Thursday, April 13, 2017

Protecting the Planet


Will capitalism lead the world to ecological disaster? It is certainly having a good try. Socialists have for decades railed at capitalist market production for being on a relentless collision course with the environment, and have frequently used clich├ęs like 'profits of doom' and 'merchants of menace'. Now, rarely a day goes by when our attention is not drawn to the various issues of environmental degradation and how the increase in human activity is impacting on large areas of the natural environment globally.

It is time to stop the rape and pillage of the Earth. It is time to protect the environment and to enjoy its bounties in a sensible and sustainable way. The world has the technology and the human expertise. It just needs the political will to make the change. Democracy has been reduced to a tiresome routine that involves electing the rulers once in five years. They have become election machines with their own vested interests. These machines are designed to gather votes and use them as fodder to convert money into power, and power back into money. Substituting one party for another, or making a change of administrative power is not enough; we need an entire new politics. This cannot be done leaders or by a political party but instead if everyone joins together, understanding that this is their work, then a dream becomes a reality. People’s movements need to come together.

The fact that more and more people are becoming concerned about the way the environment is abused is encouraging. But campaigning for increased legislation is not the answer. We need to get rid of a society where a small minority can manipulate nature for their own ends and replace it with one where we all have a real say in how nature is used. While the non-violent direct action policies of the environmentalists may achieve limited success against government policies by lobbying for better regulation, at the end of the day, they will never be able to overcome the profit motive which is the root cause of the problems they wish to ameliorate and are destined to struggle endlessly against capitalism.

The built-in rivalry between vying sections of the capitalist class always results in collateral damage in some form or another. At one end we have the everyday casualties of austerity measures and redundancies. Whilst at the other end extensive damage to the environment. When confronted by barriers of environmental legislation which are designed to diminish the rate of expected profits and the accumulation of capital, the capitalists will do what they have always done in their search for short-term profits: finding or creating loopholes, moving the goalposts, corrupting officials, trying to bribe the local population with empty promises, or shifting the whole concern to an area or region where a more favourable reception is expected and profits maintained.

Before anything constructive can be done, capitalism must go and, with it, the artificial division of the world into separate, competing states. The Earth, and all its natural and industrial resources, must become the common heritage of all humanity. A democratic structure for making decisions at global as well as at local levels must come into being.  When such a united world has been established (or is about to be established) we can decide how to repair the damage capitalism has done to the biosphere. Then what scientific consensus already know should be done can be done, and humanity can begin to organise its relationship with the rest of nature in a genuinely sustainable way. The world's resources are owned by a small minority who use nature to produce goods to be sold in order to make profits. Production for profit means that costs must be kept as low as possible. In this atmosphere the cheapest methods of production must be used and the cheapest methods are rarely those which have a minimal impact on nature. As long as production is carried on for making profits and not for needs the same problems of pollution, resource depletion and species extinction will remain.  Capitalism is simply unable to run on green lines, as its motive force is expansion and domination, with no thought for the consequences for the people or the environment. 

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