How Can We Change Everything, if We Don’t Have Everyone?

By Carol Newton and Charles Fredricks

In the title above, we’ve borrowed a popular meme that postulates what it will take to move from a future of climate disruption to one of sustainability, to wit: “to change everything, we need everyone.” How do we get there when access to the power of everyone is stifled by insufficient information? Where is the mainstream news for the rest of the people? 

MarchingIn.jpg
700 nurses marching into Pershing Square in Los Angeles, 12/3/15 to rally for climate justice

 

It soon became clear that only the progressive press was covering the actual Paris climate change conference, and that meaningful information was not getting to the public. This is a real story itself and it leaves an enormous educational role for the climate-aware community, including our community of eco-socialists with our emphasis on changing how people see themselves as part of the solution.

But first the “OMG” rocking social media: Yesterday Arnold Schwarzenegger gave an address to the COP21 audience. (The Conference of Parties, COP21, is also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference). Ah, celebrity and mainstream memes! Even though his capitalist proposal could soften the effects of the crisis as it deepens, his misdirection of public attention away from the role of capitalism in the crisis could neutralize the very changes to individual and collective responsibility so crucial to survival of the planet’s inhabitants.  

How can we be so negative about someone who seems to be on the side of solutions? After all, don’t we need everyone and won’t an upbeat rallying cry help?  

Mainstream enthusiasm has bubbled up for the expected COP21 agreement, if you are a subscriber to the narrative that capitalism will save the day, but details and substance from the conference itself are replaced by catchy metaphor from celebrities. Many scientific experts have stated that the goals of COP21 are themselves insufficient—limit “global warming” to 2 degrees Celsius, or less, by 2100, increase use of renewable energy sources, and reduce use of fossil fuels—and will not be achieved with the voluntary nature of the controls proposed. 

The Left has another narrative: deep changes are needed in the way we live on our finite planet; a deep commitment to the wellbeing of all life is required to change the outcome already programmed by past and current behavior.  

We have some proof of the promise of our Left analysis, so this is what we will report on.  

Locally, in our city of Los Angeles, there are numerous well-attended public rallies to brag about (full disclosure, DSA-LA has/will be participants in all of them). On Nov. 29 at the South Lawn steps of Los Angeles City Hall, about 20 local leaders spoke to the 500 faithful assembled to kick off the first week of observances; and on Dec. 3—in the middle of a workday—the powerful nurses’ union (CNA/NNU) marched out, 700-strong, to an in-progress rally of 400 additional activists from 350.org, Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch (FWW), Converging Storms Action Network (CSAN), and others. The CNA/NNU entrance was dramatic, and the Dixieland-style marching band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” was an especially nice touch. The nurses’ presentation at each rally has included a promise to be there to care for all victims of climate change—a sobering reminder of the potential of climate change for disruption to normal life.

On Dec. 12, two upcoming events will keep organizers and activists busy all day. Draw a Red Line Against the Gas will kick off the day with a morning protest against the SoCal Gas Co. well that has been spewing methane-laced natural gas into the atmosphere for more than a month in the community of Porter Ranch, northeast of metro Los Angeles. By Nov. 24th the amount of methane leaked was already equivalent to burning 1 billion pounds of coal, according to KCET, and hundreds of families have been evacuated.  

Then, in the afternoon, a 2-mile vigil-styled demonstration on Wilshire Blvd, organized by CSAN and co-sponsored by DSA-LA and 43 other local groups, will continue to drive home the message against fossil fuels and greed. This event, called Building Blocks Against Climate Change, is designed to allow any group to choose their own location as part of an interlinking network of protests and bring this message to the people on the streets of Los Angeles.  

In contrast to Schwarzenegger’s booster-ism for a limitless future economy in renewables, the Building Blocks event will provide a progressive AND socialist voice of reason in favor of a different approach. We are hopeful that our efforts to propose an alternative, socialist solution will be heard. Of course, that means we have to commit to taking it forward no matter how little is accomplished in Paris and by the international conferees when they return home. 

We hope that, if heard, we can change everything because we have moved everyone. 

We will be reporting next week on what the conferees were able to agree on and how we believe we can lead the struggle for the changes needed but missing from the agreement.

Carol Newton and Charles Fredricks are members of Los Angeles DSA.     

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
· 31 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 39 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 90 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 25 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 1 rsvp

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
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Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
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Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.