Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Countering the lazy greedy person argument

On the question of human beings as being “inherently greedy” and harbouring “insatiable wants”, one needs to understand that this has not been a particularly dominant theme in the history of economic ideas – at least not in the naïve form referred to below.  It certainly appears in precursors  to the Neoclassical Marginalist revolution  like Hermann Gossen in the 1850s who had an almost fanatically religious attachment to the idea of maximising one’s self interest  (in fact, he saw egoistic impulses as a “natural law” designed by god which humans have a moral duty to conform to.)

The concept of “Homo Economicus” – Economic Man – was really ushered in or popularised by Alfred Marshall ,  a leading economist in the second generation of neoclassical economists.  However, like  the utilitarian J S Mill, he considered that self interest strictly related to the economic sphere of life and did not deny that human beings were subject to “higher motives” – altruism – in other parts of life.  Marshall defined economics as the  “study of mankind in the ordinary business of life; it examines that part of individual and social action which is most closely connected with the attainment and with the use of the material requisites of well being

Marshall’s “Economic Man” was subjected to criticism from people like Thorstein Veblen and other humanistic economists and from then on  you find a subtle shift in the way economics approached the problem of human motives , pioneered by economists like Wicksteed and Lionel Robbins. The ends (whether these be altruistic or egoistic)  were  effectively separated and  distinguished from the means of realising those ends with economics being purportedly concerned only with the what are the most effective means by which human beings realised their ends. 
 Even someone solely motivated by altruistic  concern for others still had to make wise economic choices in order to best realise his/her objectives. In this way the caricature of the “Greedy Man”  was replaced by another caricature “Rational Man” – though one could argue that the latter is just a way of camouflaging, rather than banishing, the former. It is still “self-interested” insofar as it treats other people as a means to realising your ends rather than an end in themselves

So the basic argument becomes this – that in making economic choices we always face “opportunity costs”. If I want to go for a swim this afternoon I cannot at the same time go for a stroll in the park. The opportunity cost of my decision to swim is that I forego a stroll in the park. Similarly if a particular society wants to develop its agricultural sector, say, this may require having to divert resources from some other sector(s) of the economy and so on.  
Thus, the concept of “scarcity is built into the very definition of opportunity costs which any kind of society must face.  This is a truism but we don't think this particular concept of scarcity in any way undermines the case for socialism which depends on our ability to produce enough to satisfy our reasonable needs. In the latter case we are talking about a quite different definition of scarcity which socialists argue is no longer applicable given the development of a productive potential to sustain a socialist society

Which brings us to a final point – it might be slightly misleading to just baldly portray contemporary economics as having as its basic assumption that “people’s wants are insatiable”.  This could be misconstrued as suggesting that my particular want for something  e.g a cone of ice cream – is “infinite”. Obviously this is a caricature and an Aunt Sally argument and in fact, flatly contradicts the “Law of diminishing marginal utility” in contemporary mainstream economics itself.  In other words, for every additional ice cream I consume I derive less utility or pleasure until eventually eating another ice cream might even become a disutility – I might become sick at the very thought of it – meaning very clearly that my demand for ice-cream is definitely not insatiable! Nor is contemporary mainstream economics saying that it is.

Rather, the argument is that as the marginal utility of a good falls with each additional unit of that good consumed, the consumer switches his/her desire to some other good depending on the marginal rates of substitution, (MRS).  The point being that there is no end to the variety of goods that could potentially provide a substitute for ice-cream. Indeed, this argument is employed in “indifference theory ” in conventional economics to analyse consumer behaviour

It is pretty easy to knock down the Aunt Sally argument referred to above but more problematic when it comes to dealing with the so called “Greedy Person” argument in this wider context  of what modern economic theory is actually saying.

For this we need a more sophisticated nuanced approach which recognises that human behaviour is always a dynamic mix of both self interested and altruistic motives and will be so even in socialism. That approach will also need to make a distinction between “needs” and “wants”, in my view,  something that has long been a cornerstone belief in humanistic economics in its debate with conventional mainstream economics.  Sometimes “wants” will have to be sacrificed in order that “needs” be met  – not least in a world in which we face growing environmental constraints.
R. Cox

Socialists have always been green

Over the coming days, cllimate change will once again become a major political issue to discuss and debate. What is needed is an alternative solution outside of the capitalist mindset of the politicians and the protesters, one that takes into consideration the ownership and control of our productive processes; in short the social ownership of the means of life. Only then will we be able to address solutions which will not only benefit all of humanity but also the global environment. To find an effective solution, awareness, and indignation about a problem must be accompanied by an understanding of its cause. Some eco-activists blame modern technology rather than the use — or, more accurately, the abuse — that is made of it under the present system. Many others attribute pressure on resources and the environment to overpopulation and that humans are too greedy. They preach a gospel of restraint on consumption. Yet being in harmony with nature does not mean abandoning modern technological knowledge and regressing to pre-industrial levels. What it means is using materials and applying methods compatible with a balanced functioning of nature. With appropriate modification, modern industrial techniques of production are quite capable of providing enough food, clothing, and shelter for every person on Earth and of doing this without damaging the environment.

Nature and the environment are being damaged today because the productive activity is oriented towards the accumulation of profits rather than towards the direct satisfaction of human needs. The economic mechanism of the profit system can function in no other way. Profits always take priority both over meeting needs and over protecting the environment. This is why the Earth's resources have been plundered throughout the history of capitalism without a thought for the future, why chemical fertilisers and pesticides are used in agriculture, why animals are injected with hormones, why power stations and factories release all sorts of dangerous and noxious substances into the air and water, why waste is not recycled, why goods are made not to last. The list of anti-ecological practices under capitalism because it is more profitable is endless.

Reforms under capitalism, no matter how well-meaning can never solve the environmental crisis and the conclusion is clear - capitalism must go. It must be replaced by a socialist society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. Only on the basis of common ownership can the aims of the ecologists be achieved. Only in a society in which goods are no longer produced for profit can the problems of pollution and adulteration be eliminated. Only in a society where goods are no longer produced for sale can high-quality, long-lasting goods be produced. Only, finally, on the basis of the common ownership of the earth’s resources can humans restore the balance which capitalism has upset between them and nature and live in harmony with their natural environment, live ecologically if you like

It is obvious to those in the World Socialist Movement that today human needs are far from being met on a world scale and that fairly rapid growth in the production of food, housing and other basic amenities would still be needed for some years even if production ceased to be governed by the economic laws of capitalism. However it should not be forgotten that a socialist "steady-state economy" would be a much more normal situation than an economy geared to blindly accumulating more and more means of production. After all, the only rational reason for accumulating means of production is to eventually be in a position to satisfy all reasonable consumption needs. Once the stock of means of production has reached this level, in a society with this goal, accumulation, or the further expansion of the stock of means of production, can stop and production levels be stabilised. Logically, this point would eventually be reached, since the consumption needs of a given population are finite. So if human society is to be able to organise its production in an ecologically acceptable way, then it must abolish the capitalist economic mechanism of capital accumulation and gear production instead to the direct satisfaction of needs.

In the 19th Century that supposed dry crusty old economist Karl Marx was writing on the declining fertility of soil under capitalism. From Capital, volume 1, on "Large-scale Industry and Agriculture":
“Capitalist production collects the population together in great centres, and causes the urban population to achieve an ever-growing preponderance. This has two results. On the one hand it concentrates the historical motive force of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e. it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil...But by destroying the circumstances surrounding that metabolism...it compels its systematic restoration as a regulative law of social production, and in a form adequate to the full development of the human race...All progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time is a progress toward ruining the more long-lasting sources of that fertility...Capitalist production, therefore, only develops the techniques and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth—the soil and the worker.”

 Marx  emphasised  it was both necessary and possible to rationally govern human relationships with nature, but this was something "completely beyond the capabilities of bourgeois society." In a future society of freely associated producers, however, humans could govern their relations with nature via collective control, rather than through the blind power of market relations. There was a need for planning and measures to address the division of labor and population between town and country and for the restoration and improvement of the soil. Marx’s asserted that a concept of ecological sustainability was of very limited practical relevance to capitalist society as it was incapable of applying rational scientific methods and social planning due to the pressures of competition.

Land in capitalism is a commodity as Engels explains:
 “To make earth an object of huckstering — the earth which is our one and all, the first condition of our existence — was the last step towards making oneself an object of huckstering. It was and is to this very day an immorality surpassed only by the immorality of self-alienation. And the original appropriation — the monopolization of the earth by a few, the exclusion of the rest from that which is the condition of their life — yields nothing in immorality to the subsequent huckstering of the earth.” (Frederick Engels, Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy)

 As he also pointed out elsewhere this drive for profit can lead to ecological catastrophe:
“ What cared the Spanish planters in Cuba, who burned down forests on the slopes of the mountains and obtained from the ashes sufficient fertilizer for one generation of very highly profitable coffee trees--what cared they that the heavy tropical rainfall afterwards washed away the unprotected upper stratum of the soil, leaving behind only bare rock!”

Marx offers a vision of the nature of a future society in Capital, Volume 3:
“From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men. Even an entire society, a nation or all simultaneously existing societies taken together are not owners of the earth, they are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations, as boni patres familias [good heads of households].”

Burgers from the Amazon

Marfrig, the world’s biggest supplier of burgers sourced meat from a farmer in the Amazon who had been found guilty of using deforested land, say reports, even as new figures reveal the beef industry’s deforestation risks.

Marfrig, a Brazilian meat company that has supplied McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food chains around the world, bought cattle from a farm that had been using deforested land earlier this year, according to a joint investigation by Repórter Brasil and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Marfrig has recently launched an environment “transition bond” to tap into the growing sustainable investment market.

Deadly Air Pollution Detected in the Womb

Air pollution particles have been found on the foetal side of placentas, indicating that unborn babies are directly exposed to the black carbon produced by motor traffic and fuel burning.

The research is the first study to show the placental barrier can be penetrated by particles breathed in by the mother. It found thousands of the tiny particles per cubic millimetre of tissue in every placenta analysed. There was an average of 20,000 nanoparticles per cubic millimetre in the placentas of mothers who lived near main roads. For those further away, the average was 10,000 per cubic millimeter.
The link between exposure to dirty air and increased miscarriages, premature births and low birth weights is well established. The research suggests the particles themselves may be the cause, not solely the inflammatory response the pollution produces in mothers.

Damage to foetuses has lifelong consequences and Prof Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said: “This is the most vulnerable period of life. All the organ systems are in development. For the protection of future generations, we have to reduce exposure.” He said governments had the responsibility of cutting air pollution but that people should avoid busy roads when possible.
A comprehensive global review concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body. Nanoparticles have also been found to cross the blood-brain barrier and billions have been found in the hearts of young city dwellers.

The WHO calls air pollution a “public health emergency” and recent analysis indicates 8.8 million early deaths each year, though scientists suspect even this may be “the tip of the iceberg”.


Business Comes First

The Global Strike for climate justice on 20th September will ask the important question of whether it will be people and planet first or profits over human needs and environmental protection, will our children and grandchildren live in a world of increasing misery.

 The problem of global warming can clearly be laid at the feet of global capitalism and if people are not receptive to changing the social system we live under then they too are denialists. Capitalism is a market system and nothing can change that. To produce the things that people need in an acceptable and ecologically benign manner presupposes that society as a whole must be in a position to control production and direct its purposes. This cannot be done in a society where the means of production are owned and controlled by the privileged few and governed by the blind economic laws which impose their own priorities.  Production for the market is an expression of the fact that the means of production and therefore the products are owned not by all the members of a society in common but by individuals or groups such as corporations. 

Continued ravaging of the Earth for short-term growth can only end in social and ecological collapse. Humanity must embrace a steady state economy – whereby the increment of natural capital harvested is replenished annually and that can only be achieved by establishing socialism – the promotion and protection of the human family. With socialism we choose to live more simply, share more with others, restore ecosystems, grow more food, end fossil fuels, and embrace social justice and satisfy the needs of all. A better life than endless consumption that kills ourselves and others is possible. Capitalism is destroying the planet. Only revolution can save the planet. Only the complete overturning and elimination of capitalism makes it possible to create a society in which we could actually live as the stewards and guardians rather than the plunderers of nature. It is our only chance of achieving a truly sustainable society—and restoring what can be restored of Earth’s ecosystems. What are you doing -- each and every day -- to help bring down this global system of oppression and exploitation before there’s nothing left? How much time do you believe we have?

We, humans, are part of nature, not external to it. We are one with nature; we must nurture it if it is to sustain us. We are a sharing economy. We have always shared. Humanity would never have survived unless we practiced sharing at a personal and communal basis. We shared common lands with our neighbours and communities just as today share the roads. Mutual aid is an evolutionary trait that anthropologists have long recognised as intrinsic to our essential nature. It remains a fact that the sharing economy has always been with us in one form or another and sharing has forever played its part in our everyday lives. People are naturally social and creative and it drives us to innovate. And the flexibility of human behaviour, such as our capacity for cooperation and adaptation, allows us to envisage and create a world beyond the current economic and political models many regards as unchangeable.

Humanity is now in a position and has been for some time, to supply, in a sustainable way the needs of the population. The means of production and the knowledge at its disposal are more than sufficient to enable this to be done. The problem is capitalism. Common ownership on a world scale means that there will be no property or territorial rights over any part of the planet or over any of the technology. The Earth and its resources will not belong to anyone. They would simply be there to be used in accordance with democratically-decided rules and procedures. We can imagine the local community being the basic unit of such arrangements. People could elect a local council to co-ordinate and administer local affairs. Delegates could be sent to regional councils to decide matters concerning a wider area, and so on. Possibly a world council would be the best way to deal with matters on a world scale (for instance, the supply of scarce minerals, the protection of the biosphere, the use of the oceans, and space research). On the basis of common ownership and democratic control, the world-wide network of productive and administrative units can be geared to meeting human needs. This need not involve the organisation of a bureaucratic world planning authority. Instead, we could set up production and distribution mechanisms at different levels to respond flexibly to demands communicated to them.

In a society oriented to meeting needs, the concept of profits would be meaningless, while the imperative to ‘growth’ would disappear. Instead, after an initial period of increase in useful production to provide the whole world’s population with basic amenities, production can be expected to reach a level sufficient to provide for people’s current needs and the future viability of their society. A sustainable relationship with the rest of nature could be achieved. Needs on a world scale could be in balance with the capacity of the biosphere to renew itself after supplying them. As the only life-form that can act in a way conscious of the wider impact it can have on other species and on the planet as a whole, humans have the potential to act as planet’s ‘brain’, consciously regulating its function in the interest of present and future generations.  But before we can hope to play this role we must first integrate our own activities into a sustainable natural cycle on a planetary scale. This we can do only within the framework of a world socialist society in which the Earth and all its natural and material resources have become the common heritage of all humanity.

Socialists work for a revolution in society from world capitalism to world socialism. The revolution we want is a social revolution that will change the basis of society from the present monopoly of productive resources by rich individuals, corporations, and states into one where the Earth and its resources belong to none but will have become the common heritage of all humanity. This revolution can only be carried out democratically by the majority class in society, those forced to work for a wage or a salary in order to get a living, with a view to freeing themselves from exploitation for profit and from the restrictions and problems that the capitalist profit system imposes on them. 

At the same time, socialists understand that such a revolution has also to achieve a sustainable relationship between human society and the rest of nature. Together we can be architects of the future rather than victims of the present.

New Age - Old Age Exploitation

The $4.2tn wellness industry  is bolstered by profits from cheap crystals and a generation looking for alternative modes of healing.  More than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals. Scientific criticism of crystal healing has done little to reduce belief.  

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, but beneath its soil is a well-stocked treasure chest. Rose quartz and amethyst, tourmaline and citrine, labradorite and carnelian: Madagascar has them all. Gems and precious metals were the country’s fastest-growing export in 2017 – up 170% from 2016, to $109m. This island country of 25 million people now stands alongside far larger nations, such as India, Brazil and China, as a key producer of crystals for the world. And in a country where infrastructure, capital and labour regulation are all in short supply, it is human bodies rather than machinery that pull crystals from the earth. While a few large mining companies operate in Madagascar, more than 80% of crystals are mined “artisanally” – meaning by small groups and families, without regulation, who are paid rock-bottom prices. Common crystals, such as quartz, can form almost anywhere around the world, when water and steam carry mineral particles into fractures in the earth. Drawn together by the mutual attraction of their electrical charges, their molecules stack in orderly sequences, forming defined planes and repeating facets that can create the pleasing shapes – geodes, prisms – that they’re sought for. In the mineral-rich earth of central Madagascar, villagers often find quartz and citrine deposits by chance, when they are revealed by landslide or washed down to nearby riverbeds. The mines dug to meet growing demand are often improvised, operated off the books and without permits. The plunder of Madagascar’s resources for profit is nothing new. The country’s riches still rarely benefit the Malagasy people. It's all as part of the same old story, resources siphoned out of the country for the benefit of foreign companies.

Believers say crystals conduct ambient energy – like miniature phone towers picking up signals and channelling them on to the user – thus rebalancing malign energies, healing the body and mind.

The crystal business is now  a big deal, powered by the lucrative combination of social media-friendly aesthetics, cosmic spirituality and the apparently unstoppable wellness juggernaut. In the US, demand for overseas crystals and gemstones has doubled over the past three years, and quartz imports have doubled since 2014. Daniel Trinchillo, owner of Fine Minerals International, a high-end crystal dealership, said that his business makes between $30m and $40m in sales each year. Trinchillo caters to a growing cohort of celebrities, collectors and investment buyers who want rare and valuable crystals. The most expensive single piece he has sold went for $6m, but he knows of some that have sold for $10m. Trinchillo estimates that high-end dealers now account for about $500m in annual sales. Include the lower end, he said, and you are talking about a highly profitable, multi-billion dollar industry.

There is little in the way of fair-trade certification for crystals, and none of the industry-wide transparency schemes developed for commodities such as gold and diamonds. Tracing a crystal from the time it is dragged, dusty and cracked, from the earth, to the polished moment of final sale requires a journey backward down the supply chain: from shop, to exporter, to middleman, to mine, and finally to the men and women who work below the ground, on whose labour a billion-dollar industry has been built.

Anjoma Ramartina is a  collection of hamlets that sits atop some of Madagascar’s largest rose quartz deposits, it is a day’s drive from the capital city of Antananarivo. Most homes in Anjoma Ramartina have no electricity, no running water, no phone or network connections. Malnutrition is common. According to the World Bank, around 80% of those outside Madagascar’s cities live below the $1.90-a-day poverty line. Health researchers found around half of parents in Anjoma Ramartina had lost at least one infant child to illness or hunger.

Jean Rahandrinimaro, the deputy mayor of Anjoma Ramartina, describes the local industry. “Crystal, amethyst, rose quartz. Everything except sapphires and rubies, we mine here.” He placed a few stones on the wooden table in front of him: polished clear quartz and purple amethyst. He estimated that from a population of about 10,000 people, up to a quarter of locals now depended on the mines for some income. Between two and four men died each year in the crystal pits surrounding this village, he said – only two last year, but often it was three or four. “Sometimes it’s very dangerous but they still mine, because they want money,” he said. “There’s the possibility of landslide, that happens a lot here. The soil falls on them and they die.”

Landslides are not the only danger for miners. Smashed rocks create fine dust and quartz particles can penetrate deep into the lungs. There, they fester, inflaming surrounding cells, increasing the risk of lung cancer and silicosis. Child labour is also widespread: the US Department of Labor and the International Labour Organization estimate that about 85,000 children work in Madagascar’s mines.

While the crystal business is booming, and largely among consumers who tend to be concerned with environment, fair trade and good intentions, there is little sign of the kind of regulation that might improve conditions for those who mine them. The challenge of sourcing crystals ethically is one faced by the industry as a whole. Every retailer raised the question of price. Would crystal consumers really be willing to pay more to guarantee safer, child labour-free mines, or a fair wage for miners? 

And if some of the conditions are truly awful? “Awful is relative, remember,” replies a trader.


The Socialist Ecotopia

Solidarity is the watchword of the people against the master class. Let the slogan resound — "World for the Workers, Workers for the World”. On the 20th September there will be a global climate strike for the planet. There is urgent need for a change of our society. The great threat of climate change hangs over humanity. Socialism is a necessity. It would end the capitalist system. Socialism is not a benevolently-administered capitalism: it is a different social system.

The need for socialism grows more urgent each day. It awaits the conscious will of the workers of the world, and nothing more; when they desire it, it can be. 

On Friday, the voice of the Socialist Party will be a small one, but it must be heard. Our message is the same as it has always been, and is the same for every day of the year. More than that, it is the only message of hope in the  world. The ills the workers suffer today are the product of capitalism. As long as capitalism lasts there is no cure for the evils it throws up. Many of those taking part in the global day of action, however well-intentioned, cannot accomplish any lasting cures for these evils.

The only sure and effective cure is to remove the source from which these evils flow—remove capitalism and replace it by a system in which everything that is in and on the earth is the common possession of mankind. A system in which all those who are able will take part in producing what is required and each will receive what he needs. Our message therefore is a message of hope. The evils of today can be removed when people understand their cause, the remedy, and organise together to apply that remedy.

Of course, many genuine environmental activists will argue that a world of abundance is not possible to sustain. That we are over-populated, that we consume too much, that technology cannot produce what we require but will be actually counter-productive by contributing to the pollution and depletion of natural resources. All sincerely held opinions but all come from a view embedded in seeing the world through capitalist eyes and not of a socialist vision of a completely different type of economics.

Most scientists are just as politically myopic and blinkered about socialism. They may well recognise that a socialist world is not the same as the present capitalist system but decline to put the revolutionary transformation of the profit system on the agenda. The scientific community insist that they should work within today's parameters of capitalism, and persuade the business leaders and their political retainers to implement far-reaching reforms which will impact upon profit margins. The scientists are setting out to impose on capitalism something that is incompatible with its nature. Such a strategy is exactly the route towards climate change catastrophe.
The modern world is a society of scarcity, but with a difference. Today’s shortages are unnecessary; today’s scarcity is artificial. More than that: scarcity achieved at the expense of strenuous effort, ingenious organisation and the most sophisticated planning.

The world is now haunted by a new spectre – the spectre of abundance. Socialists are seeking to establish a society where human needs are in balance with the resources needed to satisfy them. Socialism means plenty for all and does not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance. If the assumption of abundance is not regarded as far-fetched (which, we say it is not) then there is a better method of ensuring individual consumer choice than with money, an unnecessary complication that leaves the exchange economy intact. The more viable option is free access, “from each according to ability to each according to need”.

Continuing artificial rationing and restricting access and offering privileged groups extra remuneration as in "to each according to work" is repeating the mantra of the capitalist work ethic. Why project into socialism capitalism which relies on monetary accounting, whereas socialism relies on calculation in kind? This is one reason why socialism holds a decisive productive advantage over capitalism because of the elimination for the need to tie up vast quantities of resources and labour implicated in a system of monetary/pricing accounting. 

In socialism calculations will be done directly in physical quantities of real things, in use-values, without any general unit of calculation. Needs will be communicated to productive units as requests for specific useful things, while productive units will communicate their requirements to their suppliers as requests for other useful things.

"Arise ye prisoners of starvation, Arise ye wretched of the earth."

The global strike for the planet on the 20th September inspires hope in the people and the youth the world over. It says the future is ours. This day of action may be the portent of a new world, a peaceful world, a world without poverty or misery. A world of abundance. It is the promise of the real brotherhood of mankind when young and old march shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity, black, brown and white for climate justice.

The Socialist Party tries to point out that present society is not providing for people because of its economic imperatives and that we can change those by political action which will then permit people access to a better life, a better well-being both physically and mentally and so associates itself with the steady-state, zero-growth model of economy for a socialist society, explaining that we envisage an anti-consumerism trend to prevail and expect a drop in consumption levels but with the important caveat that there will be an initial phase of higher production to raise people to a decent standard of living. We say this sustainable future can come about because with socialism there will be little need for conspicuous consumption and public ostentatiousness to show status.

Socialism will provide a democratic forum which no one has today other than the capitalists, who will have disappeared. Local and regional factors will also apply, with democracy working at a local as well as a global level. We don`t see anything being compulsory. Coercion is not compatible with socialism (albeit unless it`s the coercion initially necessary in dispossessing the capitalist class.)

Socialism is all about aspiring to live in togetherness with our fellow human beings and from that will arise living in harmony with the planet, whether a wild forest or a tamed farm. The liberation of mankind through a real socialist society would be the liberation of the whole planet, the animal world, the plants, the forests, the seas and the World's natural resources from the hands of the capitalists. Our vision of a future socialist society, one without racism, ageism, sexism, and speciesism, a world that does not inflict unnecessary cruelty on non-humans which emotionally damages the human within us all. 

It is idle utopian blueprinting to suggest certain trends that already are developing today within capitalism will grow exponentially within socialism. We aren't advancing scenarios that are not rooted in real life with everybody, for instance, having personal helicopters or whatever, but simply stating the obvious that in a sharing system we will also share public transport which will be only better. Socialists are not on some crusade to proselytise a particular life-style such as veganism but as socialists, we envisage a rational well-planned society that will endeavour to be sustainable as far as possible which leads certain conclusions, that there will be a change of tastes and a different menu in socialism. Socialism should be a world of humane humans, not one catering for carnivores with carving knives.  We seek respect for life and it will begin with our own species but it will shift to others.  The Socialist Party's case is that these changes cannot and will not be permitted by capitalism.

No climate research report or scientific warning, no political summit statement nor new technological innovation has altered the upward trajectory of carbon emissions. Some think we are already too far down the path of environmental destruction to stem its progress, much less reverse it. For decades, ecologists have called attention to the world's most pressing environmental problems. Yet the problems remain unresolved. Capitalism is a blind process of profit accumulation. Capitalism without growth is impossible, so it’s the capitalist need for profit that is responsible for the poisoning of the planet and its people. The functionaries of capitalism, for all their hot air on how to protect the planet, they are never going to challenge the thing they most believe in. They will still be making speeches while the world fries and dies.

 Regardless of all the platitudes and palliative proposals to the World's environmental emergency, the 20th of September mass actions draws attention to the capitalist system and all its forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination which have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk. It challenges the core belief that sustains the global capitalist order: namely, the idea that we can organise our economy around the goal of perpetual growth and profit accumulation (if capitalism doesn't report "growth" then it's in "recession"). 

The Global Climate Strike hopefully helps lead us towards real solutions to the urgent global ecological crises that face us. If not climate change will wreak its havoc on us by constraining our access to the basics of life: vital resources that include food, water, land, and energy. This will be devastating. the future effects of climate change to predict the following with reasonable confidence. Rising sea levels will flood many coastal areas, destroying large cities, critical infrastructure (including roads, railroads, ports, airports, pipelines, refineries, and power plants), and prime agricultural land. Diminished rainfall and prolonged droughts will turn once-verdant croplands into dust bowls, reducing food output and turning millions into “climate refugees.” More severe storms and intense heat waves will kill crops, trigger forest fires, cause floods, and destroy critical infrastructure. No one can predict how much food, land, water, and energy will be lost as a result of this onslaught. But the consequences are obvious. We are now heading directly to-wards a world of chaos.

We need to look not at the technical questions such as how energy is generated or the methods on how crops are grown, important though these of course are. Rather, we need to examine the economic basis of society and see the implications of the ways in which production as a whole is organised and of how priorities are considered.

Rainforest Mafia

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is a lucrative business largely driven by criminal networks that threaten and attack government officials, forest defenders and indigenous people who try to stop them. 

According to a new report by Human Rights Watch,  Brazil’s failure to police these gangs threatens its abilities to meet its commitments under the Paris climate deal – such as eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030.

Brazil’s environment minister in the government of far-right president Bolsonaro, has argued that poverty drives degradation, and that development of the Amazon will help stop deforestation.

But the report’s author, Cesar Muñoz Acebes, argues that Amazon needs to be better policed.

“As long as you have this level of violence, lawlessness and impunity for the crimes committed by these criminal groups it will be impossible for Brazil to rein in deforestation,” he said. “These criminal networks will attack anyone who stands in their way.”
The report documents 28 killings in which it found evidence that “those responsible were engaged in illegal deforestation and saw their victims as obstacles”.

Victims included indigenous people, forest residents and environmental agents, and only two cases went to trial. It cites “serious flaws” in investigations of six killings. More than 300 killings were counted by the Pastoral Land Commission, a not-for-profit group connected to the Catholic church, over the last decade in the Amazon, of which just 14 went to trial.
“There is a lack of people, a lack of resources, a lack of logistics and a lack of will,” said Antonio de Oliveira, a retired federal police officer previously seconded to indigenous agency Funai. He worked with the Guardians, a brigade of Guajajara indigenous people who forcibly expel loggers from their heavily depleted Araribóia reserve in Maranhão state on the east of the Amazon. Oliveira received several death threats and came under fire from loggers during one operation, when an environment agency official sitting next to him was hit in the arm. Nobody was jailed. 

He agreed with the report’s assertion that illegal loggers have become more brazen since Bolsonaro launched a strong series of attacks on environmental agencies for levying fines and destroying loggers’ equipment, and promised to develop protected environment areas.
“The situation has got worse,” he said. “There is a sort of encouragement to people to enter, to invade.”
Paulo Bonavigo, president of Ecoporé, a not-for-profit group in Rondônia working on sustainable forest projects, said loggers operate freely in one protected area his group monitors. “There are lookouts, there is a radio network. These guys are organised,” he said.

An employee from the Chico Mendes Institute who worked in Pará state said the men working on illegal deforestation and mining in the forest are badly paid, poorly educated and exploited by rich bosses. 

“Deforestation is not exactly slave work but it is not far off.”