Glasgow COP26

July 2024 Forums General discussion Glasgow COP26

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    I have started this new topic so that observations of what is happening are in one thread.

    The Official Schedule


    Alan, looks as if you have a recruit to your theory about collapse of civilisation. In fact he seems more apocalyptic than you:

    “Boris Johnson has issued an apocalyptic warning that civilisation could collapse “like the Roman Empire” unless runaway climate change is stopped.
    En route to the G20 summit in Rome, the prime minister said the world could “go backwards” – as it did after its famous empire fell – unless a deal to halt the climate emergency is struck at the Cop26 summit.
    Humanity, civilisation and society can go backwards as well as forwards and when they start to go wrong, they can go wrong at extraordinary speed,” Mr Johnson said.
    “You saw that with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.”
    And he added: “It’s true today that, unless we get this right in tackling climate change, we could see our civilisation, our world, also go backwards.”
    We could consign future generations to a life far less agreeable than our own,” he said – pointing to shortages of food and shortages of water and conflict caused by climate change.
    “There is absolutely no question that this is a reality we must face.”
    Pointing again to the example of the end of the Romans, the prime minister said: “People lost the ability to read and write and the ability to draw properly. They lost the way to build in the way that the Romans did.”

    It’s an extraordinary statement for a capitalist politician and a huge hostage to fortune.

    Incidentally, I don’t think he is right, is he, that the Roman Empire collapse with “ extraordinary speed”. I thought it took a couple of centuries.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by ALB.

    Many politicians in pre-talk briefings seem to be setting COP26 up to fail by stating how difficult the negotiations will be and all the obstacles. They are lowering any expectation that there might be a success and breakthrough.

    Some on the far-right are indeed making analogies with Rome’s history forecasting the hordes of barbarians at the gates of civilisation, that is, mass migration of climate refugees. They have a similar answer, build a wall like Hadrian to keep them out.

    And Australia is only one country that is fudging its facts and figures. From my reading only two countries in the World seem to be making progress, The Gambia and Costa Rica, of periphery importance, hardly the centres of industrialism.

    Then we have the other side, the activists who appear so optimistic that they perceive a possible mass change in consciousness. Political veterans such as Chomsky place their revolutionary hopes in the youth of today.

    The younger generation has indeed shown they can organise and agitate – but have they really gotten educated enough? And on this, it is ourselves who must dampen down any positive hope and expectation.


    “it is ourselves who must dampen down any positive hope and expectation”

    That’s the opposite of what we need. If we don’t have optimism in the revolutionary potential of the youth then we’ve got no hope at all. The last thing we want to be doing is killing what spirit there is. Instead we need to foster it and direct it in the right way.

    ALB is also correct that the Roman Empire declined over centuries – technically it didn’t disappear until 1453 when the Ottomans took Constantinople. But Boris will assume the great unwashed don’t know any more history than he does.


    I too thought that that was a strange way of putting it. We don’t want to “dampen down” young people thinking that a better world is possible, only to point out that this is not possible without getting rid of capitalism. And we need to encourage them to blame “capitalism” by name, so as to open a conversation on what capitalism is and what its abolition would have to involve.


    Paddy, ALB, when I say dampen down I meant the many people believe that reforms and legislation from regulated capitalism can solve this climate crisis. It may bring temporary relief but that is all.

    The radicalised youth of today still have much to learn and discover about the nature of society.

    While the slogan “system change, not climate change” is a popular one and agendas claim to be anti-capitalist, I have not witnessed any coalescence of a political position that goes beyond tamed capitalism.

    I accept that there has been a surprising degree of positive coordinated organisation and agitation, something we ourselves can indeed learn from, but it has been action without understanding.

    If it is conceded that “we need to foster it and direct it in the right way” it means we have to choose a way of campaigning that leads to disagreement upon the ecology movement’s present course and indeed disillusioning them of their hopes of success at convincing politicians and parties to adopt measures incompatible with the logic of capitalism. We have to sever their current commitments to the government oversight of the many institutions of capitalism by resorting to mere moral authority.

    Greta Thunberg is right, there has been too much “blah blah blah” but some of it comes from some of the eco-activists.

    Some of my most virulent opponents in online debates have been the so-called radical eco-activists. They are more effective at disseminating neo-Malthusian almost green fascism than we have to spread our vision of a cooperative commonwealth.

    COP26 is crucial for people’s and the planet’s future. Not only will its promises and pledges be broken but the proponents of an alternative are still far off-track that even if they can prevail, which is extremely unlikely, the prognosis is still very poor for the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

    But happily, there are other comrades who can counter my pessimistic predictions. Hopefully, in their direct exchanges with those on the streets of Glasgow, they will know how best to express criticism and offer corrections without causing indignant offence and making the many sincere and genuine participants take umbrage at being told they have to go beyond what they are already doing.

    That will be a hard thing to do. Many activists already see their sacrifices as a heavy toll and we are telling them that they are wrong. We cannot shirk that responsibility but it is all in the manner and tone of how we express ourselves when we engage with the climate protesters. I’m sure others are better at picking the right words to use.

    I sometimes think of Pieter Lawrence book “The Last Conflict” where the world is faced with a catastrophic comet impact and to prepare have to over-ride the normal operation of capitalism and so society discovers socialism by its practical necessity. Was he far wrong regards the existential threat of climate change?

    Is this the essence of the message we must deliver?


    Am I surprised that the first organised protest in Glasgow was by a collection of faith groups, who I suppose trust in the Lord that the right thing will be done? Is this omnipotent invisible Being going to let us mere mortals undo its divine creation? Will it intervene?

    But a more basic contradictory position is that of rightly blaming the corporations and businesses for the havoc they have wreaked upon the planet and then expecting the governments that they control through their powerful interests and influence to create the conditions for those capitalists to bring a halt to global warming at the expense of their profits.

    Bijou Drains

    Whilst I acknowledge that some of Monbiot’s criticisms of capitalism and the smoke screen of small measures used by what he describes as “big business” to stop the examination of their impact on the environment, what he is saying is a far distance from our case. It is not “big business” that’s the problem, this impies that “small business” is somehow ok. As Monbiot acknowledges most of the polution in most of the world’s rivers are produced by farmers, who for the most part are small businesses

    It is not the individuals and their practices which are the issue, it is the market system and the way that it works. Monbiot’s solution “wealth taxes strike at the heart of the issue. They should be high enough to break the spiral of accumulation and redistribute the riches accumulated by a few“, shows just how far he needs to learn.

    If Monbidiot is one of the mythical “fellow travellers” we have heard so much about, then I think the appropriate intellectual response to their ideas should be political hostility!


    While Monbiot is doing a good job confirming “capitalism” as a dirty word, he still has to take the last step from “tax the rich” to “abolish the division of society into rich and poor by making the means for producing useful goods and services the common property of all the people under their democratic control.”

    What’s the point of allowing the rich to exist and get rich by exploiting the rest of us and then taxing away the proceeds to provide better amenities? Why not cut out passing via them and directly use commonly-owned resources to provide the better public amenities?


    Yes he’s still a bit stuck on the ‘rich’ question. Problem he’s probably got is that ‘tax the rich’ is printable in the Guardian and ‘abolish the rich’ isn’t. Even so, he’s getting a lot of people to ask the right questions, so I don’t think it’s helpful to call him an idiot.


    Even so, he’s getting a lot of people to ask the right questions,

    This was what many members said about Russel Brand when he was the media’s revolutionary darling.

    Greta Thunberg too can be added to the list. It is a growing list I concede.

    They all talk of system change but their definition of the system is far from being our own.

    Our big problem is that we claim to hold the answers. But we are not alone.

    We are no different from all the others, the reformist Green Parties, the NGOs and numerous experts who also say they know the answer with wealth taxes, Green New Deals and even CEOs of corporations suggest their carbon trading and off-setting is the answer.

    XR and Insulate Britain go further and say they also have the answer to how to implement green policies with various direct actions to persuade the public to engage the State via civil disobedience.

    Even though the concern about the environment has grown to be crucial among the public and those who have become active within the many mass movements, the message from ourselves are falling on deaf ears, if heard at all.

    It is the same old problem. When people are asking questions they are not asking us for the answer.

    This what I said on Libcom forum

    “All these articles (plus my own organisation’s) make excellent points and I think we can agree on the consensus position from Amos of the ICC.

    “Capitalism, if it is allowed to continue, can only plunge the world into accelerating “barbarisation”. The only “transition” that can prevent this is the transition to communism, which in turn cannot be the product of appeals to governments, voting for “green” parties or protesting as “concerned citizens”. ”

    However and what the reality is, that despite such labels #uprootthesystem from the environmentalists, their definition of the “system” and ours diverge quite dramatically.

    And to be blunt, our message is not just drowned out by the mainstream NGOs but by the many eco-activists who may be radical and imaginative in their protests and direct action but when it comes to goals, all advocate some version of tamed capitalism or an imaginary invented pre-industrial idyll as an answer.

    I simply don’t think we are making progress and our message is not being heard because of too many other and louder voices.

    A comrade often uses the phrase that pissing on a stone with persistence, patience and perseverance will eventually make a hole in it. The truth of the matter is that we don’t have the luxury of time, do we?

    I won’t be in Glasgow. I know several members of my party will be and I am sure the local Glasgow anarchist group will be visible. If there are going to be a presence by others, wouldn’t it be useful for all to meet up some hostelry and over a few friendly pints to talk about a way of orchestrating our voices to make it louder? (If I was in Glasow, the first round would have been mine)”

    So far what I said has not resonated even among some who can be viewed as closer fellow-travellers.

    Bijou Drains

    With regards to climate change and its causation you could say similar things about a miriad of Labour Supporters, all of the 57+ varieties of Trostskyist organisation, a plethora of Anarchist groups, the Green Party, and probably some members and supporters of the Tory Party, in fact there are some eco fascists who would not be unhappy with the analysis offered by Monbiat. However the issue is not spotting the problem, it is working out what the solution is and how to achieve it.

    As the saying goes, if your not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. On that basis Monbiot is part of the problem. If he is proposing that a wealth tax is a way to solve climate change, he’s clearly got no understanding of the economic, social and historic circumstances that created our current issues and has even less understanding of how to resolve the issues.

    Surely the role of the Socialist Party is to oppose and be politically hostile to those who are not part of the solution. If you used the anaalgy that climate change was like being in a burning building, I’d be pretty hostile towards those who, although recognising that the building was on fire, who understood what had caused the file, bit then put forward the solution of huddling together and soaking ourselves in petrol.

    As to being an idiot, the word derives from the Greek word “idiotes”, effectively “a private person” and its most common use was simply a private citizen or amateur as opposed to a government official, professional, or expert. In terms of understanding the way to solve Climate Change and other environmental issues gorgeous George is certainly an amateur and is certainly not an expert, so to me idiot seems to describe him to a tee.


    The article’s conclusion should help decide the matter, Alan:

    “The working class needs to be conscious of its history and to have a programme for the creation of the new society. To achieve this a revolutionary political organisation, rooted in the working class, which can operate as a guide to a new society is required. While we cannot control the material conditions which precipitate future struggles, we can direct our efforts to forming a class political organisation. This is the key issue today. It is also the only hope for a successful fight against the climate crisis.”

    It’s the same as what the Trots all say is the answer to everything: “Build the Vanguard Party”.

    And how can you “fight against the climate crisis” under capitalism ? Nothing lastingly effective can be done to tackle the problem until we have a society based on the common ownership of productive resources. Getting there is the priority—and we don’t need a vanguard party to “guide” us there.

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