On Friday, March 15, over 1.4 million outraged youth took to the streets all over the world. They have taken a stand against the system’s utter failure to address the climate crisis.
This international day of action provided a glimpse of the vibrant grassroots movement emerging around the issue of climate change. Contingents of students left their classrooms and descended on city squares and government buildings demanding immediate action. Headlines showed children and teenagers joining massive demonstrations, packed with homemade signs, displaying the energy and creative power of the youth!
In NYC, where Hurricane Sandy looms in recent memory, thousands of students took part in a die-in on the front steps of the American Museum of Natural History. One of their many banners evoked Greta Thunberg’s address to the UN: “Change is coming whether you like it or not.”
Students in San Francisco took direct aim at establishment politicians’ patronizing approach to their activism. They marched from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to Dianne Feinstein’s office, both of whom have flippantly rejected the Green New Deal.
These strikes are first and foremost a call to action. Across all 125 countries that saw demonstrations, young people are firmly demanding aggressive government action to match the scale of the ecological devastation.
The sight of tens of thousands of young children drawn into vibrant movement building is incredibly hopeful. But it is also a grim indication of the depth of the crisis. They are propelled by dire circumstances – many first drawn to action by the Parkland massacre and the March for Our Lives.
For a majority of students who took part in the demonstrations, the U.S. has been in a perpetual war in the Middle East since before they were born. A generation captive to endless crises, now facing the potential destruction of life on Earth at the hands of a few corporations, is experiencing capitalism’s dysfunction well before they enter the workforce.
Seize the Momentum
There is great potential for the movement to gain steam. Continuing to coordinate internationally will be a crucial piece. .
Millions of people in every country are already experiencing the disastrous effects of heat waves, wildfires, and rising sea levels. Climate change is an issue that will require millions engaging in a collective struggle around the world that cuts to the core of capitalism’s shortsighted and individualistic ideology.
As a striking high schooler and Socialist Alternative member, Marci, declared to the rally in Pittsburgh: “To win system change, it’s vitally important that students and working people stand together to challenge the hoarded wealth and power of the few who have placed an expiration date on our planet!”
With the wave of teachers strikes breathing new life into the labor movement, schools are an ideal forum for agitation. If students continue to strike weekly with concrete demands and build support among their peers, parents, and teachers, they can put forward a bold appeal for broader forces to join them in the streets!
In Belgium, the persistent student strikes have built growing support among the union rank and file. Multiple government buildings and city halls across the country were closed on March 15 as public sector unions joined the strike. It is when the organized working class boldly takes up this struggle that we will see real change.
It will take massive disruption of business as usual to ensure a livable planet. The growing climate movement is on a collision course with the political power wielded by a small minority, who would gladly watch the world burn to guard their precious wealth.
No More Patience
All over the world, politicians have shown their indifference to the millions of lives at stake. That is why we must prepare to step in ourselves, by building a mass movement that can wrest power from their hands.
Capitalism is a fundamentally irresponsible system that feeds on exploitation in its drive to extract profits. Since its very beginnings, it has preyed on human misery and the natural environment to advance the interests of the few. Only a transition to a planned economy can hope to resolve these fundamental contradictions. This rotten system is holding back human progress on countless fronts. The fight for our future on Earth demands a full-scale struggle against capitalism’s quest for destruction!