On Saturday September 21st, 20,000 people participated in the climate march in Paris, part of an international ‘earth strike’ that mobilised over 4 million people worldwide. On the same day, the “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vests movement) also organised their 45th day of action.
By Tim Joosen, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium)
The “Gilets Jaunes” were prevented from mobilising in the morning by a large police presence, which occupied the main assembly points for their protests. About 7,500 police were mobilized in the French capital, and everyone even slightly suspected of being part of the “Gillet Jaunes” mobilisations was arrested or dispersed by the use of large quantities of tear gas.
In the afternoon, climate protesters gathered in the city centre, where they were joined by some of the most conscious layers of the Gilet Jaunes movement. Several thousand were present, making the link between their protests against high prices and low salaries on the one hand, and the need for urgent action to save the planet on the other. Slogans called for making the wealthy and the multinationals pay for the climate crisis, and for system change. We believe these slogans to be correct, and a good starting point for the discussion about what kind of society we need to save the planet, and guarantee decent living conditions for all.
We intervened in the demonstration with material pointing out that the overwhelming majority of pollution is caused by a small group of multinationals. We pointed out that the resources and technology exist to ensure an effective and immediate economic reconversion to save the climate. However, the fact that under capitalism this wealth and these technologies are under control of a small minority of wealthy capitalists, makes it impossible to mobilize them in a climate-saving effort.
Governments all over the world have, under pressure of the climate movement, declared a climate emergency, but without taking effective measures to save the climate. The only measures that are taken aim to make the working class pay for the crisis, for example through new taxes.
We believe that the working class has the power to change society. The organized workers’ movement has the power to bring the whole of society to a standstill if it mobilizes effectively. This power has proven to be capable of forcing far-going concessions from the ruling classes to the working class, and it is the only effective way to force the capitalists and their politicians to take effective climate measures that are in the interests of the majority of the population. The most effective way to do this is by replacing this current capitalist system that is based on greed and the profits of the few with a socialist society that is based on the real needs of the population and the environment.
Therefore, it is crucial the climate movement links up with the organized working class and trade union movement. It was problematic that the leadership of the French trade unions refused to mobilize for this protest. Individual trade union militants were present, but no organized mobilisation. This was also true for the main left parties in France: neither France Insoumise or the NPA (Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste) had delegations in the demonstration, and we were one of only a few revolutionary Left organisations to intervene with political material.
This absence of political parties and trade unions also had an effect on the consciousness in the demonstration. Even if there was a big openness to our ideas, there was a very strong anti-party and anti-trade union mood present amongst many participants.
Despite this, our intervention was highly successful: we intervened with an enthusiastic international team composed of Belgian, German, Swedish, English, Irish and French comrades, and sold all the 100 copies of our specially-produced French newspaper, and another 12 copies of the French-language version of our Belgian newspaper. With this intervention, we renewed the tradition within our organization of having international mobilisations to intervene in important events, or to help build smaller sections of our International.
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