Mass struggle needed for a Green New Deal

Only socialism can save the planet

Capitalism is cooking the earth. Rising sea levels are threatening 167 million people in Bangladesh while Africa is suffering from both increased flooding and drought.  

Capitalist climate change dragged the polar vortex to Chicago, where at least 20 people died of the cold. Meanwhile, Australia had record temperatures of well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other congresspeople have proposed a Green New Deal (GND) to tackle this grave threat to humankind. Vile racist and sexist attacks have been hurled against Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens in New York.

Using Twitter effectively and humorously, AOC threw these assaults right back at her reactionary opponents, like Serena Williams returning a serve on a tennis court. As revolutionary socialists, we say, “Right on!”

Deadly capitalist decay

U.S. capitalism is so decayed that it can’t even maintain its own infrastructure. That’s because there’s no individual profit in doing so.

Electrical power outages in the U.S. Northeast turned the lights out for 30 million people in 1965 and 55 million in 2003. Nine million people lost their power in the New York City area in 1977.

Even though the electric grid is absolutely essential for capitalist production, the private utility monopolies have refused to upgrade it. That was left to President Obama’s “stimulus” program, which spent $11 billion to start fixing it.

Eight people were killed in 2014 when a 127-year-old gas main exploded in New York City’s El Barrio (East Harlem). Despite having a net income of $1.5 billion in 2017, Con Ed, the big New York utility company, continues to operate hundreds of miles of ancient gas, steam and water mains.

Right-wingers have attacked the GND for its plans to greatly expand high speed rail. But there’s nothing utopian about that.

The fastest trains on earth go between Beijing and Shanghai ― an 819 mile distance ― in four-and-a-half hours. At the same speed, a 21st Century Limited would take just five-and-a-quarter hours to go from New York City to Chicago.

Yet the capitalist government can’t even replace Amtrak’s 109-year-old Portal movable bridge in New Jersey, which carries 200,000 passengers a day.

When this writer worked as an Amtrak dispatcher, we would cross our fingers whenever this bridge opened for a boat, hoping it would then lock back up.

Pentagon is the world’s biggest polluter. Pictured, “burn pit” of dangerous materials at a U.S. air base in Iraq.

Pentagon is biggest polluter

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who may run for president, attacked the GND for guaranteeing good-paying jobs and higher education. Schultz enjoys billions in his bank accounts exactly because the average income of baristas in the U.S. is less than $24,000 a year.

Listen up billionaires: everybody had a job in the socialist Soviet Union and there was no college tuition, either.

The same war hawks who were for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, have attacked the GND as “too expensive.” Yet over $3 trillion has been spent on those bloody occupations according to economist Joseph Stiglitz’s estimate.  

There are many good proposals in the GND, including calling for the “informed consent of Indigenous people for all decisions that affect Indigenous people.” That would have stopped the Dakota Access Pipeline that’s violating Native land.

But the GND doesn’t mention that the U.S. war machine is the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases, guzzling 300,000 barrels of oil per day. The $700 billion Pentagon budget spent on war and war preparation could instead pay for millions of jobs and massive public works.

Another addition should be freeing the hundreds of thousands of poor people in prisons mostly because they are poor and employing them in union jobs. The U.S. is the world’s biggest jailer with over 2.2 million people incarcerated.

Reforestation is a priority in socialist Cuba.
Photo: Radio Rebelde

We need a revolution

Many people think President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal gave us Social Security, unemployment compensation and even unions. But everything that was won in the 1930s and 1960s ― which the capitalists have, ever since, been trying to take away ― was won through the mass struggle of millions of people.

Millions were hired by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s against the political backdrop of the socialist five-year plans in the Soviet Union.

The greatest examples of the reforestation that’s necessary globally for carbon capture are in socialist countries. Despite the cruel U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, the Caribbean country has more than doubled its forested land since 1959.

The People’s Republic China has spent $100 billion on reforestation since 2009. An area of 123,000 square miles ― twice the size of New England ― has been replanted with trees.

Revolutionaries are the best fighters for reforms. In his time, Karl Marx hailed the struggle for a shorter workday.

It will take massive struggles to get any parts of the Green New Deal through a Congress that’s bought and paid for by Big Oil.

To really stop capitalist climate change, we need a revolution to get rid of capitalism. Working and poor people need to take over the industries and the war machine to stop the destruction of the global environment.