Rezistans ek Alternativ
Liberty, Equality, Humanity, Ecology and Feminism

Paper for an open debate
Green Capitalism or Ecosocialism?

For the emergence of a Green-Left political movement

The 5th of June 2009 marks the International Environment Day. Never before in the history of humanity has such a day been so crucial. The brutal reality of the world climatic crisis means that for the first time humanity is faced with the very real possibility of extinction.

The climatic upheaval is not due to “human activity” in general but to the form of this activity since the capitalist Industrial Revolution. The cause of the phenomenon lies basically in the capitalist and productivist logic of accumulation, whose historical centre of gravity is located in the imperial metropolises. This economic system requires continual growth of the economic product and since this growth is for the sake of capital and not for the real need of human beings, it has resulted into the continual destabilization of an integral relationship to nature.

The dominance of ‘Neoliberalism’ in the last 30 years was a return to the pure logic of capital. It swept away measures which had inhibited capital’s aggressivity, replacing them with naked exploitation of humanity and nature. The tearing down of boundaries and limits to accumulation are known as “globalization”. Celebrated by ideologues like Thomas Friedman as a new epoch of universal progress borne on the wings of free trade and unfettered commodification, humanity is now entering an epoch of unprecedented crisis.

This International Environment Day 2009 is indeed marked amidst the unprecedented crisis of the capitalist and productivist logic of accumulation system itself. A twin crisis is developing in such a manner that the brutal reality of the world climatic crisis is being combined with the crisis of capitalism itself, creating a complex crisis for humanity. The historical limits of the economic and social system, which prevailed since Industrial Revolution Capitalism, has never before been so apparent.

Can we tackle the twin crisis within the existing economic and social system?
Can we address the unfolding ecological and economic crisis by re-inventing a new form of capitalism, ‘green capitalism’? If yes, what will be the social cost of such a re-orientation?

The last decades saw the emergence of a strong ecologist philosophical and political current. An ecologist conscience is of one the most commendable moral and ethical conscience in this time of crisis of humanity. A fundamental re-appraisal of human relations with nature and the re-inventing of a society which lives in  “harmony with nature” is certainly the path ahead.

But some ecologists who accept that capitalism and the market system are untouchable tend to look for salvation in changing the behavior of individual consumers and inducing the corporations to adopt the latest ‘environment friendly’ techniques. For this tendency if only people as individuals could simply change their moral stance with respect to nature and alter their behavior in areas such as propagation, consumption, and the conduct of business, all would be well. This is unfortunately insufficient.  ‘Individual behavior’ and ‘ecological morality’, useful as it may be, can only be meaningful if it creates the basis for the mass ecologist emerging movement to tackle politically the underlying systemic dynamic that is driving both ecological degradation and economic crisis.

Focusing entirely on ‘individual behavior’ and ‘ecological morality’ divert precious activists energy away and even creates the condition for such noble moral conscience to be co-opted into cosmetic and ‘corporate green’ approach. Individual ‘ecological morality’ alone without a political approach can also be dangerously twisted by vested interests and economic lobbies in their deadly competition with each other.

As we marked the 5th of June 2009, we also indeed need to take stoke of the serious shortcomings of the first wave of ecological movement.  Despite certain useful interventions like greater recycling of garbage or the development of green zones, it is increasingly apparent that the whole mass of world wide governmental regulations, environmental NGO’s and academic programs have failed to check the overall pace of ecological decay. Indeed, since the first International Environment Day was proclaimed in 1972, the breakdown in crucial areas such as carbon emissions, the loss of barrier reefs and deforestation have actually accelerated and have even begun to assume an exponential character.

The Eco-Socialist/Green-Left alternative

Can we re-invent human relation to nature? Can we move towards a democratically planned and ecologically sustainable system?  Rezistans ek Alternativ believes that the path to an ecological, economically and socially just and peaceful society has to be based on an anti-systemic, anti-capitalism political agenda. An agenda which implies a ‘power shift’ questioning of the present power relation in society, as well as a radical transformation of the economic mode of production and distribution.

Rezistans ek Alternativ is part of the alter-globalisation movement which has consistently challenged the capitalist globalisation and warned of the barbarism towards which this system is heading humanity . We adhere to the Declaration of the eco-socialist world movement in Belem, in the Amazonie, Brazil, on the occasion of the World Social Forum of January 2009.

“….The ecosocialist movement aims to stop and to reverse the disastrous process of global warming in particular and of capitalist ecocide in general, and to construct a radical and practical alternative to the capitalist system. Ecosocialism is grounded in a transformed economy founded on the non-monetary values of social justice and ecological balance. It criticizes both capitalist “market ecology” and productivist socialism, which ignored the earth’s equilibrium and limits. It redefines the path and goal of socialism within an ecological and democratic framework..

“….Ecosocialism involves a revolutionary social transformation, which will imply the limitation of growth and the transformation of needs by a profound shift away from quantitative and toward qualitative economic criteria, an emphasis on use-value instead of exchange-value…..” http://www.ecosocialistnetwork.org

We appeal to all thinking citizens and nature loving people to pay attention to this emerging political current.

In Mauritius, since its foundation, ecology and eco-socialism have been a central axis of Rezistans ek Alternativ politics. Our actions in the last years aimed at forging a coalition of leftist forces, ecologists, unions, fisherfolks, small farmers and concerned citizen for a green-left eco-socialist alternative to emerge. We have humbly helped in founding the Another World Is Possible Committee and have co-organised several forums on food and energy security, addressing the systemic causes of the energy and food crisis. We are now actively involved in the Green Festival Organising Committee, adding a green-left perspective to the struggle for a new green and just society.

Current heated debates on energy policies

Rezistans ek Alternativ welcomes the current heated debates on energy policies. These debates and the recent mass movement generated by citizens, ecologists, leftists, trade union activists and civics,  neighbourhood associations are reflecting genuine concerns. Rezistans ek Alternativ forms part of this movement. But as is frequently the case in ‘single issue’ campaign,  in parallel, some are twisting this genuine concern and debate to coincide with vested economic interests who are displaying huge amount of money to ‘defend’ their ‘cause’. The interest of new IPP’s, Gamma-Coventa/City Power promoted by the Ramgoolam regime v/s existing IPP’s, mainly controlled by the sugar oligarchy, objectively protected by the Opposition and some so called independent ‘opinion’.

Rezistans ek Alternativ calls on all peoples’/citizens movements and individuals caring for the future of humanity and the energy/food security of our country to ferociously defend their independence from all economic and capitalist class lobbies presently at work. 

In respect to the current debates on energy policies, we invite all ecologist movements and caring citizens to adopt an holistic approach and to discuss the possibility of formulating 4 interrelated political transitional demands to government and opposition parties:

§         For massive public investment in renewable and clean energy, as it is not only an ecological imperative but also an economically sound and socially just way forward;

§         To stop all future power plants projects, such as City Power and Gamma-Coventa, as these projects are neither in line with the renewable and clean energy policy imperative, nor economically and socially justifiable;.

§         To immediately re-negotiate all existing contracts between Independent Power Producers using coal/bagasse and the State;

so as to make these existing power plants compliant with the renewable and clean energy imperative;

so that these contracts are made compliant to a new land liberation policy to ensure our peoples’ food sovereignty and the future development of an ‘agroecology’ sector to create decent jobs.

Bagasse has only been a lever for sugar companies to take strategic control of electricity production, while in reality most of the IPP’s are using massively imported coal.

§         To declare access to energy as a human right to all citizens as well as a strategic utility for society and as such cannot be considered as a mere commodity and left in the hands of private monopolies or the called ‘market forces’.

Rezistans ek Alternativ sincerely hopes that the ongoing debates and social movements developing around ecological issue will pave the way for the emergence of a green-left ecosocialist political movement.

Such a movement in Mauritius will necessarily have to be an anti-communal, green-left movement.

Ashok Subron, Ian Jacob & Veena Dholah

Rezistans ek Alternativ

5 June 2009

Contact: rezistans@freeitmauritius.org

Ashok Subron 786-8689, Ian Jacob: 7827913, Veena Dholah:433-1807