|THE WORLD TO WIN|
A PLANET TO SAVE
Socialism, of course, could not instantly halt the use of coal, oil and gas as energy sources; nor could it immediately clean the atmosphere of the already accumulated greenhouse gases. Socialism could and would set corrective processes in motion by eliminating the anarchy and duplication characteristic of capitalist production; by putting an end to the massive production of arms trade; by eliminating or reducing the use of fossil fuels wherever possible; by ending the host of other wasteful industrial activities and polluting practices that are part and parcel of the capitalist system and the mad drive for profits that it engenders. It would, instead, provide time and resources to our researchers and scientists to enable them to discover and/or develop alternative sustainable non-polluting energy sources, even as nature begins to clear the atmosphere. Only a socialist world can promote the type of cooperation necessary to ensure resources sufficient for research and development on the scale required. Socialism will be a society that by terminating the rule of private ownership and the motivation of profit, by making the life and welfare, hence the environment, of human beings paramount, socialism will enable us to marshal all of our scientific knowledge and physical resources for the solution of this urgent problem.
There are those who say that capitalism can be just as effective in solving environmental problems as in creating them. This statement is hard to swallow. If capitalism can be "effective" in protecting our environment, why doesn't it? Such an argument acts to serve a system by "marketing" ideas that are based on a false premise. In this case, the idea is that of untrammeled, free-market capitalism. Capitalism, according to this idea, needs to be protected from government regulation. Capitalists spend billions upon billions of advertising dollars to support their propaganda, the so-called "news media" -- to dupe the exploited working class into believing that these ideas comprise a serious analysis, when what those ideas really represent are arguments similar to those a gangster's lawyer attempts way-lay a jury with a fake alibi plea. They are merely rationalizations behind which capitalism seeks to justify its crimes, and the billions of stolen wealth it uses to pay for this propaganda makes the millions it used to finance the Democratic and Republican campaigns last year look like spare change. Government regulations pose no threat to capitalism, and never have, regardless of how they may affect or place certain restraints on specific capitalist interests. The real threat to capitalism and the crimes that capitalism commits against nature and humanity is an informed and active working class that is willing to take control. Only socialism can satisfy our needs while operating all the industries in harmony with the best interest of the whole planet. However, until the working class decides that it must take control of the economy and establish a new form of democratic government based on collective and democratic ownership of the economy, all creatures on earth will continue to suffer under the capitalist dictum of "business as usual." Its financial well-being and the wealth and privileges of its CEOs will always be the company's bottom line rather than any social responsibility. Not until workers take over the industries that our lives depend on in a cooperative commonwealth of labour, can bring us an effective response to our needs. Until then, elected representatives will continue to be for sale to the polluters-- and workers will never be able to "outbid" the capitalists.
Socialism would put an end environment destruction because the totality of the social interest would determine production decisions, not the narrow, material self-interest of a minority of society that is under the gun of competition. Under the present system, material self-interest compels capitalists to maximize profits, to the detriment of the social interest - not simply because they desire ever greater wealth, but because competition constantly threatens to knock them out of their privileged class position. The occasional capitalist or CEO who attempts to act in a benevolent manner generally doesn't last too long, as the enterprise in question will fall behind its competitors if it spends significantly less on improved productivity, to remain competitive. Accordingly, except in cases where a pollution control measure substantially improves productivity or otherwise promises a substantial increase in profits, capitalists are virtually driven to use the least expensive method of waste disposal - dumping it into the air, water or land.
Simply dumping wastes into the environment would still be less "expensive" - in terms of the labour time necessary to dispose of them - in a socialist society. But in the cooperative-based economy of socialism, the compelling antisocial force of competition would be absent. Moreover, with the end of exploitation, workers would be able to satisfy all of their material needs with but a fraction of the present workweek. And with employment opportunities and economic security guaranteed to all, no worker would have to fear the economic consequences of a particular workplace or area of production being shut down due to environmental considerations. With their basic material needs so readily and assuredly met, the liberated people of a socialist society will have every incentive to devote a considerable quantity of labor time to improving the quality of life in other ways. Certainly the desire to live in a clean, healthy, spacious and aesthetically pleasing environment, and an appreciation for the wonders and beauty of wilderness environments, are fairly universal among humankind, ranking only a few rungs below the need for food, clothing, shelter and other basic material things.
Indeed, the despoliation of the environment under the present system has made the reversal of present waste disposal practices a matter of human survival almost as urgent as the daily need for food, clothing, and shelter, etc. Though we do not presume to say how workers would vote on the finer, details of socialist society, it is an entirely safe assumption to say that they would vote in favour of their own collective self-interest. Therefore, insofar as there is a collective self-interest in breathing clean air, drinking clean water, eating clean food, living a long, healthy life and enjoying both the scientific and aesthetic bounty of nature, it is safe to predict that workers would vote to allocate the labour time necessary to virtually eliminate pollution at the point of production.
Thus, while in an abstract sense it is true that the self-managing producers of a socialist society could democratically decide to continue polluting the environment, it would defy all reason and human nature to project such a decision. It is no more valid or credible a supposition than supposing that everyone under socialism could decide to burn down their own home or commit suicide someday.
The gist of the matter is this: Under capitalism, the profit motive and competition form a systematic barrier against the protection and restoration of the environment. In a socialist society, that barrier will be destroyed and humankind's common needs and wants will guide economic decision-making. Since those needs and wants include a clean and healthy environment, a socialist society will take the steps needed to create one.