Photo taken by attendees at the Texas Eco-Socialism Conference. Photo of Liberation.
The organized movement to reform the system has grown as the climate change effects worsen and the evidence is overwhelming. A precedent-setting conference was organized in Texas by eco-socialism organizers. It drew nearly 100 people to Texas, where oil and natural gas companies still hold the reins.
The Texas Party for Socialism and Liberation branches, along with organizers and activists from Texas, New Mexico and Mississippi, and many other states, gathered for the 2022 Texas Eco-Socialism Conference, which took place April 23. POWER, which stands as Public Ownership of Water and Electric Resources was also present at the event. Presenters covered a wide range of local, national, and international issues connected to capitalism’s degradation of the earth and what we can do to fight back. Participants were also given hands-on workshops by activists on how to learn from socialist solutions to environmental degradation.
The first session opened with a panel discussing the issues facing Texas and how they relate to international struggles. Many of the presentations focused on the aftermath the 2021 winter storm. This was when the state’s power grid was at risk of total collapse. Over 700 people were killed in temperatures below those of Alaska and Siberia. Meanwhile, the state power grid prioritized energy consumption to empty downtown offices and unused stadiums. This institutional failure affected millions of people across the state, and it is the direct result of Texas’ energy policy that favors corporate profits over reliability, sustainability, and preparedness. Other panelists discussed the ongoing, daily experiences with environmental racism, immigration, and climate refugees, as well as the need to provide public utilities and the dangers posed by the Texas oil-and-gas industry.
Brianna Griffith, organizer, concluded the plenary with a sketch out of demands for an ecosocialist future in Texas and around the world. “The only resolution to the contradictions we’re facing — the only permanent set of solutions to the climate crisis — is revolution,” said Griffith. “Capitalism is driving us to the edge of planetary ruin and is unwilling to hit the brakes, much less turn the car around. Only socialism — the power of the people — can right the course and save the planet.” Griffith also stressed the need for working people to expand this fight into every arena:
“What we need to remember is that there is no shortcut, no secret magic trick that will make politicians or corporations give a damn. Only with greater organization, greater numbers and a willingness for battle can we win.
“This is a fight for labor unions, tenant unions, for whole communities, for oppressed people, and has the potential to unite us all. Many of these organizations will have to be built from scratch. Many will need to remember what it’s like to fight.
“Those are the tasks ahead of us: to talk to our coworkers, our friends, our neighbors, to have a dialogue with them, share our knowledge, hear their knowledge, understand their needs, and forge the bonds of common struggle to meet those needs and more.”
Attendees then attended their choice of three breakout workshops, tackling topics such as Cuba’s short- and long-term sustainability plans as one of the most ecologically sustainable countries on the planet, socialist city planning for public transportation and parks, and indigenous agricultural methods and cultivation of sustainable forests.
After lunch, attendees were invited to continue in afternoon workshops on global issues and possible solutions. Anti-war organizers challenged participants to reimagine the use of resources if they renounced imperialism. POWER activists outlined the long history behind the fight for public utilities. Tina Landis led a session about ecological regeneration, which goes beyond preventing climate change to heal the damage. Workshops emphasized the contradictions that make capitalism incapable of solving the climate crisis, but more importantly, charted a constructive path to a future where solving the climate crisis is possible — a socialist future.
The participants gathered again for a panel discussion on local struggles in the middle of the afternoon. Presenters addressed local issues in Texas such as landlord greed and mismanagement of utilities. The most important thing was the way they work with communities in order to provide assistance, fight against capitalist exploitation, win.
The keynote speech by Tina Landis (author of “The Keynote Address”) was then delivered to the participants. Climate Solutions Beyond Capitalism Environmental activist. She discussed concrete solutions to the climate crisis, drawn from existing science and dispelling the nihilistic myth that “there’s nothing we can do” to stop climate catastrophe.
“There are real solutions to climate change that could end the crisis within just one generation,” said Landis, “but you will never hear that from the corporate media, because the transformations required spell the demise of capitalism.” Landis concluded:
“To get there we need to organize in our communities, educate each other about the solutions, and demand that our government take real action that equals the urgency of the crisis. Only 5% of Americans believe there is anything they can do to reverse climate change, despite increasing concern. If people don’t know that there are solutions, they won’t stand up and demand action, which is why we all need to educate others on this urgent issue.
“And in the end, we need socialism, that overthrows the rule of the billionaire class and puts the power and resources of society into the hands of the workers. It may seem as though we are small and they have all power, but this illusion is only temporary. There are millions around the globe working for real transformation of how humanity lives on the planet, you just won’t read about it in the corporate media. Now more than ever, we need to harness our revolutionary optimism — our hope that is based in reality and the understanding that the working class has the knowledge and capacity to make the change that’s needed to end the climate crisis … and we must act now.”
After Landis answered questions, PSL organizers shared their life experiences that inspired them to join the movement.
The conference’s overarching theme stressed that, despite the dire situation, there are viable solutions that can reverse the trend of climate destruction and restore the planet. But it will require a movement of millions — the millions of working people who are so often told that we are powerless — to overturn the exploitative system that is killing the planet. If we are willing to fight for it, an eco-socialist future can be achieved.