Tuesday, December 11, 2018

There is only a socialist solution

Only too frequently within the environmentalist movement, the capitalist system is accepted unquestioned.  Most of the causes of the present world problems can be ascribed to a world economic system is not designed primarily to cater to human needs. The Socialist Party has always insisted that capitalism and not overpopulation is what causes poverty yet too many green activists accept the argument that overpopulation causes poverty and war and now threatens our world with ecological disaster. This remains a popular apology case for capitalism. However, we possess the means for producing enough to satisfy the needs of the world’s population. So what is more rational,  to lay the blame upon the poor who cannot afford enough food, or with the system of production? Is it more reasonable to say that the cause of the environmental problems is to be found in population size or in a competitive world economic system bent on reducing costs and maximising profits?

 The problem is not a shortage of food — it is the system they believe can be run in our interests, a system that says "can't buy, can't have". Capitalism is solely responsible for world hunger and the destruction of our bio-systems, just as it is the root cause of war, diseases that are returning to haunt humanity, homelessness and a thousand other social ills. And we call them "social ills" because all of these problems are rooted in the way society is at present organised for production—production for profit, not social need.

 The Socialist Party claims that, with the present state of our knowledge, and with the present level of technical development, the world is capable of abolishing scarcity. The argument posed against us is to the effect that our environment is being harmed by an increasing population and a corresponding expansion of consumption and technology and therefore humanity is heading for various forms of disaster unless the population is either reduced or stabilised, consumption cut and technology halted or reversed.

We say that capitalism causes climate change because with production is for profit there is an economic barrier to the implementation of known solutions. Technologically, the problem should no longer exist; but solutions cost money and bite into profits from increased costs, which leads to disadvantaged positions in the never-ending struggle for markets. 

 The Socialist Party argues that the current environmental crisis arises not from population or technology but from the nature of capitalism, the economic system in which we live under. The world has no overpopulation problem; the problem is capitalism’s inability to produce sufficient to feed and meet the needs of the world’s population.

The driving motive for production in a capitalist society is the hope of making a profit from the sale of commodities in the world’s markets. The surplus value produced by working people and realised by sale is appropriated by the owning class and accumulated as capital which is, by and large, re-invested for the further exploitation of human labour power. Anything which interferes with or diminishes this accumulation is to the detriment of the capitalist class.

There are now some frightening predictions which have been made as to what might happen if nothing is done pretty soon about global warming. Things look bleak.  But what nearly all the green activists fail to question, is the continued existence of capitalism, of production for the market, of buying and selling. When confronted with all the evidence for the need for a new way of life all that can be offered is some form of governmental intervention and changes in the tax structure. The fact is that governments cannot legislate capitalism out of business. If the laws are too harsh, or if the cost involved is too heavy, they will be either circumvented or ignored.

Yet in all this, the Socialist Party can still see some hopeful signs. There has been the realisation that hothouse gas emissions are a world problem and as such requires a global response and a growing understanding that the problems which mankind faces cannot be tackled piecemeal. But many in ecologists’ camp fail to face up to capitalist reality is that they appear to believe in miracles. They seek to retain the fundamentals of the present economic system; i.e. capital-accumulation, market-expansion, profit-making,  but in the form of small self-sufficient and self-regulating communities which will take the place of large urban centres, a capitalism that runs counter to the whole tendency of present-day society. 

The sane and sensible method of using the ecological resources to meet the needs of all the people of the world is socialism.

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