Steve Ryan attended the Merthyr Tydfil climate camp
Climate camps are a new and innovative way of protesting. Set up outside of environmental problems, in this case Ffos -y Fran open cast mine at Merthyr.
The camps are run on the basis of participatory democracy. This is of interest to those interested in self management. There are no “leaders”. The camp is divided into neighbourhoods which meet each morning and elect a facilitator and spokesperson . All issues are discussed and decided by consensus, and hese are reported to the plenary. This is an excellent way of running a society in principle. There are problems however in that decisions, sometimes on relatively simple issues , can take a VERY long time. This is OK at local level but has the potential to make a wider economy grind to a halt. Unfortunately the alternative would be a command economy, not something those interested in self management and communism groom below would at all desire!All tasks are carried out on a voluntary basis from cooking to cleaning out the compost toilets. This is far better done by the meetings actually, as readers can guess where the gaps in volunteers were!
The other strand is direct action with the emphasis on non violence. The action taken at the camp was a walk to the site to protest. As elsewhere these days this was met with a heavy presence of riot police, dogs and horses.
There are running workshops. Two of interest to The Commune readers were on participatory economics, based around the work of US anarchist Michael Albert.
These works are by no means perfect, but are an honest attempt to detail how a self managed society might work. There are major flaws such as a proposed remuneration system based on hard work and sacrifice -which would simply lead back to class divisions. Production would be based on separate decisions of producers and consumers, which could mean some vital goods say medicine would be too expensive for the consumer? In short the big shortfall is that PARECON does not have a deep enough analysis of a capitalist economy to recognise how to abolish it. Having said that it is a work in progress.
The other workshop was by the Marxist group “A world to win”. This was good in that whilst there is still a fundamental lack of analysis of the state and capitalism in the Green movement, and certainly an antagonism to Marxism, that is clearly changing. The debate was lively and interesting and many of the points made were “unconscious” recognitions of arguments that Marxists would make.
All told Climate Camp is an excellent experience. It challenges those of us looking for a different, self managed communism in that it runs on similar lines to the society we desire. It needs a far better class analysis (still too many trustafarians ) but retain its libertarian joie de vivre. It also shows up the traditional left for a lack of innovative thinking. Be critical , sneer even at the anti capitalist movement but it is practically dealing with issues that the left ignore. If you get a chance go and see for yourself!