Monday, April 22, 2019

General Strike for the Planet

Around a hundred Extinction Rebellion activists staged a lie-down in Natural History Museum as protests entered its second week. Extinction Rebellion said it hoped the protest at the museum, which it called a "die-in", would raise awareness of what they call the "sixth mass extinction".

Greta Thunberg has given her support for a general strike for the climate, saying the school student movement she inspired needs more support from older generations to ensure politicians keep their promises under the Paris agreement.

People are slowly becoming more aware, but emissions continue to rise. We can’t focus on small things. Basically, nothing has changed,” she said. Greta stressed the need for the protests to spread. “This is not just young people being sick of politicians. It’s an existential crisis,” Thunberg said. “It is something that will affect the future of our civilisation. It’s not just a movement. It’s a crisis and we must take action accordingly.”

The unions have so far been wary of joining the strikes. Although workers’ federations in Italy made Thunberg an honorary member, most others have given either tepid support or none due to concerns about the possible impact on jobs. But there is growing support in the UK, the US and other countries for a Green New Deal that would increase spending on renewable energy.

I support Extinction Rebellion. What they are doing is good. Civil disobedience is important to show this is an emergency. We need to do everything we can to put pressure on the people in power,” she told the audience on Monday, prompting cheers and applause. “Why study for a future that is being taken from us? Why study for facts when facts don’t matter in this society? It’s empowering to know I am doing something, I am taking a stand, I am disrupting.”

Anna Taylor from the UK Student Climate Network explained, “We are not going to be satisfied by politicians saying ‘we support you’ and then walking away,” she said. “We won’t be satisfied until they meet our demands and act. That’s why simply taking a selfie or posting support on Twitter isn’t enough. That’s why we have to keep striking.”

During the Q and A, one youngster wanted to know: “Can we achieve our goal in the time we have?”

Greta, in response, was reassuring but measured: “Of course we can, it’s physically possible, the scientists say. It’s up to us. If we do this now then of course we will. But if we don’t, we might not do it. But yes, definitely we can.”

The Socialist Party response is that once the Earth’s natural and industrial resources have been wrested from the master class and become the common heritage of all humanity, then production can be geared to meeting needs in an ecologically acceptable way, instead of making profits without consideration for the environment. This the only basis on which we can meet our needs whilst respecting the laws of nature and to at last begin to reverse the degradation of the environment caused by the profit system.

The only effective strategy for achieving a free and democratic society and, moreover, one that is in harmony with nature, is to build up a movement which has the achievement of such a society as its goal. In socialism there won’t be any profit-seeking capitalist enterprises to regulate; just democratically-run productive units producing, in an ecologically and socially acceptable way, what people need.

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