Thursday, January 23, 2020

Taming capitalism? An impossible task

Greta Thunberg must be getting very used to mixing with the rich and famous. Prince Charles met with Greta at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But it seems more as if it is the rich and famous who are seeking out to have the photo opportunities with Greta to boost their credibility.

The socialist movement is having its trials. This is to be expected. The transition from capitalism to socialism will be tempestuous. It would be folly to even hope for all smooth sailing. Let no comrade despair of the future. We are certain that before long the world will witness heroic rebellions of the people in all countries seeking to break once and for all the chains of exploitation and establish the true free society of socialism. Social ideas now has fertile soil to grow.

Hunger exists in a world of plenty. Why can’t the global food industry feed the hungry? Enough food is produced in the world to provide substantially more than the minimum required for good health. Abundance, not scarcity, best describes the supply of food in the world today. Despite that over-populationists blame too many people. The problem is not too many people. If people could decide what they produce, there would be more than enough food for many times the world’s population.The problem is that only a minority decide – a minority who want to organise production for their own benefit and for no one else’s.

That’s why they promote population numbers as a problem – to prove that hunger and poverty are not the fault of the rich for deciding not to produce what people need, but the fault of the poor and hungry for being too many.

The fact that there is already enough food to feed the world shows that the food crisis is not a technical problem — it is a social and political problem. The global food industry is not organised to feed the hungry; it is organised to generate profits for corporate agribusiness and they are achieving that objective very well indeed. It is profit what counts, no matter what the effect may be on earth, air, and water — or even on hungry people. World hunger can only be ended by ending capitalism.

“...the capitalist system works against a rational agriculture…a rational agriculture is incompatible with the capitalist system.” Marx

Workers puzzle over the question of why we can produce so much, how is it that we ourselves get so little? We produce hundreds of times more wealth with the factories than our great-grandfathers did without them. But the things we produce do not belong to us. Why? The answer is simple. The world’s great productive system is owned by a little handful of people who run it for their own profit and not for people’s use. And it can run at full steam and keep running only when society as a whole owns and operates it.

We live in a world where hunger, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, racial and sexual discrimination, and many forms of repression, including the most barbaric, such as torture and genocide, are the lot of the majority of the earth’s inhabitants.

The emancipation of the workers will be accomplished by the workers themselves. They will achieve it through socialist revolution, which will end private ownership of the means of production in order to establish socialist and collective property, and replace capitalist commodity production by the social organisation of production and designed to ensure the complete well-being and full development of each person. As socialists, we cannot accept that it is beyond the ability and intelligence of mankind to solve the problems of hunger, poverty, unemployment or the even greater problems of peace and war.

The unemployed, along with old, the sick, the disabled and single-parent families are forced to lead restricted and often isolated lives in poverty which prevents them from fully participating in the economic, political, cultural and social activity of our society. Socialism stands for all that is best in life, for replacing fear by hope, narrowness and meanness by generosity and compassion, poverty by plenty, exploitation by co-operation and jingoism by comradeship.

Why is it necessary that human beings should work at all? In order that the world may be supplied with goods, of course. Do we therefore rejoice when the world is so supplied? That is the greatest disaster we can imagine. We must labour in order to supply the world, and when the world is supplied we must starve because there is plenty for all and our labour is not needed. Science and invention by increasing the productivity of our labour. One insoluble difficulty of capitalism is to devise a method whereby the march of science and inventive genius can assist industry without menacing the bread and butter of the working class. 

The destruction of the environment of our planet is not caused by scarcity or overpopulation. The problem in large areas of the globe is not over exploitation but under development. Much of Africa’s farmland is not properly irrigated, and the amount of arable land could be vastly increased. Environmentalists often claim that economic growth, or even human society itself, is inherently hostile to nature. Modern technology is not in itself destructive. Some go as far as to associate humanity with a parasite upon the planet. This simplistic opposition between ‘man’ and ‘nature’ is meaningless. Human activity has already changed most of the earth’s surface beyond recognition.

‘We by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like something standing outside nature ... we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst ... all our mastery consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly. Other animals simply use nature, unlike the hunter, the wolf does not spare the doe which would provide it with the young the next year; the goats in Greece that eat away the young bushes before they grow to maturity, have eaten bare all the mountains of the country ...’ - Engels

Capitalism compromises our relation to nature. All production decisions are made by a tiny handful of capitalists, not in the interests of humanity, but purely for profit. Environmental concerns are ignored in the short term scramble for profit. The vast majority of the population who want to live in a safe, healthy world, and to enjoy nature, have no control over decisions that affect our lives. Even at our own workplace we have to struggle for the most meagre health and safety measures. The market can never be harnessed to develop a harmonious relationship with nature. Because it depends on the exploitation of most of humanity, it must keep us subjected. Because its motor force is profit, it will result in the blind destruction of the environment.

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