Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The climate crisis is upon us

A characteristic of capitalism is its basic instability. Another trait is the idiocy of capitalism. Capitalism itself has in fact already solved the problem of the production. Its real problem today is how to cope with what it has produced; how to reconcile social production with individual ownership. Its politicians, its experts, its planners, all accept without question that whatever else may happen products must still come rolling off the assembly lines in their millions. What we usually get from capitalists are a hotchpotch of a compromise that will ease the system where it is being hurt the hardest with the rest left to look after itself as best it can. There will be restrictions in one form or another to keep essential services going and also as usual, the wealthy corporations will find ways around regulations and legislation. In other words, little is going to be done to rid us of the waste of resources; indeed, they will probably become worse.

 In short, we see little prospect of capitalism coping with climate change, except perhaps in the sense that it will have to intervene to some extent to save itself from being strangled economically. Not all politicians are necessarily callous, but they are administering a system, and this system works by exploiting human beings and their eco-systems. Because the profit motive is the driving force behind production within capitalist society, and takes precedence over human interests. So climate problems linger on, not because they are physically incapable of solution, but because it would at present be too costly for the ruling class to tackle them. We are painfully aware that despite all the speeches over the years, the threat of the global warming remains although it would be futile to blame the individual politicians concerned. This is just another monster which capitalism has created, and which politicians are largely powerless even to contain, let alone end.

Within the environmentalist camp, it is always pleasant for us to see some non-socialists putting forward views in support of our case even though sometimes they go further than we ourselves are prepared to go. We often encounter those who see clearly where reason and common sense lie yet fails to see that the particular problem he or she is concerned with is only part of a wider issue — the issue of socialism versus capitalism. The one radical alternative we should take a long look at before contemplating compromise solutions is that of a gradual but total abolition of capitalism. Such a solution point towards a much simpler way to a sane and sensible pattern of living. We should no longer tolerate a system of society based on the profit motive and on the belief that everything must be subservient to it. The great majority support such a system. They think it right and normal for the wealth of the world to be produced primarily for sale at a profit, to be owned individually and used individually. The idea of giving up unnecessary consumption is as far from their minds as is the idea of socialism itself. Some environmental activists seek to recapture the lost sense of community and citizenship, a more leisurely and dignified way of life, they see through the shallowness which capitalism attaches to everything in the modern world but such aspirations are doomed to failure from the start in a framework of thought which accepts capitalism as eternal. The Socialist Party talks of a radical alternative which is to get rid of capitalism and replace it by socialism. Socialism means making the productive resources the common property of society. The only end in view will be the satisfaction of human needs. Money and profit will no longer dominate our thoughts and actions. With the removal of capitalism from the world, all the dirty business of armaments and armies, and the socially useless banking, insurance, and commercial advertising will disappear.

If the global temperature warms by 2°C, we face an unprecedented climate catastrophe—and delaying net-zero emissions to 2050 will mean a 3°C rise in temperatures. The emeritus director of the Potsdam Institute, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, points out that the consequences for our planet would be dire:
Here is a very big risk that we will just end our civilization. The human species will survive somehow, but we will destroy almost everything we have built up over the last 2,000 years.”
What that future will be is up to this current generation to figure out. The clock is ticking.

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