Friday, March 15, 2019

Fridays for the Future

Greta Thunberg came to worldwide attention after she staged regular solo demonstrations in front of the Swedish parliament. She was she was invited to address the UN Climate Conference, spoke at Davos and she has now been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. 
While UK politicians focus their time on an internecine dispute among rival businesses called Brexit, the youth of the world concentrate their minds upon the global warming crisis. It is unfortunate that most of the participants in the school strikes may not like capitalism in its present form and want to ‘rebalance’ it, but they still see no alternative to capitalism and are resigned to working within it. There is no more chance of an eco-friendly capitalism than there is of going back to small-is-beautiful capitalism. Transforming capitalism so that it works for the common good cannot be done. Capitalism is a class-divided society driven by the imperative to make a profit. It can only function as a profit system in the interest of those who live off profits. All governments take this into account and frame their policies so as to give priority to profits and profit-making. Some within the environmental movement do discuss about "moving beyond the market" and "extending the commons” but it needs to be taken a lot further.

Present-day capitalist society is constitutionally incapable of regarding nature as anything other than a resource to be plundered for short-term, sectional economic gain. It is true that from time to time the state does step in to prevent excesses but this does not alter the basic mechanism of capitalism. In regard to food adulteration, laws against this are only necessary in a society where the economic tendency is to do this, since in a rationally-organised society it just would not occur to anyone involved in producing food to deliberately adulterate it. Similarly, laws against plundering and polluting the environment are only necessary where the tendency to do this is built-in to the economic system. It also means that such laws, besides being frequently broken, can only be palliatives, attempts to deal with effects while leaving the cause intact.

Capitalism is not a rational system and the capitalist class have their own agenda which is totally different to the common interest. If they don't compete, they go under or are at best taken over by other capitalists. If market forces cause and create environmental damage by encouraging an irrational human impact, how can we realistically expect those self-same forces to solve it? When confronted by barriers of environmental legislation which are designed to diminish the rate of expected profits and the accumulation of capital, the capitalists will do what they have always done in their search for short-term profits: finding or creating loopholes, moving the goalposts, corrupting officials, trying to bribe the local population with empty promises, or shifting the whole concern to an area or region where a more favourable reception is expected and profits maintained. The Socialist Party concludes that in a class-divided society where the means of living are used to serve the interests of the owners of private property any talk of finding a 'common interest', so that there is a change of course of market forces and consequently a greening of capitalism, is a fool's errand. 
We recognise the need for people to actively engage in a political struggle to bring about a revolutionary change in the social relationships - from private property ownership to a system of common ownership, a society of free access where wage slavery has been abolished, money is obsolete, hierarchical structures pointless, class laws transformed into social rules, and production is geared to satisfying human needs. People are right to be concerned about what is happening to the environment. Only when we are living in such a society will we be in a position to minimise any environmental damage caused by human activity.

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