Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How to save the world.

It is a sad reality that most people in the environmental movement are not at all interested in socialism. Certainly, few understand the socialist solution to climate change, pollution and waste. It is mainly because that most green activists decline to take their analysis to its logical conclusion and many expect the capitalist class to act against their own material interests. Those in the Green movement are attracted to the prospect of individual lifestyle changes, because it avoids the need for a much broader social revolution. Within the environmentalists, we find entrenched a hotchpot of misconceptions, myths, and even mystical New Age beliefs. A number hold Malthusian misanthropic anti-human dogmas.  Out of a concern about the environment, they draw the mistaken conclusion that it is ourselves, humanity, interfering with “Mother Earth” and not capitalism which is leads to ecological destruction. Thus they call this the Anthropocene period and not the Capitalocene epoch. A number of Greens fail to acknowledge the inevitability of human action in changing nature and consequently fail to demand the rational and democratic organisation of this interaction.

It is for those reasons that the Socialist Party is not prepared to place the socialist idea secondary to the urgency of doing something right now about global-warming. What is needed is to win over environmentalists to our perspective and to build a unified combative social movement against capitalism. Marx and Engels are often depicted as being “out of date” because they wrote more than a century ago yet what they described about capitalism is even more relevant today. 

Our immediate challenge is to ensure that things are not viewed in isolation and to dissuade the climate change protesters from becoming co-opted into “Green New Deal” of regulations and legislation by “radicalising” the Democratic Party but leaving capitalism itself intact. No one is going to change the system through the Democrats or pleading to Parliament for reforms.

We cannot assume that all our environmental problems will simply disappear as production for need replaces production for profit if we are to remain relevant to ecological thinking. Nevertheless, the socialist analysis explains the economic processes leading to environmental destruction and offers the potential to change them. A critique of capitalism is essential to the global environmental crisis and the environmentalists cannot rely on the orthodox economic experts and their “invisible hand” of the market nor can they any longer ignore the inadequacies of governments to resolve the climate change crisis. Socialist understanding of capitalism is indispensable to knowing its ill-effects.

 The Socialist Party must engage with people in the environmentalist movement and express our concerns. We must carry the socialist case to them. If socialists are not to be marginalised we need to penetrate the mainstream ecological debate. In response to the questions we face from environmentalists we must communicate our vision of our future world, answering clearly the concepts of “carrying capacity” and “sustainability” and how these can be compatible with our goal of a technological society of abundance. Our promise of a good life for all people must be made credible. This is our challenge. This has to become our message.

1 comment:

Tim Hart said...

Whilst there are ‘environmentalists’ who – often dishonestly - push market solutions to climate breakdown and many have a ‘New Age’ orientation and many succumb to the propaganda that it is (their) individual behaviour that is mainly the problem – encouraged to take such a view by some of the big environmental campaign groups. But, taking an optimistic stance, I think that there are increasing numbers of people who see the environmental breakdown as systemic. They may not always articulate this in terms of a critique of capitalism, nor be aware of the socialist alternative. So I wholeheartedly agree with the thrust of this article; it is up to socialists to convince people of the relevance of capitalism and socialism in this context,rather than bemoan their ignorance.