We only want the earth

We only want the earth: capitalism and the environmental crisis

AWL pamphlet now available online. Read the articles here! Capitalism and the environmental crisis: introduction Unrealism and the future Science and technology The new anti-capitalism The German Greens New Labour and the environment Nigeria: the Ogoni people against Shell Green politics and the labour movement Asbestos: a threat to life GM foods — miracle or madness? From cold war to hot peace — the nuclear legacy “Socialist ecology”: the life and death of Chico Mendes

Capitalism and the environmental crisis: introduction

This collection of articles has been put together by revolutionary socialists, supporters of the monthly magazine Workers’ Liberty. It aims to analyse the causes of the environmental crisis facing the planet and point towards solutions. The articles are offered as contributions to a debate, a starting point for an important discussion, rather than a finished “word from on high” on these matters. We don’t believe socialist theory or politics should be monolithic in the style of the movements which supported the USSR or other monstrous totalitarian dictatorships. Not all supporters of Workers’...

Unrealism and the future

By Clive Bradley In the 1990s, when some of the United States’ mainstream environmental organisations, the so-called Shameful Seven, backed Clinton and the North American Free Trade Agreement, they defended their actions as a ‘coming of age’, a necessary realism. Environmentalists of many varieties, not to mention their enemies, repeat the cry. It is a familiar story: “realists” are supposed to bring about the meaningful changes, and radicals are irrelevant. Nowhere than on the question of the environment is the fallacy of this argument clearer. With the NFTA, the environmental pluses were few...

Science and technology

By Bruce Robinson BSE, the disposal of the Brent Spar oil rig, biotechnology and genetically modified foods, car use and pollution — all major issues of environmental controversy require some assessment of scientific evidence. Technology is pervasive in the workplace and home, medicine and agriculture — do we embrace it, reject it or seek to change it? How do we decide what is benign, useful and necessary and what destructive, dangerous or unnecessary? In deciding, we must — implicitly or explicitly — make a deeper assessment of the roles and functions of science and technology in society and...

The new anti-capitalism

By Mick Duncan One of the most impressive political phenomena of the last few years has been the protest movement around groups such as Reclaim the Streets, which has been called the “new anti-capitalism”. Actions like the J18 City of London Protest Against Capitalism (or “riot”), and the street parties organised by RTS, show imagination and a will to change the world. The make up of these protests is predominantly young. So many young people starting to question the way the world is run and doing something active about it can only be a good thing. The roots of the new anti-capitalism The...

The German Greens

By Matt Heaney Many left wingers, disgusted and dismayed at the ever-rightward lurch of the Labour Party, see the Green Party as a viable alternative. The Green Party in Britain is one of the oldest in Europe. However, since is founding (as the Ecology Party) 23 years ago, it has remained marginalised, partly because of the British electoral system. Since the introduction of proportional representation for elections to the European Parliament in 1999, the Greens have been represented by two MEPs from Britain. It seems likely that the Greens could win seats in regional UK parliaments in the...

New Labour and the environment

By Matt Cooper New Labour came to power with many promises — to save the welfare state, to end poverty and to stop the degradation of the environment. All of these promises have proved to be hollow, for much the same reason: the New Labour leadership’s slavish devotion to the free market. This article will examine the development of Labour’s policy on the environment and how and why even these limited promises have not been acted on by the current Labour Government. There are elements in Labour’s make up that have pulled it in opposite directions. On the one hand, Labour had been the reforming...

Nigeria: the Ogoni people against Shell

By Mark Sandell “When Your Excellency recently honoured this division with an extensive tour, you were shown large acres of mangrove swamps that have been destroyed by the periodic out-flow of crude oil into our rivers and streams, which have killed off not only mangrove trees, but fishes and crabs, mudskippers, oysters, shell-fishes, etc., on which the livelihood of the poorer people depends. Neither from the Shell-BP nor from the successive governments have we received the slightest consideration in the widespread destitution that has been our sad lot as a direct result of the oil industry...

Green politics and the labour movement

Within contemporary environmentalist movements, it is increasingly uncontentious that capitalism is the root of the problem: the massive demonstration in Seattle in 1999 against the World Trade Organisation was against capitalism; in Britain, Reclaim the Streets have organised impressive demonstrations which are against the capitalist system as such. Needless to say, and as we have already outlined here, we agree with this assessment. But if capitalism is the enemy, what force can most effectively fight it, and bring about meaningful, lasting change? Capitalism is a system in which everything...

Asbestos: a threat to life

By Jill Mountford Environmental issues also affect us in the workplace and one of the things that illustrates this most clearly is the question of asbestos. Over 3,000 people die of asbestos-related diseases every year in the UK. By 2020 the annual deaths are likely to be 10,000. Across Western Europe, 250,000 men will die from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, between 1995 and 2029. Of men born around 1945-50, about 1 in 150 will die of mesothelioma. Recent court cases show an increase in the development of asbestos diseases among workers in the construction industries, non-asbestos...

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