Throughout the Depression years of the 1930s, unemployed workers and their malnourished families were told there was no work and governments at all levels could afford little, or no, relief. Life, for the average person, was a struggle for survival. WWII, like all wars, was a conflict between the interests of various European capitalist groups over competition for resources and markets, with the US forced to participate after the Pearl Harbour incident. Each competing group had to win the war at all costs. Unimaginable amounts of money and lives were expended to pursue the war, and, of course, to rebuild the destruction in the post-war years. The point is that for years no money could be found to feed, clothe, or house the citizens of the countries in depression, but to defend the interests of the capitalist class there is absolutely no limit. This is again obvious today as workers lose their jobs, livelihoods, and homes while trillion dollar bail-outs go to the financial sector to prop up the capitalist market system that got us to this point. Governments will continue to do the minimum necessary for the working class, those who produce all the wealth, in order that we are fit enough to enable the system to function as long as we, the majority, continue to tolerate the private ownership of the world’s riches and resources by a tiny minority who contribute nothing and yet live in luxury. States and their central governments are a necessary part of enabling capitalism to operate. It legitimises the vast appropriation of wealth from the producer and provides the army, police, and judicial system for enforcing it. It is there to work in the capitalist system’s interests and must do just that. Any benefits to the citizens are done to continue the smooth operation of capitalism. Only socialism can bring the common ownership of those riches and organise them democratically in the interests of all, not just for a few parasites as is the case today.
Charities and reforms of the system have been ongoing for 200 years, but neither has eradicated poverty. The capitalist system is the problem and no amount of good deeds or reform legislation will make any real difference. Workers produce enough wealth to take good care of every inhabitant on earth, but, because the means of producing wealth are owned privately, then those who own feel it is their right to appropriate the lion’s share for themselves and leave just enough for the workers to render them fit to continue producing more wealth. There are many who are deemed necessary to the profit system only occasionally, as needed, and these unfortunates obtain the barest of necessities
It isn’t sufficient for capitalism to pollute the land, air, rivers, and forests of this planet. Having achieved that, being the dynamic, resourceful, and enterprising system it is, capitalism is now polluting the oceans by using them as an enormous, free garbage dump. Plastic is now thought to make up ninety per cent of all the rubbish floating in the seas. The companion parties of socialism have explained clearly for over a century that the ownership of the tools of production by a minority and production for profit are the root of this and other problems we face today. They cannot be eradicated within the system if the proposed solution interferes with the profit motive, as shown above. In a socialist society, one could enjoy a cruise, and waters and beaches could be clean because there would be no profit consideration to stop it.
It would be hard to find a single human being on this earth who wouldn’t want a clean, green planet with the sustainable human production of necessary goods; with human activity in harmony with nature, taking care not to destroy the habitats of those with whom we share the earth. Obviously, this is not the case in the real world today. Our current mode of production plunders the earth with little regard to consequences, be it clear cutting the forests, open pit mining, discharging toxic effluences into our air, land, and waterways, or causing habitat destruction and species reduction. But if everyone would like a green earth and sustainability, how is it that we have achieved the opposite? Over several decades, many forces have lined up against the wilful destruction of the environment. Many organisations, such as Greenpeace and WWF, have sprung up to fight the worst violations, but, apart from bringing fleeting publicity to a few issues, they have been spectacularly unsuccessful in halting environmental degradation. In fact, year after year, the problem gets worse. Scientists have released dire warnings about the consequences of inactivity, and the world’s leading climatologists, through the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel, have released regular reports of how we are doing – badly. Governments have convened world assemblies to address the problems but to no avail, the targets are invariably missed. Unless there is a definite monetary gain, none of the players, including the population at large, are interested in doing anything about pollution, even if they all agree it would be good to do so. Business enterprises have to compete and therefore shun any meaningful progress beyond the usual inane platitudes, and, in fact, must do all they can to fight the implementation of controls. They create a false “green” and “natural” façade in their advertising while furiously lobbying governments to gut existing environmental laws and strangle new ones and they use their financial and political clout to attack and discredit scientists and their findings. Capital dominates the way our system operates, and its only constant and iron rule is growth. Capital has no morality and those in charge of investments from other people have a fiduciary duty to follow the rule, no matter what it takes. The companion parties in the World Socialist Movement believe this current system must go if we are to avoid environmental disaster. That doesn’t mean going back to some feudal, agrarian society. Our science and technology must move forward and bring new techniques and innovations. But with the common ownership of the production and distribution of wealth, with the end of competition, money, and profit, then, and only then, can common sense reign and the whole system be operated in the interests of all. That must be the driving force of our economy, not the enlargement of capital. In socialism, production will be mainly local and regional; self-sustaining communities will share resources and ideas and techniques that work for all stakeholders; intellectual property rights, industrial espionage, and competition that leads to dirty production, cheap and shoddy goods, and, sometimes, to war will disappear. It is our last and only chance to set things right. Socialists know that as long as capitalism exists, profits will determine any course of action or inaction. In the mad, helter-skelter, anything goes as long as it is profitable, the anarchy of capitalist production, things won’t improve until that system is abolished.
The environmentalists are concerned citizens who are trying to do the right thing, as any normal, sane human being would. Unfortunately, sanity is not part of the capitalist mode of production, especially when it gets in the way of profit-making. Environmentalists have been trying to get governments and corporations to act responsibly by protecting the environment at least since Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring” in the 1960s. Now fifty years later, we are in a measurably worse situation. The odds are heavily stacked against anyone wanting to do the right thing. The little guy, the small self-supporting organization, lacks the human and financial resources to mount a serious challenge. Even if a small victory is gained, what about the millions of other environmental abuses that occur daily around the world? And how long will it be before that small victory is lost once again? All these problems that despoil our earth and are gradually making it unfit for human habitation, to say nothing of the other creatures with whom we share the planet, are endemic to the profit system. This kind of flagrant disregard for everybody and everything is possible because private capital owns most of the land and all of the processing of resources and the means of manufacturing commodities from the resources, and what they do not own, they control by virtue of assisting governments. Legislatures are there to pass laws to support the private property system so capitalist enterprises will continue as is necessary for them to create profit until we, the vast majority who do not own, stand up and make the crucial change to COMMON OWNERSHIP. Then we will, collectively, decide what is to be produced, where, and how. Then we can produce for use and need, not profit. Then we can assure that the environment and conservation of the earth is the top priority.