“In London they can find no better use for the excretion of four and a half million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense" - " Karl Marx
The docility of people has contributed greatly to keeping intact the rapacious society that is capitalism. Because people believe there is no alternative to capitalism, it keeps on existing. However we are increasingly witnessing a challenge to that passivity in recently with the school-student strikes and the protest blockades of Extinction Rebellion
Marx was scathing of the capitalist economic notion that the air, rivers, seas and soil can be treated as a "free gift of nature" to business. Marx’s analysis of the environment under capitalism shows how saving the planet is inextricably linked to transforming our society. According to Marx, capitalism is an economic system profoundly at odds with a sustainable planet. The exploitation of nature is as fundamental to the profit system as the exploitation of working people. The market system is incapable of preserving the environment for future generations because it cannot take into account the long-term requirements of people and planet. The competition between individual enterprises and industries to make a profitable return on their investment tends to exclude rational and sustainable planning. Because capitalism promotes the accumulation of capital on a never-ending and always expanding scale it cannot be sustainable. It is very feasible that we can organise society in harmony with nature's limits. But it is impossible unless the profit motive is removed from determining production in human society.
The problem for many in the climate change protest movement is that they want to retain the market system. While many of the declared aims of the environmentalist campaign appear to be desirable these are contradicted by that fatal flaw They stand for the continuation of the market system and this means the continuation of the capitalist system which is the cause of the problems of global warming in the first place. The market, however, can only function with a constant pressure to renew its capacity for sales and if it fails to do this, production breaks down, people are out of employment and suffer a reduced income. It is a fundamental flaw and an insoluble contradiction in their argument that they want to retain the market system at the same time they want a sustainable society with reduced productive activity. These aims are totally incompatible with each other. They are firmly wedded to a form of capitalism, holding a belief that capitalism can be reformed so as to be compatible with achieving an environmentally sustainable society. Endless growth and the growing consumption of nature-given materials this involves is built into capitalism. The ecology activists have never been able to answer the question which is how it can achieve a zero growth, sustainable society whilst retaining a market system which includes an irresistible, built-in pressure to increase sales for profit and where if sales collapse, society tends to break down in recession, unemployment and financial crisis.
They are setting out to impose on capitalism something that is incompatible with its economic laws. The Socialist Party places itself unambiguously in the camp of those who argue that capitalism and a sustainable relationship with the rest of nature is not compatible. The excessive consumption of both renewal and non-renewable resources and the release of waste that nature can’t absorb that currently goes on are not just accidental but an inevitable result of capitalism’s very essence. The only way in which climate justice can be achieved is through socialism. Only by replacing the profit system can we give the environment the priority it deserves.
If the environmental crisis is to be solved, this system must go. What is required is political action - political action aimed at replacing this system by a new and different one. There can be no justification, on any grounds whatsoever, for wanting to retain an exploitative system which robs workers of the products of their labour, which puts privileged class interests and profit before the needs of the community, which robs the soil of its fertility, plunders nature of its resources and destroys the natural systems on which all our lives depend. Many in environmental movement do realise that are up against is a well-entrenched economic and social system based on class privilege and property and governed by the over-riding economic law of profits first but by no means do they all understand the situation.