Monday, May 13, 2019

Dooming Civilisation for Capitalism

All forms of vegetable and animal life are part of a network of relations called an “ecosystem” in ecology. Normally this system is self-regulating to the extent that, if an imbalance develops, this is rectified spontaneously, either by the restoration of the previous balance or by the establishment of a new balance.

Isn’t it in the interests of the capitalists themselves to preserve the ecosystem? Don’t they depend on it like everyone else? Of course. The trouble is that they are incapable of rationally assessing their interests. Their money-making obsession creates a psychological block against any idea that they sense may threaten their pursuit of profit. They repel the voice of nature from the very threshold of consciousness, so the question of factoring it into the equation can never even arise. At some level the capitalists rightly fear that the natural world demands an end to the system they embody. They blind and deafen themselves to climate change. The existing economic system has failed and if it continues it will lead to catastrophic consequences. We doom millions of people to climate catastrophe or we don’t get rid of capitalism. Concern is growing at the global warming and environmental destruction caused by the unplanned and competitive exploitation of the world's resources. In every country a privileged few control the government and own the land and industry. Wealth is produced for their profit rather than to satisfy human needs.

No State is going to implement legislation which would penalise the competitiveness of its national enterprises in the face of foreign competition. States only take into account environmental questions if they can find an agreement at international level which will disadvantage none of them. But that’s the snag because competition for the appropriation of world profits is one of the bases of the present system. No agreement to limit the activities of the multinational corporations in their relentless quest for profits is possible. Measures in favour of the environment such as the far-reaching transformation of the productive apparatus and transport system these imply come up against the interests of enterprises and their shareholders because by increasing costs they decrease profits and dividends.

Humans are capable, whatever the form of production, of integrating themselves into a stable ecosystem. That was the case of many “primitive” societies which coexisted in complete harmony with the rest of nature, and there is nothing whatsoever that prevents this being possible today on the basis of industrial technology and methods of production, all the more so that renewable energies exist (wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, waves, biomass, etc) but, for the capitalists, these are a “cost” which penalises them in face of international competition. So it’s not production as such (i. e., the fashioning of nature to meet human needs) which is incompatible with a stable balance of nature, but the use of particular productive methods which disregard natural balances or which involve changes that are too rapid to allow a natural balance to develop.

Whether it is called “the market economy”, “economic liberalism”, “free enterprise” or any other euphemism, the social system under which we live is capitalism. Under this system the means of the production and distribution of social wealth – the means of society’s existence – are the exclusive property of a dominant parasitic minority – the holders of capital, or capitalist class – for whose benefit they are inevitably managed. As a system governed by economic laws which impose themselves as external constraints on human productive activities, and in which enterprises are in competition with each other to obtain short-term economic gains, capitalism pushes economic decision-makers to adopt productive methods which serve profitability rather than concern for the future. So it is not “Mankind” but the capitalist economic system itself which is responsible for ecological problems. In fact, not only have people as consumers possess no influence over the decisions taken by enterprises but those who do have the power to decide - the capitalists - are themselves subject to the laws of profit and competition.

Because by definition capitalism can only function in the interest of accumulating capital and expanding markets, no palliative, no rearrangement, no measure, no reform can (nor ever will be able to) subordinate capitalist private property to the general interest. For this reason only the threat of a socialist movement setting down as the only realistic and immediate aim the establishment of social property (hence the name socialism) of society’s means of existence so as to ensure their management by (and so in the interest of) the whole community.

Mankind's ability to satisfy his material needs has never been greater. The technology exists today to ensure that no man, woman or child in any part of the world goes hungry. A vast network of productive units capable of turning out abundance spans the world. The work of producing the wealth of the world is already the co-operative effort of people everywhere. Clearly humanity’s social arrangements are lagging behind technical achievements. It is out of line with the co-operation and planning large-scale production demands. This clash between modern technology and outdated class society is the root cause of today’s social unrest. Nothing short of the radical reconstruction of society on the basis of the ownership of the world’s resources by all mankind will provide the framework within which a lasting solution to current world problems can be worked out. To encourage a growing understanding of the need for action to establish such a democratic world community is the aim of the Socialist Party.

Will capitalism recover from the effects of global warming or will climate change go on increasing until civilisation as we are accustomed to collapses? In any event, capitalism will have to be ended by the conscious action of people who want to replace it by a system where the resources of the planet have become the common heritage of all. It is only after having placed the means of society’s existence under the control of the community that we will be able to at last ensure their management, no longer in the selfish interest of their present owners, but this time really in the general interest. Only then will we be in a position to achieve a world in which the present system of rival States will be replaced by a world community without frontiers, the rationing of money and the wages system by free access to the wealth produced, competition by cooperation, and class antagonism by social equality.We can only “cure the planet” by establishing a society without private productive property or profit where humans will be freed from the uncontrollable economic laws of the pursuit of profit and the accumulation of capital. In short, only a world socialist society, based on the common ownership and democratic control of natural resources, is compatible with production that respects the natural environment.

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