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? 

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, 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.

Feminist Working Group

November 15, 2016 · 3 rsvps
Feminist Working Group Call

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