Global climate strike: ‘One Solution, Revolution’ becomes cry for climate justice in Lahore

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Hiba Jafri

A number of youth responded in fervour when the slogan ‘One Solution, Revolution’ was raised at the climate protest in Lahore on Friday. The march from Lahore Press Club to Al Hamra Hall was organised as part of the global climate strike action. Simultaneous protests took place in different cities across the globe and in Pakistan.

A large number of participants showed up at the protest in Lahore. According to a conservative estimate, there were about a thousand people, mainly youth, who attended the march while approximately 3000 people participated in the programme at the culminating point, which was Al Hamra Hall. A number of school students along with their teachers were also there. Placards carried messages such as ‘Burn the patriarchy, not the planet’, ‘Strike while the planet is hot’, ‘What I stand for is what I stand on’, ‘Save our earth’, ‘Stop global warming’, ‘Free Climate prisoners’ and many more. Slogans for the release of left leader and climate activist Baba Jan were also raised.

Movements help us develop the best practices and methods as the movements themselves develop. An important lesson that we learned after the march in Lahore in conversation with other activists was that many people did not understand what the protest was about as posters and slogans were often in English. Many did not understand how the issue of climate change connected to their problems and could not see how climate change related to their “more immediate issues”. This certainly should not be taken to be a sign of the “backward” consciousness of traders and workers. Instead, it should serve as an argument for us to reflect on the need as activists to consciously raise slogans in the language(s) that the participants understand, raise political demands that affect them and then in light of that produce written material that can be handed to bypassers and activists who actually spread the word during the protest. We can all bear in mind these considerations when we organise the next public event on climate action as this opens the avenue to tapping into the potential of workers, lower middle classes and the common poor.

The fact that the sound of ‘One Solution, Revolution’ resonated with a number of youth speaks about the potential of building solidarities between youth and workers and making the climate action movement an anti-capitalist one. It also shows how these youth can be mobilised alongside workers to demand for system change as against climate change. Bourgeois governments focus on what all they can take away from us. They will penalise the common man for plastic consumption but won’t levy heavy taxes on corporations that are responsible for today’s environmental devastation. We believe that while responsible consumption is important, the environmental crisis can be tackled in the specific context of Pakistan if a substantial agricultural revolution and a thorough social transformation of urban production is carried out. In short, this would ensure that the prevailing social relations are changed through the collective revolutionary action of workers and poor peasants, establishing a planned and democratic economy. Such a revolution should reorganise agriculture in sustainable ways, which at the same time can benefit an industrialisation and building of renewable energies. Such a revolution would be part of actual climate justice. However, this will not happen spontaneously – it can only happen under the pressure of workers, peasants, youth, women and all the oppressed people. Finally, we must have no illusions in the capitalist system that has created this crisis as a result of its greed to maximise the corporations’ profits. The nature of this capitalist system is such that it drives people towards private consumption without taking into account the ecological, economic and social viability of such consumption. For example, replacing a culture of private cars with an affordable and good quality public transport system would be ecologically, economically and socially more viable for the greater good of humanity. But it will not happen under capitalism as private capitalists would not benefit from it. Therefore, the fight for climate justice has to also be anti-capitalist in nature. We will have to mobilise youth, women, and all oppressed people alongside workers to ensure that we replace climate change with a system change.

In this regard, the following two points highlight what demands can be raised to open a political road for the building of such a movement that places not the individual consumer in the center but brings those social forces into the arena of action which can be actual subjects of change.

-Formation of committees of poor peasants and agricultural workers to assess the impact of climate change, to discuss necessary measures to prevent collapse of food production and a reorganisation of agricultural production with the advice of scientists committed to the movement. Such committees can become a strong force for agricultural revolution not only to make agriculture green but to expropriate the landlords and nationalise big agricultural industries.

-Opening of the books of industrial companies to assess their profitability and their negative impact on the workers and environment. On such grounds, workers can organise both a struggle against the parasitic extraction of profits, flowing to Dubai or London, and can also fight for workers control to implement immediate measures to make factories environmentally friendly and less pollutive.

Other than the protest in Lahore, thousands of people marched in Islamabad and Karachi while protests and related activities took place in 30 other cities. This is a welcome development, both because of the importance of the issue and because it opens a space for crystalisation of a youth as well as a potential workers movement.

If you agree with the above and would like to collaborate and organise alongside us, please contact us via email (rsmoct17@gmail.com) or message us on our Facebook page (REVOLUTIONARYSOCIALISTMOVEMENT).

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