Climate is class war — what next for green activism?

An alliance of non-hierarchical groups formed over the last few months, the Green Anticapitalist Front is attempting to provide a link between the extensive anarchist experience of green direct action and the latest wave of climate change activism. Below, the group outlines its background and ideas for future activity.

The ideas behind the Green Anticapitalist Front have been brewing in the background for some time, as many anti-capitalists have already been involved in direct ation groups like Earth First! and Reclaim the Power.

When the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests phenomenon came along we were faced with a choice: either engage with an inherently reformist project which worked with the police or try to create a new front which could bring together different strands of anti-capitalism for actions which were directly antagonistic to capital. We recognised action was needed, and quickly, so standing on the sidelines or simply critiquing XR was not an option.

We started as four people in the London Anarchist Federation’s ecology working group and although we were confident of our critique of capitalism’s role in causing climate change and the State’s role in facilitating this, we felt that there was a lot to be learned from other political currents about what a future ecotopia might look like and how we might achieve this.

A broad front could offer a space for cross-fertilisation of ideas, to learn from projects such as the Internationalist Commune in Rojava, and build solidarity networks across existing groups. With this as our starting point we have aimed to build a network of activists from across the anti-authoritarian left that offers an alternative to the liberal politics of XR.

We start from the premise that any environmental movement must acknowledge that under the current capitalist system it is the working class who will bear the brunt of both the effects of climate change and the costs to mitigate these. This is the unspoken truth which underlies all green capitalism solutions; the costs of adaption will be socialised whilst the profits will be kept private. We are heading into dangerous territory if we do not challenge this idea, or the ‘strong borders’ rhetoric coming from both major political parties in the UK which will most likely be used to keep climate refugees out.

This same logic will be used to ensure our living standards are maintained while those in less economically developed countries will face greater and greater threats to their livelihoods. As climate change begins to bite we are more likely to see war and militarism stoked by the tensions between countries for resources and this too must be fought.

We must state that while we are critical of some of XR’s politics and tactics we can not but be impressed by the scale of the action they achieved in the Rebellion Week of Spring 2019, particularly as it moved away from static occupations pre-arranged with the police. In solidarity with their actions we arranged our own demonstration where we took to the City of London to bring some Rebellion Week disruption to the heart of the global financial network. Although we were sadly unable to take over the stock exchange (next time, we promise) we held a lively procession through the City with demonstrations outside financial institutions and banks. As a first action we felt this was incredibly successful as with a fraction of the numbers of XR we were able to cause significant disruption by not working with the police and allowing a diversity of tactics to unfold. As our movement grows we hope to achieve greater actions that are confrontational to capital as well as develop our ideas of what the future could look like post-capitalism.

We were heartened that as Rebellion Week progressed XR’s tactics and targets began to mirror our own as they stopped announcing their actions to the police and began to pick financial targets to highlight the link between capitalism and climate change. We feel we’ve engaged positively with many members of XR and were even invited to speak at their open assembly.

We hope our groups can continue to work in tandem and that our ideas and tactics will be more generally accepted by the movement; particularly now the leadership of XR have decided that entering the state apparatus through elections is their next plan.

Over the Summer we hope to meet and broaden the Green Anticapitalist Front further and gain inspiration and strength from other political tendencies and groups. The world 50 years from now will look very different from the one we are currently in — the question is what actions can we take to make sure the global working class thrives in balance with other natures and avert climate catastrophe. For us the answer is destroying capitalism: if you feel the same, join us.

Climate struggle is class struggle!