The “Green” movement has done important work in drawing attention to environmental issues. However, it often evades the question of just who is going to answer these dangers. Technology is not the enemy, but its perversion by the power of capital. Compare the technical powers now available to our species with those of only a few decades ago, and you will see how much things have changed, and how enormous has been the speed of change. In the last twenty years, the advance in productive capacity and speed of communication has affected almost every part of the globe. Isn’t technology the means to liberate us from the burden of labour? The plight of millions of people shows otherwise.
Environmental issues are often expressed as if these were a choice between an environmentally sound policy and higher living standards. Such arguments are always based on the assumption that the existing capitalist economic set-up. Many greens seem to blame the modest living standards of ordinary people in industrialised countries for most of the environmental dangers. The ‘Green’ rhetoric has a nasty authoritarian flavour. Freed from the market, production could be directed to providing for the satisfaction of the needs of everybody avoiding ecological damage. Instead of the environmentalist movement trying to make people feel guilty that we are consuming too much, it becomes possible to show them what collective actions are needed to look after the well-being of us all. We do not want to see the State centrally deciding what would be made and how it would be allocated in the community. Nationalisation and the command economy has proved failures, as predicted by the Socialist Party. Private ownership of the means of production and their exploitation for profit is at the root of all our troubles.
The capitalist class longs for one thing aside from profit, the base upon which profit rests political and economic stability. Social unrest and discontent show that the rulers are not in full control. Only a socialist planned world economy can rapidly overcome the many myriad crises people face. Without socialism, capitalism will continue to waste enormous resources and subject the majority of the earth's population to abject poverty, social and racial inequality, dictatorial regimes. To complete this grim perspective of hunger, insecurity, inequality and oppressive rule, capitalism offers the permanent threat of environmental destruction. Socialism constitutes the only certain guarantee of enduring peace. The best way to fight against the threat of wars is to fight for socialism through class struggle. The World Socialist Movement is faced with a responsibility great and grave. Ideas can be shared. The evolution of ideas has reached breakneck speed with the internet. Changes in ideas are becoming more frequent every day. The most recent development in the evolution of the idea is within the ecology movement. It starts from a simple premise that if an economic system and an eco-system are not in harmony, then one will destroy the other. At its heart is the ability to maintain a symbiosis to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising future generations’ ability to meet theirs. And at the heart of sustainability is the notion of stewardship, the duty to act as custodians or trustees for future generations and for all other orders of creation – to behave like responsible tenants of the globe in its entirety.
In the third volume of Capital Marx explains:
“From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth, they are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations, as boni patres familias [good heads of household].”