Mankind has been able to probe the furthest depths of space, reaching back in time almost to the Big Bang. Mankind has shone a light into the very structure of life itself, mapping the DNA of the human genome. Science has made possible vast advances in computer and information technology, creating the conditions for the exchange of information on a global scale virtually instantaneously. Mankind is able to do all this and much more, but it cannot subject its own economic and social organisation to conscious control and regulation in order to meet human need. The rational democratic control and planning of the economy, ending the domination of the blind workings of the market, is beyond our scope. Mankind is now threatened by the outcome of its own economic activity, over which it has no control. This capitalist system has become the greatest danger to the continuation of human civilisation. Mankind’s productive activity must be carried out, not independent of, but in accordance with, the laws of nature.
Empty words of politicians and the impotence of the capitalist system will be the predictable outcome of the Paris COP21 climate change talks. The leaders of the wasteful profit-driven capitalist system will discuss and debate global warming and carbon emissions but in the end, despite the media gloss put on it, they will fail to agree upon any meaningful measures. Humanity faces a huge problem and a real dilemma. Meaningful action would require fundamental changes in the way the economy and society works involving the need for root-and-branch re-organisation which goes to the heart of the capitalist system. Unfortunately, most environment activists cannot see beyond the capitalist system and so are bound by its rules. Campaigns aimed at pressuring the various capitalist governments into action are doomed to disappointment. The struggle to halt global warming is the fight to replace capitalism with world socialism, human solidarity and respect for the planet on which we live.
By its very name, global warming is a worldwide problem and no national solution is possible. The nation-state system gives rise to conflicts between the major capitalist powers for markets, profits and resources. The response of every sovereign government is to protect its own economy and financial system above all else and they will displace the costs of climate change onto its rivals, minimise its own costs while attempting to secure the maximum benefits from any carbon emissions trading system that may be established. Humanity shares a common fate which necessitates new forms of global co-operation – world socialism. Overcoming the threat to civilisation posed by global warming is inseparably bound up with the struggle for a socialist world. The dictates of profit must be overthrown.
Socialists are confronted by the argument of those who say they agree with our analysis of the necessity for socialism, but insist that this will take too long and something has to be done “right now”. Socialism may be all well and good, as a general aim, but the fight for a socialist perspective cannot deal with problems, such as climate change, that have to tackled immediately, is the logic. Such arguments are generally advanced under the banner of “realism” and, in fact, they constitute the most unrealistic perspective of all. It is most unrealistic to believe that somehow, some way, if only enough pressure is applied, the capitalist system can be reformed in such a way as to provide a future for the next generation and all the generations to come. The Paris summit will no doubt declare that climate change represents a great threat and that it is the most important issue to address so something must be done, something so serious that the time-table of action will have to be put off for some other later date. Capitalism will procrastinate and postpone until we have no planet to protect.