The Venice Climate Meeting was scheduled for the 4th of April 2020. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus we had to cancel it. But we just postponed it. We didn’t give up. Three and a half months later, we are even more convinced of the urgency to organize a national and European climate campaign able to tackle the disaster capitalism. The Climate Meeting will take place on Saturday, September 12th, at the Lido of Venice during the Venice Climate Camp.
Covid-19: the litmus test of the current ecological regime
It is exactly because of the coronavirus that we think it is right and urgent to consider capitalism a proper ecological regime. Isn’t the ongoing pandemic just a symptom of a wider ecological crisis? Epidemics and pandemics are more likely to explode because of the unlimited extraction of value from human and non-human nature. Viruses travel more rapidly along the global logistic lines and there are new outbreaks in the wet markets. We are more vulnerable because of pollution, environmental destruction, and a food industry characterised by the use of OGM, intensive farming and the loss of any connection with the territorial characteristics for what concerns production and consumption.
But the pandemic was not all about interruptions. Instead, as far as the Black Lives Matter movement is concerned, it worked as a trigger too. It is clear that the key point of that movement is race and the racialisation of a society, whose subalternities are still coming from the slave trade. However, the American protests have become what they are today also in response to the racial and classist inequalities arisen from the coronavirus. It is no secret that the Afro-American community is one of the most exposed to the risks of diseases and one of the less protected from the largely privatised health system. It is no secret even, that the very same community is one of the most affected by the environmental devastation and pollution. Therefore, we can see the movement also as the revolt of those people forced to pay the highest price of the global economic crisis.
The movements in the systemic crisis
While the effects of the climate crisis are spreading at an incredible speed and intensity, we believe it is important to establish some interpretative criteria, able to identify a possible future “of the movement” and “in movement”.
In the current situation, the search for an alternative system becomes a historical necessity like never before, if we want to preserve life on our planet. It has nothing to do with millenarianism, since the climate crisis is not a mantra able to set aside all the contradictions created by years of capitalism. It is rather a paradigm able to interconnect a multitude of short-, middle-, and long-term crises: the economic-financial crisis, the rule of law and the welfare models crisis, the material and immaterial work crisis. At the same time, the climate crisis interconnects – but never summarises – the four founding concepts of capitalism: class, race, gender and nature.
The coronavirus pandemic has uncovered these interconnections and can lead to a new era of struggle between capital and life. It can also be an inspiration for new perspectives – on the organizational and strategic level – for anyone with a complex political action, rather than “sectorial”.
The goal is therefore to avoid being overwhelmed by a rather “catastrophist” story-telling, which diminishes both the historical responsibilities that lead to the current situation, and the realistic possibilities to change it. It is the end of capitalism to be at stake, not the end of the world. Not only the end of the negationism with its identitarianism and reactionary vision, which is still destroying life in the name of private profits and the ideology of growth. It is also the end of green capitalism - oil companies like ENI have a wrong side of violent neo-colonialist politics and they are willing to continue using fossil fuels. It is indeed under the “green” shield that the principal tendencies leading to the “renovation” of capitalism of the past decades are hiding. Thanks to these tendencies, the very concept of “limit” of nature and life has become the driving force of accumulation. This new “growth paradigm” comes from the idea that the actors of social reproduction are limitless and free. We are talking about the care work, the exploited and often racialized work, and the work connected with nature e.g. the work-energy of the biosphere. The pandemic speeded up the crisis of this paradigm, evidently shot-circuiting an economic system which has always been bringing wealth from the bottom to the top.
Worldwide, most of the population is experiencing a lack of cash as a consequence of the lockdown. For this reason, the issue of income and the redistribution of wealth has become again a key theme in the public debate. Such an issue must be considered not only from the point of view of the “emergency”, but must be collocated inside the huge process of the “ecological transition” which has been going on for a couple of years.
At the European level, the green new deal interconnects relentlessly with the exceptional measures adopted by the governance, in order to tackle the current crisis. The “green transition” risks becoming a historical occasion for financial capitalism, if no one starts to demand and point out the necessity of a universal income. The transition must not interest only the energy sources, but the entire production and reproduction system behind them. Small and big pollution spots must be closed and reclaimed; salary must be converted in income; the ways of enhancement typical of the social reproduction sphere must be disrupted.
Contradictions and possibilities
It is among these many contradictions that we see the possibility of a real change of the balance of power between capital and life. Of course, we do not think this revolution is at hand, but we do believe it is more than ever necessary to aim for it, and provide ourselves with the means to reach it.
Furthermore, we believe the movement needs new forms of expressions – willing to achieve the European and global scale, but starting to seriously organize on a national level.
Before the pandemic, the young movements for climate justice were playing a major role. They took the streets worldwide, giving voice to an entire generation. They broke the silence and the resignation on the climate issue. They also abruptly reversed the tendency towards the social atomisation, imposed more and more invasively by the neoliberal lifestyle. Today, we must believe that this social fabric can transform itself and be subjectified. That it can become part of a shared anticapitalist project. That it can opt for political and social campaigns coordinated by multiple people, who consider blockages, sabotages the direct actions as legitimate and necessary practices against all those subjects – political and economical – worsening the climate crisis.
Furthermore, the explosion of the Fridays for Future movement and the climate strikes must be interpreted into a context of radical and non-circumstantial mobilisations, spreading counter-power and strongly fighting for new democratic institutions, the redistribution of wealth and the emancipation of any form of subalternity.
Even the growing number of forms of resistance to the fossil industry must be considered in such a context. Although it varies depending on the geographical area, its claim is global.
In Italy, the history of the committees against the great works is long and rich. They showed to the movement the impact of climate change on territories. They showed how the fossil industry works in Italy. It devastates the environment, kills animals, is corrupted, downplays the communities, dominates and waste the public resources. Instead, these resources should be used to ensure the safety of the territories already hit by climate change – from the severe high flood in Venice, to the fires of the past months in Australia and Siberia, and the record temperatures recently registered in the Arctic Circle area. We do believe that committees must become stronger locally. On the other hand, though, we think it is not enough. They must recognize climate and social justice as their common ground and organize accordingly.
An open invitation
The Venice Climate Meeting is an ambitious project. The goal is to create an open political space, where we can develop an anticapitalist climate justice campaign. The invitation is therefore for anyone who, like us, needs such a space, and wants to share their views on how it should work.
The meeting is open to organizations, movements, committees and single persons. To anyone connecting the climate crisis with global neoliberalism. To anyone against its extractive logic, which is devastating human and non-human nature and has a tremendous impact on subalternities, on poors, on women, on indigenous populations and on the Global South. The invitation is open to anyone who believes that a green new deal is not enough, and that without radical struggles it would become just another fake action of the status quo. It is open to anyone pretending rich people to pay the costs of the ecological transition, and not the precarious workers – who have already paid enough in the past decades. The meeting is for the eco-trans-feminists, who unveil the patriarchal structure of Capitalocene. It is open to anyone willing to demolish the human-nature dichotomy. To the supporters of freedom of movement for the people fleeing the disasters of capitalism. To who promotes new ways of care – not only between human beings, but also between humans and other species. Finally, the invitation is open to all the conflictual projects demanding a universal income and the redistribution of wealth, and also the many organizations which practised solidarity and mutual help actions during the health crisis.
The invitation is for all of you. We hope to meet you at the Venice Climate Meeting.