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The 1.5 target calls for an eco-socialist revolution
by Hans Rackwitz
Saturday Oct 23rd, 2021 8:43 AM
The only responsible way forward is the IPCC's P1 scenario, which envisages rapid and radical interventions in existing production, transport and consumption structures, i.e. a massive industrial transformation and deconstruction in the main capitalist countries (15ff.). In the social struggle, the politically and culturally highly fragmented class of wage earners comes to class consciousness.
The 1.5°C target calls for an eco-socialist revolution
By Hans Rackwitz
[This article published in Oct 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Das 1,5°C-Ziel verlangt eine ökosozialistische Revolution (Hans Rackwitz) (Z. ZEITSCHRIFT MARXISTISCHE ERNEUERUNG) (zeitschrift-marxistische-erneuerung.de).]

Christian Zeller, Revolution for the Climate. Why we need an eco-socialist alternative. Oekom Verlag Munich 2020, 242 p., 22 Euro
Christian Zeller presents a successful proposal for a concrete eco-socialist strategy debate, which is to be understood primarily as an intervention for the climate youth movement. The latter seems to be at a crossroads between full integration into (left)green-liberal parliamentarism and radicalization. The emphasis on the centrality of the economy, of labor and its capitalist organizing principles to the dysfunctional social relationship to nature is therefore the right message at the right time. He attests to the climate movement's dramatic underestimation of the scope of the 1.5°C target and the magnitude of the necessary social transformation that its compliance will force (8ff.). Reduction scenarios based on a significant temporary overshoot of the 1.5°C target and the massive use of geoengineering resemble a completely negligent bet on the future of humanity as a civilization, in order to protect the status quo. Thus, the only responsible way forward is the IPCC's P1 scenario, which envisages rapid and radical interventions in existing production, transport and consumption structures, i.e. a massive industrial transformation and deconstruction in the main capitalist countries (15ff.).

This means nothing less than a break with the capitalist mode of production (10), under the conditions of which the transition to renewable energies could not take place quickly and extensively enough and under the conditions of which the industrial restructuring and deconstruction, even if it could be enforced politically, would be associated with a massive capital devaluation, with crisis and unemployment. In order to be able to produce less and differently, the power of capital over the social investment function, over production and reproduction, must be broken in an act of self-empowerment of all the exploited and oppressed vis-à-vis the bourgeois class (12). This requires a massive change in the relations of forces.

Based primarily on eco-marxist theorizing, it is convincingly argued why substantial sustainability cannot be had under capitalism and why the social organization of labor (including non-formalized labor) and class must be at the center of a sustainability revolution (chapter 3). Capitalist accumulation is not only based on the exploitation of wage labor in the process of value creation, but also on the appropriation of unpaid reproductive labor and the accompanying oppression and discrimination of women (37ff.) as well as the systematic plundering and pollution of nature in the process of exploitation (28ff.). Labor must be freed from the constraints of profit orientation and thus from the nature-destroying compulsion to increase productivity without measure, and the socially necessary working time (wage labor as well as nonwage labor) must be distributed fairly in the sense of gender justice and a socially acceptable economic restructuring.

The strategic core of his perspective, which stands in the Trotskyist-council-communist tradition, is the method, strategy and practice of democratic social appropriation (chapter 4). The explicitly positive concern of the formulated transitional program, which moves between an ecologically completely inadequate real-political minimalism and an abstract impotent revolutionary maximalism, is to start with the concrete social experiences and interests of people as class members in order to bridge the gap between the objectively necessary and the current level of organization and consciousness of the majority of wage-dependent people. In the social struggle, the politically and culturally highly fragmented class of wage earners comes to class consciousness, organizes structures and forms itself as a political actor. The goal of this perspective would be to elect a reform government based on and controlled by an enormous mobilization of wage-dependents in trade unions and social movements, which would push for socio-ecological structural reforms in order to face the decision of a fundamental break or a capitulation to the pressure of international capital in the subsequent fierce class struggles. What is decisive in this revolutionary perspective are the structures of social self-management, which in a temporary situation of dual power, enjoy greater legitimacy than the state apparatus (201) and ultimately enforce social appropriation. The transitional demands attempt to think the socio-ecological reconstruction of society in very concrete terms, from the reconstruction of production (chapter 5), the reconstruction of cities and social infrastructure (chapter 6), the reconstruction of financing (chapter 7), and the question of transnational political linkages and global solidarity (capital 8). Chapter 9 is devoted to considerations of a democratic, ecological and efficient planned economy.

In contrast to the very differentiated, strategic and yet radical realism, the constant insistence that all emancipatory steps can only work if they are forced globally, or at least transnationally, seems somewhat disconcerting. Of course, a fully emancipatory perspective can only exist in a global eco-socialist democracy, and transnational struggles are to be pushed. However, to make transnationality a condition remains somewhat utopian, given the fundamental difficulties of transnational class organization, the presumed non-simultaneity of worldwide political development, and the persistence of nation-state control competencies, capitalist world market constraints, and imperialism. The question of how the political unity of the class, the various social movements and strands of social appropriation are organized (and not just mobilized) and brought together to form an overall social center of power also remains vague. Who are its bearers? What different power resources do which actors have? Both the discussion of the question of organization and the analytical and politico-strategic relationship of the various contradictions and spheres of emancipation to one another remain underexposed. Zeller's argumentation is permeated by the thesis, which is, however, hardly made explicit, that class must be at the center of an eco-socialist strategy for theoretical political-strategic reasons (derivation of patriarchal division of labor and the fossilist labor-productivity-increase compulsion from the capital-labor contradiction; centrality of industrial restructuring by the workers themselves and strike power as a key power resource). Moreover, due to the insufficient economic internal differentiation of the working*class (36), possible differences of interest within it and thus also between different self-governing structures are lost from view.

The book is extremely helpful for the current debate, as it uses the category of metabolism mediated by labor to show perspectives for making climate politics concretely tangible as class politics, in order to advance further politicization and to find new alliances, comrades-in-arms, and power resources for the climate movement. The book is recommended to all ecologically oriented trade unionists and climate activists who are looking for ways to fill the slogan of the climate movement System Change not Climate Change with life and to cast it into concrete demands and strategic considerations.
This article was published in Z. No. 125, March 2021.
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