• Natasha Yadav

THE RISE OF THE GREEN LEFT: INSIDE THE WORLDWIDE ECOSOCIALIST MOVEMENT

Updated: Feb 2

The eco-socialist and environmentalist movements have gained momentum in the recent past. According to Derek Wall, the author of The Rise of The Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement [1]. Wall asserts that eco-socialism is “a worldwide phenomenon that is redefining the future of left and green politics”, a comment which can undoubtedly be a result of his experience as the former Principal[2] of the Green Party of England and Wales[3]. Through this book, Wall attempts to define the Ecosocialist Movement, its roots, its practice, and the actions which need to be taken by various stakeholders and members of several levels of analyses, from individuals to non-state actors, corporations, and nation-states. Furthermore, he criticizes capitalism and its negative impact on the environment, citing it to be a “modern economy based on economic growth for stability”, as well as turning “the natural environment into a commodity”. Instead, he advocates for a world based on an amalgamation of socialism and ecology, whilst placing emphasis on green parties, social movement, socialist groups, and indigenous networks.

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The descriptive title of the book, that is, The Rise of The Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement, establishes the aim of his work in an exacting manner, whereby readers get the impression of the general content of the book immediately, and to an extent are able to understand the view of the author as well. In this case, through the title, the author seems to believe in the global growth of a political and economic movement based on environmental value. Wall repeatedly emphasizes on the importance of the role that indigenous communities partake in, concerning environmental protection and advocacy, to the extent that the foreword of his work is written by Hugo Blanco, an indigenous Peruvian political representative[4], who expresses his views and work through the following:

“he sees me as one of the representatives of the indigenous struggle”. [5]

According to Wall, eco-socialism can be defined as “a battle against enclosure, and a battle for commons”, wherein individuals and states must rethink the impact that the economy has upon the environment, and create solutions and change by combining different political and economic aspects along with the study of ecology. The current system of capitalism, as described in the book, creates an image of immense income, wealth, and power is vested in the hands of a select few, whereas, the majority faces systematic struggle and hardship. Wall, after a private correspondence with Michael Löwy, a Marxist Sociologist and Philosopher, quotes Löwy, “Socialism without ecological concern will still wreck this planet, while ecological concern without a socialist analysis of capitalism will fail to save it”. (The Rise of The Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement 20). Through his work, Wall recommends a series of plausible solutions which, according to him, are necessary to push for change favouring the environment and a vast majority of individuals. At the base of his argument is the need for “alternative forms of property rights which promote economic democracy and ecological sustainability”.


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A narrative is built against the economic system of capitalism, one that seeps into political structures and organizations as well, wherein there is a disregard for future consequences and effects, with a high concern for immediate profit and mass consumption. Wall claims that an “industry of denial” has been established to oppose climate change, through which narratives are created by those in power against the deterioration of our environment and climate, in order to maintain their profit, and create a sense of scepticism within individuals, once again, in order to ensure their consumption of unsustainable yet profitable goods. “Carbon Offset” and “Carbon Hedging” have been used as examples in this book, showcasing the capitalisation of dire global concerns. The former refers to the “International Emissions Trading System”, which occurs between nation-states. As of 2010, the year in which this work was published, it has reached the value of $62 Billion. On the converse, the latter, however, is used to describe the European Union’s emissions trading system. Wall also claims that the short period of a slow rise in greenhouse gases occurred due to the sudden increase in the prices of oil, and not due to the genuine reduction of carbon due to use of fossil fuels or other means. Certain paradoxes and hypocrisies are also highlighted within this book, with regard to the working of international institutions and bodies, for instance, the claim that the United Nations runs on “corporate interest”, as well as sustainable development being used as a front to “sustain profits, not protect the environment”. Another example used is by Wall to describe the seeping of capitalist tendencies into political bodies is that of The Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CSCDGC), which at the time was headed by an individual working for the Peabody Coal Company, and worked as an environmental advisor.

Eco-socialist policies must be introduced and implemented to protect the environment, which must be based on “Common Property Rights”, with the “Key Commons” being land and information. Wall further asserts that there has to be “Real Democracy” and “Economic Democracy”, which require state regulation and effectiveness while placing emphasis on the role of workers and trade unions in creating plans for an eco-socialist society. It implies a more worker or masses-based approach, instead of the current “individualistic” approach of the capitalist system. Wall repeatedly highlights the role of indigenous people and communities all around the world, and their positive means of environmental advocacy, as well as their ability to have protected their environmental surroundings.

The historic roots of Eco-socialism have also been explored within Wall’s work, along with citing the dissertations of Marx, Engels, Morales, and Foster. Not only so, but the eco-socialist, environmental, or Leftist policies are showcased as well, with a specific focus on Cuba. One critique of The Rise of The Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement, would be that it has a more Euro-centric, as well as America-centric approach. Wall dedicates a significant amount of his work to Asia and Africa, yet is not consistent with examples from the same, and instead looks into the Americas and Europe more. While Wall introduces possible solutions, he fails to shed light on the difficulty of change in the current capitalist system. Overall, it is an interesting read for those who wish to know about the possible actions which can be undertaken in order to create a better future which keeps in mind the environment, as well as economy.


“he sees me as one of the representatives of the indigenous struggle”.

 

Works Cited:


“Green Party (UK).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Aug. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_(UK).


“Hugo Blanco (Politician).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Aug. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Blanco_(politician).


“The Green Party's Political Programme for 2018: The Green Party.” Green Party, www.greenparty.org.uk/political-programme.html.


Wall, Derek. The Rise of the Green Left: inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement. Pluto Press, 2010.

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