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Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision
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Toward Democratic Eco-Socialism in Australia as Part of a Global Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: A Utopian Vision

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By Hans Baer, Melbourne

By Hans Baer, Melbourne

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  • 1. TOWARD DEMOCRATIC ECO-SOCIALISM IN AUSTRALIA AS PART OF A GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION STRATEGY: A REAL UTOPIAN VISION
    • Hans A. Baer
    • School of Philosophy, Anthropology, and Social Inquiry and Centre of Health & Society
    • University of Melbourne
    • Changing the Climate conference – Fourth Australian Conference on Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction – convened by Andrew Milner, Director of Comparative Literature, Monash University, 29 October 2010.
  • 2. ‘ REAL UTOPIAS’ PROJECT
    • Summarised by Erik Olin Wright in in ENVISIONING REAL UTOPIAS (Verso, 2010)
    • Marx and Engels wrote about ‘utopian socialism’
    • Vision of socialism, let alone communism, strike most people as utopian
    • Utopias generally viewed as unrealistic dreams
    • ‘ real utopias’
      • Achievable or realistic dreams or vision
    • Notion that capitalism constitutes ‘end of history’ utopian
    • Socialism ‘real utopia’ and will require numerous transitional steps
      • Transitional reforms
  • 3. CLIVE HAMILTON IN REQUIEM FOR A SPECIES
    • “ Without some unforeseeable stroke of luck, a warming of four degrees and more appears very likely. The best estimate is that we will reach that level in the 2070s or 2080, although if things go badly it could be as soon as 2060s.”
    • Counsels “only by acting, and acting ethically, can we redeem our humanity.”
    • Does not leave us a vision for getting humanity, including Australia, out of the quagmire that climate change presents all of us on numerous fronts
  • 4. DYSTOPIA SCENARIO #1 DEPICTED IN GEORGE TURNER’S THE SEA AND SUMMER (1987)
    • World temperature 4.5C higher than in 1990 by 2040s
    • “ Earth’s resources were sacked to shore up illusion of an endlessly expanding economy.”
    • Yarra had long ago been forced over its banks by rising tides
    • Coast roads have vanished
    • Winter last few weeks in Melbourne
      • Victoria fluctuated between drought and torrential floods
    • Lower floors of Melbourne tenements uninhabitable
    • Collapse of world exchange & money system
      • Coupon system and corruption
    • Repudiation of 3 rd World debt
    • Totalitarian Australian state
      • 9/10 of population is Swills
      • 24 Swill towers in Newport
      • Towers in Richmond
      • Swells live upland areas, such as Camberwell
      • University had been built on forward slopes of Dandanongs
    • Australia gave up upper 1/3 to Asians ‘squeezed from paddy fields’
  • 5. Tony Kevin on ‘The southern Australia, 2060: drowning cities in a parched land’ in CRUNCH TIME (2009)
    • Global average temperature increase 4C, 10C in polar regions, and 6 C in temperate regions
    • CO2e holding at around 550 ppm but global average temperature continues to rise
      • World decided to stop burning fossil fuels 30 years ago
    • Australians have in large numbers turned back on seashores
    • City centres are emptying out
    • Societies desperately pursuing autarkic solutions
    • Australian government ceded sovereignty over northern 1/2 of country, leaving it open for free settlement by climate refuges from Asia
    • Southern Australia landscape of dissolving coastlines, parched tablelands, and high inland desert
    • Diet more vegetarian
    • Heavy reliance on solar, wind, and geothermal energy
    • Civil aviation no more, private cars have virtually disappeared, but rail making comeback
    • Great changes in code of morals
    • Regulated market-economy
    • Mainly local economic activity
  • 6. CONTRADICTION IN KEVIN’S BOOK
    • Engineer with Keynesian economic perspective
    • Starts out with dystopian vision but a partially utopian vision of Australian society in 2060
      • Suggests need for ‘regulated market economy’
      • movement to ‘A Simpler Way’
    • ‘ People do not have to reject Australia’s affluent consumerist society to oppose global warming. People can legitimately support as high-consumption renewable energy-based society’ (p. 190).
  • 7. MY OWN SENSE OF MAINSTREAM EFFORTS TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE
    • vast majority timid
      • ETS, carbon offsetting, carbon sequestration, nuclear energy, geo-engineering, etc problematic
      • Ecological modernisation important but not enough
        • Solar, wind, geothermal, wave, energy efficiency, etc
      • ‘ How can you expect system that created problem to solve the problem?’
    • Things are going to worse before they better
    • Capitalist world system fraught with numerous contradictions
      • Growing gap between rich and poor
      • Resource wars
      • Depletion of natural resources
      • Environmental degradation, including CC
      • Poverty stimulates population growth
      • See GLOBAL WARMING AND THE POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF HEALTH by Hans Baer and Merrill Singer (Left Coast Press, 2009).
    • Imperative that we think outside of box – engage in utopian thinking
      • ENVISIONING REAL UTOPIAS – Erik Olin Wright
      • Social systems do not last forever
      • Time to begin to think about transcending global capitalism
  • 8. VISION OF GLOBAL DEMOCRATIC ECO-SOCIALISM OR GLOBAL DEMOCRACY
    • Production to meet social needs
    • Public ownership of means of production
    • High degree of social equality
    • mixture of representative and participatory democracy
    • mixture of centralisation and decentralisation at international, national, regional, and local levels
    • Environmental sustainability
      • Sources: THE SPIRAL OF CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM. Terry Boswell and Christopher Chase-Dunn, 2003 and MEDICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND THE WORLD SYSTEM. Hans A. Baer, Merrill Singer, and Ida Susser (2 nd edition, 2003).
  • 9. THEORIES ON POST-REVOLUTIONARY SOCIETIES
    • State socialism or ‘actually existing socialism’
    • Transitions between capitalism and socialism
    • State capitalism
    • New class societies
    • Reasons socialism not fully implemented: internal and external conditions
      • Hans Baer. CRUMBLING WALLS AND TARNISHED IDEALS: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF EAST GERMANY BEFORE AND AFTER UNIFICATION. University Press of America, 1998.
    • Trotsky’s notion of ‘permanent revolution ’
  • 10. THE DRIVE FOR DEMOCRATIC ECO-SOCIALISM: A GLOBAL PROJECT THAT MAY BE UNDERGOING RENEWAL
    • Robert W. McChesney and John Bellamy Foster
      • “ [S]ocialism, which offers the possibility of a more egalitarian, democratic, sustainable, and collective response to our problems, is a necessity on both social and environmental grounds if we expect to have a chance at a rational future or indeed any long-term future at all.”
      • “ With the failures and successes of some of the early social experiments in our rear-view mirrors, and the new socialism of the twenty-first century, pioneered above all in Latin America, in front of us, we believe that the classical notion of socialism has resumed its central role. To us, it is encouraging to see the left victories across Latin America in the past decade.”
      • Source: ‘Capitalism, the absurd system: a view from the United States.’ MONTHLY REVIEW, June 2010
    • Creating democratic eco-socialism would have to be part and parcel of a very complex global process
      • No such thing as ‘socialism in one country’
  • 11. A VISION OF AN ALTERNATIVE AUSTRALIA - TRANSITIONAL OR RADICAL REFORMS
    • Part and parcel of global struggle
    • Rejuvenated new left part as a strategy of achieving greater democracy
    • Carbon and other emissions taxes at sites of production
    • Public ownership of utilities and other industries
    • Movement toward greater social equality nationally and internationally
    • Renewable sources of energy, Need for green steel industry, energy efficiency, and green jobs
    • Sustainable transport
    • Resistance to Australian culture of consumption – need for a ‘simpler way’
    • Shorter work week
    • Redesigning cities
    • Sustainable agriculture and forestry
    • Challenging population bugaboo
  • 12. A REJUVENATED NEW LEFT PARTY – A PEOPLE’S OR ALLIANCE PARTY
    • ‘ Unholy alliance’ of various progressive groups and individuals
      • One that would learn from pitfalls of New Left Party (early 1990s), Rainbow Alliance (1987-1993), and more recently Progressive Party
    • Actors in New Left Party
      • More progressive Greens
      • Socialist parties and groups
        • Socialist Alliance
        • Solidarity
        • Socialist Party of Australia
        • Solidarity
        • Freedom Socialist Party
      • Independent eco-socialists and eco-anarchists
      • Left-wing and/or disgruntled ALP-types
      • Progressive immigrants
  • 13. STEEP CARBON TAX AND OTHER EMISSIONS TAXES AT SITES OF PRODUCTION
    • Not perfect instrument
      • Rebates for low-income people
    • Better than ETS and carbon offsetting schemes
    • Exists in several countries
      • Norway – carbon tax of $US50
      • Sweden – carbon tax of $US40
      • Denmark – carbon tax of $14
    • Dick Nicholls in GREEN LEFT WEEKLY, 10 March 2010
      • ‘ A rising carbon price is a powerful incentive for capitalists to move to less carbon-intensive production methods.’
      • ‘ A properly designed carbon tax would make possible generous compensation schemes for working people and people on welfare faced with rising fuel and electricity prices.’
      • ‘ If combined with the elimination of the GST, increases in welfare payments and cuts to income tax for the low-paid, a ‘tax mix’ that puts people and the environment before polluting corporations.’
  • 14. PUBLIC OWNERSHIP OF MEANS OF PRODUCTION
    • ‘ nationalisation,’ ‘socialisation,’ ‘direct investment’
      • Not particularly radical idea
      • Advocated by Socialist Alliance and Solidarity
      • Most Greens still quite timid about it – personal conversations with Clive Hamilton and Christine Milne
    • Would take a bold government with strong political will
    • Place to start would be with utilities
      • Shift away from coal and even natural gas
      • Renewable sources of energy: solar, wind, geothermal, etc
      • Opening for creation of ‘green jobs’
  • 15. MOVEMENT TOWARD GREATER SOCIAL EQUALITY
    • International comparison of income inequality
    • Country Richest 10% to Richest 20% to Gini coefficient
    • poorest 10% poorest 20%
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • Japan 4.5 3.4 0.249
    • Sweden 6.2 4.0 0.250
    • Germany 6.9 4.3 0.283
    • France 9.1 5.6 0.327
    • Australia 12.5 7.0 0.352
    • UK 13.8 7.2 0.360
    • USA 15.9 8.4 0.408
    • ________________________________________________________________
    • Source: UN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2006.
    • ABS (2006): Wealthiest 20% of households own 59% of wealth and bottom 40% own 7%.
  • 16. OTHER RADICAL REFORMS WOULD HOPEFULLY FOLLOW
    • Movement toward great social equality national and internationally
    • Ecological modernisation necessary but not sufficient condition for effective climate change mitigation
      • Renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency, public transport, minimising use of cars and airplanes, railways for transport and shipping, etc
    • Break capitalist treadmill of production and consumption
    • Need for ‘simpler way’
    • Redesigning Australian cities
    • Sustainable agriculture and forestry
      • Shift to vegetarianism
    • Addressing population bugaboo
  • 17. SOCIALISM VS COMMUNISM
    • Communism
      • ‘ From each according his abilities, to each other to his needs’
    • Socialism
      • ‘ From each according to his abilities, to each according to his work.’
    • Tolerable income inequality
      • Frank Stillwell = 3.1
      • Greater compensation for longer hours
      • Less compensation for shorter hours
    • Other compensations for meaningful work other than material rewards
      • Intrinsic rewards
      • Intellectual and even physical stimulation
      • Contribution to greater good - altruism
  • 18. ECOLOGICAL MODERNISATION OFTEN SEEN AS WAY TO ACHIEVE SAFE CLIMATE
    • Energy efficiency
    • Recycling
    • Alternative energy sources
      • Solar, wind, geothermal, wave – strong candidates
      • Nuclear energy – dubious in present form
      • Biofuels – problemmatic if require large chunks of land
      • Biochar – maybe
    • Green jobs
    • Many of above important but insufficient
  • 19. SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT
    • Good local public transport
    • Good regional and interstate public transport
    • Walking and cycling
    • Reduce cars as much as possible
      • Take cars out of CBDs
      • Ban four wheel drives except in mountainous or outback areas
    • Limit air travel
      • teleconferencing
    • Bioregional approach to holiday travel
  • 20. RESISTANCE TO THE AUSTRALIAN CULTURE OF CONSUMPTION
    • Mainstream Australian climate movement and Greens have sheepish of taking this one on
    • Ted Trainer – ‘A simpler way’
    • Smaller dwelling units
      • More characteristic of Europe and Japan
    • Fewer appliances and gadgets
      • Do we need huge plasma TVs?
      • Do we need a mobile phone for every member of the family?
    • My comments of resting the culture of consumption are directed primarily at the affluent, even the affluent in the working class, who turn to consumerism as a compensation for alienation in the workplace and in every day social life.
  • 21. NEED FOR A SHORTER WORK WEEK
    • Juliet Schor wrote THE OVERWORKED AMERICAN in 1991
      • Someone needs to write THE OVERWORKED AUSTRALIAN
    • Hours worked by F-T workers in various developed societies in 2007
      • Australia and NZ – 44 hrs
      • UK – 43 hrs
      • France and Germany – 41 hrs
      • Sweden – 40 hrs
      • Netherlands and Norway – 39 hrs
    • Union membership in various developed countries in 2003
      • Australia – 23%
      • Sweden – 78%
      • Norway – 53%
  • 22. REDESIGNING AUSTRALIAN CITIES
    • Automobile major culprit of suburban sprawl
      • Graeme Davison in CAR WARS
    • Light railways or high-speed trams
      • Port Melbourne 109 line
      • Adelaide and Perth
      • Portland, SLC, St Louis, San Diego in USA
      • Canberra would be excellent city to develop light rail
    • Rethink maximum size of cities
      • Germany as model
    • Rob Adams, Melbourne Director of City Planning and Design
      • Development of urban corridors for transport
      • Medium density housing – 4-8 stories
      • All developers will be required to provide 25% affordable housing in any residential redevelopment
  • 23. SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY
    • Perma-culture and organic agriculture
    • Community and urban gardens
    • Shift to vegetarianism and veganism
      • Livestock in particular requires enormous parcels of land and results in methane emissions
    • Bioregionalism in terms of food distribution and consumption
      • Consume what is in season
    • Maintain and restore forests
      • Preserve old-growth forests
  • 24. THE POPULATION BUGABOO
    • Tim Flannery in THE FUTURE EATERS asserts that Australia overpopulated
      • Optimum 6 – 12M
    • Greatest population growth occurs in poorest countries
      • Eliminate social inequality and population will stabilise, even eventually diminish
    • John Bodley in ANTHROPOLOGY AND CONTEMPORARY HUMAN PROBLEMS (2008)
      • A ‘more equitable distribution of economic resources would help slow population growth; however, it is crucial that improvements in the economic conditions of households be accompanied by policy changes that give women more control over fertility decisions making.’
  • 25. CONCLUSION ON THE REAL UTOPIAN VISION OF DEMOCRATIC ECO-SOCIALISM
    • Struggle for democratic eco-socialism will require long and protracted struggle
      • Not inevitable
      • May fry much of planet before meaningful change occurs
    • Must come to grips with realities of post-revolutionary societies
      • Characterised by excessive social inequality, authoritarianism, brutality, and environmental degradation
      • Why were there discrepancies between ideals and realities of socialism
    • ‘ Real utopian’ visions crucial to transformation of the world and Australia

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