greta Thunberg – is one example.

She has been on a school strike for the past six months. She points out: “Why should I be studying for a future that will soon be no more…we must change everything about our current societies…the people in power must do this now…it cannot wait for us young people to grow up, by then it will be too late.” She is right, the crisis is now and direct action – strikes and civil disobedience delivers the goods. Direct action by the group Extinction Rebellion is another example of the way forward, a leap into organized confrontation with the powers that be. We demand that a revolutionary ecosocialist GND be implemented as soon as possible.

To sum-up the key points of an ecosocialist GND:

  1. Government-sponsored full employment programs for all at living wages and full benefits in jobs that heal our planet. This would cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year for at least ten years and be funded by taxes on the super-rich and at least a 50% cut in military spending including closing all foreign military bases.
  2. Massive investment in wind and solar electric power, mass transit infrastructure, agro-ecological farming and forest management would be the priorities. Such a program would empower our working and professional classes while seriously undercutting corporate power, the Military-Industrial Complex, and curtailing U.S. imperialism. Such a program would also be popular.

Organizing Proposal

My proposal for organizing the movement we need is to build grass roots ecosocialist Transition Councils as hubs of education, participation, planning, direct action and democratic decision-making. These Transition Councils can be based in neighborhoods, work places, unions and other organizations. Such Transition Councils can identify appropriate locations and activities to regenerate the natural and social worlds through GND programs and take direct action as necessary. Organizing Transition Councils should be prioritized in working class, racially oppressed and Indigenous communities that are often on the front lines of both the ecological crisis and collective struggles for class, racial and environmental justice. Organizing and building ecosocialist Transition Councils is a means to save ourselves by preserving a livable planet Earth. ffffffffffff