Ecosocialism is on the move in Canada
This is a great configuration description. I feel like I’ve really dedicated the last six years of my life to immersion to bring the Green New Deal to life – first with the Manifesto of the jump in 2015, then in 2018 when the Green New Deal exploded onto the scene (and of course, it has a much deeper history, even beyond the recently emerged American version). But it was the manifestation of the 2018 IPCC report on keeping temperatures rising at 1.5 degrees, and which called for rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. I’m pretty sure it’s a textual quote, and it’s now a scientific reality, as much as it has been a social necessity during the centuries of capitalism that humanity has gone through.
The challenge with such a big idea is to make it real for people, to make it concrete and to connect it to the material conditions of workers’ lives. I have made a number of attempts at these things over the years. The two signals for me are A message from the future, the film I co-wrote with AOC, and A message from the future 2: years of repair (the following) – which I co-wrote with Opal Tometi, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter in the United States. These films are sort of somewhere between fiction and non-fiction. Think of them as documentary futurism: I choose the characters, the narrators, and I imagine the future, rethinking how we won and what we won.
Details come to life in these films. They are really my political vision, in a way, that all of us who have worked on them have tried to communicate to a mass audience. I’m really happy with the NDP platform this time around, which channeled some signals of the Green New Deal demands without naming them as such. There is a new emphasis on public ownership, which many of us on the left have expected from the NDP for many, many years. They talk about a public option for Internet and data access, Internet access as a fundamental right. They talk about a nationwide electrified bus service.
We are talking about the Civilian Climate Corps, which was an idea that had been floating around since the days of the FDR in the thirties, and which has been in the circles of the climate movement for years. AOC and I planted it in Message from the future (she wanted to call it AmeriCorps climate, which … when you co-write with AOC, you drop most of the stuff!). I’m more satisfied with the wording of the NDP, and it’s in the NDP’s federal election platform right now: a Civilian Climate Corps, a plan to bring in a large number of young people – not exclusively young people, but mostly to dealing with the youth unemployment crisis – with the government employing them directly to do habitat restoration, wetland restoration, stream remediation. I live on the west coast of the country in British Columbia where we have a salmon crisis. There are all these stream keeper groups along the coast in my riding that do the hard work of going to the streams. The other weekend the Squamish Streamkeepers in my riding went to this creek to collect salmon fry that were collapsing in a puddle where a creek was, due to heat waves and drought. . They gently lifted them up in nets and carried them to a deeper river.
But all this work – there’s only six or ten – and there should be hundreds of it in every community. It is the level of crisis intervention and emergency public service that is really needed. So there are a number of policies circulating in the NDP platform, which I find extremely exciting. Another that I put in a Message from the future, the years of reparation is the right to repair. Because a large part of the climate calculation revolves around consumption. So many efforts of the mainstream climate movement have overlooked this fundamental issue of Earth’s carrying capacity, and we cannot have long supply chains. We cannot have the Amazon economy, where all the essentials of our life (as well as all the luxury and frivolous goods) make only a brief stop with us between a factory in China and a landfill.
It is a fundamental fact of modern life that must be changed. In living memory our parents and grandparents can remember a time when items were made locally and they were loved for how long they lasted and how well they could be repaired and maintained rather than for their cheapness. and their disposable. The right to repair is therefore a fundamental framework: people have the right to repair their phones and computers, to sever the ties of intellectual property, and to be able to actually repair these expensive devices that we carry in our pockets. But it also really extends to everything related to the consumer economy. Circular economies need the right to repair.
Obviously, this is not a ten point plan of what a Green New Deal should look like. The short form is that we can create hundreds of thousands – millions – of jobs creating the new housing we need – non-market housing, public co-ops, cohabitation, non-profit housing – to meet the housing emergency. in Canada., the transit system, the electricity grid, power generation and all aspects of society, as the IPCC has said.