Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 49 Number 18, October 19, 2019 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Discussion

Climate Change and the Need for Empowerment

People across the country and around the world have been in action since Monday, October 7, for two weeks of demonstrations over the serious matter of the crisis of climate change and holding governments to account over the threat of global warming.

These actions are plainly exposing the contradiction between the ruling elite on the one hand and the vast majority of the people on the other, people whose efforts to speak in their own name are being ignored.

The inability to act in any substantive way further underscores the dysfunctional nature of the Westminster system of representative democracy, which cannot resolve any problems that pose themselves.

What is becoming increasingly evident is the need for people to organise to speak for themselves, rather than authorising so-called representatives to speak on their behalf. The burning issue of the day is for people themselves to become the decision-makers over all matters that affect them, and the natural environment is a matter that affects all.

The need for people to organise to speak for themselves is being reflected in the attempts at and suggestions for new democratic forms, which are particularly coming to the fore in the climate change movement.

The call for a National Citizens Assembly on the issue of climate with actual political power is one such proposal. To be truly effective, such an Assembly requires a form and content consistent with the demands of the times. People cannot limit themselves to forms in which in which agenda is set elsewhere - their forms need to be mechanisms that actually empower them in practice to speak in their own name.

Without this crucial factor, any mechanism can be a diversion into rescuing the dysfunctional system, such as to lend legitimacy to those with the assumed authority to speak in the people's name on their behalf.


School Strike Edinburgh

People therefore need to be vigilant to any attempts to manipulate the movement for the state's own ends and those of the powerful interests it represents.

The establishment are past masters of providing self-serving "support". In the present movement, there is a great deal of one-sided publicity, presenting things in a particular manner, combined with growing deployment of police powers.

At the same time, the unity of the people has to be urgently defended against attempts to sow division. There have already been incidents of confrontation and violence. The deployment of agent provocateurs in this respect cannot be discounted. To turn the issue of climate into one of this versus that side is to trivialise it; to entrench that leads to nothing but civil war and the wrecking of the social and natural environment.

Related to this is the pressure to mobilise behind this or that faction of the cartel party system as an end in itself.

Humanising the social environment means the people organising themselves to become the decision-makers in all things that affect their lives. Only on this basis can the problems of humanising the natural environment be sorted out.


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