Old WSM Environment & Animal Rights position paper - replaced 2007


This is the text of the old 'Environment & Animal Rights' position paper.  It was removed at the 2007 National Conference and is kept here for archiving purposes. You can read the current paper 'The Environment'

1. We value humanity over all other life on earth although we recognise that our planet is a complex and developing web of interdependent life forms. The survival of humanity depends on maintaining balance within this web, the variety of its' species and habitats. All human activity, especially industry, mining etc. must be conducted in a way conscious of this reality
2.Humanity to survive must make use of the world's material resources. Decisions should be made democratically after free discussion and bearing in mind the vital necessity of our dependence on nature and on the health of the planet. Production should be to satisfy need and not profit. Right now environmental conditions are seriously deteriorating. However the capitalist class far from suffering are actually reaping the benefits whilst shielded from the worst effects. This crisis highlights the fact that the vast majority have absolutely no control over how the earth is used and for whose benefit

3. The present environmental crisis is due to capitalist industrialisation, which puts profit first before the health of the environment and the needs of the people.

4. Our aim is to reorganise industry under workers self-management so that all industry is based on ideas of sustainability and measured in terms of the needs of humanity and the balance required with nature. Reduction of waste and needless production, reuse of resources and production of goods to last, recycling of waste to the greatest degree possible, these are all important objectives. We are for sustainable development to remove the burden of poverty and oppression suffered by people in the underdeveloped world. Whilst population growth is often cited as the cause of many environmental problems, the truth is that it is the capitalist system that is the greater culprit. The worlds resources properly employed can sustain the worlds population and more. A more equal society with greater personal freedom would result in a levelling off of population figures in any case.

5. Much of capitalist production is unnecessary due to built in obsolescence or advertising pressure and socially useless industries such as arms production etc. Directing some of that productive capacity to vital goods and services for the underdeveloped world would not involve increased production in overall terms. Sustainability is of key importance but this should not be incompatible with ensuring a comfortable life for all.

6. The major problem of capitalist industrial pollution and the destructive extraction of raw materials needs to be tackled on a class basis. It is not those who take the profits but the working class who suffer the consequences of polluted water, contaminated food etc. Only by the people directly effected taking democratic control of such industry can the problem be solved

7. Environmental crises and famines in the less developed countries are a result of capitalist exploitation and the harnessing of these countries industry and agriculture to meet the needs of international capitalism. The working class in the developed world have more in common with the workers and peasants of these countries than with our own ruling class. Poverty, in equality and exclusion are common features of the developed world. We are not rivals but should be united in our struggle against capitalist exploitation.

8. Direct action by workers and local communities against the activities of polluting factories is the best way to tackle pollution. Where factories cannot be made safe the jobs should be replaced locally with other sustainable industries making use of the skills of the workforce while preserving their pay levels and promotional opportunities.

9. Nuclear power is demonstrably unsafe. Profits and the needs of the arms industry are placed before safety and the risks are far too great to justify its use. Power production through renewable resources such as wind power, hydro electric schemes and solar energy are far more desirable. Energy saving initiatives and more imaginative building technologies could substantially reduce the growing demand for power.

10. The destruction of the rain forests is due to large capitalist concerns 'strip mining' the trees. We call for strike action against such companies to force them to re-forest and manage extraction. It is also due to the emigration of land hungry peasants and unemployed workers from the countries in these regions. This is a by-product of the grinding poverty produced in these countries by capitalism and imperialism. As such the problem will only be solved by revolution and development in those countries. We call for the building of unions among such workers and the carrying out of education programs by revolutionaries within these unions.

11. Practically in Ireland this involves calling on Irish unions to support the construction of these unions and aid in their financing. It involves organising solidarity campaigns with the struggles of these workers. We note that union recognition disputes are already a major part of the workers struggles in this region, e.g. Brazilian rubber tappers.

12. We oppose the testing of atomic, biological and chemical weapons in all circumstances and support blacking of goods and services as well as other direct action to halt such tests.

13. We call on the trade unions to fund their own environmental monitoring section answerable to the workers and community affected, and to publicise and organise action against industries which expose workers or the community at large to toxic substances, pollution etc.

14. Within unions we also demand industry uses re-cycled products where possible and finds alternatives for products or by-products which harm the environment. Industrial action should be used to force the bosses to comply.

15. Under capitalism most animal experimentation carried out is unnecessary, we oppose all experimentation for military and cosmetic purposes. Where animal experimentation is vital for medical research it should be reduced to the minimum necessary levels. We support the right of students and laboratory workers to refuse to experiment on or dissect animals. We support workers victimised for leaking details of experiments.

16 We oppose animal liberation campaigns which endanger workers lives through firebombing of stores or labs, and the harmful contamination of foodstuffs, etc.

17. There has been a rapid development of genetic engineering and biotechnology. Biotechnology like any other technology holds out the promise of an improved standard of living but also of potential dangers.

For example advances in fertility treatment maybe of tremendous advantage to childless couples. Genetic screening can give advance warning of diseases like cancer.

We do not know if genetically engineered food and medicines pose an inherent threat because there is no independent, publicly answerable research into these issues. Certainly using anit-biotic residence genes as markers for other genes or inserting toxin producing genes into plants to kill insects raises serious questions in relation to human health.

The fundamental issue is not technology but who controls it. That does not mean we uniformly embrace all technology. In general we favour environmentally friendly technology e.g. wind and solar energy as opposed to nuclear power.

Under capitalism we oppose the introduction of GM crops, which cross pollinate with the natural plant. Their introduction in an anarchist society would depend on conclusive research and a democratic debate about the necessity or value of such crops.

18. The present problems of Gridlock and pollution are the results of a bosses solution to a bosses problem; more roads and more cars. We favour more investment in rail and buses, restrictions on cars in urban areas and more cycle/ pedestrian favouring road system. Again we believe the issue is one of control, that workers have little control over the decisions that effect their lives.

Updated 1998, replaced 2007.

This is the text of the old 'Environment & Animal Rights' position paper.  It was removed at the 2007 National Conference and is kept here for archiving purposes. You can read the current paper 'The Environment'