The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, August 6, 2016

AGAINST 'petty-bourgeois groups with a catastrophist “leave it in the ground” approach to fossil fuels.'

Some troll-bait for the radicals and leftists: a communist perspective on fossil fuels that starts with internationalism:

On coal, jobs: start with working class



In a letter below, Jerry Gardner asks about the Socialist Workers Party’s position on coal production, providing an opportunity to compare the approach of the three major parties — the capitalist Democrats and Republicans and the working-class Socialist Workers Party — on jobs, energy and the stewardship of nature.

The SWP starts with the interests of the world working class — including the need of workers and farmers in Asia, Africa and elsewhere for reliable access to electricity — and joins struggles for unions, safe working conditions and jobs, and against practices that harm the land, water and air.

“If we translate everything commonly thought of as an environmental issue into how to advance the protection of the working class, and how the working class can extend that protection to all, then we can hardly ever go wrong,” SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes said in a 1993 talk published in Capitalism’s World Disorder.

With the worldwide contraction of capitalist production and trade, layoffs in coal, oil and manufacturing are rising. The coal bosses use the downturn to attack the union, tear up pensions, speed up production and lower safety standards, leading to an increase of respiratory disease and unsafe conditions.

In recent door-to-door campaigning in Utah, Socialist Workers Party members had discussions with workers critical of the Obama administration’s policy to limit coal production with no regard for the thousands who lose their jobs, a policy supported by petty-bourgeois groups with a catastrophist “leave it in the ground” approach to fossil fuels.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton angered many when she said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” while vaguely promising “economic opportunity” from “renewable energy.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump demagogically pledged, “Our steelworkers and our miners are going back to work again,” proposing free rein to mine bosses and lifting “restrictions on the production of American energy.”

In sharp contrast to the capitalist candidates, Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy — a former coal miner — puts forward a working-class road to defend land and labor. Kennedy explains that coal causes premature deaths every year and produces enormous carbon emissions. While it will remain a major power source for some time, it’s not the solution to humanity’s long-term energy needs.

“Under the capitalist system that puts profits before human needs,” Kennedy said in a May 11 statement, “the inherent dangers in mining, the environmental consequences from uncontrolled burning of coal, and the energy needs of millions worldwide will never be solved. Under capitalism any transition to cleaner energy production means throwing thousands of miners out of work. The working class in power would ensure that every miner is guaranteed a socially useful job and rewarding place in the process of organizing such a transition.”

An example of this working-class approach can be seen in how, when the sugar industry in Cuba had to be restructured, the revolutionary government there held thousands of meetings with sugar workers and guaranteed their wages through training and the transition to other jobs. Workers and their organizations helped shape each step of the process.

“The working class must end forever the rule of the bosses,” Kennedy said. “Taking political power into our own hands, coal miners and other workers can organize to ensure no worker has to die on the job. We can take control of the stewardship of labor and the environment, and organize access to energy and electricity, equalizing workers’ conditions worldwide.”

Kennedy urges workers to join her in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8 at the United Mine Workers rally against bosses’ moves to end health care and pension benefits for thousands of retired miners and their families.

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