frontline volume 2, issue 7 June 2008

Unity can bring change

This issue of Frontline covers some topics which have dominated the news and political discussion this year. Global warming and environmental destruction is the first and most pressing of these problems. The issue of Global warming is one which no politician has been able to avoid. Socialists haven't generally had any arguments about what is causing global warming but agreeing on solutions with other environmental activists is another matter. The two contributions in this issue of Frontline similarly agree on what the problem is but differ on whether the solution lies in the hands of the individual/consumer or through mass action and societal change. The SSP will be participating in a conference later this year at which socialists and environmental activists will come together to discuss these issues in far greater detail. Crucially we will also discuss what action we can take to make a difference.

Environmental destruction is an integral part of the crisis in the global economy. The credit crunch looks set to lead to a full blown recessionary crisis worldwide. Inflation is booming, pushed by rising oil and food prices. Rising food prices are partly caused by the demand for agricultural production to be turned over to bio-fuels. Rising oil prices impact the price of raw materials such as plastics but also the price of transportation of goods. All this boosts inflation and reduces consumer spending which further increases the likelihood of recession. We plan to look at the issue of peak oil in the next issue of Frontline.

Capitalism may be looking to the rising economic powerhouses of China and India to maintain growth in the world economy. As the article in this issue of Frontline points out, this may be a forlorn hope. The expansion of China and India has serious environmental consequences as well. In a bid to try to reach the levels of development of the US and Europe we have seen these economies expand industry with devastating impact on the environment, whilst the US remains the biggest polluter. We have also seen China emulating the West in their exploitation of raw materials in Africa and South America.

Socialists need to take time to understand and explain these processes. We need to communicate that environmental destruction and economic chaos are not inevitable.

Faced with such apocalyptic problems it is easy to understand why so many people feel powerless. Since the time of the collapse of the Stalinist states we have seen the ruling class push the idea that there is nothing that the individual can do about market forces. They have tried their utmost to suppress trades unions and social and political movements which have challenged this ideological hegemony.

We need to make clear that collectively it is possible to resist and to make a difference. We need to take a transitional approach that starts from where the consciousness of the class is. That means pushing for reforms that will make a difference to the environmental crisis whilst pointing out that only a revolutionary change in the way we run our society will make a real difference.

It also means working to build the SSP whilst initiating and participating in a non-partisan way with social movements that will spring up. The conference will be a good contribution to this process.