Mass action on the climate crisis?
I was happy to see the new front page on global warming. It’s quite correct in arguing out that a movement based on mass action is the only thing that stands a chance of solving the crisis, and that socialists must help build such a movement.
A number of activist forces seem to be coming together, and I predict that by the time of the Copenhagen summit in December we will be able to speak of a true climate movement, perhaps of comparable importance to the anti-globalization movement of the last decade. However, none of the forces currently involved are calling for mass action, as we understand it, as a sustained strategy. True, 350.org is calling for actions, carried out by masses of people, but that is not the same thing as mass action.
They're calling for cute consciousness-raising activities on October 24th, the logic being that if enough people do something on the same day, the politicians will realize that we are right. The people associated with Powershift, the massive student conference on global warming, sometimes call demonstrations, but that organization is mainly focused on lobbying. The anarchists at Rising Tide are mobilizing for the demonstrations at the Copenhagen summit, which is important and good, but in general they are excessively oriented towards "direct action" (i.e. college kids getting themselves arrested at strip mines).
The tactical and political deficiencies in the movement (due to its domination by anarchists and liberals) make it all the more important that socialists get involved. We can and should help fill the mass-action vacuum by drawing on our ties with labor and community groups to build true mass actions against climate change. In particular, I think that socialists should organize local demonstrations on October 24th (the 350.org day of action) demanding climate legislation, "green jobs", public transit, etc.. Even if they weren’t very large, such demonstrations could shift the tone of the day of action towards political struggle, demonstrating to the rest of the movement the potential of a mass-action approach, and laying the seeds for something much broader and more powerful.
Also, I highly recommend reading Tanuro's USFI report on climate change. It contains very helpful analysis as well as concrete suggestions for integrating ecological demands into already existing movements.