Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Humanity is NOT doomed to destroy the planet.

It feels like the world is on inevitable march toward disaster. The only alternative - impossible as this may seem right now - is to overthrow this global capitalist system and all of the governments that prop it up and replace them with a worldwide economic democracy. 

On Friday, the 20th September, when the strike against to end the climate emergency, the participants and the protesters will have to clearly and robustly answer that crucial question, "Don't like what capitalism does? What's your alternative, then?" The World Socialist Movement can answer, without wanting to sound too sectarian and too arrogant, we are further along the path to eco-socialism than you are and have seen that some of your proposals are side-tracks and dead-ends. But at least you are on the right road. With socialism, the world will no longer be split up into nation-states, super powers, blocs or pacts. Instead we will have to democratically organise around the world to use the Earth's resources to produce for the population's needs, and not for markets or economic quotas.

At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing over nature – but that we, with flesh and blood and brain, belong to nature and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly. We are gradually learning to get a clear view of the indirect, more remote social effects of our productive activity, and so are afforded the opportunity to control and regulate these effects well. This regulation, however, requires a complete revolution in our existing mode of production…in our whole contemporary social order”

You could be forgiven for thinking the above quotation came from a modern day eco-warrior, commenting on impending global ecological catastrophe and drawing upon the myriad reports currently in existence, written by concerned scientists that portend cataclysmic changes to our life styles if we don’t stop abusing our natural environment immediately. The quote is in fact almost 145 years old and is taken from
Dialectics of Nature, written by Frederic Engels in 1875.

All across the planet the economic system that governments defend plunders and squanders the Earth’s non-renewable mineral and energy resources and with one object in mind – profit. All over the world it pollutes the seas, the air we breathe, the forests, rivers and lakes, upsetting natural balances, eco-systems and defying the laws of ecology. Clearly, this destruction and waste cannot continue indefinitely. It should not and must not and no amount of money is going to redress the delicate balance.

Socialists have long argued that it is quite possible to meet the material needs of every person on this planet without destroying the natural systems on which we depend and on which we are party. So what stands in the way? Why isn’t this done? The simpler answer, which we must not get tired of reiterating, is that under the present economic system, production is not geared to meeting human needs but rather to accumulating profits for a few. Consequently, what we produce and the methods and the materials we employ are not decided rationally and democratically, but are dictated by market forces.

Production today is in the hands of business enterprises of one sort or another, all competing to sell their products at a profit. All of them – and it does not matter whether they are privately owned or state-owned – aim to maximise their profits. This is not the result of the greed of the owners or managers, as some Greens claim, but an economic necessity, imposed by the forces of the market. If a business does not make a profit it goes out of business. “Make a profit or die” is the law of the capitalist jungle.

Under the demands of the market, businesses only take into account their own narrow financial interests, ignoring wider social and ecological considerations. The whole of production, from the process employed to the choice of what to produce, is distorted by this drive to make and accumulate profits. The result is an economic system governed by anarchic market forces which compel decision-makers, however selected and whatever their personal views or sentiments, to plunder, pollute and pillage. The conclusion is clear: If our needs are to be met while at the same time respecting the laws of nature, the present market-driven profit system must go and be replaced with a system capable of producing the essentials humans need, but in an ecologically friendly way.

Most who are involved in campaigns against global warming believe that things could be put right with a change of government policy. What is needed, they say, is a government that will pass laws and impose carbon-emission taxes to protect the environment. But experience shows that no government, however well meaning or determined, can protect the environment. Governments exist to run the political side of the profit system. They do not have a free hand to do what is sensible or desirable. They can only act within the narrow limits imposed by the market system. This is why such reformist policies being advocated are not working. At most it could only succeed in slowing down the speed of decay, not in making the profit system work in an environmentally friendly way. Those who want a clean and safe environment are up against a well entrenched economic and social system, based on class privilege and property and governed by the overriding law of profits first. It can be tempting to get caught up in the emotion of demonstrations, marches and strikes and believing its actually going somewhere. What people should work towards is not a change of government, but a change of society. So the argument that we must do something now presents a false choice. Doing something now means joining us—for socialism.

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