Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Socialism - the unity of humanity and nature

Understanding capitalism and knowing what socialism means is crucial to keeping our planet habitable.

Why is it that despite the reforms the world is still facing a mounting climate crisis with the situation not improving. Despite the petitions, the appeals to government and the protests and demonstrations, the conclusion is now dawning on vast numbers of activists that people are near powerless to regulate the power of corporations behind the plunder of our planet. Corporations resist regulations as a matter of economic necessity.

One commonly held misconception is that the growing world’s populations is one of the greatest problems we face. Many are convinced that the amount of land and resources used by humans have already far outstripped the carrying capacity of the planet. It is a flawed analysis. Peoples with the highest birth rates in the undeveloped and developing world tend to use a fraction of the world's resources, while those in the "developed" countries use most of those resources. While others over-consume the natural wealth of the planet, the poor get the blame.The problem isn't so much population growth and density as it is lack of control over the planet’s resources. It is a question of how wealth and power are distributed. The reality is that the social system we live under, it economic structure, requires despoliation of the environment. We must change the system. Solutions that focus primarily on individual lifestyles and personal acts of green consumerism such as recycling do not substantially stem the destruction of nature, and have actually drawn attention away from the causes and institutions responsible. Green-minded people often say that people will need to accept a lower standard of living (no cars, meat…) in order to deal with the climate crisis that people change their lifestyles and it is an argument that is unlikely to win workers to environmentalism when capitalist austerity is already cutting living standards. Some on the Left have even asserted that socialists must drop our key principles in order to deal with the ecological crisis. In a socialist society, many of the lifestyle changes that Greens point out as necessary will occur, but as part of a social process of liberation, not as a forced sacrifice or moralistic principle.

There would be more parks and open spaces to gather that facilitate forms of interaction. Work would be structured in ways that allow people to feel a closer connection with the production of food and resources. A socialist society would give us the freedom to live fulfilling lives less centreed around consumption, in which we may choose to include some forms of hard work (like tending allotments). The level of individual consumption will naturally decrease, without anyone forcing workers to lower their standard of living. In an economy designed to meet human needs, there would be many opportunities to eliminate waste: for example, by eliminating product packaging, by eliminating planned obsolescence so that equipment and machines will last longer, by reducing imports and exports and producing locally where most efficient, and by eliminating many industries — advertising, financial services, the military — that will be largely useless in a socialist society. An ecologically sound agricultural food system would probably supply less meat and less out-of-season produce compensated by healthier and better-tasting food, so it would not be experienced as a sacrifice. The reality remains that although much of the world does need higher levels of consumption many billions of people in the world need, in order to live fulfilling lives, do need to secure food and water, decent housing, better transportation and communications infrastructure, and improved medical and educational services. These resources could be produced in different, more efficient and ecologically sound ways and in concert with reducing the ecological footprint of the developed countries. If people have no secure means of subsistence to live, they will survive as best they can using what means are available to them, which tend to be highly ecologically destructive. The only way to both develop human potential around the world and regenerate a healthy biosphere is through a development of the productive forces of society which capitalism is holding us back from producing more efficiently and sustainably.

The search for profit requires a great amount of deliberate waste. The alternative is a society without a profit-motivated economy that necessitates exploitation of nature and people. In other words, socialism. Such a society would allow the possibility of ecological sustainability. A different economic basis is a prerequisite for an ecologically sustainable society. Without profit-seeking corporations or governments ruling in their interest, we will have removed the major social forces opposing environmental safeguards. With democratic control of economic activity we could determine and stay within the limits of the carrying capacity of the Earth.

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