Reflections on the US Social Forum
I attended two session organized by progressive NGOs — 350.org's workshop on climate organizing and Friends of the Earth's primer on the dangers of carbon trading as a strategy for combating climate change. Some climate radicals and ecosocialists adopt a dismissive attitude toward such groups, which I feel is unwarranted and counterproductive. As part of Climate Reality Check, these two NGOs, among many others, have taken a strong stance against the current climate legislation in the Senate (being pushed by the Democrats and the Obama Administration). The role of ecosocialists should be to work with these organizations while encouraging them to engage in more open/radical forms of struggle (demonstrations, linking up with unionists, challenging the two-party system, etc).
Among the other workshops I attended was David Schwartzman's talk on how a rapid conversion to wind and solar energy can forestall the threat of catastrophic climate change. Schwartzman is a scientist who takes a strong position against what he refers to as the "die-off school" led by Heinberg, et al, who argue that peak oil will bring on civilizational collapse. He argues that the urgency of climate action and `rapid solarization' mean that we can't view ecosocialism as the pre-requisite for stopping climate change — but that the struggle and economic shifts necessary to do so will open up pathways for ecosocialism in the future. More of Schwartzman's work can be found here: http://www.redandgreen.org/Documents/Marxism&Ecology_page.htm
I caught part of the Ecological Justice "People's Movement Assembly" — an effort at a participatory hammering-out of a program — which produced this document (http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=2689#more-2689). There was also a protest, which I unfortunately missed, calling for the closure of the world's largest waste incinerator, located in Detroit (story and photos here: http://climatevoices.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/photo-essay-detroit-incinerator-action/).
Apologies for the somewhat scattered character of this report back — the purpose is just to give a broad picture of some of the issues discussed for ecosocialists/climate activists who weren't fortunate enough to be there. All in all, I return to Los Angeles with a clearer perspective of the state of our struggle nationally and a determination to participate in building a vibrant climate justice movement in So Cal.