|FOR WORLD SOCIALISM|
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.