Report-Back on “Eco-Socialism or Extinction: Can We Overcome the Existential Threat of Capitalism?”

On Sunday, January 6th, 2019, around 80 people gathered at the Westside Peace Center to attend a panel discussion entitled “Eco-Socialism or Extinction: Can We Overcome the Existential Threat of Capitalism?” Organized by the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ), co-sponsored by Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles and Sunrise Movement Los Angeles, and endorsed by System Change Not Climate Change-Los Angeles (SCNCC-LA), the event brought together a panel comprised of eco-socialists and climate-justice organizers, followed by a lively group discussion with participants.

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First, moderator Javier Sethness, Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation (personal capacity), introduced the panel and its speakers. Reviewing recent “climate alarms” and the August 2018 “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” paper, which describes the risks the “Earth system” faces due to biosphere degradation and the violation of environmental boundaries, beyond which feedback loops would render global warming a self-perpetuating phenomenon, resulting in the grim reality of “Hothouse Earth.” Identifying the primary obstacle to the realization of a global eco-socialist transition away from the path of climate breakdown as being capitalist hegemony and concentrated State power, whether in the hands of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Mohammed bin Salman, or Jair Bolsonaro, he recommended a radical strategy characterized by managed decline, ecological restoration, “natural” geo-engineering, and green syndicalism.

Next, Mariah Brennan Clegg, from the Bonfire Anarchist Collective and UC Santa Barbara Campus Marxist-Humanists, spoke in favor of eco-decentralization, following from their analysis that ecological devastation results from hierarchy, and that participatory solutions can help build popular community resilience. Clegg emphasized the dysfunctionality of centralized economic systems, resulting in the dyads of ‘sacrifice zones’ (such as the “cancer villages” of Louisiana or China) and ‘sanctuary zones’ (Beverly Hills, malls, gated communities). Instead, they argued in favor of the unification of bio-regions (or biological regions) with “techno-regions,” by which they mean spaces in which the trans-human dimension is integrated into production and social institutions designed for use-value in place of profit and self-management in place of domination.

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Sydney Ghazarian, from the Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles Climate Justice Committee and DSA Ecosocialist Working Group, dedicated her comments to thinking through many of the implications of the October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report for leftist organizing: that is, given that it warns us clearly that mass-extinction is a very real near-term possibility, due to the hegemony of capitalism. She emphasized firstly that the findings of this report must inspire a strong sense of urgency on the part of the radical left, considering that we have at most 11 years to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown. Ghazarian added that the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) estimates that, 1-2 years before the deadline for the Aichi Targets on biodiversity (2010), “average wildlife population sizes could decline by two-thirds from their 1970 levels.” Secondly, that left organizing strategy under these conditions should take advantage of the multiple emerging crises to bring about a wide-ranging eco-socialist regeneration of society. Ghazarian calls this the “people’s shock doctrine,” and it echoes Andreas Malm’s recommendations on eco-socialist strategy, based on an observation and analysis of the Russian and Syrian Revolutions. Rooted in a vision of an interconnected, multi-level plan to project people power against hegemonic capitalist power, Ghazarian’s proposal would unite the climate movement and the left to transform the economic and political spheres into a zero-emissions society that would restore devastated ecosystems and human communities. Citing a letter published in Nature in 2017 which concludes that we have approximately a 5% chance that global warming will be limited to 2°C, she underscored that ecological revolution might be humanity’s last chance.

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Burn the Plantations: The 2018 National Prison Strike

by Zachary Medeiros, Socialist Party Los Angeles

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The plantations are stirring again. From August 21, the 47th anniversary of revolutionary George Jackson’s murder at the hands of prison guards, to September 9, the 47th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, incarcerated people across the United States have joined a nationwide prison revolt. As I write this, there are reports of work stoppages, hunger strikes, and other actions coming out of Washington, Florida, Georgia, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Nova Scotia. Given the immense level of repression organizers and all other uncooperative prisoners and detainees face, these reports probably represent only a fraction of the resistance.

The strikers are answering a call put out in April by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak and other prisoner’s groups, which was sparked by the deadly riot at South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Institution. The strike demands, which cover a wide range of human rights issues, are worth reproducing here in full:

Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.

An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.

The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.

An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.

An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.

No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.

State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.

Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.

The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

Continue reading “Burn the Plantations: The 2018 National Prison Strike”

War, Imperialism, and Class Polarization on a Global Scale: From East Asia to the Middle East and from South Africa to Europe

by Kevin B. Anderson, International Marxist-Humanist Organization

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Adapted from a presentation to the Chicago Convention of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization, July 13, 2018.

Today’s Nuclear World, Capital, and the State

In January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved their famous “Doomsday Clock” on the danger of nuclear holocaust to “two minutes to midnight–the closest the Clock has ever been to Doomsday, and as close as it was in 1953, at the height of the Cold War.”  This resulted, they wrote, primarily from Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” against North Korea and his vow to upend the Iran nuclear pact, and also from North Korea’s continuing weapons tests and “Russia’s deployment of a new ground-launched cruise missile” (“It is 2 minutes to midnight: 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement,” Jan. 25, 2018). Even after tensions eased with North Korea, the administration continued plans for an estimated $2 trillion buildup of US nuclear weapons. While some of this began under Obama, according to arms control expert Lawrence Wittner, Trump’s escalation includes plans for “low-yield” nukes that the military could use under a new “nuclear posture” that “lowers the official threshold for use of U.S. nuclear weapons,” allowing the military to “employ them in response to non-nuclear attacks upon civilians and infrastructure, including cyberattacks” (“Trump’s Getting Us Ready to Fight a Nuclear War,” History News Network 6/18/18). Related to this is a massive buildup of US naval forces in what the Pentagon is suddenly calling the “Indo-Pacific,” and which is clearly aimed China as a rising power (see “Tomgram: Michael Klare, Is a War with China on the Horizon? TomDispatch 6/19/18)

This brought to mind the sixtieth anniversary of Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom, first published in 1958 during the most fraught days of the Cold War, when threats of nuclear annihilation filled the discourse and Marxism had to be reconceptualized for our time as Marxist-Humanism. One of the book’s greatest achievements was its development of the theory of totalitarian state-capitalism for the nuclear age, in terms of the Hegelian absolute, of life “in an age of absolutes, on the threshold of absolute freedom out of the struggle against absolute tyranny” (p. 24).  Nothing signified the absolute development of the contradictions of capitalism more than nuclear weapons, which threatened, then as now, to wipe humanity off the face of the earth at the same time that new, humanist liberation movements were developing everywhere, from civil rights, to African liberation, to the peace movement itself.

Just as the Great Recession a decade ago bared the danger of outright systemic collapse after decades of complacency about the underlying stability of the capitalist system, Trump’s wild nuclear threats last fall laid bare the fact that we are still in the nuclear age, wherein a single leader can order mass destruction far beyond anything even Hitler carried out.

Since those wild threats of last year, Trump has held his photo op with Kim Jong-un, but who besides his apologists believes that peace is at hand on the Korean peninsula and in the region?  At the same time, the Trump administration continues to move closer toward war with Iran, continues to support Saudi Arabia’s murderous war on Yemen, while accelerating its war at home against immigrants by forcibly separating thousands of children from their parents in a policy reminiscent of slavery or the Nazi concentration camps.

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Invitation: Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice Partnership Meeting

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Wednesday, March 21st, 730pm

Socialist Party LA, 2617 Hauser Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA

The Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice will be hosting a partnership meeting on March 21st in the hopes of inviting others to joining the coalition as members. We will be prepared to answer any questions you might have.

The Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) aims to resist capitalism, imperialism, and authoritarianism in the Trump era. We are helping to develop a thoughtful, multidimensional, and proactive opposition to the intensifying authoritarianism that has become evident around the globe, as exemplified by Donald Trump in the U.S., Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Xi Jinping in China. We oppose NATO and U.S. imperialism because they underpin capitalist-militarist hegemony around the globe. In general, we target rampant class oppression, imperialism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, nativism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, and environmental destruction.

Since its founding in May 2017, the CPRSJ has held three public forums, a freeway banner drop, a Black Friday banner drop at the Westfield Mall in Culver City, a protest outside an Army recruitment center, and a rally at the Los Angeles Federal Building. While much has been accomplished in a short period of time, we feel we are just scratching the surface and are looking to grow with additional partners.

The CPRSJ currently includes the Socialist Party USA, the International Marxist Humanist Organization, Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation, and members of Solidarity. See our Principles of Unity here.

For any questions, please write cprsj@protonmail.com

New Uprisings in Iran: A Preliminary Analysis — by Ali Kiani

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Courtesy AFP/Getty Images

Presented in Los Angeles at a January 14, 2018 public forum sponsored by the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice

It is four weeks after the protest began against the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mashhad, one of the most religious cities of the northern province of Khorasan. This protest is different from Iranian struggles for freedom and democracy over the last decade, including the Green Movement of 2009-10 that started in the capital city of Tehran. The start of this latest movement is more like the Arab Spring of Egypt and Tunisia which erupted into an unexpected uprising of poor and working-class people demanding democracy, social justice and economic equality within a matter of weeks in early 2011. The epicenters of the protests were in regions badly hit by the economic crisis like Mashhad, which was stronghold of religious fundamentalists and the home of two of President Hassan Rouhani’s main rivals in the 2017 presidential elections. On December 28, when thousands of citizens came together in Mashhad to protest against higher prices and economic hardship, some “reformers” accused religious principalist fanatics under Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, a representative of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, of having the intention of covertly organizing the demonstration for a few days to weaken the “moderate” president, Rouhani, and his administration. Despite the hardliners’ intentions, once people went into the streets, protests quickly followed in dozens of other small to mid-sized towns that suffered from high rates of unemployment. They chanted slogans against the supreme leader and the regime as a whole, which shows that even if the uprising was started by a conspiracy on the part of one faction in the regime, it was not under its thumb.

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“Trump’s War Threats and a World in Crisis” by Kevin B. Anderson

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Presented in Los Angeles at a January 14, 2018 public forum sponsored by the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice

The missile alert scare in Hawaii this morning has far larger significance than its immediate cause, a glitch in the warning system plus the absence of a quick way of correcting and reversing the alert. For at no time since the Cold War have U.S. citizens felt so vulnerable to nuclear attack. This is not only because, as we are told daily, North Korea may already have nuclear tipped missiles within range of the Hawaii (and soon the US mainland) and because its leader, Kim Jong-Un, is volatile and aggressive. Also, and more importantly, mass panic broke out today because the possibility of nuclear war from the US side seems more real than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

In fact, the US has for the first time in its history a president, Donald Trump, who gives every impression of itching to start a nuclear war, who openly states that he may destroy an entire country of 25 million. Therefore, the biggest danger today was that Trump might also have been fooled by the Hawaii alert and launched the kind of “fire and fury” on North Korea he has been threatening for months, and which as president he has the power to do, on a moment’s notice. That is the hair-trigger world in which the so-called civilized United States finds itself, especially the White House. Let us not hesitate to call that place under Trump what it is, a shithole reeking of militarism, sexism, racism, and nativism.

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Health Care for All-Los Angeles by Maureen Cruise

Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice presentation on “Responding to Capitalism’s Wars at Home and Abroad,” Los Angeles, 1/14/18

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote thatCapitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system. “

Nowhere is this more evident than in our dysfunctional for profit Health Care system. And we are going to change this system.

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