By Nikolas Wagner – SLP, Austria
The “Fridays for Future“ movement has spread like wildfire around the world, capturing the sense of urgency that exists about the need for serious action to tackle the climate crisis, particularly among the youth. On Friday, September 20th, the latest wave of global climate strikes took place. Internationally, climate activists estimate that 4 million took part, far exceeding the 1.4 million during the first major strike back in March.
Activists from the many affiliated sections of the CWI took an active part in these actions on Friday, with still more preparing for September 27th, not only participating in the demonstrations but offering our perspective: the growing climate crisis is inherently linked with and created by the capitalist system and requires a fight for socialism to create an environment-friendly society free from exploitation.
From East moving West…
As day broke on the far-eastern part of our globe, members of the Socialist Party in Australia took to the streets in Melbourne, where hundreds of thousands of other climate activists were present. Later in the day, members of Socialist Struggle in Israel-Palestine joined demonstrations in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa, where people were eager to see our material and get involved. Our activists are organizing a climate activism group at Tel-Aviv University, where 30 people attended the first meeting before the start of the academic year.
In Moscow, the activities were not large, despite the relatively high level of youth activism in past months. In part this was due to the fact that the authorities limited the protest to a restricted area on the far edge of the city. Nevertheless, members of Socialist Alternative in Russia participated and discussed actively with the young participants with their banner saying “Change the system and not the climate – a democratic planned economy can save the planet!”.
to the European Union…
Members of Xekinima in Greece noted that the size and the class character of the protests had improved. Not only did the number of demonstrators in Athens explode to 1,000 in comparison with the last climate strike, but about half of the students were of a working-class background. Beyond the school strikes themselves, the city of Volos also saw a 250-person demonstration against waste incineration, which has been causing environmental problems for some time.
In Prague and Krakow, there were several thousand on each protest. Members of Socialist Alternative Budoucnost in the Czech Republic Alternatywa Socjalistyczna in Poland handed out hundreds of flyers – “Saving the earth means defeating capitalism” they explained.
German climate demonstrators numbered 1.4 million nationwide. In Hamburg, where 100,000 were present, there were so many people it was impossible to start the march. Tens of thousands attended in other cities, like Bremen and Berlin, where Sozialistische Alternative SAV members participated, speaking from the platform in Cologne, Kassel and Flensburg and selling 4.000 copies of their specially produced paper dealing with the climate crisis and our program to deal with it.
In Vienna, Austria, there was not one large central protest, but rather smaller protests in all 23 of Vienna’s districts as well as over a hundred local protests in the rest of the country to build for September 27th. Members of Sozialistische LinksPartei SLP attended a strike in a working-class district and later in the day, as part of the ‘Workers for Future’ group attended and lead a discussion at an event organized by the Austrian Trade Union Federation. At the end of the day, they protested outside the office of the engineering firm Andritz, whose water turbines in dam projects contribute greatly to the destruction of ecosystems and the exploitation of populations around the world.
Elsewhere in Europe, there were 10,000 in Stockholm and 15,000 protesters in Brussels, where our members from LSP/PSL organised an impromptu youth block. Members of the newly founded Socialist Alternative in England & Wales participated in a number of cities, for example in Coventry, where our activists played a leading role. They led a short march, giving speeches and organized an open mic, bringing trade unionists and striking young people together.
Across the Irish Sea, the Socialist Party in Dublin took part in a lively demonstration and made contact with 100 interested young activists.
Further south on the globe, the city of Abuja, Nigeria saw 500 people including activists from the Democratic Socialist Movement air their grievances against the climate catastrophe.
In South Africa members of the ‘Workers and Socialist Party’ distributed leaflets in both Capetown and Johannesburg explaining: “We must fight for a system change, where we, the working class, can democratically control the economy and secure a future for the majority, and not profits for a small minority. We must fight for socialism!”
and the Americas…
In the United States, members of Socialist Alternative were on the streets from coast to coast. In Chicago, where 3,000 attended, teens chanted “system change not climate change,” and a large crowd of young people in Minneapolis had a distinct anti-capitalist mood, with some speakers directly mentioning capitalism as the problem. There were two climate walk outs in Seattle: one of 4,000 students, and the other of 1,500 Amazon workers, signaling an important step towards involving labor in the fight against the climate crisis.
A real International…
The following day, a coordinated team of members and sympathizers from Belgium, France, Sweden, Ireland, Germany and England & Wales travelled to the international protest held by climate activists and the yellow vests in Paris. The national police used tear gas on the 15,000 demonstrators, claiming the presence of the “black block” as an excuse. Nevertheless, we were successful in our efforts to meet new people in France and build our forces internationally.
All told, we came out of the weekend with a renewed sense of confidence not only because of the inspirational growth of the movement against Climate Change itself, but also because we demonstrated how we can intervene effectively as an international in this new global protest.
As we enter a new period in the history of our international, we understand that the working people of this earth are becoming radicalized, now mobilizing against the climate crisis, part of the fight for a world, where nature and humankind are no longer exploited for the benefit of an increasingly small minority, and where workers democratically determine how to best meet their needs and enjoy life in full.
Fighting for the future
Other protests have been scheduled for the coming days and weeks and especially September 27th, where we will continue to intervene energetically arguing that the movement can be effectively developed by broadening it to a wider layer of working class people and trade unions, with democratic action committees to decide and coordinate actions in the workplaces, schools and universities and by fighting to change the system, to get rid of the capitalist system that has done so much to damage to the environment and replace it with a society based on needs, not profits – a democratic socialist society!
If you too have been galvanized by the movement for an environment-friendly economy oriented towards the needs of humanity, join us! Get in touch with your local section of the Committee for a Workers International (World Socialist Alternative) today or send your contact details by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send them to your nearest group.