Socialists understand that capitalist production and “the market” cannot and will not halt the rush to climate catastrophe. In a capitalist market economy, each enterprise must profit at whatever expense, or die. Honourable intentions make little to no difference.
Man well-meaning environmentalists ask each of us individually to changes our habits and life-styles so we can prevent tipping into irreversible climate change. Suggestions abound, such as switching to electric cars. But if everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little. What is required is system change. Saying that individual or small scale actions can help solve the crisis, amounts to blaming ordinary folk absolving the capitalist system for the destruction of the environment. The average person is not to blame for struggling to survive in the only ways that this system permits and it adds insult to injury by blaming those unable to control or direct the system for its consequences.
It is the capitalists, in their imperative drive to sell commodities in order to realise profits, who determine the consumption practices of the world’s peoples so why blame these consumption practices on the people themselves, especially upon those who struggle for the basics needed to sustain life. Capitalism, however, presents millions of workers with the impossible choice: Your job or your life. There can be no “solution” based on somehow lowering global living standards to some minimum level in the name of sacrifice to save the planet. There would be no way to impose it except by some authoritarian dictatorship.
When the working people are able to rationally plan the production of things we really need cooperative planning without the intervention of the profit motive, will permit us to act according to our needs. We will defeat global warming, as well as put an end to war and the other miseries of capitalist rule. Socialism is the only form of organisation in which the world will be capable of restoring a sustainable relationship between humanity and the rest of nature. As long as capitalism exists, with its expansionist tendencies, we will be incapable of solving the problems of humanity’s interaction with nature, in which nature is used up in the drive for profits and the waste products choke and starve us. Socialism means organising human societies in a manner that is compatible with the way that nature is organised. Capitalist society robs us of community with each other and community with the earth. Capitalism systematically defiles the environment. When profit is the ultimate motive for development, risks of serious danger to health and damage to the environment are secondary considerations.
One of the most mistaken ideas subscribed to unwittingly by many honest people is that overpopulation in the world is the main cause of both global warming and resource depletion. The problem is not too many people, but rather capitalist poverty. Many claim that the earth’s carrying capacity has been exceeded but just what is that maximum carrying capacity? It all depends on who you ask. The rationale for industrial farming is to “feed the world” by doubling food production by 2050. But the world has been producing more than enough food to feed every human being for half a century. People don’t go hungry because food is scarce, but because they are too poor to buy the food being produced. Producing so much food just drives prices even lower, running smaller farmers out of business. In developing countries, these farmers join the ranks of the hungry—a cruel irony behind the call to “feed the world.”
Our message to XR and anyone anywhere near to be concerned about the way the climate crisis will impact our jobs, health, children and communities is simple: join us.