Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Stop climate change - End capitalism

Stop abusing the land we live on if we want to avoid catastrophic levels of climate warming, scientists on the UN’s major Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will warn at a meeting in Geneva this week. 

I hope this report will raise awareness among all people about the threats and opportunities posed by climate change to the land we live on and which feeds us,” said IPCC chair Hoesung Lee.
Soils are believed to sequester 1 per cent of the planet’s total carbon, but they once contained as much as 7 per cent. If land is farmed in a more sustainable way, carbon could be absorbed back into the soils, making them a carbon sink. However, currently one-third of total emissions come from the land. 
Researchers believe any genuine plan to combat climate change must tackle the state of the land and production of food. This means putting a stop to chopping down rainforest, degrading soils, killing wildlife and draining peatlands.
Professor Jane Rickson, an expert in climate change and soil erosion at Cranfield University, says, “Climate change will intensify soil erosion, compaction, loss of organic matter, loss of biodiversity, landslides and salinisation – many of which are irreversible.”
Rob Percival, head of food and health policy at the Soil Association, said: “The intensification of farming has fuelled soil degradation, deforestation and biodiversity loss – further intensification is not a solution to the challenges we face.To effectively tackle the climate crisis, we urgently need to move to farming systems that improve soil health and protect wildlife. Soil is critically important – humanity depends on it and it’s right that the IPCC recognises this along with calls to prioritise farming practices that actually improve our environment, such as agroforestry and mixed farming using extensive grass-based systems.”
Farming has demonstrated that they can increase organic matter and improve soil function in just a few years, through soil health management systems. Advancements in agricultural technology throughout the past century have allowed farmers to feed a population that has grown from less than 2 billion people to more than 7 billion today. But, as demand for food continues to grow, our lands are stretched to their limits and crop yields struggle to keep up the pace, the world will need farmers to make another leap – to seek the end of the exchange economy. Capitalism is based on continuous expansion. Instead of production for profit’s sake, our economy should be geared towards meeting real human and social needs
We still have time to avert the scale of the ecological disaster facing us, but we must respond not by a few tweaks of legislation and regulations but by system change – a transition of our capitalist society to socialism. That's the very rational thing to do. Climate talks produce declarations and statements, usually adopted by everybody, simply because they carry no obligations other than good intentions. Every country decides its own solutions according to their own criteria, based on the criteria established by national governments on the basis of their domestic politics and economic advantage or disadvantage. The interests of humanity are not part of the equation. Humankind is parcelled among 196 countries, and so is the planet. It is irrational to expect all these countries to sacrifice their self-interest.
Too often members of the Socialist Party hear from those involved environmentalism that our answer is too politically partisan and that we must bring together a coalition of non-socialists, in fact, even invite pro-capitalists to join the climate change campaigns. Is the paradox not obvious? 
The basic purpose of capitalism is the cause of the climate crisis, no matter how it is wrapped up in green ribbons. The Socialist Party's task is to help build a society that can feed the world and protect the planet and it is bitterly scathing of the notion that the air, rivers, seas and land can be treated as a "free gift of nature" for businesses to extract profits from. The Socialist Party analysis of the environment under capitalism shows how saving the planet is inextricably linked to transforming our society. This is because capitalism is dominated by corporations devoted to profit above all else, profoundly at odds with a sustainable planet. Engels explained this destructive dynamic:
 "As individual capitalists are engaged in production and exchange for the sake of the immediate profit, only the nearest, most immediate results must first be taken into account. As long as the individual manufacturer or merchant sells a manufactured or purchased commodity with the usual coveted profit, he is satisfied and does not concern himself with what afterwards becomes of the commodity and its purchasers. The same thing applies to the natural effects of the same actions"
Engels put it in The Housing Question:
“The abolition of the antithesis between town and country is no more and no less utopian than the abolition of the antithesis between capitalists and wage-workers. From day to day it is becoming more and more a practical demand of both industrial and agricultural production. No one has demanded this more energetically than Liebig in his writings on the chemistry of agriculture, in which his first demand has always been that man shall give back to the land what he receives from it, and in which he proves that only the existence of the towns, and in particular the big towns, prevents this. When one observes how here in London alone a greater quantity of manure than is produced in the whole kingdom of Saxony is poured away every day into the sea with an expenditure of enormous sums, and what colossal structures are necessary in order to prevent this manure from poisoning the whole of London, then the utopia of abolishing the distinction between town and country is given a remarkably practical basis.”
Engels warned. "Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel out the first."
 Engels added: "At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside of nature." On the other hand, "we have the advantage of all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly." 
That is, we can organise society in step with nature's limits. This is impossible unless the profit motive is removed from determining production in human society and a system of participatory democracy and rational planning is built in its stead. The Socialist Party argues that only working people organised as "associated producers" can deal with nature in a rational manner. This requires a complete revolution. We agree with Marx when he defines socialism as “the unity of being of man with nature.”
Marx described how “Capitalist production collects the population together in great centres, and causes the urban population to achieve an ever-greater preponderance. This has two results. On the one hand it concentrates the historical motive force of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the metabolic interaction between man and the earth, i.e. it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil…But by destroying the circumstances surrounding this metabolism…it compels its systematic restoration as a regulative law of social production, and in a form adequate to the full development of the human race…All progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time is progress towards ruining the more long-lasting sources of that fertility…Capitalist production, therefore, only develops the technique and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the worker.”
Capitalists do not primarily take into account the ecological sustainability of their investments but aim to maximise profits, which leads to a waste or the irrational cultivation of the land
. The Socialist Party demands the abolition of the capitalist relations of production so that the problem of natural limits can be managed without aggravating and exacerbating the ecological destruction we presently face. Economic ‘activity’ is not about directly meeting human needs but is something abstract, buying and selling and financial transactions are examples of such activity. So in theory there is no link between abstract economic activity and resource use. However for capitalism to expand, we have to produce and consume more; if we could do better on less, the economic system of capitalism would go into reverse. So while in a rational system we could use fewer resources, capitalism expands when we use more. The whole world has to be shaken down for profit. Thus a rainforest is more ‘economically valuable’ if it is exploited for palm oil or soya than if it is conserved. Everything tends to be turned into commodities that can be bought and sold, a process which will inevitably degrade ecosystems.
The Socialist Party shares the same ecological aspiration as Marx in Capital who demands both the preservation and sustainable improvements of lands for future generations:

From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations as boni patres familias [good heads of the household].”

The Socialist Party can agree with Joel Kovel, an “eco-socialist”, who said in a speech to Occupy Wall Street:
An association of free people will take care of nature because they see themselves as part of nature. They will struggle for a new world based on a new kind of production that gives nature intrinsic value. They will develop the tools for overcoming and healing the cancer of accumulation and the ecological crisis it generates. Such a society will be in harmony with nature and not nature’s enemy. I would call it “eco-socialism,” and I hope you will join in its building.”

Yet some environmental movements remain complicit in maintaining the status quo and refuse to see an economic alternative, and although assuming themselves to be on the progressive left often share the same beliefs as those on the right, such as blaming over-population as the cause of the problem. The trouble with parties built on single issue politics like environmentalism, is that it includes a lot of people with vastly different political positions yet may agree on this one issue, meaning that when they come with other principles beyond that single issue, and in how to handle that issue, so there are massive divisions and conflicts. Unless the those in the green movement call for the abolition of capital as a necessary condition for the solution of ecological problems then it can be described as utopian-reformist for their plans and ideas about working within the framework of the capitalist mode of production regarding implementing their policies. They lack an articulated vision about post-capitalism. Most in the campaigns to halt climate change are not anti-capitalist and believe in highly-regulated capitalism achieved by a mix of electoral politics and non-violent direct action, obliviously unaware that for the results they seek, it require a revolution, the abolition of capitalism to achieve them. The biggest challenge for the Socialist Part is convincing the wider green movement that sustainability and social justice can only be achieved in a society based on the common ownership of the means of production, alongside a multiplicity of democratic forms of decision-making . If socialism isn’t the answer, then it’s likely there is no answer.
The various Green Parties and ecology groups around the world can be described as the American labour activist Eugene Debs once explained of the progressive parties springing up:
 “…A middle class party, by whatever name, would still be a capitalist party, for while it might champion ‘little interests’ against ‘big interests,’ with a sop to labor, it would still stand for the capitalist system and the perpetuation of wage slavery…”
Humanity's destiny will unfold according to our ability to implement a political awakening, to struggle for the only pragmatic solution, the only realistic alternative. Capitalism has utterly failed us. It has destroyed our communities, our democracy and now the planet we live on. As long as people believe in capitalism they'll focus on reforming it, smoothing around the edges, drafting legislation and re-writing regulations and so on. The Socialist Party seeks a revolution that overthrows the whole system, to clear the way for something entirely different.  
We, in the Socialist Party, are committed to building a society that will be beacon of democracy and social justice. The demands the Socialist Party put forward are based on what working people need if they are to live any sort of a decent life. They are not based on what the capitalist system says it can afford. Our intention is to provide a guide and plan of action, and, at the same time, assist working people in becoming aware of their power to reconstruct society so that it serves the interests of humanity. Our demand is the aim of revolution and the establishment of a democratic socialism. The tactics, methods, and forms of struggle may necessarily change over time, depending on the development of the conditions. But, at all times, these tactics, methods, forms, and aims employed by the Socialist Party are developed with the same objective — the advancing of the struggles of working people for their immediate and historic interests.

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