Ecosocialism Conference 2013 – ideas for action

I attended the one day Conference in Manchester that brought together people from a range of ecosocialist backgrounds.Ecosocialism 2013 was supported by the following organisations:
Green Left
Socialist Resistance
Alliance for Green Socialism
Wigan Green Socialists
The Eco-Socialist newspaper
Parti de Gauche (London)
GPEW Trade Union Group

among numerous others.
There were five main themes, supported by workshops, that attempted to produce ideas for action and a sense of priorities. It is fair to say the results are a bit of a mixed bag (ranging from a bit naff and obvious to very pertinent and far-reaching), but nonetheless the whole exercise was very worthwhile, as was the opportunity to meet and discuss/debate issues with people from other organisations.
The assimilated notes from the 5 workshops look like this:

BUILDING AN ECONOMY FOR THE 99%

a)     Recognise the importance of communication and use a range of media, incuding coordinated use of social media.

b)    Create a clear alternative narrative to neoliberal consumerism, based on values and realistic alternatives eg integrated public transport instead of cars.

c)     Promote at national level for one million climate jobs and green new deal, working with other groups.

d)    Endeavour to make people feel empowered so they believe change is possible

e)     Use arts & culture to put our message across and draw people in eg local festivals like Wigan Diggers

f)     Promote a major shift in trade union attitudes towards support for a green economy (eg transport unions) unions tend to be reactive; influence unions from the ground up.

g)     Promote radical change and economic democracy, not just individual lifestyle changes.

h)    Organise local action addressing immediate problems so as to involve people in change: food banks, occupy vacant houses, growing own food

LOCAL ACTIONS IN THE COMMUNIY

a)     Promote sustainable energy: cooperatives (wind, food, solar); fund from Energy Companies Obligation; energy-saving community in derelict houses; promote solar-charged batteries; see communityenergy.org.uk

b)    Grow local food: community farms; dig for victory on waste land; involve people with care budgets; bring communities together; edible environment.

c)     Organise festivals & events: Salford; Bird Walk Barton Moss 20 Oct; tastier greener pie events; low key events (cake, tea, film, bookfair); free festivals.

d)    Organise community services: free or cheap; involve isolated people; involve trade unions; breakfast/lunch clubs; affordable cafes; kids play groups; creative writing; libraries; community transport; therapy; English as 2nd language.

e)     Promote community housing

f)     Seek funding: lottery; trade unions

CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME ENERGY

a)     Live well and differently, consuming less.

b)    Promote local production, reducing shipping – cheap and plentiful energy is gone.

c)     Produce a booklet/other propaganda materials on the economics of energy, making an anti-capitalism case, looking for demands to take local and single issue campaigning towards post capitalist solutions

d)    Initiate a campaign for progressive electricity tariffs – linked to the development of community energy

e)     Resist unsustainable energy.

f)     Campaign nationally (as well as locally) against fracking, creating anti-fracking groups everywhere.

g)     Promote wave power.

h)    Support the 1 million Climate Jobs campaign

i)      Campaign against the meat industry.

DEMOCRACY: WHAT IS IT, HOW SHOULD IT WORK, HOW TO USE IT

a)     Support participation in today’s road blockade protesting against cuts in legal aid.

b)    Campaign against fuel poverty – “Strike a light” – with braziers on the street and local house lights off.

c)     Support national & global day of civil disobedience 5 Nov 13.

d)    Stand candidates in elections.

e)     Hold voter registration drives.

f)     Push for electoral reform.

g)     Get rid of the monarchy.

h)    Explore openly democratic ways of organising society locally, nationally & globally.

i)      Take back the cooperative movement.

j)      Recognise the need for ideology (ideas & language) as well as action.

TOWARDS AN ECOSOCIALIST SOCIETY

a)     Get involved in campaigns: fuel poverty; fracking; new climate jobs; bedroom tax; cuts.

b)    Promote social ownership and cooperative ownership, including for renewable energy.

c)     Learn from ecosocialist projects worldwide; link with developing countries’ campaigns to protect natural resources and challenge international capitalism.

d)    Network among ecosocialists, including using social media.

e)     Set up an ecosocialist think-tank to challenge international capitalism and address the ecological crisis.

f)     Promote “ecosocialist” as a brand; label our involvement in campaigns, etc as ecosocialist.

g)     Explain ecosocialism to trade unions and make links with unions (eg with green reps).

h)    Explain and promote the idea of a “steady state economy”, including its application to developing countries.

i)      Democratise/nationalise banking and financial institutions to ensure investments are directed away from fossil fuel and into renewable energies.

j)      Promote political education, starting where people are at now, making links between local, national and international.

Andy Chyba

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