Radical System Change Santa Cruz, a working group that grew out of the Santa Cruz Climate Action Network and is now a chapter of the System Change not Climate Change network, is for people who believe that

  1. the political and economic system we live under (for simplicity, “capitalism”) is the cause of the ecological crisis, and the only way to solve the crisis it to change this system into something radically different
  2. another world is possible: just as capitalism was created from the vestiges of feudalism through revolution, people can create another political and economic system out of capitalism through revolution
  3. there is much to learn from the experience and writings of socialists and anarchists in history about how to challenge the system, but today’s world is different, and we will have to come up with new strategies and tactics to supplement or replace the old ones
  4. it is movements of people organized around challenging power that will make revolution, rather than changes in individual behavior or consciousness (consciousness changes through action)
  5. the crisis is urgent: we don’t have the luxury of endless debates about fine points of theory; we need to focus on what radicals agree on (which is a lot)
  6. the struggles for environmental justice and social justice are inter-related because the oppression and marginalization caused by the system affect the same people, and those marginalized and oppressed people must be among the leaders of the movement to change the system

Unlike many other environmental groups, RSCSC is centered on an ideology or philosophy rather a particular topic, like water, fossil fuels, agriculture, or climate change per se. This means that we can get involved in all sorts of struggles and campaigns. So how do we decide? What makes us different? Here are two ways.

  1. Many campaigns have a “justice” dimension that we should be emphasizing. For example, Santa Cruz transportation activists are striving to make sure transportation options in Santa Cruz County contribute less to our carbon footprint, but we should also be fighting to assure that whatever options are pursued make it easier and more affordable for working-class Santa Cruzans to get where they need to go. By the same token, some “solutions” to climate change within capitalism may actually widen the gap that separates the privileged few from the impoverished global majority, and we must oppose such “solutions”.
  2. Many campaigns are not obviously about climate change at all, but if they’re about environmental justice, we will want to be involved. For example, farm workers in the US and Mexico suffer from oppressive working conditions, and, as radical environmental justice activists, we should be in solidarity with their struggles, even if they are not directly concerned with climate change.

We are currently focusing on strategies and models for making Santa Cruz County into a genuinely democratic, just, and sustainable region and learning about some of the alternatives to capitalist economic and political systems that people have struggled to create through history and in our time. To that end, we will be sponsoring some of the monthly events that are organized by SC CAN and 350 Santa Cruz. The first, on September 1, 2016, focused on public discussion of the long-term future of Santa Cruz County and beyond. The second, on March 2, 2017, focused on why capitalism can’t solve the climate crisis.

We meet roughly every three weeks. If you’re interested, contact Michael Gasser.