Carry Forward on Your Convictions!

We Must Stop Climate Change

September 29, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


People's climate march sept 21 2014 - Banner reads CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS US MOST

The march was led by young people representing indigenous peoples and people from the Global South—those who have done the least to cause climate change, but those suffering the most. Photo: AP

On September 21, 300,000 to 400,000 people took part in the People's Climate March in New York City. This was the largest demonstration ever about climate change and the threat it poses to life and to the ecosystems of the planet. And this demonstration could be a real turning point in the fight to save the planet.

Participation in the march was broad. An estimated 50,000 students from hundreds of colleges marched. There were science, labor, and religious contingents. Middle class and ordinary people turned out. At the head of the march were indigenous peoples and contingents from the poor nations of the Global South, where global warming is causing rising sea levels, more severe weather, and the ruin of agriculture that may endanger the lives of many millions of people.

A Broad Movement, Contending Lines and Programs

The march tapped into a deep wellspring of concern among millions of people about the fate of the planet. In all kinds of creative ways—signs, chants, banners, floats, marching bands, art, and T-shirts—this sense of growing peril was expressed. People were marching for the future of humanity and the fragile ecosystems of the Earth. People were not only motivated by a sense of impending catastrophe if the course of things is not changed dramatically and drastically. They were also marching in such large numbers out of dissatisfaction with the actions and programs of the governments, countries, and those sitting in the world's seats of power.

The environmental movement has many different social forces within it. Different trends and outlooks are interacting and contending over how to understand the cause of the climate crisis and what needs to be done. All this was in play in the buildup for the march and at the march.

Some forces advocate legislative strategies to halt fracking, an environmentally destructive means of extracting natural gas. Others call for local, grassroots measures to limit carbon emissions. Anarchist philosophies and programs put the emphasis on building resistance toward a goal of decentralizing society and living in small, self-governing units. There are those arguing that people need to give Obama one more chance to act on climate change—and that the demonstration could pressure him into "doing the right thing." Revolutionary communists were also involved, arguing that protecting planetary ecosystems requires revolution.

This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:

  • the dimensions of the emergency...
  • the source of its causes in the capitalist system, and the impossibility of that system solving this crisis...
  • a way out and way forward for humanity—a revolutionary society in which we could actually live as custodians of nature, rather than as its plunderers.

Read online....

Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)

There is a growing groundswell of struggle. Many students, outraged by the fact that their universities have investments in oil companies, have launched protests demanding that their schools get rid of these holdings.

Maneuvering by Ruling Class Forces

Sections of the U.S. ruling class have been working to bring their influence to bear. They are trying to keep this growing movement within dead-end channels that do not threaten the status quo. They also want to "put an arm around it" to help sanitize and even give backing to the image of U.S. imperialism in the world: "Hey, we're all trying to work on climate change, and the U.S. can and must lead."

The march took place a day before a major United Nations global summit on climate change. The U.S. imperialists have no interest in reversing the trajectory of profit-driven growth that has led to this dire climate emergency. But they are quite intent on using these talks to pursue their great-power interests—in particular, to conduct rivalry with other major capitalist powers, especially China, and to make sure that any measures taken to aid the poor countries of the Global South to cope with the climate crisis fit the needs of maintaining U.S. global dominance.

A Dynamic Situation, Planting the Pole of Revolution

People's thinking about the causes and solutions to the climate crisis is very dynamic and back and forth. This is a moment of tremendous grappling for answers and big potential for radical shifts. In this situation, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA brought a revolutionary understanding of what is driving this crisis and what it is going to take to truly confront and act on it—in all its enormity.

Revcom Banner at the Climate March: 9/21/14 reads Capitalism is destroys the planet We need Revolution Nothing Less

The RCP organized a contingent for the march: the "Capitalism Is Destroying the Planet, We Need Revolution, Nothing Less Contingent." The contingent had a real impact with its big banner and striking chants. It spoke on a loud sound system to thousands of people in and alongside the march about the source of and revolutionary solution to the emergency, and linked the battle to save the planet with other key fronts of the ensemble of the movement for revolution.

Only the overthrow of capitalism, and then the most radical and thoroughgoing socialist transformation of the economic and social system and its values, can enable humanity to act on the climate crisis. What that would look like, and how a new and radically different state power would function, is spelled out in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) from the RCP, USA. A socialist economy and society would be organized around meeting social needs, spreading world revolution to emancipate humanity, and protecting the environment. Only a sustainable socialist economy and liberatory society would make it possible to mobilize the knowledge and creative potential of people and to devote the necessary resources to truly confront and tackle this climate crisis—on the scale and with the urgency required.

Thousands of people put on bright green stickers distributed by the revolutionaries with the contingent's slogan. There were conflicting views among people taking the sticker on what capitalism really is and what kind of revolution is needed: Is it a big upheaval, a huge mass movement to transition away from the system, a change in consciousness, or what it is in fact: an actual revolution to seize state power? These questions are very important to continue to go to work on, as we join with people further in fighting to save the environment.

The revolutionaries also reached out very broadly on the campuses, and to many of the other programs, films, protests, and major dialogues taking place in New York City, reaching many thousands. In the buildup to the march and at the mobilization, thousands of palm cards for the November 15 dialogue between BA and Cornel West went out.

The day after the main march, 1500 people participated in an important action to "Flood Wall Street," shutting down lower Broadway in the heart of the financial district for eight hours. By the end of the day, 102 people were arrested as they sat in the streets and refused police orders to disperse.

In the wake of the People's Climate March, there is much debate in the environmental movement over its significance and where things need to go now. This is a moment to seize, posing a challenge to the revolutionaries. It's of great importance that the movement go forward from here, with people following through on their convictions and principles to do whatever is required to save the planet. The situation is urgent, critical. As we join with others and encourage them to follow through, it's crucial to work consistently with people to raise their sights to revolution, connecting the fight to stand up for the planet with building a movement for revolution, and building up the forces for revolution.

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