As the protests persist, the arrests mount and even the prime minister's father is a participant, the struggle for socialism remains a necessity even as the urgency of climate instability is recognised by XR and Friday school-student strikers. Too frequently class and power relationships are obscured in their arguments. For sure the eco-activists have raised the question of whether civilisation can continue on its current path without undermining the prospects for our future by highlighting national governments have take no actions commensurate with the risk of catastrophic environmental change. If humanity fails to achieve sustainability we risk self-destruction. The protests and strikes remind us all that small improvements or simply “doing better” is no longer enough and that and that a dramatic shift in direction is needed to stabilise the planet. The campaigners identify the gaps between what is required and the inadequate attempts to address them, by governmental and corporate bodies. However, despite their insight and good intentions, those in the environment movement avoid the big question: Is capitalism sustainable?
We are socialists because we believe that capitalism is a system centred on private accumulation and profit and is inherently a system of inequality, injustice, and inefficiency. Our enemy is capitalism. In order to fight the enemy and win, we have to understand the enemy. Capitalism dominates our economic system. Under capitalism, a handful who own the factories, the mines, the farms, and the banks control the wealth that the majority of the people produce. It is this system that we are fighting. We want a social system where social wealth is not in the hands of a few. Human needs cannot replace profit as the driving force of society unless the people control their workplaces and their neighbourhoods. Our fellow-workers are just as exploited and alienated from the wealth they produce as ever. To end exploitation, the working class needs to struggle for its own interests. Capitalism organises globally. Capital compete intensely for growth and profits. Under capitalism you either destroy the competition, or are destroyed yourself. This drive sends the giant corporations around the world, seeking cheaper raw materials and corrupt local governments that will insure a "friendly” investment climate. Capitalism continuously seeks cheaper operating costs. This is why we see so many plants closing down and moving offshore. The State was set up and developed to serve the interests of capitalism, to uphold the rights of property over of the people.
Within this century, a global temperature rise of two degrees Celsius is now regarded as inevitable. The consequences of that are serious enough — but any higher and the future of civilised society is placed at risk. There are too many scary statistics and frightening facts to list such as the polar ice-sheet shrinkage, the loss of glaciers critical to agriculture in South America and Asia, melting of permafrost with its dramatic contribution to rising methane emissions, and other well-documented symptoms of a inhospitable planet. These have been expressed in numerous scientific studies. Capitalist enterprises are also well-aware of the looming threats from the future scenarios from insurance industry who ultimately pay for much of the damage and so have had their actuaries calculate the price of climate change. And then there are the “green” capitalists vying for a slice of the future market in making profits from solar and wind energy, recyclable and reusable products, electric vehicles and the like, all based on the premise “where's there muck, there is brass” built on the hope that global warming can be stopped by swapping our dirty products for green ones, with little disruption to daily life. Much of this amounts to greenwashing, the same dirty stuff that ordinary capitalism promotes is not finding a solution at all, but providing a pretense so that business-as-usual can simply continue.
Capitalism itself, we’re often told, can save the environment by letting the invisible hand of the free market work its miracles and if necessary the technological marvels of geo-engineering will solve all. Certainly some of the possible innovations, along with sustainable and local production, reforestation on a large scale and other schemes, might actually help. Some others are questionable and may well do more harm than good and must be stopped immediately. But the larger point is that real solutions can only be found in a transformed social and political — and world wide — framework of ending capitalism and establishing socialism. If human action caused the climate catastrophe then human action can avert and reverse the worst consequences. But the crucial decisions can no longer be based on the demands of capital.
Profitability stands in the way of survival. The political rule of the capitalists must be abolished so that human needs can be met, and decisions are taken through democratic institutions controlled by the people whose lives and futures are at stake. This, in short, is socialism. Society can be reorganised from the local to the regional and global levels; standards of living can be sustained or raised without committing ecological suicide and how health, welfare, working conditions, and the enjoyment of leisure and culture can be expanded when we are freed from the demands of unending capital accumulation. That’s the reality and truth that the corporate-owned politicians and media will never tell us. That is why climate change summits never take any no serious action.
Capitalism has become a profoundly destructive system. Let us bin it.