Joseph Leivdal: We must unite in resistance to resource extraction

The Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 in France saw the rise of the developing capitalist class. Their rise was propelled by popular support which was in itself motivated by the will to establish an equal society which was to be based on the principle of the perpetual progress of human civilization infinite economic growth to the benefit of all.

It took only decades to realize that perpetual growth is not to the benefit of all. Outside of Europe the colonial genocide, upon which the new ruling class depended, roared on. Within Europe the egregious treatment of workers spread death and misery, and the crises of capitalist production displaced whole populations onto the “New World” in hopes of seeking a better life, but in reality to continue colonization. The Bourgeois Revolution has been displacing the worst outcomes of the capitalist system to the margins ever since 1789.

The French Revolution of 1789 was not the last to declare itself to be motivated by universal interest only to see the ascent of a new ruling class. The so-called post-colonial regimes that rose to power in the 20th century did so on a platform that mobilized popular support in the name of national self-determination. With few exceptions, these movements were met with reactionary suppression as soon as a new domestic capitalist class had been established.

What from these examples do we have to learn about revolution? Revolution has often been driven by popular support for key demands understood to be of universal interest, but which are only in the interest of a few. Instead of universal freedom, France gained the freedom to work or to starve. Instead of national self-determination was had national self-domination.

Today a movement is building to resist resource extraction, another face of colonialism. There are as many angles as there are pockets of resistance. Yet surely there are none but the most frightened who would deny the nature of the times in which we live. Either we learn to strike a balance with nature or lose the chance forever. There are those who, because their imagination is either too small or their comforts too great, argue that we need resource extraction for jobs. Yet there are no jobs on a dead planet, and no green jobs under capitalism. Is it possible any longer to say that one is unaware rather than simply unwilling?

Those of us who recognize the untruth of the state and union chants must form a Coalition of the Willing. We are united by the universal need for survival, which will not be realized by the state or the economy. Neither will emancipation will be won with popular support for what is claimed to be a universal demand. Only a coalition of the willing, a coalition of the fragmented, is one that can support the struggle for the right to ­self-determination..

The work must be done to build such a network which would assure the ascendance of not one group’s interest in the name of the whole, but a coalition with the goal of mutual recognition of the specificity of different struggles against resource extraction. There is no one single solution or universal demand, only those who would fight for the right to determine the means to satisfy self-determined ends.

Furthermore, indigenous communities cannot be allowed to struggle alone. We must recognize the interdependence of different struggles. So long as indigenous communities struggle alone the state will become bolder in its violence, bloated on complacency. So long as they struggle alone the oppression reserved for indigenous peoples will spread outward—the population of Quebec joined the student struggle when it recognized that the attack on students was an attack on all.

It is not that indigenous communities need saviors, but that they are only the first in line to be deprived of their rights. A struggle for the water must be met with a struggle in urban centres in order to avoid the brutality for which the government prepares its police. Indigenous peoples stand immediately in the path of colonial developments, and because of this they are first in line.

To the end of the right for self-determination the casual fraternization of collectives will not be enough. Only a coalition of those who are willing to face the challenge of the times head on, only through the preservation of mutual recognition of difference in struggle and the guarantee of right to self-determination shall we be able to rise up to that challenge.

Comments (13) Add New Comment
Mark
Like it or not, BC is a resource economy. There aren't a lot of headquarters here, wages have been lagging compared to the rest of Canada for the past 10 years, and the cost of living is ridiculously high. Without the resource economy, things would only get worse. The resource economy fills the coffers of the government, and even with this, the BC govt has problems making ends meet.

I think the conversation should be about how well we can protect the environment, while taking advantage of the resources we have. This attitude that we should completely oppose resource extraction is not a realistic one.
21
17
Rating: +4
RUK
Rising Tide is that guy in the protest who insists on proving that he is more radical, therefore more sincere than you.

"There are no green jobs under capitalism."

Gee, I guess it is as simple as getting rid of capitalism then. Easy-peasy. Well done. Glad we got that fixed.
16
17
Rating: -1
Sarah B
Bravo! A clarion call to action.
16
17
Rating: -1
Sarah B
The govt has troubles making ends meet? Did you know BC residents pay more in MSP than corporations pay in tax? What do we do once the forests are all gone? Move?
22
15
Rating: +7
realist
Could The Straight be anymore irrelevant?
26
19
Rating: +7
Barracuda1996
Resource driven economy is fine IF THE PROFIT STAYS here in BC and is used for the benefits of ALL residents and not ending in a few private pockets , often off shore.
If the profit from resource economy would stay here, we would not have to pay extra tolls for transit,roads, bridges , education would be almost free and resident services would be excellent. What is going on right know (and for past many years) is a big $$$ fraud on ordinary residents.
8
14
Rating: -6
Graham
This is a useless 'article'. Joseph talks a little bit about the problems we are facing, offers no solutions, and spends the rest of the time just filling space.

He says we should get rid of capitalism but doesn't mention what he thinks is better. Should we embrace pure socialism? Go back to a hunter-gatherer existence? Getting rid of capitalism means living in a society with no trade or at least no ability to profit from risk. And if trade is still allowed, then what is to stop the accumulation of wealth?

And what does the French revolution have to do with capitalism? It moved political power from a mostly hereditary structure to one in which everyone has a vote (i.e. democracy). It didn't change the underlying economic system. Before the revolution merchants still had the ability to amass wealth.

Even if we ignore Joseph's suggestion of giving up capitalism and focus on his call to end resource extraction, any serious thought about this would make anyone realize that it is a ridiculous idea. Humans have been living off of finite resources since at least the bronze age (copper itself is a finite resource).

Since it is impossible to recycle any resource with 100% efficiency eventually, without obtaining new raw materials, we would need to give up almost everything in our lives. Nearly everything commonly used today depends on something pulled from the ground that will never be replaced. Without at least metals the most sophisticated technology humans would be able to use are stone tools. We would be left either as hunter gatherers or subsistence farmers.

So the discussion should really be about how we can change the system to better protect the environment and promote equality. These goals are well within the power of our current political and economic systems to fulfill, it is the public will to vote for these changes that is lacking.
17
12
Rating: +5
Absurd enviro politics in yoga-topia
Mark's comments are spot on. Like it or not, resources are part of the equation in this province. Vancouver doesn't have much of an economy to point. It comes down to real estate, tourism, and pretty unimpressive wages. I'm ready for a more honest and nuanced discussion about getting the most public benefit out of resource extraction (not giving it away like we seem to be doing with the tar sands), and ensuring that there is restraint. But to say no to resource extraction completely denies a more fruitful debate grounded in the material realities of this province, city, and country we live in.
12
16
Rating: -4
Bob
To those advocating the need to 'protect the environment and develop resources'...the logic doesn't work. We cannot develop the most polluting GHG emitting industries in our history AS we 'protect' the environment. People argue this as if what carbon or methane is will change how it interacts in the world because we are intent now on 'responsibly' developing fossil fuels. The nature of the projects propel climate change so please stop telling me we 'just need to protect the environment as we do it'
11
7
Rating: +4
Dan
'Is' and 'Ought To Be' are two different things Mark. No one is denying that BC is a resource industry, even if Vancouver itself bucks the trend. But if you think business as usual is a more realistic strategy, I hope you've got a backup plan. And to those that think that no solution is being offered here, read the article again. My financial well-being relies on resource extraction, FYI. And I'd be more than happy if BC was ground zero in the fight to stop the global industrial juggernaut. Coal, oil, gas, none shall pass. See you the woods.
5
4
Rating: +1
Donald
I'll deny that BC has a primarily resource based economy.
Oil & Gas 6.1 billion + Mining 3.38 billion + Coal 5.6 billion + Forestry 5.7 billion = 20.78 Billion
Agriculture & Fisheries 1.08 billion + BCHydro 2.91 billion + Transport & warehousing 10.5 billion + Construction 14.8 billion + High Tech & Film 1.86 billion + Education 10.4 billion + Health Care & Social Assistance 13.3 billion + Tourism 6.46 billion = 61.31 Billion

Yes fish ($843 million) are a resource, but they are renewable and put at risk by pipelines and tankers. Even if all (preposterous) of Transport & warehousing is attributed to resource extraction, resources are still clearly only a small part of our economy.

Also those figures are old. Our tech sector and film industries are growing.

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/economic+stakes+economic+sectors+wh...

I'm not sure why the Sun missed tourism.
http://www.jtst.gov.bc.ca/tourismstrategy/images/figure_3_tourism_gdp.png
5
5
Rating: 0
G
LMAO at the jargon: "resistance," "struggle,'" "colonialism," and my favourite: "fraternization of collectives." 30 years ago the author would have been working at the old Enver Hoxha bookstore on Hastings. It is the rhetoric of ideological failure masquerading as a call to arms. I enjoyed the group checking along the way and maintaining the fiction the Quebec student protests were anything besides children of the bourgeoise upset with having their allowance cut is good stuff. What was missing is a declaration of the vanguard forces as being preeminent in the movement.

Remember how the old "People's Fromt" folks, HQ'd at the Enver Hoxha bookstore, used to try to get their banner to the front of Vamcouver's Peace March? They loved to drone on about their role in organizing such a gathering but their ideology was considered a joke by most people who had to deal with them. The problem was, and still is, that the left umbrella is full of folks who won't stand up to such claptrap. Their desire "fraternize with collectives" leads to associations with people who believe the claptrap in this article. Convoluted efforts to make a 19th century ideology appear relevant don't gain much traction off campus, especially with folks who have been there.
9
16
Rating: -7
anonynous
well then G, you can laugh your ass off right through environmental catastrophe.
9
5
Rating: +4
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.