Sunday, November 18, 2018

Socialism is Green

Many ecologists use 'we are all doomed' arguments to try and stampede people into support for reformism. the most convincing form the 'end of civilisation' panic takes is the idea of a looming climate change crisis that will make life as we know it impossible. Some environmentalists view climate change far from being the end of capitalism or civilisation but as an opportunity for profit and restructuring. Capital however reluctantly, is gearing up to make profits out of developing alternative energy sources on the one hand and on the other of accessing plentiful but more destructive ways to extract fossil fuel supplies. The second path, of course, makes global warming and other forms of pollution a lot worse but that's not likely to stop the capitalist class. The switch-over from fossil fuels is likely to provide an opportunity to make profits for capitalism rather then representing some form of final crisis. Many greens seem to forget that we live in a class society and that the population of the earth is divided into a few people with vast resources and power and the rest of us. It is not a case of equal access to resources, rather of quite incredible unequal access. Those who will fall victim to a mass die-off would not include the rich such as Bill Gates because these people have the money and privilege to monopolise remaining supplies for themselves. Instead, the first to lose their lives in huge number would be the poor population of the mega-cities on the planet. Mass deaths are not something that destroys capitalism.  Like it or not large-scale destruction allows some capitalist to make a lot of money.
The challenge for the Socialist Party is in transforming civilisation to a form that is without the inequalities and inequities of power or wealth. This is not a new challenge, it has always been the challenge of socialists. The challenge is not simply the construction of a civilisation that keeps everyone's standards of living at the level they are now. The challenge is raising everyone's standard of living but doing so in a manner that is reasonably sustainable. There is nothing inherently wrong with technology, it just depends on how it is applied – in a free society they can be used to increase freedom (from onerous toil, or physical disability etc.). Only the further development of technology coupled with a revolution that eliminates misery across the planet can deliver this. The major problem is not simply that capitalism has been happy to leave a huge proportion of the world's population in poverty. The problem is also that development has been aimed at creating consumers for future products rather than providing what people need. As long as capitalism exists it will continue to wreak environmental havoc as it chases profits. We can only fix the planet by building a mass movement that will not only overthrow capitalism but also introduce a class-free society. And on the way, we'll need to find ways to halt and even reverse some of the worst of the environmental threats capitalism is generating. Green capitalism is a pipe dream - it offers no way forward in the struggle for a sustainable free society. To protect the planet we do not get rid of technology, only of the wasteful and destructive system of capitalism which places profit above all else.

Every socialist wants to live in harmony with the earth. We seek to see people well-fed, intelligently educated, and the progressive reduction of working hours that each individual has to do so more time can be devoted to pursuing our passions etc. This is the key to creating a healthy human society. The Socialist Party believes as the basic life-support systems of this planet begin to fail, people will eventually realise that it's the 'smash-and-grab' policies of capitalism and its politicians who either do nothing or not enough that got us into this situation. And then they will look to socialist solutions.

1 comment:

Tim Hart said...

I agree with the observations and sentiments in this article, but there remains a dilemma which should be confronted, given the urgency of the need to address climate breakdown and other serious environmental degradation – deforestation, pollution of land, air and sea etc.

Yes, capitalism is the problem. Yes, socialism is the answer. No, the often seductive nature of reformism should not be contemplated. But whilst advocating socialism should we continue to fully participate in capitalism, by tacitly submitting to the mendacious and psychopathic political system which maintains it, or do we seek ways to resist it?