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

April 24, 2017
· 46 rsvps

DSA is in the process of forming a Queer Socialists Working Group. This call will cover a discussion of possible activities for the group, its proposed structure, assigning tasks, and reports on the revision of DSA's LGBT statement and on possible political education activities. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 55 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

DSA New Member Orientation Call

May 06, 2017
· 52 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  2 pm ET; 1 pm CT; 12 pm MT; 11 am PT.  

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 18 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.