Showing posts with label eco-socialism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eco-socialism. Show all posts

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Is socialism green?

The Amazon rain-forest has degraded to the point where it is losing its ability to benignly regulate weather systems and is likely to lead eventually to more extreme weather events, according to a new warning from Antonio Nobre, researcher in the government’s space institute, Earth System Science Centre, one of Brazil’s leading scientists. The Amazon works as a giant pump, channeling moisture inland via aerial rivers and rainclouds that form over the forest more dramatically than over the sea, the author says. It also provides a buffer against extreme weather events, such as tornados and hurricanes. In the past 20 years, the author notes that the Amazon has lost 763,000 sq km, an area the size of two Germanys. In addition another 1.2m sq km has been estimated as degraded by cutting below the canopy and fire. As a result, the deterioration of the rainforest – through logging, fires and land clearance – has resulted in a decrease in forest transpiration and a lengthening of dry seasons. This might be one of the factors of the severe drought affecting south-east Brazil. São Paulo – the biggest city in South America – is facing its worst water shortages in almost a century. October, which is usually the start of the rainy season, was drier than at any time since 1930, leaving the volume of the Cantareira reservoir system down to 5% of capacity. “Amazon deforestation is altering climate. It is no longer about models. It is about observation,” said Nobre. 
Forest clearance has accelerated under Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, after efforts to protect the Amazon were weakened. Last month, satellite data indicated a 190% surge in deforestation in August and September. The influence of the “ruralista” agribusiness lobby in Congress has also grown in recent years, making it harder for the authorities to push through new legislation to demarcate reserves.

 A new United Nations report that has found that the destruction of the environment has left an area of farmland the size of France useless for growing crops. 7.7 square miles of agricultural land being lost every day because it has become too salty. Climate change is making the situation worse because warmer temperatures require more irrigation and increase the speed at which the water evaporates, the report warns. A total of 240,000 square miles of farmland worldwide has now been contaminated. The Indus Valley in Pakistan is one of the worst hit areas, with salinization cutting rice production by 48 per cent in recent years, while wheat is down 32 per cent. Salty soils also cause losses of around £469m annually in the Colorado River basin, an arid region in the south west of the US. In Turkmenistan, more than half of the irrigated land is damaged by salt. Salt damage can also be reversed through measures such as tree planting and crop rotation using salt-tolerant plants, but these measures are extremely expensive.

Eco-socialism should not be mistaken for anti-technology or an anti-civilisation critique that strives to find balance with nature by returning to some kind of pre-industrial tribal society. ‘Primitivism’ can be described as seeking social transformation along these lines.  Eco-socialism  seeks to synthesise what might be regarded as some of the most desirable aspects of more primitive societies, such as their decentralised and ecological means of existing, with some of the most desirable aspects of modern society, such as its science and technology. Green socialism is not some misanthropic back-to-nature utopia.  Our environmental crises have their roots in the social system of production so  the solutions to these ecological problems must be  radical of social relationships. The goal of a future socialist society will be to maximise human potential in order to stimulate a flourishing of humanity achieved through the free association  of producers within society. Human flourishing cannot be achieved, if we are constrained from exercising or capacities. I cannot quench my thirst without water; I cannot nourish my hunger without food; I cannot protect myself from the elements without shelter.

The political-economic system has overridden our genetic and social makeup, the result of that combination determines all our relationships, and it’s also the greatest influences in the way we think, evaluate our life and nature. The many hunter-gatherers the Arctic, the tropical forests of Congo and Amazon, also of the deserts of the Kalahari and of Australia, relate to one another cooperatively and fairly. Their relationship was due to the political-economic system they had, that system also helps to give those people the feeling of being a part of nature. Best of all is, it’s the way of life our genes evolved for hundreds of thousands of years, therefore that political-economic system suits our make-up, and furthermore, it was very successful. That system was what enabled people, with the most elementary tools and material, to live on all continents, except Antarctica. It was efficient; it allowed plenty of time for social and artistic pursuits. Today, with those attributes, we  have the advantage of our technology.

 Agriculture gradually introduced private property. That private property gave an opening to the warrior class to seize properties; it also reduced cooperativeness and increased competitiveness. To deal with competition within our human social needs, a class structure appeared starting with chiefs then proceeding to more complex hierarchies based on hereditary. Fairness for present and future people no longer dominated decisions – they were increasingly based on power of violence and belief. This hierarchal system produced civilisation, that’s centralised control, with objects being more valuable and important than relationships, resulting in continual oppression with periodical slaughters in wars. To hold society together it required both a brutal domination by a hierarchy and a fervent belief in it and in a deity all the more sacred as it was inscribe.

We see life in fragmented segments. Each bit examined in isolation and detail looks easy to manage. But life isn’t like that. It’s highly interconnected, and it’s that inseparability that has produced and maintains our wonderful divers living planet. Competitions in a social setting, is either overt or covert violence, if it’s physical it will also be psychological violence. Its extent of its potential hurt is proportional to its competitive intensity. The exaltation of winning is counter balance by the pain from other people’s loss and at times of many people. This is so between nations, companies, individuals, and sport people in boxing or playing chess. The intensity of the gratification or distress is dependent on the intensity of the competition.  Winners in capitalist societies gain more power due to “their” wealth, which creates the unseen link to power. This gives them a competitive advantage, over the bottom section of the wealth hierarchy of capitalism in a “classless” unpredictable world.

The capitalist system cannot tolerate nor adapt to declining resources and at the same time increasing demands from the effects of global warming and a growing population. To survive we must gradually but quickly change from a growth economy of capitalism to an economy that can manage its shrinkage until we reach a sustainable life. This can only be achieved by progressing from the unfairness of a competitive economy to the fairness of a cooperative one. This would also improve our physical and mental wellbeing.

The competitiveness turns potential friends into enemies and that has detrimental effects on people’s psyche, which is becoming obvious. Those emotional dilemmas are largely caused by the necessary loneliness of competing. Even when one is in a team, the ideology of competition creeps in, so relationships are still chancy. Solitary confinement can have a permanent injurious outcome according to the time of aloneness, but one can feel alone in the midst of a multitude of people that competition creates. Competition is a factor that produces that overwhelming multitude of people, it’s the most serious problem we will have to face when or if we come to our senses. The competition is spurred on by religious, economic, and military needs, of the necessity to have the greatest number to be the strongest.

It’s in everyone’s interest to change course as quickly as one can. The reality is we have a common interest of survival, but we believe we have diverse interest. Therefore we see a need for a competitive advantage over other people, which overrides the knowledge of the planet’s depleting resources and global warming. Namely under capitalist philosophy, we see people as opponents, even enemies instead of potential colleagues and even friends.

We all have to live under a faulty system, we do the best we can. Change the system and people will change to live under it. People are extremely adaptable if given accurate information we will respond to it.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

A truly green world can be had by all

How long can people go on pretending that nothing is amiss with the world's weather? Legend has it that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Not to be outdone, the present ruling class is fiddling while the Earth burns up.

 Capitalism's profit motive is the culprit for this, as well as many other unthinkable environmental disasters in the making. The profit motive and capitalism are bringing civilisation to the brink of disaster, and time is running out to take corrective actions where it is still possible or to lessen the effects where the damage is already too advanced to be undone. It ought to be clear by now that the system primarily responsible for bringing humanity such peril and which even now continues to ignore the warnings of scientists is not about to spend the hundreds of billions needed to avert or mitigate the dangers. Socially harmful decisions are made because, in one way or another, they serve the profit interests of the capitalist class. Capitalist class rule over the economy also explains why government regulation is so ineffective: under capitalism, government itself is essentially a tool of the capitalist class. Politicians may be elected "democratically," but because they are financed, supported and decisively influenced by the economic power of the capitalist class, democratic forms are reduced to a farce. The capitalist class and its government will never be able to solve the environmental crisis. They and their system are the problem.

Freed from any restrictions imposed by private-ownership interests and operating only for the good of humankind and the world, and in sharp contrast to the feeble and timid actions of the environmental activists tied to the capitalist system who are perennially preoccupied with garnering political influence among politicians and trying to raise the monetary funds to carry on their work socialists find themselves in the task of rebuilding our world. The action workers must take is to realise their  political power with the goal of building a new society with completely different motives for production -- human needs and wants instead of profit -- and to organise their own political party to challenge the political power of the capitalists, express their mandate for change at the ballot box and dismantle the state altogether.

 Too often environmentalists are limited in their world view and understanding of the capitalist system, imbued with notions of the "evil men [or corporations]" theory of history, are prone to divorce their specific environmental cause from the whole socio-economic fabric. These environmental warriors of capitalist society endlessly flounder, winning, at best, only a delaying action against the disintegrating effects of capitalism on the natural world. Government regulations pose no threat to capitalism, and never have, regardless of how they may affect or place certain restraints on specific capitalist interests. The real threat to capitalism and the crimes that capitalism commits against nature and humanity is an informed and active working class. Only socialism can satisfy our needs while operating all the industries in harmony with the best interest of the whole planet. However, until the working class decides that it must take control of the economy and establish a new form of democratic government based on collective and democratic ownership of the economy, all creatures on earth will continue to suffer under the capitalist dictum of "business as usual."

The best capitalism can do is to substitute one set of risks for another. Every time capitalism "solves" a problem it creates a new one. It will take a fundamentally different type of social and economic system to even begin to rationally address the problem of global warming-- a socialist society, freed from what Marx once referred to as "the furies of private interest" that now control energy sources and its uses. As always, the moneyed interests come first, and people last. The fossil-fuel industrial complex spends millions of its ill-gotten profits on a persistent campaign of disinformation that is readily augmented, amplified and widely disseminated by the capitalist media. Despite all warnings, the situation will continue to deteriorate as long as the capitalist system continues to exist. The capitalists will defend their source of profits by every means in their power and we will near ever closer to the brink of social disaster. We'll be taken over the edge of the abyss unless the workers awaken to the danger, recognise that capitalism is both the cause of the problem and the obstacle to its solution, and take steps to abolish capitalism and establish socialism.

 There exists mountains of studies, reports and research papers that amount to indictments of capitalism as the culprit for the destruction of the environment. University libraries are bulging,  publishers are glutted and periodicals are saturated with facts and figures. Hardly anything seems to have escaped the scrutiny of those scientists who have produced  findings that Nature and the planet’s eco-system is in deep trouble. Rare indeed are explicit condemnations of the capitalist systems operations. These scientists have drawn conclusions, without the essential inference that environmental degradation is inherent in capitalist development. Such an inference would, of course, have led to only one conclusion: that meaningful action to repair our world can only be taken when the competitive pressures of capitalism, indeed the capitalist system itself, is abolished and socialism established.

Among the most serious problems facing society today is that of environmental pollution and
 destruction. Air pollution, acid rain and acidic seas, tainted and toxic water, poisonous industrial pollutants in our rivers and oceans, cancer-producing pesticides on the food we eat, unhealthy hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products, nuclear waste leakage and accidents like Japan’s Fukushima, ozone depletion and last but by no means the least, global warming -- the list of bad news on the environment is seemingly unending.

Marx and Engels perceived enormous squandering of society's resources, a fact that caused Engels to observe: "When one observes how here in London alone a greater quantity of manure than is produced by the whole kingdom of Saxony is poured away every day into the sea with an expenditure of enormous sums, and what colossal structures are necessary in order to prevent this manure from poisoning the whole of London, then the utopia of abolishing the distinction between town and country is given a remarkably practical basis." (The Housing Question.)

The world in which we live does not belong to this generation, or even to the human species so is it reasonable, then, to permit its ongoing destruction -- not by the humanity, but by that tiny minority of the human species that is befouling the nest of all -- the capitalist class? There is no reason whatsoever  that prevents mankind from living in harmony with its natural surroundings. Indeed, humanity is itself an integral part of the total environment and no more at odds with it by nature than any other animal. Pollution is not an inevitable by-product of modern industry. Methods exist or can readily be developed to safely neutralize, recycle or contain most industrial wastes. Less polluting forms of transportation and energy CAN be built. Adequate supplies of food CAN be grown without deadly pesticides. The problem is that, under capitalism, the majority of people have no power to make these kinds of decisions about production. Under the capitalist system, production decisions are made by the small, wealthy minority that owns and controls the industries and services -- the capitalist class. And the capitalists who make up that class make their decisions to serve, first and foremost, one goal -- that of maximising profit for themselves. That is where the environmental crisis begins  and offer  grim testament to the anti-social character of capitalism.

Capitalism was at one time a necessary development of the human species  humanity must continue to progress its social development -- to socialism.  It seems all too obvious that every move ruling classes make is calculated to increase their profits or consolidate their power over the peoples and the countries they control. The clean up of polluted waters, the reclamation of toxic land, and the restoration of the natural environment generally will have to wait for the advent of socialism. That is the only sane, logical and practical way to eliminate all such unnatural disasters because it is the only way to take control of the economy away from an impervious ruling class and place it under the direct control of society as a whole. A socialist industrial democracy  is what is needed to solve the environmental crisis. By placing the economic decision-making power  in the hands of the people, by eliminating capitalist control and the profit motive in favor of a system in which workers produce to meet their own needs and wants, the necessary resources and labour could be devoted to stop pollution at its source and repair the damage already done. Socialism, of course, could not immediately halt the use of coal, oil and nucclear power as energy sources; nor could it immediately clear the atmosphere of the already accumulated greenhouse gases. Socialism could and would set corrective processes in motion by eliminating the anarchy and duplication characteristic of capitalist production; by putting an end to the massive production of nuclear arms; by decreasing the use of fossil fuels wherever possible; by the elimination of a host of other wasteful industrial activities and polluting practices that are part and parcel of the capitalist system and the mad drive for profits that it engenders. It would, thereby, provide time and resources to our researchers and scientists to enable them to discover and/or develop alternative non-polluting and renewable energy sources, even as nature begins to clear the atmosphere.

History cannot stand still. If we do not move forward we must either stagnate or regress. It is time to choose. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Real Eco-Socialism or Green Reformism


“It’s blindingly obvious that our economic system is failing us,” said economist Tim Jackson, a professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey in the UK. “It is a travesty of what economy should be. It has absolutely failed to create social well being and has hurt people and communities around the world.”

Jackson and number of ecological economists say the current self-destructive economy must be transformed into one that delivers a shared and lasting prosperity. This kind of Green Economy is far beyond business as usual with some clean technology thrown in. It is what Jackson calls a “fit-for-purpose economy” that is stable, based on equity and provides decent, satisfying livelihoods while treading lightly on the earth. The current growth-worshiping consumption economy is “perverse” and at odds with human nature and our real needs, he said. “Prosperity isn’t just about having more stuff,” he said. “Prosperity is the art of living well on a finite planet.”

With powerful vested interests in the current economy, making this transformation will be difficult but it is already starting to happen at the community level according to Jackson and co-author Peter Victor of Canada’s York University.

Sadly these well-intentioned academics' proposed alternative is another form of capitalism which is not capable of superseding the current system.  Community banks, credit unions and cooperative investment schemes that enhance local communities, creating local currencies and community-owned energy projects simply cannot prevail against the power and dominance of an alliance of corporations and governments. And even if they were to, it would be only a matter of time before in the search for profits to sustain their existence , these enterprises will revert back to the inherent base nature of exploitative capitalism.