KW: Imagining New Worlds – Anti-Capitalism and Climate Justice

Anonymous submission to North Shore

This was a text written by a KW anarchist in the lead up to the September 27th climate strike.

Imagining New Worlds – Anti-Capitalism and Climate Justice

As the world swirls with renewed interest in climate change and the uncertain terms of humanity’s future, we have to ask if we are going in the right direction or down the same path. Surely, the fate of the climate, however ambiguously defined, is something that concerns most people, even if the goofiness that is climate change denial seems to be on the rise as well. There is lots of talk, as we slog into the current election cycle, of the possibilities of a ‘New Green Deal’ and what the most effective way of achieving this might be. And many people will be striking today demand further action.

There is some degree of momentum here, we can’t deny this. It is high time that people wise up to the ongoing issues that put many lives, both human and non-human, at stake. We want to raise another angle – not one that is new per se but one that seems to be conspicuously absent from many of the strikes, student actions, UN addresses and rallies. We want to bring anti-capitalism back into the discussion of climate action.

This isn’t a new perspective. In fact many Indigenous, marginalized, migrant justice and otherwise radical movements have been speaking about the realities of capitalism for some time. They have seen the violence and destruction on the ground. Not because we use too many straws or take showers that are too long, but because the so-called ‘modern’ way of living, to which all others across the globe are supposed to aspire, has long been built on theft, violence and exploitation. We live on stolen land, which in KW is the lands of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Neutral peoples. The destruction of the earth is inseparable from the desire for high profits and economic growth. The spread of capitalism has been buttressed and expanded through the use of colonialism, gendered violence, border security, war, slavery, white supremacy and resource extraction. The ongoing climate catastrophe is a catastrophe of capitalism.

‘Progress’ is based on ongoing growth, with higher profits and yields. This requires more land, more resources, more efficient processes and a passive labour force. Expansion means further destruction. It means lesser regulations, greater land access, and efficiency without impediment. It is pushed forward not just by corporate powers, the richest blood suckers and market fundamentalists, but by governments, politicians and political pundits the world over. Every party in the upcoming election is beholden to this model, not matter how it is dressed up or paper over with greater social programs, promises of ‘guaranteed’ income, or other progressive ideals. In the current moment capitalism remains uncontested – an assumed reality that is compatible with a greener future. Greener jobs, more solar energy, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and defunding extractive mega-projects should all happen, but these aren’t radical or imaginative alternatives. They work within uncontested capitalism.

We don’t believe that we can reform our way into climate justice. We don’t believe a system based on violence and exploitation can act for the good of all. It is premised on the fact that someone loses while the other benefits. We don’t believe that electoral politics are a way towards freedom. In fact they have been pushing us further and further towards xenophobia, hatred, racism and fascism. We see no true alternatives in such a system, only exploitation, destruction and violence with different faces. Land theft and colonialism continue whether they come with hostility, indifference or friendly smiles and hollow apologies. We want something more.

We won’t lay out a perfectly rosy future – that task is in the hands of each one of us together and there are many such projects underway. Indigenous resurgence has always been at the forefront of ecological struggles, long before non-profits and politicians. We would do well to heed the visions of land defenders whose lands we occupy, and actively return stolen land. There are resurgent visions here in the present. But we can also take our own visions further and stretch our imaginations. What do we actually want to see, not just settle for? How do we see ecological communities based on mutual aid, justice, solidarity and equality, not just a kinder, gentler, more apologetic form of exploitation? What can we do to build these new futures here and now, rather than waiting for them to be handed to us by those who will seek to maintain their power and wealth? There can be no justice under capitalism. A livable world is incompatible with capitalism and the systems of violence that come along with it. We want it destroyed, not beautified or green-washed.

We want a world beyond capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy and the state.

“We are not in the least afraid of ruins… we carry a new world, here, in our hearts. That world is growing in this minute.” – Buenaventura Durruti, Spanish anarchist and anti-fascist

“For Indigenous nations to live, capitalism must die. And for capitalism to die, we must actively participate in the construction of Indigenous alternatives to it.” – Glen Coulthard, Yellowknives Dene