COP26 has officially started today. Once again yet another climate summit is upon us all. What should we have expected from such a large gathering? Can we expect anything different from the previous ones?
Much of the media and many of the attendees are hoping with a good deal of optimism for its success. But it is difficult to believe that capitalism will ever heal itself. Whatever pledges that were made at previous COPs, have been reneged on. Promises have come to nothing. As apologists for capitalism, despite being specialists and scientists the delegates continue to fail to locate global problems in a wider social and economic context, in capitalism itself.
A history of failed attempts to fix a system that cannot meet needs leads to the conclusion that a new social system should be tried, a system without money and the profit motive in which the interests and needs of all are paramount.
The question people face is: can capitalism deliver? Or far more important question is: what could be done in a socialist society?
With the advent of world socialism, we can expect a considerable reduction in carbon emissions obtained by ending the enormous wasteful economic activity and production inherent in capitalism. A major contribution to this pollution is the upkeep of the military and then all the resources devoted to the exchange economy.
The enormous budgets spent and raw materials expended on the maintenance of nations’ military machines represent an enormous drain on land, resources and personnel. Insane? No, it's logical, at least within the logic of capitalism.
Socialism would eliminate the need for these anti-social industries and thereby rapidly introduce a large cut in energy production and consequently CO2 emissions. This would serve to loosen the reliance on mitigating technologies discussed above but enable the provision of improved living standards to the undeveloped and developing world can be met. People, and not money, will control their lives and the direction of social progress. In the first period of socialism clearing up the structural mess left by capitalism would be a priority project.
Capital accumulation is in fact the biggest stumbling block. Effective climate action is against the profit-making interests of much of the capitalist class. In fighting for our civilisation, we are ultimately up against the mindless and heartless ‘growth machine’ that has come to dominate our world. Endless expansion is intrinsic to capital which n is inhuman and anti-human. Capitalism simply does not provide a framework for the rational solution for the problem of climate change. The profit motive has led to an increase in greenhouse gases and so to the real possibility of an increase in global temperature. We should all weigh up the odds of the race between a rational future society of plenty and peace which is the promise of socialism as against the prevalence of capitalist barbarism.
If you think the alternative socialism or barbarism is some hypothetical aspect of the future; we wish to disillusion you for the barbarism that has already been experienced in many parts of the world. But the odds are what we make them. There is still reason for hope, for so long as the working people remain capable of revolt, so long as it is discontent, so long as it exists as a working-class, there remains the possibility of a socialist victory. What do we mean by that phrase, “so long as it exists as a working-class?”
Like the Communist Manifesto explained, there is the full possibility of the mutual “ruination” of the “contending classes.” And to passively accept the inevitability of an environmental holocaust, as some ecological catastrophists do, is not a revolution.
And nothing can be more impossible than the goal of self-survival on a ruined planet. Socialists promote the synthesis of ecological balance, social harmony, personal freedom and material comfort that is humanity’s birthright. We refute the despair of mystical pie-in-the-sky New Ageism. The kind of economy we live in determines the nature of our laws, government, culture, ideas, feelings and ethics. The competitive warfare system of capitalist production produces a destructive, anti-human science and culture. Human beings can learn to understand nature, production and social relations, and change them in a rational manner. Some environmentalists see no difference between capitalism and socialism. But the two irreconcilable systems spell the difference between life and death for this planet’s people.