Endorsement of the National Prison Strike beginning on August 21st, 2018

    The DSA National Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group Steering Committee has heard the call from incarcerated people across the nation, and has voted to endorse the National Prison Strike beginning on August 21st, 2018.

We recognize the inherent inhumanity of putting people in cages, but also emphasize that a world with prisons cannot be compatible with our vision of ecosocialism. We know that in ever-worsening Texas heat, four out of five inmates do not have access to air conditioning. We know that prisons pollute air, contaminate rivers, and perpetuate a vicious cycle of environmental racism and class warfare inflicted on Black, brown, and poor communities across the country. We know, simply, that prisons and policing are the continuation of a racist, genocidal project that dates back to before the founding of the United States, and are incompatible with a social system that treats humans, the planet, and the ecosystems we share with dignity and respect.

We are proud to stand in solidarity with the incarcerated people and organizations that will be participating in this strike, and commit to amplifying their voices. Eugene Debs said, “While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” We must take this message to heart and work to build a world where all are free.

In Solidarity,

The Steering Committee of the DSA Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group

Earth Day Must Be Anti-Capitalism Day- Joint Statement with M4A

 

 

Earth Day Must Be Anti-Capitalism Day

 Originally Posted April 22nd, 2018

Joint Statement of the Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group and the Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All Campaign Committee

To truly affirm a commitment to environmental stewardship this Earth Day, we must oppose the destructive and inhuman practices endemic to capitalist production. Earth Day, in other words, must be celebrated as Anti-Capitalism Day. The U.S. economy’s foundation on profit for the few is a contributor to the lack of access to both quality health care and a healthy environment. We are well past the point where the half-measures and compromises propagated by green-washing capitalists should have any appeal or be viewed as legitimate solutions to multiple, global crises. It is time to reorient the system to address the needs of the planet and of people rather than the pursuit of endless growth and profit. Only a clear-thinking, ecosocialist program anchored in a working-class politics that puts the ruling class on its heels can save us from environmental catastrophe.

 

In the shorter term, the ever more apparent effects of climate change have made life worse for people everywhere, most so among oppressed and marginalized communities. It is low-income Americans who overwhelmingly are found living in proximity to polluting industries, freeways and contaminated rivers; and having access to only contaminated water and toxic air. Urban air pollution has increased the percentage of children with asthma, an increase that has been felt disproportionately by poor people and people of color. Rising and erratic summer temperatures have increased heat-related deaths, especially amongst the elderly. The quest for “energy dominance” through fracking has impacted the health of countless people, many in poor rural areas lacking the capital to stop predatory companies from building fossil fuel infrastructure in their backyards. Purposefully derelict infrastructure and fracking wells contaminate drinking water, dangerous pipelines snake through neighborhoods, and workers are exploited through empty promises, all to feed unending thirst for more oil and gas.

 

Climate justice is health justice. Just as much as climate justice activists put their bodies on the line to blockade pipelines, so too do they recognize the need for a healthcare system that addresses the needs of those sickened by the environmental effects of capitalism. Similarly, just as healthcare activists aim to build a mass movement for single-payer healthcare, they also recognize that health justice is predicated on the habitability of the earth for all, making the defeat of both fossil fuel interests and private insurance barons a shared goal. Our battles are linked because the war is against capitalism, and for a system that prioritizes the health of people and the planet. Both struggles are animated by concerns for universal human rights, and it is no surprise that leaders in the fight for universal healthcare, such as National Nurses United, have made environmental justice central to their political work.

 

In addition to the many international Earth Day demonstrations this week, April 21st and 22nd are the first coordinated National Days of Action for the Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All campaign. Over 35 chapters and organizing committees are going to be running actions in a national display of DSA’s organizing ground game. Our aim is to build a mass movement capable of challenging the corrupt and exploitative private insurance industry. It is this same mass constituency that we need in order to take on the fossil fuel oligarchs and mitigate some of the disastrous effects of climate change.

 

Members of the Democratic Socialists of America are engaged in multiple, intersectional battles to begin the process of transcending our dystopian world, but we are united in the fight against capitalism. We thus celebrate Earth Day today by building a working-class movement ready to take on the capitalists in the private insurance industry and beyond.

Statement on Climate and Capitalism-September 2017

Statement on Recent Climate Events & Capitalism

Originally posted September, 2017

This past month, Houston flooded and the Western United States burned. Earthquakes shook nations while hurricanes ravaged Texas, Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane to form in the Atlantic Basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, swelled amidst four other hurricanes collectively responsible for widespread death, homelessness, and power-outages that will leave Puerto Rico dark for months. Floods in South Asia have killed over 1,300 people and affected over 41 million more. More devastation is predicted to come.

Meanwhile, our political leaders will continue business-as-usual while lamenting the fiscal cost.

Capitalism perpetuates mass violence. Climate change is but one aspect. A system of ceaseless growth, dependent on exploitation, and solely responsive to capital lacks the capacity to register climate refugees, mass starvations, unprecedented extinctions, and the human costs of climate disaster beyond dollars and cents. Capitalism is incapable of valuing people, animals or the planet beyond profitability, and systems of oppression render those hierarchal ‘values’ in terms of race, sexual orientation, gender, species and ability. Moreover, climate violence cannot be disentangled from systemic oppressions intrinsic to our capitalist order; those most vulnerable under capitalism will be the ones who suffer most due to climate change. As the prison-industrial complex continues to brutalize people of color, our economic system will not flinch when they die from heat in their cells. As neoliberalism continues to erode public expenditure for social services and people-centered planning, the disabled and critically ill will continue to be subjected to nightmare scenarios. Women, people of color, the elderly, children and the poor will be disproportionately burdened by climate changes. Capitalism will be solely focused on its own survival.

Climate change has been a slow burn we in the United States are only now beginning to experience as crisis. The perpetual violence of capitalist order has led us to societal and planetary breakdown. The floods and fires are only the beginning of the unpredictable weather extremes to come; precarity, increased militarization and the further dismantling of infrastructure will proliferate desperate conditions.

They will ask us to buy ‘green,’ take shorter showers, to pursue individualistic actions and not politicize climate-related tragedy by responding with collective action.

They will ask us to not politicize tragedy as if we do not live political lives.

However, the decision to ignore climate change is a political one as well; one that upholds a violent and oppressive order that runs counter to the wellbeing of the natural world. It is a decision both neoliberal Democrats and Republicans have made, either through the promotion of insufficient market-based solutions or the perpetuation of climate denial and abolishment of the infrastructure and social services necessary to adapt to the biophysical realities of our rapidly altering climate. By upholding capitalism, our political “leaders” choose violence; they choose to perpetuate conditions under which we are unable to survive.

As Democratic Socialists, we cannot afford to not politicize crises, especially when the cost is our planet and our lives. Importantly, our politicization must come with the demand of a politics that values people and planet, not profit.  It must confer our recognition that those most vulnerable under capitalism are least responsible for the processes driving climate change, and that we have a collective responsibility to ensure they have the necessary means to adapt to our rapidly changing world. We must promote a politics of solidarity with other liberatory grassroots movements that forge a cooperative reimagining of society built for the people, within the biophysical limits of our planet. We must follow our demands with revolutionary unified action.

If the political left wants to embody the politics of The People, climate justice must be a principal demand. In the Democratic Socialists of America, the new national Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group works to this end. We believe that liberation is a collective process that works from the ground up; for this purpose, we aim to support chapters building local power for climate and environmental justice with the backing of a national ecosocialist network. We aim to establish tools and structured knowledge for organizers; coordinate campaigns; encourage coalition building; promote an understanding of climate and citizen science as well as the intersections of capitalism, imperialism, and climate crisis; publicize actions, events, campaigns, and disaster responses across the nation, with a special focus on growing, rural, and environmentally vulnerable or affected areas and DSA chapters; build an organized base of people willing to pressure neoliberal politicians and kick them out if they vote for more of the same climate crises we see this year; and provide spaces for eco-concerned comrades to collaborate and discuss.

We are not here simply for the growth of a movement, but the rebirth of our world. The earth demands it. We demand it. Ecosocialism or Barbarism; the time to act is now.

 

You can read the original posts here, here, and here.