About 20 people storm a construction site of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline in western Canada. They are armed with axes and flares, threaten employees, hijack heavy construction vehicles, destroy the site’s building and ultimately the vehicles themselves. The damage amounted to millions. That was almost a year ago. It is still unclear who sabotaged the construction of the pipeline in the province of British Columbia. Fracked gas was soon to flow through the pipeline, which runs right through indigenous land, to the West Coast, from where it would be shipped on to Asia.
Whether you occupy universities, schools, trees or streets. Whether you spend your nights worrying or sabotaging. Whether you strike or write about it.
The certainty that the current system will result in the collapse of the massively damaged ecosystem has already inspired countless people to resist. Tens of thousands are taking to the streets against the “business as usual” of the capitalist machinery, people are resisting the destructive large-scale projects en masse, the infrastructure of the system is being blocked and courageous fighters are setting fire to the machines that are being used to rob them of the very basis of life. What we need in the struggle against the destruction of nature and the resulting social misery is the shared pursuit of real revolutionary rupture and freedom of all. Pursuing an initiative that rejects all compromises and cosmetic corrections of the state and brings about a transformation of our social relations. Because the destruction of the planet by the neoliberal economic system is inextricably linked to patriarchal patterns of thought, racism and colonialism. The initiative for this must necessarily come from below. From the struggles of the excluded. From the struggles of those who enact a self-organized solidarity against the state’s promises of salvation. From the struggles of those who see that there can be no compromises in the fight against the systemic destruction of the biosphere.
We are certain that self-organized struggles are the only realistic answer to dealing with climate change and ecological crisis. Not because our ideological stance urges it, but simply because there is no evidence, no experience, no showcase example of how states and corporations have taken effective action against it.
A few hundred years of state capitalist rule and humanity is on the brink of the abyss. Radical movements against environmentally destructive development, on the other hand, have often proven that they have the power, creativity and perseverance to at least partially halt the gigantic machinery of destruction. And even if they don’t succeed, these initiatives are experiences we can build on. These experiences of struggle, in the Hambi, in the Danni, in Bure, against Castor transports in Wendland, on the ZAD – have proven the effectiveness of leaderless, offensive and solidarity movements. These struggles have also proven that we can build horizontal connections with other people who have different experiences and methods of struggle, and that we can reject the attempts of the state to divide us along the question of violence.
If we let our gaze wander to more distant territories, we see, from northern Canada to Patagonia, from Colombia to Indonesia, how indigenous groups, communities, villages, and organizations have been struggling for hundreds of years against the colonial domination of states and against the destruction of nature. These struggles are often invisiblized in their effectiveness and militancy. We want to break through this and be inspired.
Local struggles against climate change also emphasize with their actions the necessary urgency of action, even if they often stop short with their demands and appeals to the ruling politics to implement this action.
The problem is that the climate catastrophe is the logical consequence of this very policy. And this policy continues to adhere to the logic of financial profit for the few, the ruthless exploitation of people and nature for this goal, and competition as the driving force for continuous technical progress.
We think that we can really achieve effective successes if we manage to bring our struggles closer together; if we deepen links of solidarity and points of reference, if we fight for spaces for ecological projects, spaces for counterattacks, sabotage, spaces to learn about the history of struggles. Many are aware that it is a question of ending the entire capitalist mode of production. It is not about tightening our belts, but developing a perspective for an eco-social revolution.
La Araucanía Region, Chile – In the early morning hours of Friday, July 8, 2022, on the road from Traiguén to Lumaco. The driver of a logging truck of the company Forestal Mininco is stopped by five armed people and forced to get out. The group then sets the truck on fire and disappears. The CAM (Coordinadora Arauco Malleco), a Mapuche organization defending their habitat on Chilean territory, subsequently claimed responsibility for the action. In a similar attack on Forestal Minico in 2021, 29-year-old Pablo Marchant Gutiérrez was shot dead by carabinieri. A year after the murder, dozens of attacks are taking place against logging infrastructure, its operators and security forces.
The Same Game in Green – Technocracy and Geoengeneering
The narrative that we will solve climate change and ecological destruction technologically is naive at best, but much more likely it is a deliberate strategy to profit even further from the problems generated by earth exploitation.
The world economy’s hunger for energy, which has been growing steadily since industrialization, is often not seen as a problem; instead, research is conducted into new, supposedly green energy sources.
For example, recent breakthroughs in nuclear fusion research have been hailed by politicians as news of salvation. No attention was paid to the warning of the researchers involved that its use would be decades too late to solve the world’s energy problem.
New, green energy sources currently do not even cover the additional energy needs of the global economy – let alone a complete transition. Instead, the already existing ‘regenerative’ energy sources – sun, wind, water – are integrated into production and expand the supply. The reason for this is the so-called rebound effect. This effect has been occuring in capitalism for over 150 years: the steam engine burned coal more efficiently than before, but it was with it that industrialization really took off. And so – despite more economical technology – significantly more energy was consumed overall.
A green capitalism, i.e. climate-neutral and sustainable, is simply impossible. Since among its fundamental principes are constant growth and mass consumption instead of sustainability, and the profit of a few instead of the well-being and continued existence of all mankind.
The search for effective measures to mitigate climate change is also limited to technological solutions instead of addressing the root cause of the problem.
Currently, these are mainly technologies that can be grouped under the term geoengineering. This time with intentional human intervention in the climate system, global warming is to be reduced. In “solar radiation management,” for example, tiny particles are to be released in the stratosphere and reflect some of the sunlight back into space.
Scientific warnings of unforeseen interactions with such a massive intervention in the climate system are brushed aside with the claim that this is the only way to preserve our current economy and prosperity.
Another proposal with destructive potential comes from the Green Ministry of Economics. Injecting CO2 filtered from the air into deep rock layers was recently considered a high-risk technology. CO2 ‘final storage’ was banned because of its immeasurable effects on the environment. Recently, its formerly staunch opponent, Economics Minister Habeck, has become convinced that the climate problem cannot be solved without this technology.
The same approach, along with ecocide, global warming and other horrors, has already given us a heap of highly radioactive nuclear waste with no solution for the permanent storage problem.
For us, this approach represents a technique of domination for imposing new technologies without regard to the consequences for people, nature or society. With firm faith in technical progress, reference is made to future technologies that are to be created by the same actors who caused the previous problems in the first place. In this way, the ruling technocrats flaunt their solution-oriented ability to act.
The economic system, which is responsible for the destruction of our capacity for life, is not questioned. Just as little as the positions of power these actors hold.
We can no longer afford the rich
Who are those who have always been able to profit from the crises and wars of recent years and secure their supremacy? Who is responsible for the majority of emissions of climate-damaging gases? It is not those who are already excluded, the refugees and the poor. It’s the energy companies, banks and defense contractors. It’s the rich, whose way of life can only exist at the expense of others. And on a global scale, it is the lifestyle of mass consumption and the waste produced by societies in the Global North.
And so the struggle against climate destruction is inevitably a struggle along ‘class lines’. The richest 1% of the population in Germany emits significantly more CO2 than the poorest 50% of society. The appeal of those in power in connection with higher fuel and energy prices, “we all have to tighten our belts”, is a farce. The majority of the emissions is caused by the subsidized car, gas and coal industry, industrial agriculture and the jet-set lifestyle of bosses and managers. No change in consumer behavior toward electric SUVs and vegan sausages will help.
Consumption is not simply an individual choice, but an indispensable part of capitalist value creation – it is the step at which value becomes money again. So there is a powerful interest in maintaining or even reinforcing current consumption patterns. “Green” consumption also works in this way. That’s why, despite the double whammy, climate protection and traffic reduction, this will not be shaken.
Simply taxing CO2 emissions at a higher rate does not solve the problem either. That would link CO2 emissions to wealth – but it is precisely those who cause a lot who have the money to be able to pay these taxes.
Compensation through purchased CO2 certificates, on the other hand, only exacerbates the problem. The trade with CO2 certificates opens a huge market for land grabbing by making larger and larger parts of land available for (western) financial markets.
Since no reform policy will even aim at, let alone enforce, a fairly distributed CO2 budget, it remains the task of the ‘climate-conscious’ part of the population to enforce the ecological common good by ourselves against destructive property ownership. Those who now remark that this ultimately amounts to expropriation hit the nail on the head and have grasped the systematic magnitude of the climate problem.
Colonialism – eternal cornerstone of capitalism
Countries of the Global North are responsible for more than two-thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions, but countries of the Global South are two to three times more vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. These figures alone indicate that the climate crisis is not caused equally by all people.
The wealth of the North, which created this inequality in the first place, is based on the colonial exploitation of raw materials and human labor through slavery. Starting with the silver mines in Potosi, through the exploitation of oil deposits in South America, the Middle East and North Africa by Western energy companies, to the soy and palm oil plantations in the rainforests.
In this way, the history of colonialism continues, which goes hand in hand with the displacement of people, the transfer of profits to the West and a constant political and economic dependence of the countries of the global South, up to the raw materials that are needed here for the implementation of the “green” energy transition. Copper and lithium from the same colonial mines in Latin America for the batteries of e-mobility, uranium from West Africa for “green” nuclear power plants, cobalt and other rare earth minerals from the Congo for cell phones and other advanced electronics, and finally “green” hydrogen from the wind- and sun-rich deserts of Namibia.
The urgently needed systemic rupture with a colonial resource waste will radically change our lives. An everyday life consistent with the demands of a realistic climate perspective (which is of course never free of contradictions) requires an uncomfortable but necessary reorientation for us as well.
Currently, immense migratory movements to the still livable North are taking place, which will intensify in the future. On the one hand, this is due to the poverty caused by the global economic network, on the other hand, it is due to the wars fought to assert political influence and secure resources. And last but not least, the consequences of climate change are already noticeable in the (neo-)colonial destruction of nature in the global South.
The perpetrators of this in the global North are practicing military isolation. Fences are built and the borders to the south are systematically monitored with the help of drones, satellites and airplanes. Thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean and in the deserts of North Africa and Mexico are being accepted. Pushbacks are taking place and a further advance of the EU’s external border is being planned. Those who have made it across these obstacles are institutionally harassed and discredited in the media. In the self-image of the countries of the Global North, however, the only criminals are autocrats like Putin and Erdogan, who abuse migration management as a political weapon.
May 2016 – During a protest action against the lignite industry in Lusatia lasting several days, the opencast mine and the rail network are shut down in several places. Thousands invade the plant site and sit on rails, conveyor belts and power plant access roads. Contrary to the will of the organizers of Ende Gelände to limit the actions to sit-in blockades and lock-down actions, several hundred people invade the site of the power plant “Schwarze Pumpe”. At the access tracks to the power plant, the track bed is removed, through this “graveling” the tracks become impassable. In the power plant, doors are broken open, distribution boxes are sabotaged and emergency stop switches are pressed. As a result of the interplay of the various actions this weekend, several power plant towers have to be completely shut down. This is a much larger outage than the two-day shutdown planned from the outset by the operator Vattenfall.
Compromise and radicalization
Not only in questions of migration, the political leaders are radicalizing – more and more uncompromisingly they avoid taking the really necessary paths. They stick to fossil energies and the dinosaur of nuclear energy. The more radically it is claimed that these technologies are clean and infinite, the more radically and unmistakably society, and with it a resistance movement, must react to the energy policy for the corporations. It is not even particularly radical to take seriously the scientifically attested future of an ecological collapse of large parts of the earth in the current course of politics. On the contrary! It becomes radically dangerous not to be prepared for the ecological consequences of the oh so sustainable new technologies.
Climate Minister Habeck is selling this to us as a compromise. The Greens are making up stories about how replacing imports from Russia will lead to a revolution in renewables. In fact, however, elsewhere on the world energy market, they are buying from other autocrats and using fracked gas from the USA as a substitute. The ‘compromise’ is used as a justification to be competitive as an export nation with relatively cheaply purchased energy. The compromise conceals the fact that the promised decarbonization is already about securing the raw materials necessary for the new game. Thus, the compromise is not a compromise, but a double strategy, an attempt to continue radically, albeit in a new guise. In the public debate, however, it is said that the activists of the climate justice movement have not understood the nature of democracy with their uncompromising demands.
In view of these political-strategic reversals in the stigmatization of radicalization and compromise, the following applies to us: Whether militant or (civilly) disobedient, we can hardly block and sabotage climate change as radically as capitalism has made it necessary.
There are not only ecological tipping points at which the climate system irreversibly reorganizes itself – there are also social tipping points. Points at which either the misery caused by the rulers becomes so obvious that large parts of the population see the need to fight back. Or at which impoverishment and the expansion of repression have progressed so far that a revolution seems almost impossible. It is along these tipping points that we must develop our resistance. The initiative for this must necessarily come from below. The state is committed to a dystopian ‘business as usual’ for the economic system, except for cosmetic corrections. Holding on to this ecologically devastating, capitalist way of doing business is tantamount to an ignorant acceleration towards collapse.
If now the interior ministers of the countries claim that climate protest radicalizes and questions our political-economic system as a whole, then the answer that makes sense in terms of climate policy must be: Yes, necessarily – anything else would be an unforgivably senseless compromise for the planet.
Whether as pinky & the brain with their tunnel system in the ‘underground’ or as the monk in the Lützerather mud, whether as SUV-halters or climate-gluers, whether as nocturnal saboteurs or as discourse-interveners trying to debunk the crudest fake-narratives of coal and nuclear lobbies – all efforts should be able to be carried out independently and respectfully side by side. And, at best, work closely together toward a common goal: the containment of a progressive destruction of nature and for the overcoming of the destructive system of oppression, racism and patriarchy.
Those of us who still remember the phased, well-coordinated coexistence of the various forms of action during the protests against the nuclear waste transports to the Wendland may know what is intended here: a larger sit-in blockade on the tracks and rail sabotage that is offensively defended from police forces in close proximity to each other posed a greater challenge to the railroads and police in their simultaneity than the two actions did individually.
A dynamic and broad climate justice movement would do well not to allow any identitarian and thus divisive notions of ‘militancy’ or ‘nonviolence’ to be imposed on it. Certainly not an easy task, as we know from different heterogeneous movements. But it is worth it.
We find the question of whether it is worthwhile to appeal to political leaders much more decisive. Here we have (without any need for delimitation) a clear position with the above analysis: No, it is not worth it – and it raises false hopes that can make a movement dependent and paralyze it.
The same is true at the global level. A serious internationalism must connect our struggles here, also with the struggles against the destruction of nature worldwide, e.g. LNG production in Canada. We can only fight against a global system of destruction if we relate to each other internationally and meet at eye level. An anti-colonial perspective for our efforts for climate justice is necessary for this reason alone.
Here, too, we should not stop at appeals to the global community. How much it achieves when politicians from all over the world decide together on the goal to mitigate climate change we can clearly see in the consistent implementation of the decisions of the Paris Climate Conference.
A ‘technical solution’ to climate change can only be found with toxic mines, deployed militaries and expropriated indigenous land, at least in the periphery. And against the people fleeing this misery, the metropolis enacts brutal violence.
Thoothukudi in southern India – The Indo-British corporation Vedanta Resources operates the second largest copper smelter in India here. Cancer rates, as well as the incidence of respiratory infections in the city, have risen dramatically since it opened. For the past 100 days, the local population has been protesting in the hundreds of thousands against an expansion of the smelter. On this 100th day, May 22, 2018, the police stop the huge demonstration procession, when the demonstrators refuse to be stopped, they shoot specifically into the crowd. 13 people die from the bullets, over 100 are injured. After this black day, on which the police and politicians had finally exposed themselves as stooges of the copper industry, the operating company nevertheless had to give in to pressure from the population and the copper smelter was completely shut down.
Even if the sky falls on our heads…
It should be clear to us that we cannot completely prevent the creeping collapse of a massively damaged ecosystem, not the loss of biodiversity, not the depletion of resources. We will not be able to prevent the climate catastrophe because we are already in the middle of it.
It’s a question of habitat loss for billions of human and non-human life. ‘Human’ life is already a privilege and will be possible primarily for those who can afford it.
Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is already out of reach, yet global greenhouse emissions would have to be reduced to zero within a few years. The rulers repeatedly show that they are not willing to do so and we are not (yet) able to realize such a change.
Admitting this – without any doomsday pathos – does not paralyze us. On the contrary: it should open up for us and our contexts the question of what our lives and our revolutionary struggles might look like in the future.
So that another world becomes possible: Let us cooperate with each other in solidarity to be able to live a dignified life. Let us realize our ideas in the here and now and already within our struggles and actions. We will not be lulled by the appeasement attempts of those in power.
We think that we can only become a serious threat if we seek communication with each other. We propose to relate to each other under the slogan “switch off – the system of destruction” and thus put our struggles in a shared context.
Our actions must make clear that there can be no capitalist green alternative, no peace with existing conditions. We choose the means ourselves and no one stands above another in a hierarchy. We would love it if many would take up this idea.
This is not meant to be an attempt of absorption, but a call to go further on the offensive and strengthen existing struggles. Let’s ignite a long-term wave of action towards revolt. Take care of yourselves and be brave.
For a struggle of solidarity under catastrophic conditions – worldwide!
the future is still unwritten!
Anarchists, Autonomists and Social Revolutionaries from German-speaking countries