- For a globally informed action program. While an action program for any specific country must primarily deal with the particular characteristics of its economy and society it must have a global dimension. Eventually, the entire global industrial capitalist economy must be transformed into an economy that would support harmony among peoples of the world and with the rest of nature. However, it is also true that a relatively handful countries and regions of the world economy are responsible for the lion share of the planetary crisis historically and today. These are mostly located in the Global North. To tackle the climate crisis, for example, effective policies must be adopted by at least the top ten polluters that are responsible for more than 70% of the world greenhouse emissions: China, U.S., E.U., India, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Brazil, Japan, Canada, and Mexico. This requires the international collaboration of national climate justice movements. To overcome the planetary crisis, we must coordinate efforts not only between national ecological movements but also with social justice movements within and between countries.
- For a mass movement strategy and participatory democracy. The climate justice movement can only succeed if it adopts a mass movement strategy that embraces participatory democracy because even transitioning to a post-carbon economy will require massive transformations in the present-day industrial capitalist economy as TCM action program shows. But such massive transformation can happen if the bulk of the working people who would be its prime movers are educated, organized and mobilized as the social agency for the transition to an economy and society that is in harmony with itself and with the rest of nature. Clearly, such a mass movement will include participants from across the political and ideological spectrum. The key to unity and progress is to place the stated aims of the movement as codified in its action program above the sectional interests of all participating groups and individuals and independent of the capitalist system and its parties and politicians.
- For a just economy and society. For the transition to a post-carbon economy and society, the entire fossil fuel industry must be replaced with a clean renewable energy industry. But the fossil fuel industry is at the core of the present-day industrial capitalist economy. Petroleum, for example, is used in electricity generation, gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil, making of plastics, toys, computers, houses, cars and clothing, asphalt, rubber, wax, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, detergents, records, film, furniture, packaging, paints, fibers, upholstery and carpet foundations, among other things. Thus, we must also transform other industries such as transportation as well as agriculture. But who will decide how this transformation occurs and that it would be just and ecologically sound? Workers in the fossil fuel industry need to transition to good jobs with union rights in new industries that are ecologically sound. Clearly, it must be the workers’ own organizations that lead such transition in collaboration with the mass movement that demands such a transition. History shows that in any such massive socioeconomic transition, working people will organize their dual power structures such as workplace workers councils to control and eventually manage production. A government of working people can then arise based on such popular organizations. To leave the task of transition to the capitalist government, corporate leaders, technocrats, and bureaucrats can only serve to undermine such emancipatory tendencies.
- For a sustainably sized population and a steady-state ecologically-sound economy that serves basic needs. The action programs under discussion not only assume that the U.S. economy will maintain its capitalist character but also its huge size and continued growth. The same is true for the world economy. But to have an ecologically sustainable economy and society the size of the world economy and industrial capitalist countries must shrink substantially. Currently, the world economy is appropriating most of the life-sustaining resources of the planet, mostly consumed by the majority of people of the Global North and the capitalist class and upper-middle classes of the Global South. For this purpose, a majority of productive land and fresh water is appropriated to meet the demands of the capitalist world economy. About 80% of the world resources are consumed in the Global North with 20% of the population. Meanwhile, over 2.1 billion people in the Global South lived on less than US $ 3.10 a day in 2012. Thus, we need a transition to significantly smaller economies in the U.S. and the Global North while supporting human development programs in the Global South that should continue to growth until parity is reached between the two. The transition will include de-industrialization (phasing out of industries such as fossil fuels, much of the chemical industry, nuclear and arms industries, advertising, marketing, much of international and long-distance transportation and travel among others as well as re-industrialization programs–finding ecologically friendly technologies for still necessary production sectors such as agroecology, health, education, culture, housing, transport, etc.). The capitalist economies are concentrated driven by the needs of capital accumulation and world finance. The ecologically-sound and just economies of the future will focus on local and regional configurations that meet basic needs. It must be stressed that to consume less in the hyper-consumerist societies of the Global North is not a sacrifice (as TCM tends to say). It is indeed part of the process of human emancipation from a commodity-worship culture which has replaced human natural needs with a capitalistic never ending hunger for having more. In fact, the process of detoxification of consumption actually can be a fun and liberating experience (Alexander, 2014; Trainer, 2015) Clearly, this effort must be led by the working people (workers and family farmers, consumer and cooperative, etc.) and by the ecology movement and consumer councils. Increasingly, production will be carried out by the self-organized and self-active ecologically conscious working people. At the same time, through empowerment of women and mass education volunteer family planning efforts will lead to a shrinking of the world population to reduce the use of life-sustaining resources to allow food, water and ample room for wildlife to reclaim lost territory and to thrive. The right to liberty and pursuit of happiness is not just a human right, it belongs to all species. There must be the systematic withdrawal of humanity from regions already colonized without regard for the rest of life on Earth until an ecological balance is reached.
- For an ecocentric ecological socialist world. The capitalist society we are born into cultivates a culture of egoistic individualism and the insatiable desire for accumulation of possessions. In this we follow the mantra of the capitalist class: ceaseless capital accumulation that finds its reflection in the mass consumer culture. What we produce, how we produce them and how much we produce decide not just who we become and our relations with fellow human beings but also humanity’s relationship with the rest of nature. In a capitalist economy, it is the capitalist class that decides these questions. Working people have to follow the “market signals,” that is, to respond to the collective decisions of the capitalist class, in order to live. We spend the best years of our lives and increasingly the major part of it to become or remain employable because not only we need to work in order to live but also we find our worth in how employable we are. This is one reason working people crushed under the capitalist machine tend to lose their sense of self-worth. The self-employed are also at the mercy of the market as are the most powerful governments in the world (hence the endless debate about how to respond to “the market”). Yet it is self-evident that the capitalist class’ primarily concern with their profitability and accumulation of capital gives the back seat to the health of the people or the planet (Although defenders of capitalism have argued that capitalist greed is good for common good the same economic profession admits to the problem of externalities such as pollution). Social reformers have tried for as long as capitalism has existed to make it compatible with human needs and to a much lesser extent and more recently the ecological health of the planet. It is self-evident that they have failed. Despite some helpful reforms (patchwork really) are we not facing the Anthropocene and its planetary crisis that can spell the end of the world as we know it? The key problem has been the ideological hegemony of the capitalist class not only among the broad sections of the working people worldwide but also among those who have joined the resistance to the manifestation of the crisis. Many currents in the ecological movements are still hoping for Green Capitalism and in the movement of the working people and the oppressed still awaits for a “benevolent leader,” a “pro-labor” politician, or a “lesser evil” candidate for office. The just and ecological society we must built can only arise only if the working people in their multitude begin to lose their illusion in the capitalist system and start to self-organize and become self-active to overcome the capitalist power structure through their struggle for social and ecological justice. Our education comes from these struggles as well as what we learn from the collective memory of the humanity. Only by replacing the capitalist egotistical culture of having with an ecologically conscious and socially just culture of being and caring can we overcome the crisis and open the way to unprecedented human development as human labor itself will become an act of cooperation of freely associated ecocentric producers that will be the herald of the ecocentric ecological socialist world.
Foster, John Bellamy. “Forward” to Ian Angus’ Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Fuel Capitasm and the Crisis of the Earth System. 2016.
——————-. “People’s Climate March Was a Huge Success; What to Do Next?“Our Place in the World: A Journal of Ecosocialism. October 1, 2014a.
Steffen, Will. Wendy Broadgate, Lisa Deutch, Owen Gafffney, Cornelia Ludwig. “The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration,” Anthropocene Review, Januaray 16, 2015b.
Trainer, Ted. “The Case for Simplicity ,” Simplicity Institute, 2015.