Seeing $Green

David Smithers reports back from last weekend's anti-tar sands march in Minneapolis

Deposit site before and after extraction

June 6th in Minneapolis saw the march against tar sand extraction, bitumen oil pipelines and “bomb trains” (crude oil shipments by rail that have a bad habit of spilling.) It began with an indigenous tribal water ceremony on the banks of the Mississippi River, continued with a five thousand-strong march through the streets of St. Paul and was capped by a rally on the lawn of the state capitol. I leafleted for the Red Party there and met some fascinating political individuals. I participated in many exchanges about the class nature of green NGOs (non-governmental organizations), many of them represented by speakers there. Those green NGOs –, the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation et cetera – were among the main drivers of the rally, although a large number of activist groups were also present in force, especially indigenous peoples’ organizations.

Meanwhile, Socialist Alternative, the Workers International League (Socialist Appeal) and Socialist Action sold their wares. There were a few folks there wearing Green Party tee-shirts. No organized presence of the Democrats or Republicans was evident by the time I left.

The rally was among the largest ever environmental demonstrations in the Midwest. Thousands of activists and organizers are drawing the connections between the capitalist fossil fuel industry, its paid servants in government, environmental racism and the growing threat of climate change.

In conversations with other protesters I tried to inject class politics into the discussion. While mass protests are certainly necessary to increase public awareness and as a pressuring tactic against government-corporate interests, they are in themselves not enough to win lasting reformslet alone the broad systematic change need to save the environment and secure our human future.

We communists believe that tinkering with the market via “green capitalism” is a dead end. The problems of ecological destruction are caused not by the natural human desire to live a full and rounded life but by the capitalist system’s mindless, short-termist lust for profit—expand or bust. We believe the working class is the central agent of positive social change, in alliance with all oppressed peoples. It is our labor that creates society’s wealth and it’s time we act in our own distinct interests, as opposed to those of the Democratic Party and green NGOs whose class nature will never allow them to take the radical measures needed.

To that end, the Red Party calls for unity among working-class and oppressed peoples’ anti-capitalist forces to fight in our workplaces, our communities and in our movement crucially including the labor movement— for a long-term vision of a planned, sustainable and green future. Along the way that includes struggle for a public green jobs program, public ownership & control of the fossil fuel industry for retooling to meet renewable energy needs, and the far- reaching extension of democracy as the path to environmental and social justice.


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