Making our workplaces Red, Black and Green: ReportTagged as: climate_camp environmentalism
Report from workshop hosted by the anarchist federation on how to best build links between the activism of the Social Ecology movement and those in the workplace.
The workshop posed a number of questions that we felt were currently important to the future development of the social ecology movement:
- Why, in spite of the fact that climate change disproportionately effects the urban and agrarian poor, is there a percieved divide between working people and activists in the Green movement?
- How do we meet the challenge of a "Green" capitalism and how does this impact upon our movement?
- How do we interact with existing working class organisations and orgamise in the work place?
The meeting was well attended with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds. It was felt across the meeting that the issues being addressed were important ones and that there was a need to spread this debate wider throughout the Green movement. The recent occupation in Vestas and the continuing solidarity efforts amongst the workers featured strongly in the discussion, with a worker and a number of activists from the campaign contributing to the debate.
Key issues arrising from the discussion included:
* Nationalisation and the state - there was disagreement as to what extent the state will play a role in averting the ecological crisis. Many Marxists and some from within Workers Climate Action felt that the nationalisation of certain industries represented a possible strategic gain for the Green agenda. Others felt that nationalisation had historically been used to contain working class struggle and that there was a possibility of the militancy of the Green movement being likewise diverted into the existing mechanisms of the state. The utility of the state as a tool for social change was also questioned as well as its role in the continued maintenance of the capitalist system. Similarly, notions of horiozontalism and self-organisation conflict with support for the intervention of the state on ecological issues.
* Workers tied into the carbon economy - there was a general consensus that workers should not be held responsible for how socially productive their work is. Workers who are currently working within carbon-intensive industries, e.g. car manufacture, energy production, need our support. We should be helping them gain more control over their wokrplaces so they themselves can shape the future of their industries.
* Medium vs. Long-term demands - many within the trade union movement identifed existing resources that could be used to forward ecological reforms in the workplace (particularly courses provided by the TUC). It was also emphasised that these were a good way of generating enthusiasm amongst workers for ecology on a grassroots level. Day-to-day shop floor demands are important and Green issues should be encompassed within this. However, there was also a danger in loosing sight of long-term anti-capitalist objectives. We should also be seeking to challenge the very nature of work and the interests it serves.
* Green austerity - the dangers of austerity politics was discussed. Not only was it felt that this represented a potential barrier to the further development of our movement but it was also felt that this could lead to authoritarianism in the movement. The strength of corporate and mainstream Green politics was also idenitifed as a danger to our movement.
* Urgency - The sense of urgency that has been placed upon us by the ecological crisis could be regarded as a useful tool for spreading our message. Capitalism is so bad, it is actually messing up the planet. However, it was also felt that this urgency could lead people to seemingly "easy" solutions that actually divert the energies of the movement.
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