Saturday, December 08, 2018

Why Capitalism can't go green.

"While the citizens of the rich world are protected from harm, the poor, the vulnerable and the hungry are exposed to the harsh reality of climate change in their everyday lives…. We are drifting into a world of ‘adaptation apartheid." — South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Capitalism is simply unable to run on green lines, as its motive force is expansion and domination, with no thought for the consequences for the people or the environment. The Socialist Party argues that capitalism is unable to cope with the ecological challenges that lie ahead, from global warming to depletion of resources.

The political system does not take into account the essential needs of the people, and that they are not invited to participate in decision-making. The world capitalist economy with its unceasing drive for capital accumulation is the most immediate cause of the current environmental crisis. The solution requires replacing world capitalism with a socialist society.  Marx believed that the working class would lead in the transformation of society because it was at once the most dehumanised and alienated class, and potentially the most powerful, since the functioning of society depended upon it. The radical ecological approach dates back to the likes of Peter Kropotkin and William Morris. Forget socialism in one country — in ecological terms socialism in one country is even less feasible because environmental problems don’t respect national or institutional borders. That interdependence should be a reminder that sustainability will come only through global solidarity and world socialism. Socialists don’t need to go green to save the planet, environmental activists need to go red.

We, the people, different in many ways but alike in so many others, work hard. We depend on our pay to live, feel stressed out by too many hours, or too few. We worry about our future or the future of our children and grandchildren. We are in college or in prison; retired or disabled. Young, old, unemployed, underemployed or overworked. Computer technicians and nurses. Delivery drivers and engineers. Teachers and students. Designers and scientists. We are the working class. Without us, nothing could happen, be produced, nothing grown or harvested, nothing fixed or invented. Whether we live in suburban developments or cities; in an apartment or a house; pay rent or owe on a mortgage. Homeless, just making it or worried we might lose all we've gained...we must work for our living or suffer the consequences. As a class, as a community and as a people, we share the same basic needs and basic desires: to live in and be part of a healthy, peaceful and humane society. Workers have been voting for the 'lesser of two evils' and got greater evil. Unless we look at alternatives to profit and competition and the way industry and society is run today--from 'above' to benefit a few - it is hopeless.

We, in the Socialist Party, are like so many others, looking for real change and seeking a path to get it. While corporate control of the political arena is strong, rigged to protect the existing status quo, the political arena still offers the best means for peaceful and meaningful change. Whether Labour or Tory, either party gains office only by how well it serves to protect capital and profits, not how well it solves our real problems. Why vote? But what if we use our ballot differently? Not to vote for reform, but for a totally new society?

Today, we vote with little or no hope of results. With no single unifying effort - just scatter-shot, ineffectual complaints - most have become 'the silent majority'. Or become angry and join UKIP  in empty protest. We know we have problems, but at best try to attack them one at a time. We can't see the interconnected systemic cause, never mind the solution. With no sense of class solidarity, no place for social cohesion, with insecurity and threat now built into our daily lives we seem hopelessly divided. Is there hope? Can we come together and really have an effect? We in the Socialist Party believe we can and that stands at the beginning of a renewal of the workers’ movement. At the same time as we see apathy and cynicism, we also see huge numbers of concerned, active, independent and fragmented groups and political stirrings across the internet. It is proof that people's interest in changing the way things are have not declined but have greatly increased. How do we transform all the separate issues into a unified movement for socialism which will tackle them all? The coming years can only bring more problems, less faith in reform, and greater exposures about a system.  The problems and complaints will grow. Eventually independent candidates and independent 'social protests' will - intentionally or not - uncover the economic link between all the ills they address piecemeal and from that will grow a unified movement, stronger and broader than any union, party or theory could ever do. Right now we need to use what we know and help clarify that the goals of various 'groups' to recognise capitalism as the fundamental cause of our social ills, and that the institutions it rests on must be replaced by democracy where we work and where we live. Change can happen, peacefully in the way and at the time it is needed. The idea is not new.

While the concept of peacefully legislating to form a new, true civic and economic democracy with a sustainable green objective may be unfamiliar now, it will eventually start with one or two representatives being elected. From there, the simple fairness and rationality of it will make it grow and spread. A new society will be born. For radical, fundamental change to begin, of course, will require a broad base of citizen awareness, consistency, and principles, but the socialist dialogue must begin now. For the first time in a long time, dire economic and environmental conditions have called into question for many people the old assumptions about capitalism's ability to reform itself. For the first time in decades of political activity on the right and left are burgeoning. Yes, there is plenty of apathy and skepticism, but that's from distrust of the old politics that haven't worked, the failure of reforms to achieve their promises. We must be grounded in the present and acknowledge the potential of independent action especially of those who have seen other approaches to change fail. Raising consciousness and understanding will take time but we need people who want real change, are excited by the vision of what a new, better, humane society could look like and willing to face the challenges and the possibilities. And, most importantly, we need to vote for them! Once elected, our candidates will not be office-holders, they will be advocates for change.

The idea that people can change the way we do things as a society, can actually progress and better our lives as a country has become a difficult argument to make. We've grown deeply disillusioned with our system, our politics, and rightly so. While we agree that much has improved, from technology to human rights, too many of us have become convinced that when it comes to real social or economic progress, it's impossible. Too many have been convinced that the present system, capitalism, with its dog-eat-dog competition, greed, and aggression may not be perfect but the best we can do given our 'human nature'. We're told endlessly that socialism is for dreamers, idealists and while it sounds nice, at best it's a utopian fantasy. However, our eyes and ears tell us our present road is leading to disaster, and that we must change. Our very survival is now being threatened by too much thoughtless disregard for the future. Seeing that all life is interconnected and co-dependent, we need to create ways to a more constructive and sustainable path. The point is, we can. But the question has actually come down to ‘How’?'

Societies are man-made which means they can be 'undone'. They're not divine' creations nor static. Societies are also 'organic', that is they have 'life-cycles' based on change. The idea that change is painful or violent isn't true. But like birth, it isn't pain-free either. The more prepared we are to think about the future, the better; the more defined our goal, the better the outcome. But once inner pressures begin and the old society starts to get rigid and no longer can adapt, the end of that society is coming and a new one develops to take its place. What evokes change vary but it usually is changed by our tools, how we use them, and what those tools do to our quality of life. Visions a better society, is always met with skepticism. That is 'natural':  being thwarted by the status quo, by a reluctance to change, can be a 'survival mechanism' preventing changes that might fail. 'Replacing the Devil we know for the Devil we don't know' has some logic. Most often, however, if the changes are minor, they can be retrofitted into the old society and make their way more slowly, shifting society, its attitudes, and beliefs into a new 'paradigm' or mindset. But as we have seen throughout history, even slight changes have a domino-effect, these alterations affect everything. New relationships lead to others until eventually, they cannot be adjusted within the existing framework and a new social order is born. If our present society doesn't change, it would indeed be the first time in human history and contradict everything we've come to know about being human. Capitalism’s goals are in direct conflict with society’s goal. The good news is History is on our side. Like our ancestors, we can envision a new way to live in harmony with nature and with others, for the benefit of the majority. We can meet as they did, in our neighborhoods, but also by the World Wide Web. Organised, we can start our own new party and vote for social cooperation and social ownership.

So far, we have been hoodwinked into thinking we are incapable of any fundamental change. Without thinking we believe the Big Lie. It’s obvious we need to reaffirm a real alternative based on the needs and wants of the people. We need to talk about socialism, all the time and everywhere.  

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