Sunday, June 18, 2017

A new society for a new world

We are living in one of the most volatile periods in history.  There is the looming possibility of environmental catastrophe.
The environmental crisis is not the fault of the working class. The only thing the workers are “guilty” of is not as yet overthrowing the capitalism system. Under the profit system, the majority does not have a say in how resources are used or production is organized. The capitalists are behind these decisions, and their main decision-making criteria is the pursuit of profit. Under capitalism, businesses must compete with one another and maximize profits in order to survive. The individual efforts of consumers cannot defeat the powerful structural incentives that drive environmental destruction. The structure itself must be fundamentally transformed. Capitalism is not something that can be reformed. Some in the environmentalist movement, however, seek in effect to pass the burden onto the shoulders of the working class. The workers are asked to sacrifice their standard of living in an effort to stave off environmental disaster, while the capitalists can continue to fill their coffers with profits. It is true that workers have both the power and the responsibility to ameliorate the effects of climate change. But this cannot require punishing people for wanting a good quality of life. The working class has the power to ensure that the planet is habitable for everyone precisely because it has the power to defeat capitalism. The environment is an interconnected system of which we are a part, in which humanity participates and manipulates with our technology. Humans must interact with nature. However, the interaction between humans and nature – production of food, extraction of raw material, waste disposal, pollution, etc. – can be better managed to allow mutual prosperity. It is only in the epoch of capitalism, that our tools have become so powerful that they threaten to destroy the system on which everything, including ourselves, depends. However, we are not fated to be doomed. Humans are rational beings. We are able to adapt. Technological innovation has already provided the possibility of re-tooling our economy and our societies with clean, renewable energy from the sun, wind, and water. There is no need for new breakthroughs to achieve this even though further breakthroughs still arise. By shifting towards a cleaner and more sustainable approach, this is entirely possible. For example, quality food production does not inherently require stripping the soil of nutrients and then clear-cutting rainforests to find more fertile soil. No new technology or ideas are required to grow enough food to feed humanity while preserving the soil (and the rainforests) for future generations. We already know how to do that. 
The problem is that the capitalist economy is not subject to our intelligence or reason.  It is subject to the anarchy of the market and not consciously planned to be in harmony with the environment. Under capitalism, we allow the vast bulk of the economy to be run undemocratically by a tiny minority.  The only thing standing in the way is Big Business and the elite who make the decisions about what is produced and how it is produced based on the prerequisite of increasing profits for the owners of corporations and their investors.  The incessant quest for profits at the expense of climate stability and human well-being and life, serves only those who collect the profits: the super-wealthy. Unsurprisingly, the capitalists run things in a way that serves the interests of their own class. In the capitalists’ eyes, the earth is there to be plundered and exploited.  Under capitalism, no value is placed on nature or human life. Production, therefore, is driven by short-term profit interests – and powered by “cheap,” polluting carbon-based energy – with no consideration of the damage inflicted on the environment and human lives. 
What is needed is the next step in social evolution. We need an economic and political system that will not attack, but rather, will improve our standard of living in a way that is not detrimental to the environment. No longer would we need to rely on technology that pollutes our water, air, and land because “the market” deems it the cheapest. A socialist economy would be run by all layers of society, democratically, from the bottom up.  The producers in every enterprise would link up with entire workplaces, industries, states, countries, and eventually the whole world. This would be a new, truly democratic political system embedded in the very structure of the economy. Everyone would have the opportunity to put forward their ideas and opinions. When workers have the ability to be creative in the workplace they would innovate to make things safer, more efficient, and environmentally sustainable. There would be little interest in planning an economy that would create pollution or rely on hazardous materials that kill and maim workers. We could put our best and brightest minds to use, not in developing earth-destroying technologies for the benefit of the minority. Under capitalism, these are merely “externalities.” But if subject to a democratic discussion, we are confident they would be quickly eradicated. By ridding ourselves of the profit motive and private ownership of the means of production, humans can reconnect with the earth and their own labour, thereby fully connecting with each other and their natural surroundings. Instead of the world being to benefit huge multinationals, it would be organised to apply the resources and skills of workers to improve the conditions of people around the world. We could the attain the worldwide cooperation necessary to deal with problems like global warming, and begin to reverse the environmental catastrophe. Only by overthrowing the capitalist system and replacing it with one where production is democratically and collectively owned controlled by the community will climate change be stopped and our future secured. 
For the future of humanity and for the panet, we need socialism.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice article. I agree with it all.

I was responding to a person's comment to an article about automation learning from humans, where he said that humans need jobs to survive. I responded with:

Well, if you want to be technical, humans don't NEED jobs in order to survive. What they need is access to what the job can provide. That is, an automated, vertical farm can output more than my own two hands. You can survive on what a machine produces.

Let's remember, you can't eat money. An electromechanical machine can't eat money. Ecosystems have developed over billions of years producing goods and services without monetary charge. These are the necessities of life that allow all to survive, including humans. The biosphere developed without the help of banks.

In other words, the earth doesn't need capitalism. Capitalism needs the earth. When astronauts go to space, they don't bring money with them. The earth needs a homeostatic control system for resource management.