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Green Syndicalism

An Alternative Red/Green vision

by Jeff Shantz

Publication Year: 2012

It is widely understood that the burdens of ecological destruction are borne disproportionately by working-class and poor communities, both through illness and disease caused by pollutants and through the depletion of natu­ral resources from which they make a living. Yet, consistently, the voices of the working class are the most marginalized, excluded, and silenced discussions about how to address ecological concerns and to protect the environment from future destruction. Both mainstream environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, and the radical environmental­ists, such as EarthFirst!, are reluctant to engage with working class and poor communities, often viewing blue-collar workers as responsible for the destruction these groups are trying to prevent. In Green Syndicalism, Shantz issues a call to action to the environ­mental movement and labor activists, those who represent the work­ing class, to join forces in a common struggle to protect the environment from capitalism, corporate greed, and the extraction of resources. Shantz argues for a major transformation to address the “jobs versus the environ­ment” rhetoric that divides these two groups along lines of race and class. Combining practical initiatives and theoretical perspectives, Shantz offers an approach that brings together radical ecology and revolutionary unionism in a promising vision of green politics. Green syndicalists work as coalitions to increase community-based economics and productive decision making that encourages the participation of all stakeholders in the process. Drawing, in part, on his own experiences growing up in a working-class family and organizing within radical ecology and labor movements, Shantz charts a path that accesses the commonalities between these groups in an effort to take on the forces that destroy the environment, exploit people, and harm their communities.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, About the Author

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-10

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pp. ix-xviii

By now it is generally recognized that the burdens of ecological destruction are borne disproportionately by working class and poor people and their communities. These impacts include disease, illness, and personal health effects, as well as lost income because of sick days and the costs of family care. It is not only that the damaging effects of harms such as pollution, toxic contamination...

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pp. xix-xx

This work has developed over the course of years. It owes its development to conversations, debates, and discussions with a diversity of people who have generously taken the time to engage with the ideas have resulted in Green Syndicalism. Far from being a strictly academic project, it is a work rooted in real ongoing struggles, movements, and organizing efforts in defense of...

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pp. xxi-lviii

Contemporary alternative globalization networks are not refl ective of a coherent movement and are produced by and productive of a variety of social, political, cultural, and geographic fault lines and ruptures. These networks are at times overlapping, at times confl icted, often resonant, and sometimes competing (Williams 2010). The character of global capitalist expansion has...

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1. Class Struggles

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pp. 1-23

What have been called the global justice or alternative globalization movements have been identifi ed by numerous commentators as the most signifi cant development in anticapitalist or antisystemic politics since the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet communism (see Routledge and Cumbers 2010). Especially since the events of Seattle in 1999 (but dating at least to the Zapatista uprising...

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2. Radical Ecology and Class

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pp. 24-56

Radical ecology has emerged as a potential point for linkage, or the nodal point, of a wide plurality of antisystemic struggles. Indeed, many have long expected that the “nature-society” question will provide the most likely focus for a coalescence of new social movements into a broadened counterhegemonic movement (see Olofsson 1988, 15). However, one problem persists...

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3. The Feminization of Earth First!

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pp. 57-101

Commentators Larry Martel and John-Henry Harter identify the loss of union power in the woods of the West Coast of North America as the primary factor behind the recent crises in the forests. Martel argues that getting there requires nothing less than “a vast union machine in the woods” to ensure that workers “can no longer be blackmailed by the companies into trading off job and livelihood security for ancient-growth preservation” (1997...

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4. Green Syndicalism

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pp. 102-129

The greening of syndicalist discourses and practices is signifi cant not only in offering practical examples of rank-and-fi le organizing and alliance building between union members and environmental activists. It also raises a number of interesting possibilities and questions regarding anarcho-syndicalism and ecology, indeed questions about the possibilities for a radical convergence of social movement organizing. While most attempts to form...

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5. Green Syndicalism and Mainstream Unions

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pp. 130-163

The decreased demand for labor, within cybernetized capital relations, means that corporations are less compelled to deal with mainstream trade unions as under the Keynesian arrangement.1 If unions are to have any infl uence, it can only come through active efforts to disrupt the labor process. These disruptive efforts may include increased militancy within workplace...


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pp. 164-188


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pp. 189-204


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pp. 205-214

Back Cover

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pp. 277-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651888
E-ISBN-10: 0815651880
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815633075
Print-ISBN-10: 0815633076

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2012