Capitalism has failed many times to solve the social problems of the world yet we still keep on trying and repeating the same old mistakes. Every time capitalism messes something up, it doesn’t try and correct that problem, it just tries to sell you something else. Isn’t it now worth giving socialism a chance? Don’t equate socialism with state control. Socialism is about real democracy of the people—in communities and workplaces; production for need, not profit, based on cooperation rather than competition. We have to think about the environment and climate in a sustainable and rational manner. We actually do have the answers. It’s not a technical problem. It’s about how we take power from the people who currently have it and put it in our hands so that we can actually start implementing the solutions that we know will work.
There are a lot of commentators who write on environmental issues and ecological questions, and the question of the fundamental nature of capitalism is so often either overlooked entirely or barely given any kind of detailed analysis. A big part of the reason why the international negotiations on climate change go nowhere is because not only is there competition between individual corporations for power and profit, but there’s also, similarly, competition, economic and political, between nation-states. They already have a difficult time reaching agreements on even things that they care about, such as trade so why are we at all surprised when they disagree on things they don’t care about, like climate change. If one country regulates its economy more than another, then it suffers an economic disadvantage. The rival country can now produce cheaper and more profitably. That economic reality prevents nations from coming up with a rational plan. They’d rather go to war over oil field than set up a plan to plant some trees. You cannot have a sustainable capitalism, because every year every capitalist entity has to grow larger. Every country on the planet needs to have 2 percent or 3 percent growth as defined by GDP. Otherwise what happens? They fall into recession with rising unemployment and increasing cuts to social spending. So without that growth the system starts falling apart. Capitalism is literally a system that is based on the maxim “grow or die.” So the idea that in any way that could be sustainable or that they could somehow care about the resources that they put in or the waste that goes out is an impossibility.
For sure, the World Socialist Movement is skeptical of tinkering around the edges, applying cosmetic life-style changes. If you look at waste, only 2.5 percent of all waste is domestic, that is, what all of us produce. So even if we could magically get rid of all of that, it still leaves the 97.5 percent of industrial and agricultural waste. Plastic is an amazing material. It lasts virtually forever. So why would you make disposable things out of plastic? Where is the logic in that? Plastic cannot be really effectively recycled and 95 percent of it never is. So the first thing that should be looked at is the production process, and then match things to their function. It is not about buying ‘green’ goods. It’s about getting involved in politics to change the basis of economic planning. Production for use not for profit.
If we don’t get rid of this capitalist system, we, as a species, have not much time left on this planet. Karl Marx, more than a century ago, reasonably assumed that the alternative to socialism would be barbarism. Today, the situation is more serious. The climate crisis means that we either create socialism based on ecological principles or we will certainly face barbarism and perhaps even the disappearance of humanity from the face of the Earth.