Friday, December 06, 2019

No Green Capitalism. Instead World Socialism

We must recognise the fact that global capitalism is driving the climate crisis. Capital is relentless. Any attempts to solve the environmental crisis head-on, without addressing the systemic structural causes, will ultimately fail. The environmental emergency, specifically climate change, is the most urgent problem we collectively face. It is a simple fact that if our planet no longer props up humanity, then civilisation will come to an end. We all face imminent catastrophe, unless we act decisively. Climate change may well pose an existential threat to human civilisation if the pessimistic projections prove to be true.

The vast majority of people own no significant amount of stocks or other financial assets. Yet the daily performance of the stock market, though holding no meaning to most people, are nevertheless referenced constantly, 24/7 with wall-to-wall media coverage. Its impossible to escape.

One class can challenge capital and offer an alternative: the working class. This is not because of any sort of moral superiority, nor is it a matter of suffering the most. The reason that the working class is strategically placed and has the most direct relationship with capital: they produce wealth. Even capitalists themselves merely manage and accumulate it, which they accomplish through the exploitation of workers in the production of commodities. The only class that is in fundamental conflict with capitalism is the working class. They face the consequences of capitalism every day in an unresolvable antagonistic relationship of exploitation. Emancipating themselves entails stopping exploitation—wage slavery, the private appropriation (theft) of surplus value generated in commodity production—which means destroying the reproduction of capital altogether. By emancipating itself, the working class can free the entire world from the grip of profit. 

Commodities embody surplus value in the form of unpaid labor, combined with natural materials (which capitalists simply claim ownership of through legal or other violent means). This surplus value, when it’s realised as profit and re-invested, becomes new capital. Capitalism runs on exploitation, by paying the aggregate of workers less than the total value of their products (the rest becomes profit). So in order to sell all the surplus commodities that can’t be profitably consumed within a social formation, capitalism is structurally required to “expand or die.” Only if we free society from capitalism can there be any possible basis to re-organise society based class-free, cooperative mutual aid. Once we understand that the environment cannot be saved within the system’s framework, that reforming or restraining it are impossible, then the question becomes: how do we end capitalism? How can we completely transform the way we live, so that the human endeavour, effort and energy are no longer harnessed to the pursuit of private profit (through the production of surplus value)?

Capitalists will not voluntarily stop accumulating capital. They can’t escape its imperatives any more than we can. They are compelled to concentrate all their political power on suppressing any and all threats to their supremacy. If we are to become capable of driving them from power, we need to organise ourselves into a massive, global social force. Our only two choices are barbarism or world socialism. This is why anyone in the environmentalist movement concerned with saving the planet must take up, amplify, and support the struggles for socialism. Such a transformation of society is far less utopian than believing that capitalism can solve the problem that it created. Now is not the time to compromise but to forge forward. There are now sections of even the mainstream environmental movement who have been obliged to acknowledge radical change further than politicians are prepared to go is now required and the youth are expressing their impatience and anger towards supporters of the status quo and becoming more and more confrontational. They are building resistance, protests and organisations all across the country, while establishing solidarity with those in other countries fighting their own governments' corporate interests. Tens of thousands of people have engaged in mass civil disobedience. Campaigners are learning that mass protests uniting social and ecological demands into one unified movement independent of mainstream politicians has the potential power to stand up to government policy. Furthermore, mass protest can counteract all the corporate lobbying and back-room deals in the corridors of power. We are talking about a revolution in order to save the planet from runaway climate change and prevent the destruction of technically advanced society. Once we will have the entire political power in our hands, we have the power to implement the environmental policies that are scientifically necessary. There is nothing to stop us abolishing capitalism altogether. If a system is not capable of dealing with the environmental crises it generates and guaranteeing the sustainability of society, it does not deserve to endure. Climate change demonstrates the insanity of capitalism. Speculators and investors love the proposals to introduce a carbon tax, carbon trading and carbon offsetting. The reason for enthusiasm of the economists in tackling climate change by putting a price on greenhouse emissions is it protects the existing distribution of income and wealth in society. For the rich, the costs are trivial and outweighed by the vista of a new arena for financial business that leaves their revenues intact.

To halt climate change means defeating the capitalist class and its political representatives. It will require a mass movement to capture political power and to take hold of the means of production out of the hands of the capitalists. We are talking about a socialist revolution. We will not build a "sustainable green capitalism", but world socialism. 

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