5) STUDENTS STRIKE FOR SURVIVAL
People's Voice Editorial
Ultimately, the world is changed by mass action. But sometimes, one determined individual can inspire others to act, with powerful results. One such person is 16-year-old Swedish climate justice activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. Her weekly protests spread to a handful of cities, then to hundreds. On Friday, March 14, coordinated student walkouts were staged in over 2000 cities in more than 100 countries. Everywhere, teenaged organizers spread the word, made signs, brought sound systems, and gathered in dozens or thousands or tens of thousands. Many were encouraged by family members, teachers and administrators; others braved warnings of dire academic consequences. They were joined in the streets by countless older people – environmentalists, indigenous land and water defenders, trade unionists, anti-war activists, revolutionaries – all heartened to witness this massive wave of deeply radical actions.
Like their parents or grandparents who skipped classes to protest the Amchitka nuclear test or the Vietnam war, these students will long remember that their actions helped build a global wave of resistance, this time against the powerful energy monopolies which drive the emission of fossil fuels for the sake of private profits.
There is, of course, no guarantee of success in this struggle for survival. As Greta Thunberg told the recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland, "I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day." Fear is indeed an incentive to demand change. The student walkouts point the way forward, and their movement is a ray of hope in difficult times.
But speaking truth to power is not enough. The labour movement must bring its numbers and muscle into the fight. We need to build awareness that the capitalist forces which brought us imperialism, war and climate disaster must be replaced, not convinced.
(The above article is from from the April 1-15, 2019, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)