On Tuesday, April 12, hundreds of citizens took to the streets in different parts of Mexico in support of the electricity reform promoted by president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). In the capital Mexico City, members of various civil society organizations, social movements, and trade unions held a march from the Zócalo to the Chamber of Deputies. They demonstrated outside the Legislative Palace of San Lázaro, calling on the legislators of the opposition parties to approve the reform to the Electricity Industry Law (LIE), which allows nationalization of the energy industry.
In most cases, it would be absurd to think that the same approach that created a problem would also be the one best suited to solve it. Yet this is exactly what we are expected to believe regarding the existential ecological threats our world now faces. As predicted by many since its inception, capitalism and its core interconnected tenants — private ownership of the means of production, market allocation, and exponential economic growth — have brought us to the precipice of both environmental and social disaster. Yet, year after year we continue to be told that capitalism will save us. Just a few more dashes of regulation here, some different market incentives there, and the turning point is right around the corner. All the while, temperatures climb, species disappear, the air is choked with smog, waters rise, forests burn, and storms rage.
The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to create a state-owned company for the exploration and exploitation of lithium, announced the Secretary of Energy, Rocío Nahle. In an interview to local media, the official highlighted on Wednesday that "lithium is a strategic mineral," and gave as an example its use as a "raw material for the manufacture of electric batteries." According to Nahle, this state-owned company would be established in the secondary law of the energy reform proposed by the Mexican president. "It is going to pass for the exploitation of lithium," she emphasized. She also made reference to the expropriation of oil that occurred during the government of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940).
Already reeling from the turmoil of Covid-19 and the complex challenges posed by Brexit, the UK economy is facing yet another crisis: extraordinary spikes in wholesale electricity and gas prices. With surging wholesale prices, domestic energy bills are predicted to rise by at least 30 percent by early next year. The fallout from rising gas prices is already being felt in the retail energy sector. Thirteen energy companies have gone bust due to rocketing natural gas prices since the start of August, meaning that two million customers have lost their supplier. There are nearly 50 energy suppliers in the UK, but pundits are predicting a ‘massacre’ in the sector, with upwards of 20 more companies expected to fold this winter. The energy market, already dominated by a handful of large companies, is likely to experience further concentration.
Basic services like water, energy, health care and education build the foundation for healthy, just and sustainable communities. All over the world, citizens, public authorities and labour unions have been mobilising to bring these vital services and infrastructures back into public hands after a period of privatisation, where financial profit was put before social need and communities’ wealth. A new generation of public organisations is emerging to provide the basis for livelihoods in sustainable, democratic and affordable ways.
It is a sign of how bad things are when the editorial board of the Financial Times, the world’s leading business newspaper, carries an editorial calling for “radical reforms… reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades.” The FT editorial of April 3 has advocated, among other things, a more active role for governments in the economy, ways to make labor markets less insecure, and wealth taxes. The FT’s editorial board, increasingly concerned about saving capitalism from itself, had written about the need for “state planning” and a “worker-led economy” last year in August. But the April 3 editorial has garnered much more attention since it comes amidst a massive crisis.
Cable technician Troy Walcott, along with 1,800 of his fellow members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3, has been striking for three years, and there’s still no end in sight. Local 3 first walked off the job in March 2017 when their employer, Spectrum/Charter Communications — the largest provider of cable TV, internet and telephone service in New York State and the second-largest cable provider in the country...
Our current political economic system is in crisis. Forty years of market fundamentalism, privatisation, and unchecked corporate power have led us to the point of ecological collapse, increasing economic and social inequality, and dangerous political instability and backlash. Driven by the system’s failings, and the real pain being felt by workers and communities across the world...
A new transatlantic project will explore how new models of public ownership can shape the emerging commanding heights of the economy. As we enter the second decade of the new century, signs of crisis are all around us. Climate change, rising economic inequality, assaults on workers’ rights and wages, unchecked corporate power, financialization, entrenched racism...
Highland Park, Mich., is a small, majority-black community of three square miles, nestled in the center of Detroit, with some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the country. It’s suffered a series of indignities and setbacks over the years: a state emergency management takeover of the city and surrounding areas; a state takeover of the public water infrastructure; public school closures; and a collapse of tax revenue fueled by white flight, fossil-fuel-driven suburban development, and the rapid decline of the housing market and auto industries.
California’s large investor-owned utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), announced it would be filing for bankruptcy by the end of the month after being faced with $30 billion in damages related to a series of fires over the past two years, including last fall’s deadly Camp Fire, which was allegedly sparked by the utility’s old, faulty transmission lines. That fire killed 86 people, destroyed 14,000 homes in the town of Paradise, and stands as the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history. PG&E’s bankruptcy forces a critical choice for new California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state leaders. They could opt to bail out PG&E, or break up the gargantuan company into presumably more manageable pieces.
Socialism in the United States is making a comeback. Socialists are winning elections at the local, state, and federal levels; the membership of Democratic Socialists of America stands at a record fifty-five thousand; and polling consistently finds that younger Americans have relatively positive opinions of the concept. While the term “socialism” means different things to different people, for the vast majority in the burgeoning movement it suggests the promise of a very different kind of system — one that is far more equitable, democratic, and ecologically sustainable than both capitalism and past experimentation with its alternatives.
The next financial crisis is all but inevitable. While its exact timing and severity cannot be predicted, both the accelerating frequency of crises in recent decades and the continued consolidation of the banking sector in an increasingly financialized economy suggest that we should be prepared for a crisis sooner rather than later. In the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, the US federal government intervened at an unprecedented scale to bailout our largest commercial banks after they became entangled in the mess of risky financial products built on top of an unsustainable housing bubble. The effect of these massive bailouts was, in the end, to preserve the status quo: the modest attempts made to regulate the financial sector to protect consumers and avert further devastating financial crises have largely been rolled back, and the banks that were then “too big to fail” are today even bigger.
Thomas M. Hanna of The Democracy Collaborative has released a compelling new detailed report arguing that we need to start now discussing a viable plan for public ownership — to demand a next financial system — so we are ready to fight for it in the face of the next crisis. “The next financial crisis is all but inevitable. While its exact timing and severity cannot be predicted, both the accelerating frequency of crises in recent decades and the continued consolidation of the banking sector in an increasingly financialized economy suggest that we should be prepared for a crisis sooner rather than later…“Viewed in historical perspective, the ability of the financial sector to use its concentrated wealth to escape or subvert regulations by influencing the political process should come as no surprise…