Monday, July 29, 2019

Capitalism cannot be controlled

The U.N.-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned emissions must start falling next year at the latest to stand a chance of achieving the deal’s goal of holding the global temperature rise to 1.5C. Emissions currently on track to push temperatures more than three degrees higher. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told world leaders that failing to cut emissions would be “suicidal.” Shall we all just kill ourselves? 

This is a crucial period of time both for public officials and the private sector to really reverse the curve on emissions,” Sue Reid, vice-president of climate and energy at Ceres, a U.S. non-profit group that works to steer companies and investors onto a more sustainable path, told Reuters. 

In the next year-and-a-half we will witness an intensity of climate diplomacy not seen since the Paris Agreement was signed,” said Tessa Khan, an international climate change lawyer and co-director of the Climate Litigation Network. 

The latest scientific studies have offered negotiators scant comfort.

U.S climatologist Michael Mann believes emissions need to fall even more drastically than the IPCC assumes since the panel may be underestimating how far temperatures have already risen since pre-industrial times. 

Our work on this indicates that we might have as much as 40% less carbon left to burn than IPCC implies, if we are to avert the 1.5 C warming limit,” said Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. 

Mann has urged governments to treat the transition to renewable energy with the equivalent urgency that drove the U.S. industrial mobilization in World War Two. So far, no major economy has taken heed. Although Britain committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, it is far from being on a climate war footing. Likewise, a push led by France and Germany for the European Union to adopt a similar target was relegated to a footnote after opposition from Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Trump remains committed to pulling the world’s second biggest emitter out of the Paris deal altogether. 

In thinking about the kind of world that many environmentalists seek and the world that the Socialist Party wants, the core issue is one of social control. We don’t like what is going on in today's society. It is not only an appalling mess but now fraught with the most colossal threats to humanity. The problem is, how do we bring this mess, with its accompanying dangers, under control, so that we then have a society where these threats no longer exist, where we have solved the problem of climate change, and where we run society in the interests of humanity? The possibility of this kind of social control is pre-supposed by our understanding of problems, so we are saying that we share the indignation that those in involved in the climate movement expresses, but more than that, we say that this must be supported by a clear analysis of how these ecological problems arises in the modern world. We argue that the cause of global warming is capitalist society.

Socialism means democratic control of society in the human interest. This will be a society where the means of producing wealth and the whole of the earth’s resources are held in common and at the free disposal of the whole human family. The object of socialism is fundamentally different to that of capitalism, and provides for a completely different social organisation. Under present-day world capitalism, the motive of production is to produce commodities for sale on the world’s markets with a view to profit, so that privileged minorities in rival capitalist states can accumulate wealth, in a socialist society this will not be the case. Socialism will not produce commodities, but will simply produce useful things directly for human need; and there will be a shared interest between all members of the human family in that common object of production.

We are saying that socialism is the only guarantee that the climate crises will be completely removed. But we are saying more than this. When we have a look at the eco-activists and their arguments, there is no clear analysis of the cause of the degradation of nature , and no attempt whatsoever to understand it as a social problem. We have from the campaigners and protesters their indignation and variousproposals and policies, argued around some slogans, which aims to bring pressure to bear on governments. It is a superficial approach which cannot possibly succeed. It assumes some general democratic consensus by which populations are able to direct governments to act on their behalf. Not so. 

Government are the executive committee of the corporations and capitalists. That is why members of such groups as Extinction Rebellion (XR), if they wish to be successful about their objective, should be working for socialism. Instead they say that we have this existential threat looming over us and we do not have time to work for a different society. They are in the position of supporting capitalism but finding the consequences of their own actions damaging. Sincere individuals are swept up by movements such as but these climate movements have no substance and are not acting with little comprehension of the cause of the climate crises. They create the illusion that something is being done yet politically they continue to support capitalism, channelling protests off in totally futile directions. In this respect they unwittingly act out a political purpose of stabilising capitalism.

We invite members of XR and other eco-activists to join with us now in building a better world. They must build on the concern and indignation and broaden their horizons. They should not place their faith in governments; that is a sure recipe for disaster and disillusion. We come back to the question, how do we control society in the human interest? We must not make pathetic appeals to governments to do something on our behalf. We must take the world into our own hands.


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