To achieve a healthy and sustainable relationship between humanity and the rest of the living world, we must create a society which, while based on the satisfaction of social needs such as food, shelter, water, and community, balances and reintegrates human desires and needs with the ecological imperatives of the rest of the biosphere. We recognize that the survival and well-being of humanity is dependent on the health and well-being of the Earth and its ecosystems of interconnected non-human life. We acknowledge humanity’s responsibility to realize an ecological social revolution that would liberate both humanity and nature from capitalism and domination.
The current crisis of ecological disruption, species extinction and climate change that is reshaping the world is a crisis of capitalism – a system that depends on constant cycles of accumulation, expansion and destruction, prioritizing profit. Capitalism organizes Nature, both human and non-human life, to work for low expenditures of money and energy. It seeks to expand its frontiers towards commodification through the intertwined processes of accumulation of capital, the greater appropriation of labor, and the greater appropriation of nature. Capital mobilizes the work of nature, by simultaneously exploiting human work, structured between “paid” and “unpaid” labor, and by harnessing the “forces of nature” into production for profit. Human and non-human life alike suffer the exploitation, domination, and destruction this capital expansion entails. Capitalism maintains this through imposing social hierarchies which limit human freedom, violate human needs, and greatly diminish biodiversity.
Among humans, Indigenous groups, people of color, working-class populations, and women experience greater immediate impacts from environmental degradation and disaster. Throughout North America, this historic colonization has and continues to wreak ecological destruction, from the deforestation of the U.S. southeast for plantation agriculture and the decimation of 95% of old growth forests in the U.S., through uranium, coal, oil, and gas extraction on indigenous lands in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., this ecological destruction is reinforced through environmental racism, in which people of color and migrant workers are disproportionately affected by toxic contamination; where these communities are often historically segregated in Locally Unwanted Land Uses (LULUs) zones, set by State policies that determine zoning, land use, and environmental ‘regulations.’ These communities are located near coal-fired power plants, landfills, sewage treatment facilities, toxic waste sites, incinerators, refineries, or other highly polluting industries. People of color and migrants often work in unsafe conditions within these industries and are daily exposed to these hazardous materials. From lead poisoning and carcinogenic water contamination in Flint, Michigan (2014), the oil refinery toxins in Houston exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey (2017), the air-pollution disaster from Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, California (1989, 1999, 2012), to the petrochemical water pollution from Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010), communities of color located in these heavily industrialized zones are left without the toxic cleanup needed to restore public health and repair environmental damage. Accelerating climate change has further impacted these racialized communities, who are the first and hardest hit, as well as contributed to the dire situation of migrant laborers, many of whom are “climate refugees” fleeing ecological disasters. We support struggles within these communities for environmental and climate justice, including the need for urban and rural ecological policies to adapt to and mitigate climate change; to clean up and rebuild our urban and rural areas in balance with nature, while honoring the cultural integrity of human society; and providing fair access for all to the full range of material and scientific resources.
Amidst the great unevenness of capitalist maldevelopment, we recognize that the core-industrial societies are responsible for ecological and social crimes against the people of the Global South, both historically and presently, due to ongoing relations of neo-colonialism and ecological extraction. Capitalist oppression and exploitation is at its starkest in the plundering of the resources of the global South by the wealthy economies of the global North, as seen in the Niger Delta, laid waste for petroleum extraction; the Amazonian and Indonesian rainforests, which have been largely deforested to make way for cattle and cash crops such as soy and palm oil; and the ports of Southern countries—such as the infamous ship-breaking yards of Chittagong, Bangladesh—through which flow vast quantities of electronic, chemical, radiological, and other hazardous wastes. Such boundless devastation echoes the historical capitalist practice of using African slave labor in Brazil and the Caribbean to clear rainforests to plant sugar cane, and the parallel clear-cutting of rainforests in Veracruz following the imposition of industrial capitalism in the last third of the nineteenth century.
We also note that the impacts of climate change have become increasingly acute, leading to greater climate disruption and increasing instances of extreme weather. As we see with the food crises in Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, and South Sudan, as well as recent mass-flooding events in South Asia and West Africa, such shifts have provoked famines, exacerbated disease, forced large populations into migration, and greatly disrupted public health conditions. We can only expect this to worsen under “business as usual.” While revolutionary forces can respond to the increased social and political instability and inequality that follows by raising deeper questions and making connections between social and ecological issues, capitalist forces can be expected to continue passing the misery and costs of the ecological crisis onto the most marginalized, including the oppressed of today and future generations.
Now that capitalist development has spread to all corners of the earth, it has precipitated multiple global environmental crises that are potentially so massive they threaten the long-term survival of humanity and the majority of biological life as we currently know it. This reality makes all the more important the global solidarity which we seek to nurture and advance between workers in industrial economies and urban regions and those of rural and agricultural-based regions.
We recognize that revolutionary social transformation is essential to creating ecological balance. To ensure that this transformation nourishes biodiversity and sustainability, we support the autonomy of the human and nonhuman world, including that of other species, entailing their liberation from labor exploitation and commodified resource extraction. This necessity of social transformation stands in opposition to ideologies based solely on volunteer-oriented lifestyle changes, such as recycling, consumer boycotts, and bicycling more; ideologies that romanticize pre-industrial societies; or pseudo-ecosocialist approaches such as those adopted by the “Pink Tide” governments of South America as cover for the extractivism they have greatly accelerated, from the Belo Monte megadam to Yasuní National Park. Furthermore, we express our rejection of the global non-governmental industry that has arisen to provide false solutions for the mitigation of and adaptation to the climate and environmental crises as well as of the mainstream scientific community’s reluctance to clearly communicate the urgency of the moment, though we acknowledge an increasingly vocal militant minority of concerned scientists.
Transforming social and ecological relations is interdependently linked with the ability to transform the production process. Workplaces are not divorced from communities, or from the Earth. Struggles for control within the workplace have the capacity to transform the production system. Instead of production geared towards profit, production can be organized according to human needs and ecological balance. Workers, especially in alliance with local communities, can decentralize exchange, production, and consumption in ways that are ecologically sustainable and non-exploitative. In decentralizing social production, workers can reorganize and coordinate these processes along bioregional lines through a global federation of ecological communities and self-managed workplaces. A crucial part of the required social transformation to a post-capitalist and ecological social order is the question of control over resources and land: by replacing private and state ownership over natural resources with forms of collective and social ownership, we will begin to have a say in how resources, land, and technology are used, and how they impact humans and the non-human world.