Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Socialism - the ecological solution

Once it was science fiction. Now, it’s scientific fact. Planet Earth is fast approaching irreversible environmental damage of a catastrophic level, described as “tipping points”. It’s time to start thinking in terms of civilizational survival. If we don’t achieve socialism in the very near future it won’t be the end of the world — the planet will carry on with or without us. But it may mean the end of the human species if we do not oppose the profit-based economic and social system that wages war on our climate. If you aren’t worried about climate change, you are ignoring what is going on around you. The impact of global climate change concerns nothing less than the future of humanity’s existence. The mass of humanity is threatened by the results of its own economic activity over which, however, it has no control, under the present social system. If the current situation is not rapidly reversed, then the peoples of the world faces a catastrophe.  It is now too late to stop global warming. If emissions continue at today’s levels, catastrophic climate change is inevitable. At the very least, large parts of the world will be inhabitable, and conditions in the rest will be harsher than humans have ever experienced. It is becoming abundantly clear today, the Earth cannot sustain this system’s plundering and poisoning without humanity sooner or later experiencing a complete ecological catastrophe. The survival of our species, and of the millions of animal and plant species we share this world with, is at stake. The problem is global and no national solution is possible. The world economy must be brought under the democratic control of the associated producers.

Our critics in the green capitalist movement tell us socialism may be desirable, as a general and ultimate aim, but climate change has to be tackled immediately. Such is the arguments of “realism". Indeed, we too agree something must be done as soon as possible, perhaps another scientific fact-finding conference, another policy discussion summit, yet one more agreement in principle to do something...sometime in the future...and as long as it isn’t obligatory.  For sure the overthrow of capitalism and the socialist transformation of society will not be easy but just how realistic to expect the capitalist system can be reformed in such a way as to provide a future for the next generation and whatever generations still to come any hope of survival. Any serious proposal to remedy the effects of climate change and halt and reverse global warming runs up against two insurmountable problems: private ownership of the means of production by a handful of capitalists and the division of the world into rival capitalist nation-states. Many well-intentioned environmental activists argue that with the right mix of taxes, incentives and regulations, everybody would be winners. Big Business will have cheaper, more efficient production, and therefore be more profitable, and consumers will have more environment-friendly products and energy sources. In a rational society, such innovations would lower the overall environmental impact in terms of materials and energy used per unit of output, when substituted for more harmful technology. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a rational society. Tax rates, charges or fines are set well below the level that would impact seriously on profits; so more often than not it is cheaper for big business to go on polluting. Capitalism, an economic and political system based on the never-ending expansion of production of commodities for sale, is incompatible with the basic ecological cycles of the planet.

In socialist society, on the other hand, the means of production would be held in common  by majority. Humanity would no longer be at the mercy of market forces; a world-wide plan of production could redirect  resources to those regions worst damaged by climate change, and a democratically planned economy would allow the needs of the environment to be taken into account as a serious matter, so that climate change could finally be stopped. Green environmentalists need to be socialists. Just imagine the vast amounts of wasteful production of pointless commodities produced solely for sale that could be eliminated. Without the cynical manipulation of people’s insecurities and vanities by the billion-dollar advertising and marketing industries. As we build the new society, wants and needs will inevitable alter, and so too will consumption habits. Capitalism as a system thrives on the cultivation and celebration of the worst aspects of human behaviour; selfishness and self-interest; greed and hoarding; the dog-eat-dog mentality. Built-in obsolescence would end as products would be built to last, designed to be repairable and when they eventually are due for replacement they would be recyclable. Such basic practices would save massive amounts of materials and energy, all along the production chain. Right now, the technology is available to theoretically generate all the clean electricity we need.

 We do not need any more research or studies. We need action. If you want to eliminate a problem or an evil, you must get to the root of it. You cannot get rid of a poisonous plant and create something healthy in its place just by pulling off the top of the plant. You have to pull it up from the roots and then grow something completely different. That is what a radical solution is. Radical means having to do with the root. And this is why a real revolution is needed and this is what it’s all about. In a society that is organised first and foremost to work together to produce enough to comfortably ensure people’s physical and mental well-being and social security — abundant food, clothing, housing, furniture and appliances, cultural pursuits, and lifelong education and training, and health-care — and in which technological advances benefit everybody without costing the environment, a new social definition of wealth will evolve. It won’t be measured by personal wealth, or by how much “stuff” you’ve got.


Unknown said...

Any Socialist Party of Australia?

ajohnstone said...

Tragically, a once active (World) Socialist Party of Australia has disappeared although there are a perhaps a sprinkling of adherents to the World Socialist Movement scattered around that may offer some hope of it being re-constituted at some future time, especially now that the internet and social media can offer an efficient way where comrades can co-operate and collaborate in a country with vast distances between cities and towns.
E-mail the SPGB and they could perhaps put you in contact with individuals.

Chummy Fleming said...

Thanks very much comrade. I was a member of the IWW here but it self destructed.