Organizing meeting of the ECOSOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL NETWORK
Summary: 33 people met for two days to discuss a more formal organization for the ECOSOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL NETWORK. They nominated a coordinating committee of six people charged with taking responsibility for action with respect to membership, finances, the website and related internet activities, linkages with other networks and organizations, conferences and other matters.
The coordinating committee was asked to report back to the network on who has what responsibility and what steps have been taken within two months or by end November 2010. This draft is based largely on memory for day one. Day two is based on notes and memory. I have asked others to revise this first draft. The meeting moved between formality and informality. Hence these notes narrate rather than follow the format of minutes for a formal business meeting.
An informal literature table included copies of Daniel Tanuro’s new book “L´impossible capitalisme vert”, Paris: Editions La Decourverts, 2010; and multiple copies of the magazine Canadian Dimension (September-October 2010) devoted to ecosocialism with articles by Cy Gonick, an interview with Joel Kovel and articles by network members Terisa Turner (on Cochabamba and climate change) and Leigh Brownhill on food. This special ecosocialist issue provided excerpts from a June 2010 panel on organizing for ecosocialism at the peoples’ forum associated with the G-20 meetings in Toronto with indigenous, union and ecofeminist views presented. Display copies of the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism were available and the importance of this journal as the network’s ecosocialist journal was underlined. Other documents were also made available.
Saturday 26 September 2010
At about 10 am some 33 people came to order and adopted a draft agenda prepared by M. Löwy and J. Kovel. A sign-up list was circulated (attached) and introductions provided by all. Wahu Kaara from Kenya sent regrets, along with others (ie. David Barkin from Mexico). The introductions provided brief insights into the activities of various people and groups from several countries.
M. Löwy and J. Kovel provided outlines of the ECOSOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL NETWORK activities and meetings to date (including the first Paris Conference (2007), the Belem Manifesto, the Belem Conference (January 2009), Copenhagen (December 2009), the US meeting in Detroit (June 2010). Emphasis was given to the importance of ecosocialism as the only international socialist initiative to address the ecological crisis within a framework of the crises of capitalism. While the network is small it is vital. This becomes more evident every day.
Hugo Blanco, on a speaking tour from Peru, joined us and spoke briefly on historical experiences of indigenous peoples with ecosocialism. He emphasized the importance of resolving questions of indigenous-non-indigenous solidarities by taking action. He urged the production of a publication such as a newsletter. Hugo Blanco observed that unity arises out of joint action initiatives, that the class issues arise clearly in the course of taking action. He referred to the Zapatistas and their democratic, grassroots governing relations. He noted that many of the people in the meeting could well possess an indigenous ecological sensibility, regardless of background.
The issues arising from de-growth debates were mentioned several times. The theme of “catastrophe framing” or otherwise arose. It was decided not to re-work the comic produced by the ECOSOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL NETWORK for the December 2009 Copenhagen (COP 15), Climate Change conference for Cancun (Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Accord COP 16) in December 2010. Another document is needed for Cancun, and Daniel Tanuro and Michael Lowy volunteered to coordinate with Mexican ecosocialists and others in this regard. Richard Greeman reminded us that he had produced a short version of the Manifesto and it is available on the wiki site.
The group carried on discussions in a neighboring pub over lunch and resumed the meeting until about 6 pm.
Sunday 27 September 2010
We met again at about 10 am. The questions of membership, affiliation, finances, the establishment of a coordinating committee and related matters were addressed. J. Kovel read an email from a Zimbabwean ecosocialist at the beginning of the meeting, sparking discussion of how to incorporate interested parties into the network. Reservations were expressed about identifying individuals to represent whole regions or continents because to do so could restrict the inclusion of other people. It was decided that membership in the ECOSOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL NETWORK will be through individuals, while organizations can have linkages. Members are self-identified as people who agree with the first ecosocialist manifesto (2001).
It was resolved unanimously to create a six person coordinating committee charged with taking responsibility for action with respect to maintaining our finances, website and membership lists; setting meeting dates; coordinating work with other bodies, for example, the IPCC, which has asked that we have observer status, or the organizers of the Cancun events in late November, with whom we should connect and send some version of the Ecosocialist Manifesto; and creating another draft of the Manifesto more suitable for outreach and organizing work.
The following six people accepted nominations:
Joel Kovel (USA)
Michael Löwy (France)
Terisa Turner (Canada)
Klaus Engert (Germany)
Mike Davies (UK)
Pritram Singh (UK)
This will not be a permanent body. The coordinating committee’s term will expire at the time of the next annual meeting, which is provisionally slated for London, November 2011, with an administrative meeting next to a conference where the matter of ecosocialism can be explored further. We hope that over the next year that many as-yet unresolved issues before us will come closer to resolution.
These six are to decide amongst themselves how the various tasks are to be shared. Specific information on this and related progress should be shared with the network by end November 2010. The need for this coordinating committee to be assisted by others (for instance, Richard Greeman will assist Klaus Engert with the website) were mentioned. At least two new members would be sought for the existing coordinating committee with suggestions invited from the network.
Various affiliations were discussed including to the Peoples’ World Movement arising out of the Cochabamba, Bolivia April 2010 meeting on climate change and the rights of Mother Earth; and the IPCC (United Nations International Panel on Climate Change) amongst others. Individuals volunteered to begin work on making these affiliations happen. It was observed that only registered entities (for instance, incorporated not-for-profit organizations) could be affiliated with the IPCC.
Many ideas for activities including publishing (Richard Greeman’s projects; Richard can provide details), having another meeting at the end of the Historical Materialism Conference in November 2011 in London, UK (to be organized by the UK participants present), and numerous other initiatives were presented or mentioned.
With respect to finances, there was ongoing discussion of membership dues or contributions, the possibilities of depositing funds in particular bank accounts, the need to report on spending of previous contributions, and related key issues to do with paying for various activities.
Considerable discussion of the relationship between the coordinating committee and the so-called membership in the network brought to the fore key concerns: will the coordinators succeed in actually coordinating? Does the creation of a coordinating committee set the stage for expulsions and divisions that have characterized past initiatives?
The Internationale was sung and participants retired to the pub for lunch and further discussion.