Imperialism and the Environment

11m gallons of oil
Exxon Valdez oil-spill, Alaska, 1989 – 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled

The only possible alternative to private profiteering at the expense of the planet is communism – you have to be Red to be Green! But if we are to steer ourselves away from the cataclysmic climate change that looms, it is vital that we identify our most immediate enemy: the first genuine obstacle in the path of building socialism … and that obstacle is imperialism.

The past two months have seen an endless stream of print and audiovisual propaganda force fed to the British public concerning the arrest and detention of a collection of European Greenpeace activists, who have been dubbed the ‘Arctic 30’ by the imperialist press.

The stereotypical allegations of human-rights and environmental abuse against the Russian Federation, however, bring with them only imperialism’s trademark stench of hypocrisy and greed.

Hypocritical acclaim for ‘environmental campaigners’

Arctic oil exploration

The state of the Arctic is of grave concern, and acts as a barometer of global environmental damage.  It is an issue dear to the hearts of the world’s people, which explains why imperialism has made it a key propaganda plank in its portrayal of a ‘backward’ Russia (along with its alleged persecution of female punk bands, etc).

Global warming has led to a significant reduction in the Arctic sea-ice volume, which in 2012 stood at just one-fifth of what it was in 1979. Oil spills (such as that from the Exxon Valdise in 1989), particularly from the heavily-polluted Alaskan region of the US, have contributed to the degradation of our planet’s environment.

Now, the decreased ice covering of the Arctic region, alongside technological advances, has led to some oil stores that were previously seen as being inaccessible are now open to drilling.

As part of the drive to take advantage of this new bonanza, Britain has declared its ambition to become a ‘hub’ for Arctic oil exploration. The Foreign Office stated recently that “The UK government will promote the UK as a centre of commercial expertise with direct relevance to many industries that are growing in the Arctic.”

Meanwhile, the US is aggressively pursuing Arctic oil exploration, and is busy bartering to acquire Canadian territory in its most immediate vicinity.

Quite clearly, neither US nor British imperialism have any moral capital or high ground from which to sermonise when it comes to the question of environmental degradation in general or the matter of Arctic energy exploration in particular.

Imperialism is the harbinger of environmental destruction, and has rarely shown any concern for the effect of its fanatical profiteering. Whether it be pollution from manufacturing and extraction processes, the safety of workers, or the survival of flora, fauna and human inhabitants that live near mines, plants and factories – particularly in the oppressed world or among poor, working-class communities – the piratical exploitation of the capitalist system is legendary.

As for humanity on a broader scale, or the threat that climate change could pose to the very existence of the human race – the finance capitalists stand utterly helpless before, and unwilling to alter, the cynical cash calculations of an exploitative system that should have been discarded long ago.

Right to protest

Much of the ‘outrage’ presented in the corporate media has been around the alleged denial by the Russian Federation of its citizens’ ‘right to protest’.

One does not have to think too hard to imagine how the US or Britain would react to a group of Russian and Chinese activists disrupting the polluting activities of Shell or BP in the Gulf of Mexico or the Arctic – or, indeed, the Nigerian people in the Niger delta. It would meet them with military engagement, and terminate them with extreme prejudice.

This bare-faced hypocrisy is made all the more obvious, coming at a time when British councils, for example, are being given the powers to make any peaceful protest or demonstration illegal under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

Of course, that’s not the limit for the imperialists when it comes to oppressing the masses and protecting what they consider to be rightfully theirs, using the good-old British bobbies domestically, and the army abroad.  The countless genocidal wars of plunder waged from Korea to Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are an ongoing and revealing testament to the depraved and inhuman ‘logic’ of imperialist greed.

Imperialism’s true position

Ultimately, the story pushed by western media is no more than one propaganda piece in a many-pronged attack, which is being aimed at the Russian Federation for its key part in frustrating US domination – and particularly its recent defence of the legitimate government of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

Imperialism holds no green credentials, but it is becoming increasingly adept at spinning its anti-popular crusades by manipulating the growing global concern for our environment.  BP, Shell, Exxon, Texaco – all these companies are now ‘green’ we are told. But China and Russia? Increased consumption by the masses of the oppressed world?  Well, these are clearly a ‘dire threat to the environment’, opine the tame media pundits of imperialism in a globally-orchestrated cacophony that many on the left seem powerless to resist.

Imperialism continues to seek domination, not democracy, in order to sustain its decrepit, decaying interests and rule.  A little more critical and independent thought on the part of those who pose as ‘leaders’ of the anti-war and working-class movements in Britain would not go amiss.

In this regard, returning to the basics of Marxist and Leninist teachings should be the departure point for all who would not loose their bearings in the rapids of these revolutionary times.

Genuine global change

In order to bring about the changes so badly needed by our society and the environment, we must build socialist states, built on satisfying the needs of the broad masses of humanity in a planned, organised and sustainable way. We must make humanity the master of production – rather than the anarchy of capitalist production being the blind ruler that frustrates all reasonable control over human endeavour, as is currently the case.

Working people have an overriding need and deeply-held desire to preserve our miraculous, lone blue planet as the source of all nourishment and shelter.  There is no question of a communist movement or society leaving ecological questions unaddressed.

The most critical task before the environmental movement and all who cherish our planet, however, is to identify the most immediate enemy that stands in the way of safeguarding it!

In the last analysis, the imperialists are the ones who put the needs of short-term profit, of preservation of the current class-based economic inequalities, and the unjust and barbaric madness that stems form them, above all other concerns.

They think that vast personally amassed riches will enable them to buy their individual way out of all the problems they have created for the masses of humanity.  They are the callous kings of capital – the financial oligarchs, the imperialists and their servants. They are the ones who declare a system – socialism – that embodies the needs and interests, the political rule, of the vast masses, to be the most evil end that could befall humanity. They are our implacable enemies, and the greatest danger to human civilisation.

Their wealth is built upon our poverty – their joy upon our misery!”

As it was essential for the Bolsheviks to overthrow the tsars before advancing on the path to the overthrow of capitalism, it is essential that we identify our most immediate target.

That target is imperialism, and only with the overthrow of this rotten, decadent, parasitic and corrupt system, can we set out on the path to save humanity from poverty, unemployment, mass starvation, famine, misery, war and environmental disaster – whether desertification, pollution, over-fishing or climate change.

We must refuse to be led by the nose into following the capitalists’ lead – either by coercion or by accepting spurious claims of ‘environmental concern’. Let us remember that our ruling class’s new-found concern for ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘the environment’ does not stop it from bombing entire countries into the stone age, dumping chemical and nuclear waste into the Red Sea off the coast of Somalia, or liberally spreading depleted uranium across swathes of the globe.

We must refute all of imperialism’s predatory propaganda so that we can germinate a mass movement that aims at achieving a genuinely peaceful, sustainable and progressive society.

We must repudiate our rulers’ warmongering lies and oppose their predatory, criminal wars. All workers must unite, regardless of race, sex, religion or nationality, and bring to an end the devastation of civilisation and the destruction of our planet!

Long live humanity! Save the planet!

Long live the workers and labouring masses!

Death to imperialism!

George Zimmerman's not-guilty verdict is abhorrent and symptomatic of a racist, unjust political system.

George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch co-ordinator who shot and murdered an unarmed black teenager, has walked free from a Florida courtroom. The jury – five out of six of whom were white – took 16 hours to deliberate and return a unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict.

It is with disgust – but not surprise – that Red Youth notes Zimmerman’s acquittal as the verdict confirms what most rational observers know: that the lives of oppressed people, particularly young black men, in the United States remain disposable.

Whilst media analysts have already attempted to mask this injustice, referring to circumstantial evidence, there are clear facts from the case that must be repeated:

– Trayvon Martin was a junior in high school who was walking in the community in which he was temporarily living. He was not trespassing or involved in any other criminal activity, as Zimmerman claimed.

– Trayvon was racially profiled, followed, assaulted and murdered for no plausible reason other than Zimmerman – acting in his role of neighbourhood watch leader of a gated community- found his appearance and ethnicity offensive.

– After calling the police to notify them of Trayvon’s ‘suspicious behaviour’, Zimmerman was instructed by the dispatcher to wait for the police and not to approach the teenager. He ignored this instruction.

– Zimmerman claimed that Travyvon was suspicious – ‘up to no good’, ‘on drugs’ and ‘looking at all the houses’. Yet, a police report confirms that Trayvon was not involved in any criminal activity on the night of his murder.

– Attempts have been made to slander Trayvon Martn and to depict him as a violent criminal. It’s been highlighted, for example, that he was suspended from school three times in recent years. These suspensions were, in fact, for non violent alleged offences such as truancy and marijuana possession. Trayvon had never been charged with any crime and did not have a juvenile record.

– Despite shooting and murdering an unarmed child, Zimmerman was astonishingly not arrested until six weeks after the killing. His eventual arrest was the result of cumulative pressure from the public and not the police or state’s quest for justice. The Sanford Police Department was at best incompetent and both the Chief of Police and Lead Investigator have now lost their jobs.

However, this case is not about incompetence. There were no ‘mistakes’. Zimmerman’s acquittal is the logical consequence of an unjust, racist system and is a reminder – albeit a brutal one – that black males can be executed with impunity in the United States.

Moreover, the verdict does not only find Zimmerman innocent, it suggests and assumes that Trayvon is guilty. He is portrayed as menacing, dangerous and ultimately deserving of his fate: HE shouldn’t have been there; HE should have behaved differently; HE should have listened. Yet, the evidence – and cultural, political and economic context – shows that Trayvon is guilty of only one thing – being African American.

In 1964, speaking about the ideology of violence, Malcolm X stated that; “we are non-violent with people who are non-violent with us; but we are not non-violent with anyone who is violent with us. Once those intentions are made known, we can get to the nitty-gritty of the problem, we can get to the core of the problem, we can get to the root of the problem. Then we can correct the problem”. The murder of Trayvon Martin – and the fact that an African American is killed every 36 hours by the police or private security forces – surely reveals the barbaric violent nature of the political system in the United States, and the need for an organised, militant response.

Red Youth rejects the depiction of this event as a ‘tragedy’. It is the cold-blooded, racially motivated murder of an unarmed teenager. We also believe there is only so much mileage in talking about judicial failure. In fact, when a proper analysis of the so-called democracy in the United States is conducted, we find that its elitist, racist and anti-working class nature has performed consistent to its intended design. The murder of Trayvon painfully reinforces the reality that the system was not designed for poor, working class, black people.

Red Youth also recognises that this is not unique to the United States and that the extrajudicial killing of working class youths is becoming increasingly common here – as the execution of Mark Duggan in 2011 shows. London and Washington both practice superficial democracy to mask their oppressive political and economic dictatorship. It is in painful times like these that this mask is removed – and it is times like these that the people become most angry, militant and ready to organise for change.