Thursday, May 23, 2019

We are fighting for the planet.

On Friday the 24th of May, it is estimated that that at least 1,351 separate school strikes are now scheduled to take place across the world in 110 countries.

"What we decide to do collectively as a species politically, globally, over the next decade is going to determine the future of the next generations in terms of the habitability of the planet." explained the author of the latest research that presents a scenario of sea-level rises of double the previous estimates.

Capitalism is the social system under which we live and is primarily an economic system of competitive capital accumulation out of the surplus value produced by wage labour. As a system it must continually accumulate or go into crisis. Consequently, human needs and the needs of our natural environment take second place to this imperative. The docility of the world population has contributed greatly to keeping intact the increasingly unequal, barbaric and rapacious society that is global capitalism. Because people believe there is no alternative to capitalism, it keeps on existing. The idea of a zero-growth, sustainable society is not new and in recent years has been put forward by many in the environmentalist movement. But while appearing to be desirable, the fatal flaw is they also stand for the continuation of the market system which is the cause of the problems in the first place.

Capitalist investors want to end up with more money than they started out with, but why? Capitalism is an ever-expanding economy of capital accumulation. In other words, most of the profits are capitalised, i.e. reinvested in production, so that production, the stock of means of production, and the amount of capital, all tend to increase over time. The economic circuit is thus money - commodities - more money - more commodities - even more money.

This is not the conscious choice of the owners of the means of production. It is something that is imposed on them as a condition for not losing their original investment. Competition with other capitalists forces them to re-invest as much of their profits as they can afford to in keeping their means and methods of production up to date. As a result there is continuous technological innovation. Defenders of capitalism see this as one of its merits and in the past it was insofar as this has led to the creation of the basis for a non-capitalist society in which the technologically-developed means of production can be now, and could have been any time in the last 100 years, consciously used to satisfy people’s wants and needs. Under capitalism this whole process of capital accumulation and technical innovation is a disorganised, impersonal process which causes all sorts of problems—particularly on a worldscale where it is leading to the destruction of the environment.

The result is waste, pollution, environmental degradation on a global scale. The ecologist’s dream of a sustainable ‘zero growth’ within capitalism will always remain just that, a dream. 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.

While a number of radicals within the green movement claim to advocate a society based on cooperation and production-for-use, a sustainable society where production is in harmony with the environment and affairs are run in a decentralised and democratic manner, promoting that only in such a system can ecological problems be solved, a deeper reading makes it is perfectly clear that this sustainable society doesn't challenge the continuance of the exchange economy nor the existence of private ownership. They are firmly wedded to a form of capitalism, albeit based on local smaller-scale enterprises, with a greatly-reduced dependence on the world market but still holding a belief that capitalism can be reformed so as to be compatible with achieving an environmentally sustainable society. Those green radicals have never been able to reconcile how they 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. Capitalism differs from previous class societies in that under it production is not for direct use, not even of the ruling class, but for sale on a market. Competitive pressures to minimise costs and maximise sales, profit-seeking and blind economic growth, with all their destructive effects on the rest of nature, are built-in to capitalism. These make capitalism inherently environmentally unfriendly. The ecological contradictions of capitalism make any sustainable "green" capitalism, a confidence trick.

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. 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 capitalist system creates vast amounts of energy waste in the military and its socially useless jobs such as marketing, finance and banking which are part of its profit making machine. Endless growth and the growing consumption of nature-given materials this involves is built into capitalism. 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.

No comments: