As we look around COP26 we notice some popular signs, ‘system change, not climate change’, ‘people not profit’, ‘Our world is not for sale’ and many other similar anti-capitalist slogans. We would like to believe that the socialist message is getting through to green campaigners.
Alas, delve a little deeper and there is often serious misunderstandings about what capitalism actually is. We can appreciate that many are turning their backs on mainstream politics, questioning their traditional party allegiances and addressing their previous assumptions.
The World Socialist Movement risks isolating itself from wider support by sometimes offering harsh criticisms of our fellow workers.
Socialism is needed so that both humanity and nature can co-exist. Technology should be usable and controllable to local and regional bodies. nowhere has it been demonstrated that the earth’s present riches would not be sufficient to reasonably feed, clothe, house, educate and nurture every citizen of the world, and enable them to develop their potential.
Nowhere has it ever been demonstrated that if production for the sake of profit were abolished and the fruits of labour are made accessible to all, would humanity not have enough material resources to adapt technology to the furtherance of society’s well-being.
As for ‘over-population’ all past experiences show that it is a social phenomenon, not a biological inevitability and by ensuring the liberation of the population out of backward ignorance, misery, illiteracy and superstition, then population growth will decrease, as it has decreased in all industrialised countries.
There are those who advocate ’de-growth’ which inevitably means an enormous increase of suffering and hunger and would quickly result in hundreds of millions of deaths and it is clearly an inhuman choice. Our preferred option is to decide as quickly as possible for controlled and planned growth until the world’s poor have been lifted out of poverty and then society can transform itself into a zero-growth steady-state economy and begin a process of reducing levels of production, in what Marx described as ‘simple reproduction’.
The dilemma of ‘socialism or barbarism’ is once again extremely relevant. In the absence of a planned global economy, the foundations of human civilisation could in the near future collapse. It is capitalistic anarchic uncontrolled capitalist growth, which disregards people’s most fundamental interests and our respect for nature, which poses the threat to humanity. Our struggle for a class-free society, a rational society without nations or governments has become a struggle for the survival of the human civilisation. The private ownership of the means of production, the commodity economy and the nation-state – these three appalling anachronisms must be abolished.
Freed from the profit-system, with hundreds of millions of people, liberated from socially wasteful and unnecessary labour, applying their creativity elsewhere in the economy, there is no reason to suppose that the standard of living of working people across the whole world cannot rise by leaps and bounds when the quality of life is given priority.
It’s ironic that environmentalists often accuse those of us seeking socialist solutions as being unrealistic and not advocating practical policies. Yet they continue to place their faith in capitalists collaborating with politicians to come up with solutions. We remind those sceptics that people have changed economic systems before such as when they found slavery to be inhumane. And people continue to develop technologies that were once thought impossible. Things are only impossible until they’re not. We can’t let those who are stuck in the past, unable to imagine a better future, hold us back from creating a just world.
Capitalism is the barrier to reducing global warming. capitalism is the greatest threat to the planet’s well-being, and the greatest obstacle to attempts to save it.