From the November-December 2019 issue of News & Letters
Beverly Hills, Calif.—On Sept. 27, a coalition of about 400 activists gathered in front of Brazil’s Consulate here to protest the policies of the Brazilian government—especially its negligence regarding the burning of the Amazon rainforest—and to express their indignation toward the policies of the U.S. government for not participating in the world Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. As Greta Thunberg mentioned, the leaders are not doing anything substantial to prevent worldwide pollution. According to the World Health Organization, 13 people are dying every minute from air pollution. Meanwhile the Amazon forest, known as “the lungs of the earth,” is burning.
By the afternoon, the protest extended to the four corners of the intersection. According to the Center for International Environmental Law, the incineration of only one by-product of capital, plastic, will generate 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases—equal to the emission from 189 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants. Multiply that by the immense number of industries taking in the Earth’s resources and spitting out products that are not needed!
“I think it’s important to be at the Brazilian consulate because the Earth is the only home that we have,” said young activist Rebecca Porter. “It has sustained us for so long, and it doesn’t make any sense to be killing the planet that sustains you. We don’t have anywhere else to go. We definitely need wide-scale policy changes to help protect it. I do what I can at home, but our government needs to get behind the goal of creating change, pass the Green New Deal, and head in that direction. Our situation now is very problematic and not getting any better.”
Many protesters were carrying signs saying “End Capitalism.” It may prove a Herculean task to move this monstrosity out of the way, but the need and the willingness to participate in offering a replacement for this system is the real challenge. What human relationship do we agree on to replace capitalism? Since the human imagination has created the capital relationship, it can also come up with its antithesis, which will be the beginning of what Marx had called “permanent revolution.”