We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Opportunities and Challenges Posed by the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) Protests and the Sunrise Movement

Click here to access article by Kamran Nayeri from Our Place in the World: A Journal of Ecosocialism.

It's clear to me that leftists have learned very little from history since the end of the Vietnam War. Now, judging by this essay, they want to use major issues to build an organization capable of establishing a "socialist" revolution (whatever that means). Oh, yes, I admit they have learned a few political buzz words like "bottom-up" when referring to organizations. However, they still address the dangers of looking to ruling class parties to address their problems, and they still, like Nayeri, advocate supporting independent movements that rally around contemporary issues. (Yawn) Forgive me, if I lack attentiveness. 

You see, in 1970 I largely agreed with Camejo's essay of 1970, that was republished at this website, which advocated using the Anti-Vietnam War Movement to build a revolutionary movement. Fortunately, unlike Nayeri, I have learned a lot since that time. That strategy didn't work then, and I have no reason to believe that it will work now in spite of what is going on in Europe with the Yellow Vest Movement. To his credit, he does warn about co-opted, reform movements such as the Sunrise Movement and other such movements.
The Sunrise Movement poses a different set of opportunities and challenges for the climate justice movement and its small ecosocialist component.  While its stated purpose is to combat the climate crisis, it has not absorbed a key political lesson apparent in the spontaneous Yellow Vests protests: that the existing political parties are not to be trusted.  Thus, the Sunrise Movement supports the agenda of the Democratic Party Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio Cortez ....
Nayeri, similar to Camejo, wants to use the ecological crisis to build a movement to construct some kind of "socialist" government. 
One such a proposal is what I have outlined (Nayeri, 2015)  A central goal of such a proposal is in its educational value: only an enlightened working people’s movement can stop and reverse the climate crisis. Such a proposal is key to educate our class about our lifestyle habits we came to own through the capitalist mass consumption culture.
However, I am convinced that the author of this article doesn't seem to understand the basic requirement of a revolution--enlightened working people--that will put working people into power and eliminate any class structured organization of society, particularly that which is in control of the capitalist class. Thus, Nayeri thinks getting behind an emissions tax will enlighten working people and put us on the road to socialism. Worse, he totally ignores the other major threat to humans: a global nuclear war catastrophe.

The only hope I see is the construction of a large alternative media organization that can provide real news coverage to the American public. Nobody likes to be lied to, and corporate media are disseminators of fake news reports and they censor honest coverage of vital issues. Polls show that increasing numbers of Americans are realizing that fact. In addition, such an alternative media organization would provide opportunities to experiment with bottom-up authority structures so vitally necessary in establishing a real and effective socialist society. (Here is my unfinished attempt as an example.)