As long as capitalism endures the problems of the world take on a capitalist form; all “solutions” must be capitalist solutions — which often means that no real solution is possible.
If socialism had already been instituted there would not now be any environment crisis. But when the Socialist Party says that the task coming before all others is to hasten the achievement of socialism by winning over a majority to the socialist cause our doubters have their glib answer ready. Socialism, they say, cannot be achieved quickly, therefore it is necessary to be practical and find a solution to these dire problems now. So they draw up their solutions, not one solution but many, and engage in disagreements with each other over them. Some are good-intentioned and well-meaning schemes but which capitalism simply laughs out of court. Then come the cynical compromises arrived at after making compromises and concessions to the demands of the business groups and national governments, “solutions” blandly ignoring the wishes of the majority but suitably subordinate to the needs of global capitalism rather than the welfare of the planet and its peoples. Here is where the eco-activists short-coming become exposed – their lack of understanding what capitalism is and why it is the cause of the climate emergency we all face. It will be the spread of socialist knowledge that will do more, even as an immediate, practical contribution, than the attempts to solve such problems within the framework of the capitalist system.
Capitalism remains a danger to our planet and that a socialist society would be in a better position to look after it. However, if socialism were to be established in the near future our first priority would be to rapidly increase the production and free distribution of food, clothing, shelter and essential medical supplies to those human beings in need and to end the miserable poverty caused by capitalism. This will take priority over any long term ecological and environmental concerns. The immediate well-being, welfare and health of the human species is of paramount concern. In the long run socialism implies stable or only slowly gradual rising consumption and production levels, though it also envisages to combat global poverty a carefully planned initial rapid growth over a period to end deprivation until we reach a level at which consumption and production could then level off.
People need to survive and so we all need air, food, water, etc. It is human nature to eat when you are hungry, to drink when you are thirsty, and to sleep when you are tired. Nothing can alter this. We also have sexual and emotional needs. To live happy lives we seek out physical contact, affection and love. All these features of human nature will be met in socialism and be much better than they are now under capitalism.
Our present social system is poorly equipped to grant happiness. Too often we must do somebody harm in order to do a good deed for another, and vice versa.
Socialism does not require us all to become altruists, putting the interests of others above our own. In fact socialism doesn’t require people to be any more altruistic than they are today. The coming of socialism will not require great changes in the way we behave, essentially only the accentuation of some of the behaviours which people exhibit today (friendliness, helpfulness, co-operation) at the expense of others which capitalism encourages.
We will still be concerned primarily with ourselves, with satisfying our needs, our need to be well considered by others as well as our material and sexual needs. No doubt too, we will want to “possess” personal belongings such as our clothes and other things of personal use, and to feel secure in our physical occupation of the house or flat we live in, but this will be just that – our home and not a financial asset.
The socialist solution to the problem is by making the conditions and circumstances of our daily life humane by re-organising the entire network of economic and social relationships so that the problem itself disappears, so that no-one ever has to choose between the demands of the “conscience” and the dictates of “reason”.
We don’t need to change human nature; it is only human behaviour that needs to change. While our genes can’t be ignored, they only intervene in our behaviours in an indirect way, by programming the development of our brains. Therefore, to understand the complexities of our behaviour, it is to our brains, not directly to our genes, that we have to look. When we do this we find that our brains allow us, as a species, to adopt – a great variety of different behaviours depending on the natural, economic and social environments we have found ourselves in.
Socialism is no fanciful utopia, but the crying need of the times; and that we, as socialists, are catalytic agents, acting on our fellow workers and all others to do something about it as speedily as possible, the triggering agent that transforms majority ideas from bourgeois into revolutionary ones. The seeming failures, the disappointments and discouragements, the slow growth, only indicate that socialist work is not an easy task.