With about thirty people in attendance the meeting began with a speaker from the newly formed Leeds group "We won't pay for your crisis".
The blurb for the talk was as follows:
We are in the midst of two crises, the climate crisis and the economic crisis. The two are intimately connected, yet some seem to see them as separate. The organisation of society around the world has moved in a broadly similar direction over the last thirty years, it is this direction, neo-liberalism, that is in crisis. For those campaigning to stop global warming this changes everything. The word 'crisis' has its origins in a medical term meaning turning point—the point in the course of a serious disease where a decisive change occurs, leading either to recovery or to death. It is the point when an intervention can make the most difference. With the London G20 in April and the Copenhagen summit on climate change in November we desperately need to discuss how we can intervene into these crises both locally and internationally. We cannot act as if nothing has changed in the last year.
And the talk lived up to its billing. A particularly interesting point made was that for capital the climate crisis is an energy crisis and capital has always had an energy crisis. A nearly fatal energy crisis caused by our insubordination had only been solved when the introduction of coal power could replace the muscle power we were refusing. In fact the point made was that the last time capitalism was based on wind power - sails and windmills - it was also accompanied by slavery and genocide.
The talk ended with the great point that struggles that will stop climate change probably won't start with those actively campaigning on climate change but from the sources we least expect. With the recent strikes at refineries in mind we were reminded that the greatest revolutions start from the most unusual places. The first Russian revolution in 1905 was started with a typesetters strike - they were striking to get paid for punctuation and not per letters. The apostrophe revolution, anyone?
The discussion that followed the talk was very interesting with a lot of agreement that capitalist solutions to the climate crisis such as carbon trading were being looked at by government as a way to restart stalled growth. Growth that will ensure that the worlds remaining underground carbon is pumped into the air.
With the Climate Camp happening in the City of London this year and huge protests planned around the COP15 summit on climate change in Copenhagen this November, where the US and UK will push for carbon trading schemes as a way of avoiding real change, these current crises are the best chance to change the world for the better we will have in our lifetimes. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
Interestingly there is a meeting at the Common place this Monday with some activists from Copenhagen speaking about the planned COP15 protests.
The “WE WON’T PAY FOR YOUR CRISIS” group are having a big meeting and gig at the common place on March 28th.