Wednesday, July 31, 2019

We need a world commonwealth

Another direct action group similar to Extinction Rebellion has sprung up. Reclaim the Power focuses more upon the international aspects of climate movement adding “No Borders, No Nations” to their environmentalist slogans. With the prospect of increasing numbers of climate refugees, RTP campaigns against the governments “hostile environment” in detaining and deporting migrants. The group also widens their political critique to encompass the economic structure of present-day society. 
"We Need to Talk about Capitalism. Climate change and environmental collapse are the products of an economic system based on infinite growth on a planet of finite resources, on colonial plundering and on the many inequalities of a class based system. The fight for climate justice cannot be removed from this social and economic context.”

Many in the environmentalist campaigns talk about the negative essence of the government’s current actions and beliefs. But any government, like all governments, represents the interests of the state; and the state acts as a collective for the interests of society’s owning class (landowners, industrialists and other capitalists). If you are opposed to the destruction of nature as any thinking person would be—you will advocate actions which will make the despoliation impossible, by removing its cause. We accept that most members of such groups as Reclaim the Power and Extinction Rebellion are well motivated and to use that cliché, “they care”. But actions if they are to be effective require more than fine sentiments. It is not enough that behaviour is well motivated: if it is to be effective it must be appropriate. People require to learn just what is involved in keeping people free from poor health and abject lifestyles, and all the other social ills which are celebrated daily by capitalism. If you really care about people you will want to campaign for their enlightenment; in a word, for socialism. This is the only framework within which humans can control their own destiny instead of being dominated by some privileged elite or by the blind economic forces of the market. The technical means already exist to provide every man, woman and child on this planet with proper food, clothing, shelter, health-care and education. What stands in the way is the profit system. So let’s get rid of it and achieve a world without hunger, poverty, pollution, war, oppression or exploitation—a world commonwealth of co-operation, peace and plenty. 

It is capitalism, not overpopulation nor over-consumption that is the cause of present-day pollution, resource depletion and environmental degradation, and, even if population growth were to become a problem in terms of putting pressure on the Earth’s resources, it would only be within the framework of a world of common ownership and democratic control that such a problem could be tackled. As capitalism brings ecological catastrophe, then socialism is the only global approach treating the Earth’s resources as the shared heritage of all humanity would provide any chance of minimising the damage and saving what could be saved. Capitalism is constitutionally incapable of tackling the climate crisis in a rational way since under it production is carried on by profit-seeking enterprises all competing to maximise their profits. Competition forces manufacturers to produce as cheaply as possible, so the best anti-pollution devices are not installed. 

The need for socialist ideas is greater than ever, to urge people to look deeply into the terrible problems of capitalist society, deeper than the slogans and the banners. World capitalism as the dominating system of production and distribution can never be rationally organised in such a way that it serves the needs of the community or its environment. Private ownership, economic exploitation and the distribution of commodities through a marketing system with a view to making profit form the barriers that prevent mankind from making the fullest possible use of its labour, technology and natural resources. This is the nature of the ecology problem. Any attempt to deal with global warming within the framework of capitalist society is bound to fail, since it accepts all the pre-conditions of the problem. The priorities of capitalist society are privileged properly rights and the pursuit of profits.

Is the emotions of the climate campaign to be rejected as futile and irrational? Not in the least. Emotion is an essential part of human experience: it is thanks to our emotions that we can empathise with others and support one another when we unite to achieve a common goal. However, this is not to imagine that releasing our emotions will achieve more than does a more political approach. The reason formal organisations never seem to get anywhere is not because they lack emotion but because they lack understanding.

What we want to change is immense. It’s not just eliminating CO2 emissions, it’s getting rid of the whole structure that creates it in the first place. If we don’t use imagination nothing will change. Without change we will destroy the planet. It’s as simple as that. The way things are organised is neither natural nor inevitable, but created by people. People have a wealth of skill, intelligence. creativity and wisdom. We could be devising ways of using and distributing the earth’s vast resources so that no one starves or lives in abject poverty, making socially useful things that people need — a society which is life-affirming in all its aspects. We can combine those two remarkable human capacities, the emotional and the rational, in order to take things into our own hands and run our own society, our own world, in the interest of all humanity. 

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