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Climate and ecology

“Too late to be pessimist! Ecosocialism or collapse”

Friday 1 January 2021, by Daniel Tanuro, Mats Lucia Bayer

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In Gauche Anticapitaliste we believe that it is essential to develop an ecological approach in order to be able to analyse the economic, social and political situation in all its complexity.

This is precisely the objective of this interview, which takes up the main topics that Daniel Tanuro addresses in the book, while providing keys for an analysis on the economic situation that opened with the pandemic of Covid-19. These are useful benchmarks that also enable us to think strategically about the different scenarios that are opening up before us. From the analysis of the struggle between the great powers for a lesser dependence on fossil fuels (which can shape their rivalries or push towards convergence between them), to the reminder of the need for every subject of oppression to develop its own ecological reflection, this dialogue with Daniel Tanuro gives us illuminating and pedagogical tools to confront the present social struggles and those that are to come.

This interview was conducted in collaboration of Gauche Anticapitaliste and the CADTM.

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In 2010 you published L’impossible capitalisme vert (Editions la Découverte). What prompted you to write Trop tard pour être pessimiste (Editions Textuel) ten years later? [1]

There were several factors involved. First, I wanted to emphasize the correctness of the diagnosis made in L’impossible capitalisme vert: there is an irreconcilable antagonism between the dynamics of accumulation inherent in the capitalist mode of production, on the one hand, and the ecological limits of the planet, on the other. This antagonism is blindingly obvious when it comes to the question of the climate: on the one hand, renewable energies are expanding and the IPCC estimates that their technical potential can meet nearly twenty times human needs; on the other hand, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 (currently 415 ppm) is unprecedented over three million years and governments are constantly postponing the measures to be taken to avoid a cataclysm. It is not possible to save the climate without a radical reduction in final energy consumption, therefore its consumption in production and transport. This is incompatible with capitalist productivism.

Secondly, I wanted to update the scientific data on the basis, in particular, of the IPCC’s special report on the target of 1.5 degrees of global warming . This update is important to me because my concern is to help disseminate the necessary knowledge to non-convinced people, especially in the working class. This is why Trop tard pour être pessimiste begins, like L’impossible capitalisme vert, with a brief overview of the present disaster and its ecological and social consequences.

Third, I have sometimes been criticized for focusing L’impossible capitalisme vert, primarily on the climate challenge. Trop tard pour être pessimiste broadens the field of enquiry to cover the entire ecological crisis, with particular attention to the destruction of living organisms and species. This enables us to show common lines of force for capitalist policies, for example the very strong kinship between the well-known "carbon compensation" scam and the "biodiversity compensation" scam, which is much less so.

Fourth, L’impossible capitalisme vert, compared social democratic and green party illusions, on the one hand, and pointed to the limits or dangerous tendencies of degrowth, on the other. Trop tard pour être pessimiste goes further. The book reviews several currents of ideas of political ecology (green liberalism, collapsologists, followers of Jacques Ellul, supporters of stationary capitalism, mystical ecology, etc.) and highlights what connects them: a misunderstanding of the mechanism of capital accumulation demonstrated by Karl Marx.

Fifth and most importantly, Trop tard pour être pessimiste also goes further on the strategic level. One-fifth of the book is devoted to the ecosocialist project, the plan of transition and strategies for the convergence of struggles. In this context, special attention is paid to the key question: how can the working class and its organizations be brought to break the productivist compromise with capital?

Having appeared in April of this year, the foreword to Trop tard pour être pessimiste takes up a "hot" analysis of what the pandemic was producing.
In particular, you say that the SARS-CoV2 virus confirms the profound distortions that capitalism has caused on biodiversity, facilitating zoonoses. We also see how the pandemic has plunged most societies into health and social crises. Is this pandemic only a "defeat" for the people, or does it also offer opportunities for social movements?

Trop tard pour être pessimiste was written at the end of 2019, but the French publisher offered me the opportunity to write a foreword about the pandemic. It is included in the Italian edition, but not in the Castilian edition, which was released in early March. This is a pity, because the Covid-19 pandemic is part of a clear trend towards an increase in zoonoses (according to the WHO, three quarters of new pathogens present in humans now come from animal species) and because this trend is indeed inseparable from the damage to ecosystems caused in particular by the nexus deforestation-agribusiness-industrial breeding. Since then, the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has published a special report confirming this link and concluding that there will be more zoonotic diseases. According to this report, we have even entered the "era of pandemics". The epidemic risk is therefore in addition to the four major ecological risks of climate change, falling biodiversity, disruption of the nitrogen cycle and destruction of soils.

Before answering the question about opportunities (and dangers), we must stress the fact that this crisis is a historical event. It is true that the world economy was showing signs of slowing down for several months, but SARS-CoV2 is much more than a trigger for endogenous contradictions in capitalism: it is an autonomous, exogenous, and very powerful agent. Like it or not, government recovery plans must go under the Caudine forks of the virus. In other words, the ecological destruction of capitalism has created a boomerang effect that is coming back to hit capitalism. This is not completely new: we have already experienced local boomerang effects. For example, the extensive wind erosion of the southern plains of the United States during the Dust Bowl in the 1920s and 1930s was due to the decision to cultivate fragile soils that were unsuitable for cereal production. But this is the first time that the phenomenon has manifested itself at the global level with so much violence. It is likely that a vaccine will be developed, but it is not certain that we will find vaccines against all future viruses (we still do not have an AIDS vaccine)... and there is no vaccine against climate change.

It is this exogenous dimension of the crisis that creates new opportunities for social movements. To fully grasp them, I think we need to go beyond the classic question, "who will pay?" The action of the virus highlights the fact that there are not crises - ecological, health, economic, social, food, etc. - that are juxtaposed, but a global crisis, a systemic crisis due to the congenital rapacity of the capitalist mode of production and existence. Through the pandemic, capital reveals quite clearly that it is not a thing but a social relationship of exploitation and that this relationship, as Marx said, "exhausts the only two sources of all wealth - the land and the worker" (including the woman worker). The response must therefore articulate several demands; we cannot limit ourselves to the sphere of the distribution of wealth, we need an overall plan that offers a coherent alternative.

In the face of the pandemic, all governments, even the most reticent (with the exception so far of the Brazilian government), have been forced to adopt a health policy that claims to "take care" of the population. Of course, this claim is hypocritical: the discourse serves to wrap up a class-based health policy - neoliberal, hygienist, authoritarian, racist and macho - that maintains activity in the sphere of value production as a priority. But the contrast between the shock of the pandemic and the reality of health policy creates a "window of opportunity" for social movements. They have the opportunity to return the "taking care" against austerity, inequality, privatization, repression of the racialized, precariousness of work, violence against women, the driving back of migrants, extractivism and deforestation, the meat industry, etc. This is possible, because "taking care" is an attitude that cannot just be cut into slices and must be translated into something concrete. An anti-productive plan is needed to take care of humans and the nature to which they belong.

In my opinion, the systemic origin of the zoonosis and the systemic causes of its spread (globalization of trade, its speed, concentrations of poor people, racialized population, etc.) argue for "taking care" as a new paradigm of social life and society’s relationships with nature. In Marxist terms, it is really a question of arguing for the centrality of the sphere of social reproduction, but in a way that is understood by the greatest number of people. It goes without saying that this centrality requires financial resources, but not only that: it also requires qualitative measures and ethics. In this sense, "taking care" can help in the convergence of struggles. It is a lever of what Gramsci called the battle for hegemony, on a mass scale. Given the deep and persistent ideological disarray, I think it is useful to think further in this direction. For the exogenous and unprecedented nature of the crisis does not open up opportunities only on the left. It dramatically accelerates the rise of neo-fascism, which combines anti-capitalist demagoguery, social Darwinism and an ultraliberal conception of "freedom" as unlimited freedom for the possessors of wealth - or those who project themselves as such - to accumulate infinitely by exploiting, destroying, dominating and eliminating. Demanding that the rich pay for the crisis is not enough to stop this threat.

More generally, in terms of responses to the crisis, it is clear that liberal ecology is now part of the ideological arsenal of many governments and institutions. Nevertheless, few policymakers link the pandemic to the ecological crisis. On the other hand, the announcements of a possible vaccine for the first half of 2021 may have the effect that the pandemic is only a parenthesis in history. What do you think the reasons for this are?

There is indeed a gigantic paradox: while the link between the increase in zoonoses and the ecological crisis is the subject of a very broad scientific consensus, government health policies ignore the consequences to be drawn from this observation. Certainly, the health emergency is there. But it is striking that capitalist think tanks that claim to draw the long-term consequences of the pandemic also remain silent on this point. It does not enter their heads to question the nexus meat industry - deforestation - transgenic soybean cultivation. Yet this nexus, responsible for the increased risk of pandemics, is probably where we reach the point where the situation becomes ecologically unsustainable. Some one hundred million hectares are now devoted to the production of soybeans (of which 70 per cent involve GMOs) to feed livestock (which emits methane). At the current rate of development, 120 billion animals will be slaughtered annually in 2050 (50 times more than in 1960!) and this quantity of livestock would require two planets. The failure to take these realities into account does not fall from the sky. It obviously reflects the "short-termism" of capital. But there is more. The French newspaper Les Echos recently mentioned a quote from Xenophon that is disturbingly topical: "Agriculture is the mother of all the arts: when it is well conducted, all other arts prosper; but when it is neglected, all other arts decline” Les Echos, November 25, 2020). “Badly conducted” capitalist agriculture was historically built on English enclosures, in other words on the expulsion of peasant populations, driven from the land by violence. Marx called this event "the great wrench" of relations between humanity and nature. To tackle the agriculture that was the product of this "great wrench" is to undermine the historical foundations of the entire edifice. So yes, the development of the vaccine will allow the aficionados of the system to reassure themselves, to pretend that the pandemic was just a parenthesis. But their relief may be short-lived. More pandemics will come. And other, more serious disasters continue to grow quietly.

The U.S. election finally led to recognition of Joe Biden as the winner. Biden has shown that he plans to have a policy that would address climate change, which has allowed him to polarize with Trump’s climate denial. Many progressive movements and organizations have shown relief over Trump’s departure. However, it also appears that many of them are preparing a strong opposition to the Biden government. In your previous book, Le moment Trump. Une nouvelle phase dans le capitalisme mondial, you analyze the phenomenon as a fundamental break in the historical consensus within the American political class. Does his defeat mean the end of a political paradigm that denied global warming?

I think that we are witnessing, on climate, a rapid rapprochement between the USA, the European Union and China. Biden’s agenda, the European Commission’s Green Deal and Beijing’s statements converge on the same goal: zero net CO2 emissions by 2050. China is even considering a "zero carbon", including methane, for 2060. At the same time, and for the first time, the International Energy Agency’s Energy Outlook report incorporates a carbon neutrality scenario in 2050. These developments have been aided by the health crisis. First, because without it, Trump could have been re-elected. But also, because the crisis resulted in a severe blow to the coal (and oil) industry while renewables continued to grow. This is why, in parallel with the debate on the relocation of vital productions, the ruling class is tempted by the advantages of a more flexible electrical system because it is less centralized around very large production units. This debate is accelerating because the point at which renewables become competitive has been reached: according to the IEA, solar energy is now "the cheapest energy in history" (Energy Outlook 2020). Even if countries do not increase their climate targets, the IEA estimates that 80 per cent of new energy investment by 2030 will be in solar energy. I therefore believe that COP26 will indeed lead to an ’enhancement of ambitions’.

We can only rejoice that the chief climate denier Donald Trump is leaving the White House. However, climate denial has not said its last word, especially in the US. For example, Exxon, unlike Shell or BP, maintains its focus exclusively on oil development... Above all, we should not be under any illusions about the US-EU-China climate convergence. Firstly, the targets of the three powers in terms of reducing emissions in 2030 will not allow us to stay below 1.5 degrees of global warming: the EU has set the tone by adopting a target well below the 65 per cent reduction dictated by urgency and respect for "differentiated responsibilities"; in China, CO2 emissions are increasing by 2 per cent per year, 70 per cent of electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants and the government seems to want to postpone the radical reduction in emissions after 2030 (they are talking about 8 per cent per year); Biden is moving towards a reduction in net U.S. emissions of between 38 and 54 per cent compared to 2005. As a reminder, according to the IPCC, the reduction must be 58 per cent globally by 2030 to have a one in two chance of not exceeding 1.5 degrees; for developed countries, this implies at least 65 per cent reduction.

Second, the concept of "zero net emissions" is very elastic. In addition to the lack of accountability for international transport emissions, the solutions chosen to make "carbon neutrality" compatible with capitalist productivity are "carbon compensation" through massive tree planting, "negative emission technologies" and nuclear power (including mini-power plants). There is much to be said about these "solutions" of green capitalism. I leave out nuclear power, the dangers of which we know. Trees can be planted, but the possibilities are not endless and increasing for a few decades the organic carbon stored by green plants cannot compensate for the huge decrease in mineral carbon stored in geological layers for millions of years. Moreover, politically, the mechanism of carbon compensation is typically neocolonial, as it mainly implies that land areas of poor countries are suitable to serve as CO2 waste bins for developed countries. As for "negative emission technologies," it involves mainly the geological capture and sequestration of CO2, which does not have a guarantee of being watertight. It could eventually be implemented to facilitate the phasing out of coal without social damage for miners. But to make it a structural solution to continued burning of fossils for several decades is outright madness. The more we dig into this question, the more we find the antagonism between capitalist productivism and natural limits. An example is capture-sequestration with CO2 mineralization. This technology would ensure a very stable capture, since carbon is transformed into rocks (carbonates). But the extractive groups, De Beers in particular, are throwing themselves at it to mineralize CO2 in their mining waste, thus greening their image and continuing their destruction, while selling emission rights. However, it would take 100 Gt of mining waste - 5 to 50 km3, or a layer of 30 to 300 m by 180 km2 - to mineralize 1Gt of CO2 (one fortieth of annual emissions). Capitalism turns everything into madness, even reasonable solutions.

Thirdly, the US-EU-China climate convergence will obviously not put an end to inter-imperialist rivalries and will constitute a kind of agreement between bandits against the countries of the global South. They will be forced to pay a carbon tax in order to gain access to the markets of the big three. This mechanism will in fact involve a new step in the abolition of the principle of differentiated responsibilities, which the Global South had enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Biden is very clear about these imperialist aspects. He wants to make trade policy a lever to support large US capital in the battle for the "clean technology" market, create a fund to support exports of these technologies, condition the debt relief of the countries of the global South and development assistance to the adoption of climate policies dictated by Washington, etc.

Isn’t this US-EU-China convergence around a more ambitious climate policy, however, a lesser evil compared to Trump and what we have experienced so far?

Catastrophe is obviously a lesser evil compared to cataclysm, but we are already in a catastrophic situation and the policies of the three major economic blocs lead straight to a cataclysm. Governments seek to reassure people that they have finally understood the importance of the climate danger, but their implicit scenario is that of the "temporary overshoot" of 1.5 degrees of warming. However, even assuming that tree plantations and negative emission technologies can cool the globe in the second half of the century, there is a real risk that "temporary overshooting" will be sufficient to lead to a definitive shift towards what scientists have called the "sweating-room" planet. The IPCC places the tipping point for the Greenland ice sheet at between 1.5 and 2 degrees of global warming and two huge Antarctic glacier massifs are on the brink of disintegrating. Crossing the Greenlandic tipping point could lead to a chain of positive retroactions that would bring the planet back to the Pliocene climate of thirty million years ago. At that time, the ocean level was about 30 metres higher than today. The criminal productivism of capitalism has brought us so close to the abyss that it would take little to make us tumble into it. However, if a tipping point like Greenland is crossed, it is totally illusory to believe that the movement can be reversed with negative emission technologies. I mean this: the great danger is that the climate movement will be put to sleep by the impression that Joe Biden, Xi Jinping and Ursula von der Leyen are partners, even allies, with whom it would be possible, together, to meet the climate challenge, or at least to go a long way. That is not the case. These people are at the service of the productivism that is rushing on renewable energies as it rushed on fossil fuels, without giving up these fuels, in order to accumulate capital on the backs of peoples and nature.

You criticize some of the ideological biases of science, including the IPCC and IBPES reports. Can you say more about that?

This point should be addressed with caution. We must avoid bringing water to the mill of climate-deniers and, more broadly, promoting the rise of the irrational that is now facilitating conspiracy theories. With regard to the IPCC, the reports of Working Group 1 on the science of climate change must be distinguished from those of Working Groups 2 and 3 on adaptation and mitigation. As a reminder, the IPCC does not do research, it only compiles existing research. The WG1 compiles research based on the laws of physics. As long as these laws are not disrupted by a scientific revolution, these reports synthesize the best climate science available. Things are different for the other two WGs, especially for the WG3 on mitigation. In fact, the climate stabilization scenarios that it synthesizes are achieved by introducing hypotheses about the evolution of society into the models of the climate system. The hypotheses are made mainly by economists. In this brotherhood of modellers, neoliberalism reigns undivided. For example, the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report states that "climate models assume fully functioning markets and competitive market behaviour". In other words: outside the market, there is no salvation, the models do not make the assumption of public plans that are outside the laws of profit. It is important to challenge the IPCC on this point. In fact, submission to profit implies submission to the accumulation of capital. As a result, simple solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating unnecessary or harmful production are not being considered. This blind spot of research increases anxiety and encourages tail-ending of the sorcerer’s apprentice solutions of green capitalism. As an example, I quote in Trop tard pour être pessimiste the case of researchers who question the maximum possible reductions in emissions by sector of production and who do not even imagine that we can ban the production of weapons, or transport fewer goods and transport them by trains rather than by trucks.

Nor does the IPBES envisage breaking the rules of the market. On the contrary, it promotes the mechanism known as "biodiversity compensation." What this consists of is that an extractivist enterprise can operate in an area of great biological wealth if it undertakes to restore destroyed ecosystems elsewhere, which is obviously impossible. Mining and oil groups use this bogus mechanism because resource scarcity leads them to look to national parks and nature reserves rich in minerals or hydrocarbons. It is very positive that the IPBES highlights the key role of indigenous peoples and rural communities in the defence of biodiversity. But, at the same time, it explains the disappearance of species mainly through the growth of "population" and "agriculture" in general, as if all populations and all agriculture had the same destructive impacts. This is clearly at odds with the praise of indigenous peoples and communities. But the IPBES strategy is based mainly on the idea that natural reserves should be strengthened and multiplied as oases of biodiversity. These oases are important, but the main problem today is not there, because biodiversity will not be saved if the oases are separated by the huge deserts of agribusiness. The alternative is agroecology. But, as a result, the question of the population is posed in a different light. Pointing to "the population" in general, the IPBES report suggests that "more population = less biodiversity”. However, agroecology requires much more human labour than does agribusiness. In general, one must ask not only the maximum number of humans that a mode of production can support, but also the minimum number needed for a mode of production. In Trop tard pour être pessimiste, I mention a very illuminating comparison between large- and small-scale fishing. The second is better for the climate (less fuel), better for biodiversity, better for human health, costs the community less and employs twenty times more manpower for the same tonnage of catches for human food. The agribusiness/agroecology comparison gives the same kind of conclusion. The fight for biodiversity is inseparable from the fight against agribusiness, against the meat industry, against industrial fishing and other mechanisms of capitalist predation that the IPBES is careful not to question.

You review other currents which claim to be ecological, ranging from currents supporting the "Green New Deal" to currents belonging to "collapsology".

Regarding the former, which are mostly situated on the left, they clearly associate their plan with monetary creation. How do you think this is contradictory to an ecosocialist solution?

Regarding the "collapsologist" currents, can they become a platform for far-right currents?

I would not say that the Green New Deal as it is defended by the US left is contradictory to an ecosocialist solution. On the contrary, this Green New Deal (GND) contains two important ideas that ecosocialists fully share: to stop the disaster, we need a plan, and this plan must get us out of both the social and ecological crises. It was in this context that I shared a criticism formulated by the Marxist economist Michael Roberts, about the financing of the Green New Deal through monetary creation: according to Roberts, the state can create money, yes, but the value of the currency is determined by the economy, and therefore by the capitalists who own the economy. If they don’t like the Green New Deal, they won’t invest, the currency will depreciate and the government won’t be able to finance its plan.

Having said that, that is not where we are today. The situation has changed since the publication of Trop tard pour être pessimiste. Bernie Sanders has rallied behind Joe Biden, who surfed on the idea of GND to secure the support of the left: but, although the label has remained the same, the contents of the bottle have changed. Thus, Sanders’s GND provided for the cessation of fracking; Biden has only promised to stop distributing new fracking permits, and to evaluate existing permits on a case-by-case basis. If it is passed by Congress, his programme plans to invest $40 billion a year over 10 years in clean energy and technology, but not to break with the fossil fuel industry. His team includes several people who are financed by oil companies. For example, there is Cedric Richmond, a member of Congress with extensive links to the oil, gas and petrochemical industry in his Louisiana district, which is one of the ten most polluted districts in the United States. The Green New Deal in its Biden version is green capitalism, like that of the European Commission.

As for collapsology, I find it excessive to say globally that it can become a platform for the far right. I am extremely critical of collapsologists because they send a fatalistic message about the inevitability of a "collapse". Collective struggle and the convergence of struggles are absent from their perspectives. They have no programme to propose, except the creation of small resilient communities that will, they say, be the only forms of society capable of withstanding the great catastrophe that will make half of humanity disappear. Not understanding much about capitalism, collapsologists believe that the poor of the global South will be least affected by "collapse" because they are closer to nature. This is, of course, an absurdity that ignores the capitalist, imperialist and racist relations of domination. Collapsology can drift towards reactionary conceptions that see no other future for humanity than its regression towards an archaic past. Collapsologists are on a slippery slope when they praise ideologues like Jung and Eliade, whose Nazi commitment they seem to ignore, or when they plead for men and women to reconnect with their "archetypes." Having said that, the collapsologist movement is very diverse. There is a quasi-survivalist component (Yves Cochet), and a mystical component. There is also a libertarian component that believes that "collapse" will sweep away capitalism and leave the field open to self-managed communities. All this is very confused and intertwined. Many young people invested in important struggles against fossil projects say they are close to the collapsologist-libertarian trend. We need to work with them in these struggles, while conducting the strategic debate.

You emphasize in the last part of the book the importance of looking at emerging social movements. In particular, you emphasize the construction of a common subaltern identity from the different subjects, and one where the feminist movement occupies a central place. What are the key elements of this "composition" for you?

I start from a triple observation. One: we will not change the mode of production without workers, let alone against them; we must therefore win them to the ecosocialist struggle. Two: the working class, on the whole, is - at best - at the rearguard of this struggle; its main organizations are for growth and recovery through "green capitalism." Three: the vanguard of ecosocialist struggles is made up of indigenous peoples, peasants (with a key role of Via Campesina), youth, and women, who are on the front lines on all these terrains. These vanguard and rearguard positions do not fall from the sky. Workers are integrated into capital through their labour power, which is purchased, formatted and applied to create or realize surplus value. Their condition is schizophrenic: their historical interest is to end the system, but their daily individual existence depends on the crumbs distributed by this system that mutilates them and mutilates nature. Farmers and indigenous peoples are in another situation: the defence of their daily existence largely coincides with ecological management of their natural environment. Young people escape schizophrenia to some extent (either because they are in school or because they are rejected on to the margins of the system); their situation leads them to protest against the destruction of the planet on which they will live and eventually have children. As for women, the explanation of their primary role is the subject of a debate among feminists. From what I have read, the idea that convinces me the most is that their vanguard position results from the fact that patriarchy assigns them the work of caring for the human body, which makes them more sensitive and lucid about ecological destruction - another example of a boomerang effect, in a way.

From there, I try to outline a strategy for the convergence of struggles. The idea is not at all to seek the greatest common denominator between the movements of the exploited and the oppressed. On the contrary, the idea is to promote, from the vanguard, an upward convergence, by an articulation of struggles, guaranteeing the autonomy of each component in the pursuit of its legitimate demands. The aim is to create a relationship of forces that is conducive to the politicization of issues, thus to the breaking of the capital/labour productivist compromise. Notre-Dame-des-Landes is an instructive example for me because the alliance of zadists, residents and peasants and their fierce struggle made it possible to turn a territorial conflict into a central political issue. All the political and social forces were put in a position where they had to say "yes" or "no" to the construction of the airport. As a result, the terms of the debate have also changed within the trade union movement. The CGT of Vinci, in particular, was encouraged to adopt positions not only from "trade-union" concerns but above all from a broader societal point of view, a political point of view. At the end of an internal debate, and thanks to the action of a trade union left, it took a stand against the project and supported the zadists. I conclude by paraphrasing Che: "creating two, three, many Notre-Dame-des-Landes is the watchword".

This strategy is obviously at odds with the "neither left nor right, terrestrial" proposed by Bruno Latour. But it also differs from the simplistic vision expressed by the slogan "capitalism destroys the planet, let us destroy capitalism". Capitalism must be destroyed, of course, and to do that requires a revolution. But we are deluded if we believe that it is only necessary to designate the capitalist enemy so that the struggle of the class "in itself" stops the ecological catastrophe. The key problem today is the recomposition of the class "for itself". This recomposition can only come from struggles and convergences between struggles, and this process will sometimes be painful, even confrontational. If we look at it from the point of view of ecology, it goes without saying that it necessarily implies the greening of the worldview and the demands of each layer of the exploited or oppressed. It is this process that will make convergence from above possible. Joan Martinez Alier proposed the concept of ecology of the poor. We must continue in this direction, to bring each exploited or oppressed group to make emerge, so to speak, its concrete "ecology" from its concrete conditions. This began with the Yellow Jackets, for example, which converged several times with climate protests (and with demonstrations against violence against women). Potentially, all the exploited have their ecology, because the capitalist-patriarchal-racist way of treating humans as things is not essentially different from the way non-humans are treated as things. It is from this strategic vision, in my opinion, that we must address the tasks of ecosocialist activists.

4 December 2020

Translated by International Viewpoint from Gauche Anticapitaliste.


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[1Daniel Tanuro’s 2010 book is available in English Green Capitalism: why it can’t work payment in euros from the IIRE, payment in sterling from Resistance Books.