Humanity faces a crisis of unprecedented proportions – a double-edged sword threatening both our planet and its people. On one side, there’s the looming spectre of ecological disaster, where putting carbon in the atmosphere and other Earth System pressures are pushing the planet ‘well outside a safe operating space for humanity’. A recent peer-reviewed study put it bluntly:
“If warming reaches or exceeds 2°C this century, mainly richer humans will be responsible for killing roughly 1 billion mainly poorer humans”
On the other, a vast portion of the global population is deprived of even the most basic necessities. Nearly half the world cannot afford nutritious food, 50 percent lack safe sanitation, and 70 percent go without necessary healthcare.
This deprivation isn’t confined to the outskirts of society; it seeps into the Global North too. In the United States, almost half the population can’t afford healthcare, and in the United Kingdom, 4.3 million children live in poverty. These issues are compounded by brutal inequalities of race and gender, further deepening the social crisis.
At the heart of this turmoil lies a common enemy – the wild west economics of Neoliberalism. An inherently undemocratic system that focuses on profit geared markets. While we might vote for representatives, our say in the business is virtually nonexistent. They are controlled by money – the major corporations, financial giants, and the top 1 percent of the world’s wealthy. Their objective? To maximise profit – not to meet human or ecological needs.
To such ends, businesses even indulge in perverse, highly profitable products like SUVs, fast fashion, and fossil fuels, while essentials like public transit, healthcare, and renewable energy are chronically underproduced. This dynamic isn’t just confined within national borders; it extends its grasp globally, draining essential labour and resources from the Global South to fuel the flagrant wealth of the Global North.
To tackle this colossal challenge, we need a revolutionary shift in our approach. We must fight for control over finance and workplaces, reorganising them around the twin goals of well-being and ecology. But how can we achieve this?
Here are the key steps:
1. Democratise: Both workplaces and governments should have more ways, like Mini-Publics (Citizens Assemblies), to engage people in decision making. Across the board, this has been found to produce more progressive outcomes for people and planet.
2. Universal Public Services: Essential services like healthcare, education, and housing must be accessible to everyone.
3. Public Works Programs with a Job Guarantee: Invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and ecosystem restoration with guaranteed fair wage jobs. This approach not only fulfils ecological objectives but also abolishes unemployment and economic insecurity.
4. Scale Down Less-Necessary Goods: Reduce production in destructive industries, like fossil fuels and fast fashion. Extend the lifespan of products and ban planned obsolescence.
5. Wealth Redistribution: Implement wealth taxes and maximum income ratios to curb excessive consumption by the rich. Right now millionaires alone are on track to burn 72 percent of the remaining carbon budget to keep the planet under 1.5°C of warming. This is an egregious assault on humanity and the living world, and none of us should accept it.
International solidarity is crucial. Excessive energy use in the Global North must decline, while the other countries reclaim and reorganise their economies to essential needs. We must support Global South governments in their quest for sovereign development and ensure economic justice.
This path isn’t just utopian dreaming; it’s grounded in the science of what’s necessary and widely popular. The change we seek is attainable, but it won’t come on its own. Environmentalists, unions, and progressive movements must unite in a fierce political struggle against those benefiting from the existing system. This isn’t a time for minor tweaks; it’s a time for revolutionary change.
The political elite is trapped in a reformist paradigm that denies the upcoming atrocities of social and ecological collapse. Take the “Green Growth” approach of Bidenomics which invests in renewables while approving new oil pipelines. Or Sunak’s leasing of 100 new oil and gas projects which Starmer’s Labour refuses to renege. Just one of these recently approved projects, Rosebank, would have the lifetime emissions of 90 countries. This is no less than a genocidal denial of the science and the rights of young people.
In the face of immense challenges, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The struggle for a more just world demands our unwavering commitment, and in this battle, we must draw inspiration from the revolutionary leaders of the past. Thomas Sankara, the visionary leader of Burkina Faso, once declared, ‘we are the heirs of the world’s revolutions‘. His words echo a profound truth – every positive change we enjoy today is the legacy of past revolutionary forces.
Consider this: the very concept of a minimum wage, as inadequate as it might be, exists because of the relentless fight of revolutionary movements. Our weekends, our ability to exercise even limited forms of democracy – all these are not mere gifts from benevolent authorities. They are the hard-won victories of brave souls who dared to challenge the status quo.
These weren’t easy battles; they were struggles against deeply entrenched systems of power. Yet, against all odds, they persevered. These victories stand as testaments to the indomitable spirit of humanity – a spirit that refuses to bow down to injustice and inequality.
We are the torchbearers of this legacy. We inherit the courage, resilience, and determination of those who fought before us. It’s not just a historical legacy; it’s a living, breathing force that drives us forward. When we fight for fair wages, equal rights, and a liveable future, we are walking in the footsteps of giants.
So, let’s embrace our role as heirs of the world’s revolutions. Let’s carry the torch of justice and equality forward into humanity’s darkest hour. Together, we can overcome, because the spirit of revolution courses through our veins. The change we seek begins with us, and in our unity, lies the power to transform the world.
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