Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Genuinely Radical Movement

Extinction Rebellion are drawing a halt to their present protests to plan for future actions and, needlessly to say, the police will be reviewing their anti-protester tactics.

But as a parting protest, ER intend to several hours of disruption during rush hour by holding a “swarming” event to block roads in the Square Mile. Said a ER spokeswoman, the City of London is being targeted because “the financial industry is responsible for funding climate and ecological destruction and we are calling on them, the companies and the institutions that allow this to happen, to tell the truth.”

 It is undeniable that the protesters against climate change had success. Support and sympathy for them has grown substantially, as have their funds. They are reflecting the genuine concern of many people. Campaigners have issued three core demands to the government: to "tell the truth about climate change"; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens' assembly to oversee progress. It is therefore still a mission unaccomplished as yet, for Extinction Rebellion.

Unlike many green economists, the Socialist Party never says that capitalism can offer the solutions to climate change. We are not delusional enough to believe capitalism has the answers. Instead of offering any source of real hope regarding the sort of society that should take the place of capitalism, too many environmentalists suggest simply another form of capitalism's economics. 

Environmentalists do not usually dispute that the drive for profit underlies the move towards the planet's degradation. What they want instead is a “fairer” system of in which environmental and social needs are taken into account and as the Green New Deal suggests look towards sanctions to ensure compliance with regulations, funding for their enforcement, taxes and duties on environmentally damaging practices and so on. In other words, they unreasonably expect that the goal of increasing profits and expanding the market can be countered under the profit system. But it can’t. The profit system demands a system that allows profits to be maximised. The Green New Deal is setting out to impose on capitalism something that is incompatible with it. To protect the environment it is the whole global profit system itself that must go. Transforming the capitalist economy so that it works for the common good cannot be done. No State is going to implement legislation which would penalise the competitiveness of its national enterprises in the face of foreign competition. States only take into account environmental questions if they can find an agreement at international level which will disadvantage none of them. But thats the snag because competition for the appropriation of world profits is one of the basis of the present system. Capitalism cannot go green because it simply cannot change its spots.

Many in the green movement argue that when the Socialist Party blame global warming and climate change on the capitalist system, the critics complain there is no room for debate or discussion about all the various reforms and policies offered by governments that appear to be meeting people’s needs. However, what the Socialist Party is attempting to point out is that the varied aspects of capitalism are interwoven together in a web of interrelationships and interactions that a vast system that operates by particular laws and so is incapable of adequate reform. The simple fact is that businesses will not take the risk of falling behind in the struggle for profits and nor will any government enforce policy that will result in a drop in the profits of its respective capitalist class. Capitalist businesses survive by forcing out their competition, by cutting costs and sidestepping policies that hinder their expansion. They seek new outlets for their wares, to sell more and more, because this is the law of capitalism, and it is a law antagonistic to ecological concerns. It is the crazed law of capitalism that compels the big oil producers to pay teams of scientists to prepare reports that refute the findings of environmentalists who forewarn of the dire effects of current production methods. The market economy demands that businesses only take into account their own narrow financial interests. Pleasing shareholders takes far more priority than ecological considerations. The upshot is that productive processes are distorted by this drive to make and accumulate profits.

When socialists blame the capitalist system, we are promoting the idea that all social problems derive from the fact that a few individuals or countries own the means of producing the things we require to live. What the Socialist Party urges people to do is put aside preconceived assumptions about the way the world operates in order to create a new global system to end ecological destruction. 

The Socialist Party is no different from activists in the climate justice movement in desiring an environment in which the conservation of all animal and plant species is ensured, in a society in which each production process takes into consideration not only human need but any likely effect upon the environment. Where we differ is in recognising that their demands have to be set against a well-entrenched economic and social system, based on class privilege and property and governed by the overriding law of profits first.

The history of capitalism is a history of radical movements that have opposed the exploitation and conflict upon which the system rests. Extinction Rebellion's resistance is to be applauded. 

Nevertheless, the Socialist Party's message to our fellow-workers in the Extinction Rebellion is not to prune back the system of exploitation, but to pull it up wholesale by its roots and turn the world’s resources into a common treasury for all. The Socialist Party seeks a radical transformation of the world where a sustainable society is achieved in which all the Earth’s resources, natural and industrial, have become the common heritage, under democratic control at local, regional and world level, of all humanity. Although Extinction Rebellion provides a lot of useful information it does not offer a solution to the present system.

The continuation of capitalism on its blind and uncontrolled course is a gamble on the conditions of life itself. This is surely is obvious to anyone with a serious concern for ensuring a stable balance of natural systems in which humanity can enjoy being part of nature. Who are the ecological minded and defenders of the planet? Supporters of the Extinction Rebellion join us now. Civilisation will not survive capitalism.

Engels the Ecologist explains:

The factory town, however, transforms all water into stinking ditch water . . . The present poisoning of the air, water and land can only be put an end to by the fusion of town and country; and only this fusion will change the situation of the masses now languishing in the towns, and enable their excrement to be used for the production of plants instead of for the production of disease.”

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