Dream Thieves. life thieves

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Aldo Fornazieri

Greta Thunberg's speech at the UN, on the 23rd of September, was the most important, the most forceful and the most historically far-reaching speech produced by anyone in these first two decades of the XNUMXst century. It expresses the synthesis of a desperate cry and a rebellion promoted by millions of young people around the planet who are losing the right to dream, as this is being stolen from them by a whole predatory system in the world, headed by the political and economic elites of all countries.

This desperate cry doesn't just have human sounds, but it has sounds of all species, it has the sound of biodiversity, it has the sound of several ecosystems that are already being destroyed forever. It is a cry that brings the despair of the life that burns in the Amazon, of the life that vanishes at the bottom of the seas, of the life that is stolen from the outskirts of the big cities of the world.

The environmental rebellion of young people will become the most important socio-political event of the first half of the XNUMXst century and will stand out as a unique fact in human history, as it will unite, for the first time, a generation of young people around a common cause. planetary, of a common cause to all humanity.

Greta Thunberg is the symbol and embodiment of that rebellion. Her attitudes could win her the Nobel Peace Prize next Friday. Both her attitudes and her speech at the UN express the unprecedented courage of this young woman, her unbridled daring. It is an overwhelming contrast with the mediocrity, hypocrisy and decadence of the generations of political leaders that proliferate today in all countries.

Greta Thunberg realized the full scope of the great tragedy in which all of humanity is sinking. The environmental goals of the International Conferences and the UN are not being fulfilled. That is why, at the UN, she had the audacity to tell political leaders that they are hypocrites, that they are stealing dreams, that they are stealing lives: “You stole my dreams and my childhood with your empty words… And how dare you come here and say you are doing enough?… If you really understand what is going on and you keep failing to act, you are evil”.

Few political leaders around the world are saved from this harsh warning, from Greta's jeremiad. It wasn't just environmental criminals like Trump and Bolsonaro who were affronted by their harsh recriminations. Hypocrites like Macron and other leaders have also been unmasked. Now it will not just be Jerusalem that will be under threat of destruction for the sins of a people. It is the entire planet that is at risk for the sins of all mankind. We all need to feel guilty for this to drive changes in our everyday attitudes and to spur our outrage and engagement in the youth rebellion.

Humanity, especially big companies, big capital, do not have the right to continue exercising a predatory relationship with natural resources. Capital has no right to continue destroying the conditions of life on Earth in its criminal and insane pursuit of profits.

The environmental crisis is a crisis of the predatory mode of production, guided by the objectives of excessive economic exploitation that disregards the sustainability of natural resources and the social and environmental consequences of its actions. But it is also the result of an erroneous and destructive conception of man's relationship with nature and of human beings' relationship with each other. It is the product of a brutally unequal appropriation of natural resources, which enshrines both inequality between countries and inequality within each country.

In the face of this predatory mode of production, the greatest victims of the environmental crisis and the effects it already produces today are the poorest, the residents of the outskirts of large cities. These populations will increasingly feel the effects of environmental disasters, extreme events such as floods, storms, hurricanes, droughts, lack of water, lack of food, etc.. Model studies and scientific projections indicate that in the coming years the number of of environmental refugees, most of whom are poor.

Facing the environmental crisis has two major dimensions, two major vertices: (1) the change in humanity's attitude towards environmental warming, environmental degradation and the need for sustainability; (2) the change in the economic and social system and in the mode of production, placing predatory capitalism under the spotlight of criticism and attack.

There will be no adequate solution to the environmental crisis without confronting predatory capitalism and its mode of production. There are inextricable links between the environmental crisis and the social crisis and they need to be highlighted, making the two fights go hand in hand. The environmental fight cannot be disconnected from the fight for social justice, for equality.

In this sense, it goes without saying that most of the left needs to reposition itself in the face of the environmental crisis. If Greta Thunberg was violently attacked by the extreme right, she was also, unfortunately, criticized by parts of the left and ignored by most of it. Greta is ahead of her time because most political and party leaders keep their eyes on the past. If leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro are frankly criminals and environmental predators, if most right-wing and center-centered political leaders are hypocrites in the face of the environmental crisis, most left-wing leaders are indifferent. Therefore, there is an urgent need to update the agenda and programs of leftist parties and movements so that the environmental crisis occupies a central place in their concerns and actions.

Changing proposals and updating programs is not enough. The leadership model also needs to change. The great challenges, the great dramas and the great tragedies of humanity and society need leaders with a new profile, more daring leaders, leaders who know how to take the risk of excessive actions, as the excessive tragedies demand it.

Young people entering political and social activism today must realize that the lace-cuffed shirt model of leadership no longer works. The sugary parliamentary cordiality and the merely declaratory policy are not capable of responding to today's serious challenges. The grotesque aggressiveness of the extreme right cannot be met with tearful revulsion at hatred and childish appeals to civility. The world we live in is brutal for the vast majority of people. It needs to be faced by bold leaders, with actions of excessive courage.

*Aldo Fornazieri Professor at the School of Sociology and Politics (FESPSP)

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