"For too long our politicians, leaders & corporations have fed us the SAME lies, the SAME broken promises, the SAME too-little-too-late solutions, the SAME destructive fossil fuels. But we know that if we keep doing things the SAME way, we are doomed." Official account of the UN Envoy on Youth, Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake .
The Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) has put leaders and policymakers on notice that they are not willing to listen to the same conversations, suggestions and unmet promises as it launches a massive youth mobilisation campaign, with the hashtag #samesucks.
“Youth see that it is all the same. The conversations are the same. If you follow the negotiations ten years ago and what the politicians were saying then, what the negotiators were saying and you follow the negotiations happening in the Convention of Biological Diversity now, they are saying the same things. It is frustrating,” GYBN Global South Focal Point Swetha Stotra Bhashyam told IPS. “Even after so many years, going through such a pandemic, they are still talking the same language. They are not even changing that. That’s what is really riling us up.” She continued, “We are also frustrated about the same empty promises that we are being given. We are frustrated about the greed in the world. We are tired of the same old story.”
The World Socialist Movement can sympathise with such sentiments.
Without a reconstruction of our society, no informed participation of all citizens in the democratic process is possible, no fundamental political and economic change can prevail. Nor our anxiety and worry over poverty, racial discrimination, health-care, can be addressed in an enduring way. Dealing with the problems of the environment in an effective manner cannot be done. World socialism has to be the goal of humanity. It is the only way to have a harmonious and sustainable planet.
Hardly anyone now doubts that humanity is facing an enormous environmental emergency. In the due course of time, billions will face disaster from floods, desertification and other environmental consequences of global warming. It is now very clear that capitalism has brought upon civilisation the biggest ever threat to its existence – the threat of ecological catastrophe. Only by a complete transformation in politics and production, in other words, a transformation of the economic system can a sustainable future for humanity be established. We need to go well beyond the standard reform campaigns and point the way to the socialist alternative’
There are some in the environment movement that is attracted to lifestyle changes because it avoids the need for class conflict and revolution. Individual action is preferable to collective political action. New Age and Self-Help books fill more bookshop shelves than socialist works. Anti-consumerism authors are more popular than anti-capitalism writers. Malthusian-inspired dystopias gain more and more readers. Many campaigners in the ecology groups are simply not interested in socialism, preferring to work for new laws to be enacted by enlightened politicians and businessmen. Disregarding Robert Burns that “facts are chiels that winna ding, An' downa be disputed” there are those green activists who are not prepared to take the analysis to the logical conclusion, striving instead for reforms and not revolution, expecting governments and corporations to act against their own interests.
We cannot abandon technology and manufacturing and return to the idyllic days of a rural village of the blacksmith and the cabinet-maker. But we can reorganise society so that the goods and services produced are socially useful and environmentally friendly.We can develop democratic decision making structures to choose what and how things are made and distributed. Maximising growth is far from rational and the socialist goal is a steady-state economy. However, those who have read 'Planet of Slums’ by Mike Davis understand that billions are victims of urban damage, homes subject to flooding with the rain, widespread lack of sanitation, and likely to become the centres for the new generation of diseases. It is always the poor who will pay the cost of environmental disaster and in particular the women and children who pay the price. So while our aim is to reduce production levels by making the military and financial sectors redundant, we still have to level up the destitute to a decent standard of living that we ourselves would wish for ourselves. A collapse of civilisation may be survived by the rich minority inside their gated communities with their personal security guards and privatised access to the utility services, but it will devastate the poor. Our conclusion is that the fundamentals of climate change cannot be addressed without socialist change, creating a different set of relationships between people and communities. We hold that a society that will protect the environment is one that is incompatible with capitalism.
We are told that capitalism itself will try to mitigate the effects of global warming and will adapt to climate change. Different types of investment are being introduced where carbon credits are traded on the stock exchange, governments will impose increased taxes to punish the polluters and reward the low carbon emitters, new sophisticated technologies will be invented and deployed to the factories. We are told that capitalism can save us and the planet and still produce profits for the owning class. Is this believable from those who promised to end inequality, to stop war, to eliminate poverty and disease? If you are gullible enough to think so, we have a bridge in Brooklyn that we can sell to you. Environmentalist campaigns that lack action to replace capitalism is an illusory pipe-dream. Creating a sustainable world requires a wholesale conversion of production-for-profit to production-for-use and that is incompatible with the basic law of capitalism. Without abolishing the exchange economy, the profit system, we point out to you that only extremely small ineffectual gains are likely to be made. We require a massive social and economic revolution in a decisive anti-capitalist struggle.
Nothing less than World Socialism will do. Anything else will fail. That is the harsh fact that the World Socialist Movement would like to impress upon others, even if the truth isn’t to be welcomed by the many sincere activists who seek answers within the parameters of the capitalist system.
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