The capitalist system, driven at its core by the maximization of profit, regardless of social and ecological costs, is incompatible with a just and sustainable future. Ecosocialism offers a radical alternative that puts social and ecological well-being first. Contemporary capitalist civilization is in crisis. The unlimited accumulation of capital, commodification of everything, ruthless exploitation of labor and nature, and attendant brutal competition undermine the bases of a sustainable future, thereby putting the very survival of the human species at risk. The deep, systemic threat we face demands a deep, systemic change: a Great Transition.
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Eco-socialism , green socialism or socialist ecology is an ideology merging aspects of socialism with that of green politics , ecology and alter-globalization or anti-globalization. Eco-socialists generally believe that the expansion of the capitalist system is the cause of social exclusion , poverty , war and environmental degradation through globalization and imperialism , under the supervision of repressive states and transnational structures.
Eco-socialists advocate dismantling capitalism, focusing on common ownership of the means of production by freely associated producers, and restoring the commons.
Eco-socialists are critical of many past and existing forms of both green politics and socialism. They are often described as " Red Greens" — adherents to Green politics with clear anti-capitalist views, often inspired by Marxism Red Greens are in contrast to eco-capitalists and Green anarchists. The term "watermelon" is commonly applied, often pejoratively, to Greens who seem to put " social justice " goals above ecological ones, implying they are "green on the outside but red on the inside"; the term is usually attributed to either Petr Beckmann or, more frequently, Warren T.
Brookes ,    both critics of environmentalism , and is common in Australia,   New Zealand  and the United States. The Watermelon , a New Zealand website, uses the term proudly, stating that it is "green on the outside and liberal on the inside", while also citing "socialist political leanings", reflecting the use of the term "liberal" to describe the political left in many English-speaking countries.
Eco-socialists also criticise bureaucratic and elite theories of self-described socialism such as Maoism , Stalinism and what other critics have termed bureaucratic collectivism or state capitalism. Instead, eco-socialists focus on imbuing socialism with ecology while keeping the emancipatory goals of "first-epoch" socialism.
This often includes the restoration of commons land in opposition to private property ,  in which local control of resources valorizes the Marxist concept of use value above exchange value. Contrary to the depiction of Karl Marx by some environmentalists,  social ecologists  and fellow socialists  as a productivist who favoured the domination of nature, eco-socialists have revisited Marx's writings and believe that he "was a main originator of the ecological world-view".
William Morris , the English novelist, poet and designer, is largely credited with developing key principles of what was later called eco-socialism. Following the Russian Revolution , some environmentalists and environmental scientists attempted to integrate ecological consciousness into Bolshevism , although many such people were later purged from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Green anarchism is a school of thought within anarchism which puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. Mannin's book Bread and Roses: A Utopian Survey and Blue-Print has been described by anarchist historian Robert Graham as setting forth "an ecological vision in opposition to the prevailing and destructive industrial organization of society".
Social ecology is closely related to the work and ideas of Murray Bookchin and influenced by anarchist Peter Kropotkin. Social ecologists assert that the present ecological crisis has its roots in human social problems, and that the domination of human-over-nature stems from the domination of human-over-human. His groundbreaking essay "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" introduced ecology as a concept in radical politics. Lecturing throughout the United States, he helped popularize the concept of ecology to the counterculture.
Post-Scarcity Anarchism is a collection of essays written by Murray Bookchin and first published in by Ramparts Press. It is one of Bookchin's major works,  and its radical thesis provoked controversy for being utopian and messianic in its faith in the liberatory potential of technology. He was a principal figure in the Burlington Greens in , an ecology group that ran candidates for city council on a program to create neighborhood democracy. Bookchin later developed a political philosophy to complement social ecology which he called " Communalism " spelled with a capital "C" to differentiate it from other forms of communalism.
While originally conceived as a form of Social anarchism , he later developed Communalism into a separate ideology which incorporates what he saw as the most beneficial elements of Anarchism, Marxism, syndicalism, and radical ecology. This method used to achieve this is called Libertarian Municipalism which involves the establishment of face-to-face democratic institutions which are to grow and expand confederally with the goal of eventually replacing the nation-state.
In the s, Barry Commoner , suggesting a left-wing response to The Limits to Growth model that predicted catastrophic resource depletion and spurred environmentalism, postulated that capitalist technologies were chiefly responsible for environmental degradation , as opposed to population pressures.
At around the same time, Alan Roberts , an Australian Marxist, posited that people's unfulfilled needs fuelled consumerism. This ceased when the Australian Greens adopted a policy of proscription of other political groups in August The s saw the socialist feminists Mary Mellor  and Ariel Salleh  address environmental issues within an eco-socialist paradigm.
With the rising profile of the anti-globalization movement in the Global South , an "environmentalism of the poor", combining ecological awareness and social justice, has also become prominent.
Currently, many Green Parties around the world, such as the Dutch Green Left Party GroenLinks [ citation needed ] , contain strong eco-socialist elements. Radical Red-green alliances have been formed in many countries by eco-socialists, radical Greens and other radical left groups.
In Denmark, the Red-Green Alliance was formed as a coalition of numerous radical parties. In , GPUS officially adopted eco-socialist ideology within the party.
Eco-socialism has had a minor influence over developments in the environmental policies of what can be called "existing socialist" regimes, notably the People's Republic of China.
Pan Yue , Deputy Director of the PRC's State Environmental Protection Administration , has acknowledged the influence of eco-socialist theory on his championing of environmentalism within China , which has gained him international acclaim including being nominated for the Person of the Year Award by The New Statesman ,  a British current affairs magazine.
He echoes much of eco-socialist thought, attacking international "environmental inequality", refusing to focus on technological fixes and arguing for the construction of "a harmonious, resource-saving and environmentally-friendly society". He also shows a knowledge of eco-socialist history, from the convergence of radical green politics and socialism and their political "red-green alliances" in the post-Soviet era.
This focus on eco-socialism has informed in the essay On Socialist Ecological Civilisation , published in September , which according to Chinadialogue "sparked debate" in China. In , it was announced that attempts to form an Ecosocialist International Network EIN would be made and an inaugural meeting of the International occurred on October 7, in Paris.
International networking by eco-socialists has already been seen in the Praxis Research and Education Center , a group on international researchers and activists. Based in Moscow and established in , Praxis, as well as publishing books "by libertarian socialists , Marxist humanists , anarchists, [and] syndicalists ", running the Victor Serge Library and opposing war in Chechnya , states that it believes "that capitalism has brought life on the planet near to the brink of catastrophe, and that a form of ecosocialism needs to emerge to replace capitalism before it is too late".
Merging aspects of Marxism, socialism, environmentalism and ecology, eco-socialists generally believe that the capitalist system is the cause of social exclusion , inequality and environmental degradation through globalization and imperialism under the supervision of repressive states and transnational structures. They believe that capitalism's expansion "exposes ecosystems " to pollutants , habitat destruction and resource depletion , "reducing the sensuous vitality of nature to the cold exchangeability required for the accumulation of capital ", while submerging "the majority of the world's people to a mere reservoir of labor power" as it penetrates communities through "consumerism and depoliticization".
Other eco-socialists like Derek Wall highlight how in the Global South free-market capitalist structures economies to produce export-geared crops that take water from traditional subsistence farms , increasing hunger and the likelihood of famine ; furthermore, forests are increasingly cleared and enclosed to produce cash crops that separate people from their local means of production and aggravate poverty.
Wall shows that many of the world's poor have access to the means of production through "non-monetised communal means of production", such as subsistence farming, but, despite providing for need and a level of prosperity, these are not included in conventional economics measures, like GNP. Wall therefore views neo-liberal globalization as "part of the long struggle of the state and commercial interests to steal from those who subsist" by removing "access to the resources that sustain ordinary people across the globe".
Furthermore, Ramachandra Guha and Joan Martinez Alier blame globalization for creating increased levels of waste and pollution , and then dumping the waste on the most vulnerable in society, particularly those in the Global South.
However, as Wall highlights, such campaigns are often ignored or persecuted precisely because they originate among the most marginalized in society: the African-American radical green religious group MOVE , campaigning for ecological revolution and animal rights from Philadelphia , had many members imprisoned or even killed by US authorities from the s onwards. Eco-socialism disagrees with the elite theories of capitalism, which tend to label a specific class or social group as conspirators who construct a system that satisfies their greed and personal desires.
Instead, eco-socialists suggest that the very system itself is self-perpetuating, fuelled by "extra-human" or "impersonal" forces. Kovel uses the Bhopal industrial disaster as an example. Many anti-corporate observers would blame the avarice of those at the top of many multi-national corporations , such as the Union Carbide Corporation in Bhopal, for seemingly isolated industrial accidents.
Conversely, Kovel suggests that Union Carbide were experiencing a decrease in sales that led to falling profits, which, due to stock market conditions, translated into a drop in share values.
The depreciation of share value made many shareholders sell their stock, weakening the company and leading to cost-cutting measures that eroded the safety procedures and mechanisms at the Bhopal site.
Though this did not, in Kovel's mind, make the Bhopal disaster inevitable, he believes that it illustrates the effect market forces can have on increasing the likelihood of ecological and social problems. Eco-socialism focuses closely on Marx's theories about the contradiction between use values and exchange values. Kovel posits that, within a market economy , goods are not produced to meet needs but are produced to be exchanged for money that we then use to acquire other goods; as we have to keep selling in order to keep buying, we must persuade others to buy our goods just to ensure our survival, which leads to the production of goods with no previous use that can be sold to sustain our ability to buy other goods.
Such goods, in an eco-socialist analysis, produce exchange values but have no use value. Eco-socialists like Kovel stress that this contradiction has reached a destructive extent, where certain essential activities such as caring for relatives full-time and basic subsistence are unrewarded, while unnecessary commodities earn individuals huge fortunes and fuel consumerism and resource depletion. James O'Connor argues for a "second contradiction" of underproduction, to complement Marx's "first" contradiction of capital and labor.
While the second contradiction is often considered a theory of environmental degradation, O'Connor's theory in fact goes much further. Building on the work of Karl Polanyi, along with Marx, O'Connor argues that capitalism necessarily undermines the "conditions of production" necessary to sustain the endless accumulation of capital.
These conditions of production include soil, water, energy, and so forth. But they also include an adequate public education system, transportation infrastructures, and other services that are not produced directly by capital, but which capital needs in order accumulate effectively.
As the conditions of production are exhausted, the costs of production for capital increase. For this reason, the second contradiction generates an underproduction crisis tendency, with the rising cost of inputs and labor, to complement the overproduction tendency of too many commodities for too few customers.
Like Marx's contradiction of capital and labor, the second contradiction therefore threatens the system's existence. In addition, O'Connor believes that, in order to remedy environmental contradictions, the capitalist system innovates new technologies that overcome existing problems but introduce new ones. O'Connor cites nuclear power as an example, which he sees as a form of producing energy that is advertised as an alternative to carbon-intensive, non-renewable fossil fuels , but creates long-term radioactive waste and other dangers to health and security.
While O'Connor believes that capitalism is capable of spreading out its economic supports so widely that it can afford to destroy one ecosystem before moving onto another, he and many other eco-socialists now fear that, with the onset of globalization, the system is running out of new ecosystems.
Capitalist expansion is seen by eco-socialists as being "hand in glove" with "corrupt and subservient client states" that repress dissent against the system, governed by international organisations "under the overall supervision of the Western powers and the superpower United States", which subordinate peripheral nations economically and militarily.
Kovel states that the ' War on Terror ', between Islamist extremists and the United States, is caused by "oil imperialism", whereby the capitalist nations require control over sources of energy , especially oil, which are necessary to continue intensive industrial growth - in the quest for control of such resources, Kovel argues that the capitalist nations, specifically the United States, have come into conflict with the predominantly Muslim nations where oil is often found. Eco-socialists believe that state or self- regulation of markets does not solve the crisis "because to do so requires setting limits upon accumulation", which is "unacceptable" for a growth-orientated system; they believe that terrorism and revolutionary impulses cannot be tackled properly "because to do so would mean abandoning the logic of empire ".
They echo Rosa Luxemburg 's "stark choice" between "socialism or barbarism", which was believed to be a prediction of the coming of fascism and further forms of destructive capitalism at the beginning of the twentieth century Luxemburg was in fact murdered by proto-fascist Freikorps in the revolutionary atmosphere of Germany in Reflecting tensions within the environmental and socialist movements, there is some conflict of ideas. However, in practice a synthesis is emerging which calls for democratic regulation of industry in the interests of people and the environment, nationalisation of some key environmental industries, local democracy and an extension of co-ops and the library principle.
For example, Scottish Green Peter McColl argues that elected governments should abolish poverty through a citizens income scheme, regulate against social and environmental malpractice and encourage environmental good practice through state procurement. At the same time, economic and political power should be devolved as far as is possible through co-operatives and increased local decision making.
By putting political and economic power into the hands of the people most likely to be affected by environmental injustice, it is less likely that the injustice will take place. Eco-socialists criticise many within the Green movement for not being overtly anti-capitalist, for working within the existing capitalist, statist system, for voluntarism , or for reliance on technological fixes.
The eco-socialist ideology is based on a critique of other forms of Green politics, including various forms of green economics , localism , deep ecology, bioregionalism and even some manifestations of radical green ideologies such as eco-feminism and social ecology. As Kovel puts it, eco-socialism differs from Green politics at the most fundamental level because the ' Four Pillars ' of Green politics and the 'Ten Key Values' of the US Green Party do not include the demand for the emancipation of labour and the end of the separation between producers and the means of production.
Eco-socialists are highly critical of those Greens who favour "working within the system". While eco-socialists like Kovel recognise the ability of within-system approaches to raise awareness, and believe that "the struggle for an ecologically rational world must include a struggle for the state", he believes that the mainstream Green movement is too easily co-opted by the current powerful socio-political forces as it "passes from citizen-based activism to ponderous bureaucracies scuffling for 'a seat at the table'".
For Kovel, capitalism is "happy to enlist" the Green movement for "convenience", "control over popular dissent" and "rationalization".
He further attacks within-system green initiatives like carbon trading , which he sees as a "capitalist shell game" that turns pollution "into a fresh source of profit". In addition, Kovel criticises the "defeatism" of voluntarism in some local forms of environmentalism that do not connect: he suggests that they can be "drawn off into individualism " or co-opted to the demands of capitalism, as in the case of certain recycling projects, where citizens are "induced to provide free labor" to waste management industries who are involved in the "capitalization of nature".
He labels the notion on voluntarism "ecopolitics without struggle". Technological fixes to ecological problems are also rejected by eco-socialists. Saral Sarkar has updated the thesis of s ' limits to growth ' to exemplify the limits of new capitalist technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells , which require large amounts of energy to split molecules to obtain hydrogen.
He posits an eco-socialist analysis, developed from Marx, that patterns of production and social organisation are more important than the forms of technology used within a given configuration of society.
Under capitalism, he suggests that technology "has been the sine qua non of growth"; thus he believes that even in a world with hypothetical "free energy" the effect would be to lower the cost of automobile production, leading to the massive overproduction of vehicles , "collapsing infrastructure", chronic resource depletion and the "paving over" of the "remainder of nature". In the modern world, Kovel considers the supposed efficiency of new post-industrial commodities is a "plain illusion", as miniaturized components involve many substances and are therefore non-recyclable and, theoretically, only simple substances could be retrieved by burning out-of-date equipment, releasing more pollutants.
He is quick to warn "environmental liberals " against over-selling the virtues of renewable energies that cannot meet the mass energy consumption of the era; although he would still support renewable energy projects, he believes it is more important to restructure societies to reduce energy use before relying on renewable energy technologies alone. Eco-socialists have based their ideas for political strategy on a critique of several different trends in green economics.
At the most fundamental level, eco-socialists reject what Kovel calls " ecological economics " or the "ecological wing of mainstream economics" for being "uninterested in social transformation". He furthers rejects the Neo-Smithian school, who believe in Adam Smith's vision of "a capitalism of small producers, freely exchanging with each other", which is self-regulating and competitive.
Why Ecosocialism: For a Red-Green Future
On the eve of the Peoples Climate March, we look back at three major statements that have shaped the global ecosocialist movement. The hard right U. Climate change deniers, big oil executives, and finance capitalists now occupy pivotal positions in an array of state agencies and apparatuses directly impacting these portfolios. Some of the first decisions of the new administration have been to expand pipeline development of both the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL , further open spaces for fossil fuel extraction, and gut the Environmental Protection Agency. Indeed, the U.
Ecosocialist manifesto: 2nd draft
To the barbarities of the last century, years of war, brutal imperialist plunder and genocide, capitalism has added new horrors. Now it is entirely possible that the air we breathe and the water we drink will be permanently poisoned and that global warming will make much of the world uninhabitable. The science is clear and irrefutable: climate change is real, and the main cause is the use of fossil fuels, especially oil, gas, and coal. The earth today is significantly hotter than it was a few decades ago, and the rate of increase is accelerating.
The twenty-first century opens on a catastrophic note, with an unprecedented degree of ecological breakdown and a chaotic world order beset with terror and clusters of low-grade, disintegrative warfare that spread like gangrene across great swathes of the planet — viz. In our view, the crises of ecology and those of societal breakdown are profoundly interrelated and should be seen as different manifestations of the same structural forces. The former broadly stems from rampant industrialization that overwhelms the earth's capacity to buffer and contain ecological destabilization. The latter stems from the form of imperialism known as globalization, with its disintegrative effects on societies that stand in its path. Moreover, these underlying forces are essentially different aspects of the same drive, which must be identified as the central dynamic that moves the whole: the expansion of the world capitalist system. We reject all euphemisms or propagandistic softening of the brutality of this regime: all greenwashing of its ecological costs, all mystification of the human costs under the names of democracy and human rights. We insist instead upon looking at capital from the standpoint of what it has really done.