Following our global intervention in the climate strikes on 20 September, comrades around the world once again took to the streets for another day of action last Friday. Some of these demonstrations broke records for attendance, showing how the question of climate change is bringing millions of people – particularly the youth – into political activity. Our comrades raised the slogan of class struggle and socialist revolution, as the only way to save the planet!
Comrades of the IMT intervened in 10 towns and cities across Spain on 27 September, in many of which there were two protests: one in the early afternoon and a second in the evening. The strike, earlier in the day, was largely attended by school students, leaving their classes to come and protest. In the earlier strike, the number of student protesters was at least 1,000-strong in most cities, and many brought tens of thousands onto the streets.
The ideological content was understandably mixed, including calls for green reforms, for the accountability of politicians, and a few still focusing on individual consumer responsibility. However, many students in the strikes were railing against the system itself, with the most popular slogan being: “If there is no solution, there will be a revolution!”
The second demonstration of the day took place in the early evening in most cities and had a much larger turnout of school students, university students, families, pensioners and workers. In particular, Málaga had 10-15,000 protesters; in Palma de Mallorca 4,000 and in Seville there were an estimated 5,000 protesters who led a two-hour-long march throughout the city from El Prado Park to the Andalusian Parliament building.
The comrades’ paper had a front cover targeted towards the climate strike, and the Spanish section also compiled a pamphlet specifically for the intervention. The pamphlet consisted of translated material from other sections in the IMT, as well as their own articles on the need for a socialist revolution to save the planet and put human need before capitalist profit, and how a planned economy under workers’ control would transform society and mitigate the climate crisis. Both the paper and the pamphlet were well received and in Bilbao and Mallorca they sold out. In Seville, they had to print more pamphlets in the interim between the early and evening strike.
These materials allowed the comrades to get into good discussions with the school students, who were curious about more general topics about Marxism after initially starting the conversation on the topic of climate change. As comrades began speaking to protesters individually, small groups formed around them with people eager to listen to their ideas. This is a very good sign of the increasing radicalisation of the youth and the relevance of Marxist ideas.
Around 150,000 people, mostly youth, participated in the Earth Strike on 27 September in Austria – two days before the general elections took place on Sunday.
The mobilisation was larger than on the big international strike day in March this year. In some regions, schools had official permission from the government to participate. This resulted in many teachers organising “walks“ to the demos.
The mood was enthusiastic – our comrades’ slogans against the system such as “break the power of banks and monopolies“, “billions for the banks – nothing for the environment” and “one solution: revolution” were taken up by the students and even spread by the speakers on demo-wagons. Talking with the participants, declaring oneself “anti-capitalist” was not the end, but the starting point for most discussions.
The IMT in Austria intervened with anti-capitalist bloc in four regions and sold hundreds of copies of their paper, which carried the slogan: “stop climate change: [individual] sacrifice or system change?”
A comrade who helped to organise a school in Vienna reports: “Thanks to flyers that were spread throughout the whole school before the strike, everything went smoothly. Around 100 students met at the appointed time in front of the school. We explained and practised the demo-slogans on our way to the meeting point.”
Another comrade describes the work she did at her school: “We started a school-committee in the first week of September. There, we discussed our anti-capitalist programme and four other students supported it, while three were against it, and others abstained. We handed out leaflets and discussed in the school – in the end, we managed to mobilise 80 students for a bloc on the strike on the 27th. A group of six anti-capitalists now want to begin activity at our school. Seven students attended our post-strike meeting on Saturday.”
In another city, a comrade said about the 27th: “In Linz, we collected signatures for an anti-capitalist climate movement. Whole groups of students signed enthusiastically while we explained our ideas.”
In Vorarlberg, IMT activists were among the organisers of the strike day. A comrade summarises: “It was the biggest demo in Vorarlberg in decades, with around 6,000 participating. Besides students and teachers, we consciously tried to involve the trade unions. Our bloc was attended by around 30 students. One comrade gave a speech in which he explained why we need to expropriate the big corporations and establish a planned economy to solve the climate crisis.”
In Graz, the second-biggest city of Austria, the turnout was stronger than expected, with an estimated 8,000 people: “The participants neither fit on the square that was the starting point, nor at the end point of the demo. The mood was quite militant.”
There is a big, unsolved question mark within the movement. The very radical demands voted on by the recent national FFF-meeting (CO2-neutral until 2030 and complete cessation of fossil energy) stand in stark contrast to their “realistic” methods and refusal to take clear political stances.
For example, when a fascist provocateur was kicked out of the Earth-Strike demo in Salzburg, FFF officially distanced themselves from this commendable action and some voices even argued that the climate movement should be open to “all” political stripes – apparently, even to Nazis.
If the movement against climate change won’t take up a clear anti-capitalist programme, the liberal-bourgeois influence will win out. Even now, the pressure is strong. At the elections, the Greens made big gains, receiving around 14 percent of the vote. The environmental question will be given concessions by the future government. At this rate, this will offer ample opportunities for careerists and petit-bourgeois elements in the movement. This is why we fight for an anti-capitalist programme in the climate movement and argue for the need to get organised for a socialist transformation of society.
The climate strike in Belgium mobilised 20,000 people in the streets of Brussels. The organisers expected 5,000, and their most optimistic predictions were for 10,000. This is an especially impressive level of mobilisation after a winter and spring that have seen an unheard-of number of demonstrations and strikes by school students in particular.
From January until the end of May, school students went on strike 20 times. This was probably the biggest school student movement since 1973. Three national demonstrations also gathered a record number of people in this period. Some unions also called on their members to participate in the strikes. So it was not easy to bring people back on the streets after such an intense period of activity. But the indignation about the Amazon fires, extreme weather patterns this summer and the passivity of governments and companies fuelled a new, successful mobilisation. There is also more political discussion in the movement as internal differentiation amongst the public figures of Youth4Climate becomes apparent. New groups on the left of the official groups are also appearing. This is a more fruitful terrain for the ideas of Marxism to find a hearing.
The Belgian IMT decided to publish its two papers, with articles dedicated to the mobilisation: interviews with school student activists, an article about Karl Marx’s view on ecology and a general article on the way forward for the climate movement in Belgium and worldwide. The cover of the paper was also directed to the comrades’ intervention, with the slogan: “Capitalism kills the planet, let’s kill capitalism.”
The comrades also announced a public meeting the day before the demo. For this, they distributed leaflets at some of the most mobilised schools and fly-posted hundreds of posters. More than 25 people attended the meeting, entitled “Capitalism kills the Planet.” Many school student activists from the mobilisation before the summer were present. The main questions at the meeting were on capitalism and Marxism, far less on climate and the environment.
After the meeting, the youth present continued to discuss intensively in the bar. In the coming weeks, new actions will take place where an anti-capitalist and revolutionary alternative to the destruction of the environment will capture greater interest.
With 60,000 people coming out in Stockholm, 10,000 in Gothenburg and many more in other cities, the climate strike of the 27 September was the biggest demonstration in the past few years in Sweden.
The IMT participated in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Umeå and Lund, arguing for overthrowing capitalism to save the climate. The facts are very clear – 100 companies emit 71 percent of all greenhouse gases, and the prevailing mood was that something fundamental needs to change.
In Gothenburg, the comrades participated with a banner saying "Capitalism is destroying the climate – Fight for a socialist revolution!", and a very lively section of the demonstration shouting slogans against capitalism. Unfortunately, some of the organisers were dead set on making the demonstration "non-political", and even went as far as forcibly removing the banner from the hands of one of the comrades, effectively dragging them out of the demonstration. But the comrades refused to budge, continued with their slogans and eventually managed to get back into the demonstration, where they received a very good response.
The idea of a "non-political" demonstration means that only individualist, so-called solutions can be put forward, where ordinary working-class people are told to make sacrifices because of climate change caused by the big companies, owned by the super rich. These ideas are a very useful tool in the hands of the right, and won't go anywhere towards solving the destruction of the environment. Therefore, the comrades will continue to fight for a socialist revolution to save the climate – and exercise their democratic right to put forward that idea in the movement.
In Canada, several hundred thousand people demonstrated against the climate crisis, including 100,000 in Vancouver and 40,000 in Ottawa: some of the biggest demonstrations these cities have ever seen. But by far the largest demonstration was a massive 500,000-strong sea of people in Montreal. Our comrades intervened with a socialist contingent and were met with a very warm reception from youth looking to fight against the capitalist system that is ruining our planet.
In Toronto, a huge demonstration of 75,000 marched on the provincial parliament, where the comrades spoke to thousands of youth interested in the socialist solution to the environmental crisis.
In Edmonton, 4,000 people demonstrated outside of the government building: the biggest demonstration in Edmonton in a long time. Our comrades intervened enthusiastically and enjoyed a positive response. Other IMT activists participated in demonstrations in Hamilton, Oshawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria and Waterloo.
There was a massive climate demonstration in Bern, Switzerland, consisting of between 60,000 and 100,000 people. Our comrades sold a great deal of material, and met lots of people who were interested in their ideas and wanted to learn more.
Comrades in Italy participated in climate demonstrations across 22 cities, in all of which their radical slogans found an echo.
On 27 September, thousands of people gathered from all over the Netherlands in The Hague for the worldwide climate strike. The march, which took place after participants gathered in a field (Koekamp), started sooner than planned and ended at a different, larger location (Malieveld) due to 35,000 people showing up. The organisers and police both underestimated the turnout – even the Dutch Railways expected less – which resulted in extremely packed trains and hundreds of people stuck at the stations.
What was especially impressive was the huge number of young people, who displayed a very radical mood. Slogans such as “System change, not climate change”, “You cannot eat money”, “Cabinet, you will be deposed”, “People without reason are ruling our country”, “Planet before profit” were seen on their placards. The situation has clearly changed positively, with a lot of slogans against the capitalist system: the ultimate source of the climate crisis. The Marxists of Revolutie spread a flyer that explained how 100 corporations worldwide are responsible for 71 percent of carbon gas emissions, and calling for the expropriation of the polluting companies and the banks, in order to establish a green transition plan.
The radical slogans of the youth were very telling. They want their future back and they’re drawing advanced conclusions. Young people were practically running up to the Marxists, simply because they had Marx on their banner.
Socialist ideas are becoming popular among young people. This demonstration was only one of the many examples of how the youth has the future. Only Marxism can provide the answers they seek. We will stand up and fight for a system in the interests of all the people and the planet – we will continue our fight for socialism.