Friday, April 10, 2015

Socialists Are Green

Our ability to generate more output with fewer people has lifted our lives out of drudgery and delivered us a potential cornucopia of material wealth. Yet a billion or more people face a worsening of their conditions, and the very existence of hundreds of millions of them is threatened. The vast majority of these victims bear little or no responsibility. Pushing 1 billion persons down to extreme poverty, and enriching a very few is one of the major “accomplishments” of capitalism. If we allow businesses to measure our natural resources only by their profits we will have a system headed for ruin. The ideas of the ruling class have hoodwinked us! Carefully crafted propaganda convince us that a society based upon individual greed, exploitation and inequality is normal, natural and desirable. What kind of system is capitalism? This kind: If there are wars, that benefits the arms trade. If disease spreads that is good for the pharmaceutical industry. If hurricanes and earthquakes reaps destruction upon communities, that is good for the construction industry. Such are the realities of the cold blooded economics by which the people of the world have been organized for hundreds of years. Many of us starve for lack of food while others go on diets because they eat too much. Many of us sleep in doorways and on the streets, yet pampered pets have their own beds in warm homes. The idea of keeping people healthy, safe, secure and alive is reduced to doing so only if they are able to create profits for those selling health, safety, security and life itself to the highest bidder in the market. If we can’t afford to buy those things and charity does not exist for us, we can all just drop dead. None of this happens because of individuals who are thoughtless or cold hearted or murderous. But in a system which dictates that profit must be created in a market sale.

Socialists cannot foretell the future, but we are aware that society seems at present powerless to protect the planet for human existence. The short-term thinking that motivates a commodity producing society makes next quarter's balance sheet more important than long-term planning about the environment. It is fashionable for every capitalist politician to say that they are "green" - it is a good vote-catcher, but the realities of capitalism are the production of more and more profits. So when it comes to the crunch, profit -making is going to be a bigger priority than the environment. Behind the flowery rhetoric of reformist politicians on so-called "green" issues there lies the brutal reality of capitalism's need to expand. Capitalism is a highly competitive society, with each national group in a fierce battle for markets. Capitalist governments are fond of flaunting their concern for the environment and the protection of endangered species but when it comes to making profits all such concerns are forgotten. The lack of political will shown by the world’s governments to address environmental degradation is obvious to all. What governments do seem to agree on is the need for each country to interpret the concept of a green economy according to national priorities that leaves it up to each country to define what is meant by a green economy. Discussions have so far been focused on the pricing of eco-system services, the new financial markets to be developed and opened up. But the destruction of eco-systems and the capitalist exchange economy are inseparable parts of the same problem. The capitalist system depends upon growth and accumulation to sustain itself.

One of the oppositions to world socialism is that rather than have a complete transformation of society we could have piece by piece gradual change. Well, let us look at how that has worked out in relation to the environment. “Green” capitalism has brought about natural resource grabbing, displacing humanity and nature from the essential elements needed for their survival. The drive for profit, instead of reestablishing harmony within the system, will provoke even greater imbalances, concentrations of wealth, and speculative processes. "Green" capitalism is illusory, simple wishful thinking. The destructive "grow or die" imperative of our market-driven system cannot be wished or regulated away. Capitalism is based on the premise of eternal growth. It is not a steady state, but a rapacious system that is never satiated. Under a capitalist system, not growing is not the same as standing still; it is moving backwards. This is the fundamental contradiction in a finite world. Countless studies have documented that limits to growth in such areas as energy, minerals, water and arable land (among others) are fast being reached. The energy corporations are desperately trying to crash through these limits with technological fixes such as fracking, tar sands exploitation and deep-water drilling, which are equally or more environmentally costly than traditional methods. Yet the trends continue. Capitalism has utterly failed us. It has destroyed our communities, our democracy and the planet we live on. As long as people believe that capitalism is sustainable, they'll focus on reforming it -- smoothing around the edges, re-writing regulations and so on. Some of us though seek a revolution that overthrows the whole system, clearing the way for something entirely new. Maximising accumulation is the force that drives capitalism. Appropriating nature and labour is the cheapest way for maximisation of accumulation. Capitalism is always about the theft of the people's sustenance and the looting of the source of their sustenance – Nature. Capitalists hate any sort of cost. Corporations don’t care much for building environmental costs into their production and spend millions of dollars in political lobbying to thwart such policies. This system where the master class try their best to maximize profit by minimising cost, by appropriating labour, robbing nature, grabbing everything within their reach, creating pollution and destruction of the ecology and causing the ruination of nature are acts of crime - crime against the planet, against posterity, against humanity. It is eco-murder! These are crimes that not only harm present generations but hurt future generations. Vulture environmentalism is vulture capitalism’s hungry and greedy twin. Capitalism is a system that must continually expand, a system that, by its very nature, will eventually come up against the reality of finite natural resources. By its very nature the capitalism system stands against ecology and environment as its only concern is profit, nothing else. Standing up for environment will inescapably lead to questioning this ever greedy hungry economic system. Nobody as yet ever talks about the CAUSE of all these "issues" and underlying reasons but they eventually will arrive at such questions.

We champion a green socialism that focuses on production for need only and common ownership of the world’s wealth. Only a society with production solely for use can save the forests, the oceans and eventually humankind itself. When it comes to a choice between biological diversity and money-making oil there is only one winner as far as the capitalist class is concerned. A world without workers is impossible. A world without capitalists is imperative. An end to the reign of capitalism is necessary to save the Earth and all its people so that we can begin a human society offering hope for all and not just for some. There can be no fundamental alteration of the status quo without the abolition of private and state property. This may seem a scary proposition and the fear of change is encouraged by those who currently benefit from the existing social order. We have not only to conquer the fear, but also to embrace a radically different perspective and way of being in the world. An ecological sound socialism is the necessary transformation to an environmentally sustainable economy. In order to avoid catastrophic and irreversible environmental destruction, world socialism will establish global sustainability strategies, based on science. The principles for sustainable development will be  translated into practice. The world has never needed socialism as much as today. When crises occur, we come together very effectively and very quickly. During a natural disaster, the best is often brought out in people. We survive and flourish because we look after each other. The bigger the crisis, the better we behave (although it is not always universal, of course.) It is surprisingly easy and fast how we could achieve real change. We could cut climate emissions 50% in the first five years and eliminate them on a net basis within twenty years, according to some studies. We can dramatically transform our production methods with existing proven technology. The only thing we really need to change is how we think.

Using current existing known technology:
We can provide abundant clean water for everyone on Earth.
We can produce enough food to feed everybody in the world without harming the environment
We can meet our energy needs ten-fold using clean, renewable energy
We can build high-quality houses in a day or two, providing shelter for those presently living in slums
We can provide safer, more efficient, less polluting transport
We can provide mobile Internet access to everyone on Earth, connecting them to the world's informational and educational resources
We can freely disseminate instructional materials throughout the internet, providing education of unprecedented quality to everyone.
We can organise the world's medical knowledge, so that people have access to the highest-quality medical information and advice at all times.

We can do much more with a lot less. A hundred years ago, 8000 square meters of land was needed to grow food for a person. It can now be done on a few hundred square meters. Why? Because human intelligence has figured out how to extract more resources from a fixed amount of material. The effect of human intelligence is always to enable us to do more with less. Better solar cells can make more electricity from less sunlight, we can make a more powerful computer chip using less material than a few years ago, and more efficient vehicles can travel the same journeys with much less petrol. Human ingenuity is the key that unlocks all other resources. The greater the population, the greater the store of human intelligence. A large population that is well networked and educated will concoct and communicate all kinds of technological solutions that enable us to do more with the resources we have. And so, paradoxically, an increased population can mean that we have more resources to go around. Creativity is something that can give huge satisfaction to people but if not fulfilled can cause great frustration and dissatisfaction. It enables an individual to have more control over their environment and life. Human beings are inherently industrious; not indolent, slothful, and lethargic. We are not lazy and useless, by nature. We are imaginative, daring, productive, adventurous, curious, persistent, and artistic creatures. The biggest challenge is that despite technologies of abundance is that we still think in terms of scarcity. Civilisation is ever closer to a near-workerless world. Under capitalism people feel that this increasing automation is a threat. A threat to their livelihoods. The reality is that automation is likely to provide situations where people will be left free to be creative and engage in activities that they want to be part of.

The Socialist Party place ourselves unambiguously in the camp of those who argue that capitalism
and a sustainable relationship with the rest of nature are not compatible and unless the Green Party embraces socialism, their vision is unachievable. Because people believe there is no alternative to capitalism, it keeps on existing. The environmentalist’s dream of a sustainable ‘zero growth’ within capitalism will always remain just that, a dream. If human society is to be able to organize 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. Greens who want a radical transformation of the world can stick to their core beliefs and principles but come to realise, as socialists have done, that a sustainable society can only be achieved within the context of a world in which all the Earth's resources, natural and industrial, have become the common heritage, under democratic control at local, regional and world level, of all humanity. In such a society production and distribution can be geared to satisfying human needs which, contrary to the mythology used to justify capitalism, are not limitless and can be met without over-stretching nature’s resources. In fact satisfactions can be increased – which after all must be the aim of socialism – without doing this.

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