Showing posts sorted by relevance for query environment. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query environment. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Capitalism, Socialism and Ecology

 There was a time when anyone who spoke of climate change would be identified as a crank and weirdo. Today it is the orthodox belief that has become the language of the Pope, Presidents and Prime Ministers. Every schoolchild understands the meaning of ecology and knows the importance of the environment. Within one generation a revolution in ideas has happened. The outcry against the destruction of the health of our planet is fully justified by the terrible facts. The air is unbreathable. The water is undrinkable. Something has to be done about global warming and carbon emissions, and of course, to a limited extent something is being done, but, importantly too little and too late and the reasons for its slowness and indecisiveness are economic, not technical. Climate summits over the last few decades show a consistent record of failure - unjustifiably high hopes and pitifully poor results sum them up. The Greens and other environmentalists propose reforms of capitalism that haven’t worked or have made very little real difference in the past. The  Socialist Party can see no reason why COP26 in Glasgow should be any different. We require to discuss the need, with respect to the ecology of the planet, for a revolution that is both based on socialist principles of common ownership and production solely for needs, and environmental principles of conserving - not destroying - the wealth and amenities of the planet.


Nature is being damaged today because the productive activity is oriented towards the accumulation of profits rather than towards the direct satisfaction of human needs. The economic mechanism of the profit system can function in no other way. Profits always take priority both over meeting needs and over protecting the environment. This is why the Earth's resources have been plundered throughout the history of capitalism without a thought for the future, why chemical fertilisers and pesticides are over-used in farming, why power stations and factories release all sorts of dangerous and noxious substances into the air and water, why road transport has replaced rail transport, why human waste is not recycled back to the land, why animals are injected with growth hormones, why goods are made not to last but with built-in obsolescence. The list of anti-ecological practices indulged under capitalism because more profitable is endless. The ecological concern is not just about protecting the environment. It is about human beings too — the way we live and the quality of our life.  With appropriate modification, modern techniques of production are quite capable of providing enough quality food, comfortable housing and decent health for every person on Earth and of doing this without damaging the environment. But the people of the world are up against a well-entrenched economic and social system based on private property, class privilege and coercive economic laws. Reforms under capitalism, however well-meaning or determined, can never solve the environmental crisis — the most they can do is to palliate some aspect of it on a precarious temporary basis. They can certainly never turn capitalism into an ecological society. 


With regard to the destruction and polluting of the environment, laws against this are only necessary in a society where the economic tendency is to do this since in a rationally-organised society it just would not occur to anyone involved in producing food to deliberately adulterate it. Laws against plundering and pillaging natural resources are only necessary where the tendency to do this is built-in to the economic system. It also means that such laws, besides being frequently broken, can only be palliatives, attempts to deal with effects while leaving the cause intact.


Political campaigners for the environment have a tactical choice to make. Either they go for more laws and restrictions to try to protect the environment or they go for a radical social change to bring about a society in which the environment wouldn’t need protecting. Try to patch up and change the spots of present-day society or work to establish a new society for the lasting and constructive solution?


The conclusion is clear: if the present environmental crisis is to be solved and the threat to — indeed the actual degradation of — the environment removed, then capitalism must go. It must be replaced by a socialist society. The only social framework within which human beings could live in harmony with, not at the expense of, the rest of nature is easy enough to discern: it would have to be a society which has the aim of production to satisfy human needs, not to make and accumulate profits. In short, socialism

Friday, November 27, 2020

Can Civilisation Survive?

 Unity has always been the hobby-horse of many ion the Left. Some of these activists are well meaning but they do not understand the fundamental difference between Marx and Lenin. Socialist unity must be a unity of action obtainable only by a unity of purpose, the creation of a free socialist associations, thus abolishing the state. But the real source of the problem must be sought elsewhere. It lies in the very nature of the social system under which we are forced to live.

The main impulse of our social system is the quest for profit. The result is unplanned, anarchic production, which allows the indiscriminate plunder and pillage of the planet’s natural resources. The only permitted “remedies are those proposals which will bring profits to the corporations. The only solution is the creation of a socialist society in which the quest for profits has been abolished and our science and technology are used for the benefits of the masses of the people. Science is capable of safeguarding the environment. Capitalism cannot.

The issue of creating a sustainable and liveable environment has given new urgent reason why capitalism has to be replaced and bring about a responsive and responsible social system, capable of resolving this global danger. The environment emergency, like so many other crises, has its roots in the inherent characteristics of capitalism. The drive for private profit which demands exploitation and insists on nationalism and racism, promoting war and violence. Capitalism shows reckless disregard for natural resources and the consequent pollution of the environment. The threat of totally destroying civilisation either by environmental destruction or nuclear war is ever present because of the predatory character of capitalism.  These threats can only disappear for good when capitalism, with its anti-human outlook, is discarded and a new social system established that is motivated and propelled only by the consideration of the people’s and the planet’s well-being. Time, unfortunately, is not on our side. At an alarming rate, animal and plant life are becoming extinct. These are the danger signals that this planet is in danger. The reality may only be revealed at the point of no return, when the tipping points have been breached.

 We are dealing with the problem of an outmoded economic system dominated by a class whose primary purpose is to maximise capital accumulation and profits regardless of human cost. Capitalism is not motivated by human needs or desires. Capitalism is a system that dooms our world. The only thing that concerns it is the maximum profits of today. The Socialist Party will not accept a status quo. It rejects the values and priorities based on exploitation and production for profit. We are confident that the realisation that humanity faces critical risks from global warming and co2 emissions will also bring with it a rising consciousness about other crises and dangers. 

 An essential part of that struggle is the need to expose the roots of the social system that bears these evils. We must indict the creator of misery and murder and not limit ourselves to the immediate horror. Countless scientific reports and innumerable books on climate are available. Many of them describe the effects, but most, if not all, sidestep and avoid explaining the central problem. Without defining the real cause there can be no basic solutions. Some Green activists point the accusing finger at technology and seek a life-style from the pre-industrial age. Others believe that if technology got us into this mess, then technology can get us out of it and propose all sort of innovative inventions and anti-pollution processes. The financial world concentrate their answers on government fiscal policies, carbon credits and tax codes. The corporations seek solutions but the answers cannot weaken their competitiveness against commercial rivals. Sound eco-policies cannot in any way be an obstacle to making more profits.  The corporations will not do anything to protect the environment if it affects their drive for maximum profits. And their right to exploit will be safeguarded by governments. The government and Big Business are entwined in carrying out the requirements of capitalism. They share the same drive for profits.

Socialism sets human society on a new path. The means of production, factories, mines and mills, the fields and forests become the collective property of the people. They operate and produce only to fulfill human needs. They are not motivated to produce for profit. If something does not serve the common good, it does not happen. Under capitalism there is a contradiction between expansion of the market and cleaning the environment. With socialism this contradiction is eliminated. Saving the environment becomes a social necessity. Under capitalism, the main pressure on the production processes is maximise returns in investment. Capitalism cannot function any other way. The environment is a casualty of these pressures, unavoidable collateral damage. With socialism this pressure ends. It is replaced by the motivation to do only that which is in the best interests of all in society. Capitalism results in hunger, misery, death and the destruction of the environment. Socialism fosters a system based on the elimination of exploitation, profits, racism and war.

The choice is obvious. Mankind cannot stop the destruction of the eco-systems under capitalism. Socialism is the only way that makes it possible. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

End the Exploitation


To survive, capitalism must continue to expand. It must produce more and more stuff, whether actually needed or not, using up the earth's resources and killing off life forms in the process. The first prerequisite for making the world safe for all life, including our own, is getting rid of this deadly system. Capitalism by its very nature is exploitative. It exploits humans, and it exploits the planet. 

 The dominant narrative in the media is to promote the idea that environmental problems, as well as all the other problems facing us, are caused by "human nature." If the majority accepts this fatalistic view, all efforts for change are fruitless. People's beliefs and feelings toward one another, and toward the environment, are conditioned by the society in which they live. And those beliefs and feelings change as society changes.

For thousands of years before the coming of civilisation divided people into antagonistic classes, humans lived in basic harmony with each other and with their environment. Cooperation was the key to their survival and their advancement. Greed was unknown. The Earth and its animals were treated as sacred. Even the necessary killing of game for food had to be justified through rituals.  t the environmental damage of pre-capitalist societies was done in ignorance and had no overall long-term global impact. The environmental damage of pre-capitalist societies was done in ignorance and had no overall long-term global impact. Today, despite millions of dedicated individuals who are deeply concerned to protect plant and animal life, the destruction of the environment continues. Why?

There are those who seek to lay the cause upon people themselves and say it is overpopulation that is the main reason behind the destruction of the environment. And without a doubt, there are too many people crowded into cities like Mexico City or Mumbai and others encroaching upon near wilderness areas. But overpopulation is a consequence of the workings out of capitalism and is not the main reason for environmental stress. For example, in vast areas of the third world, international agribusiness has thrown formerly self-reliant peasants off the best land in order to produce cash crops. Those who can't find work at poverty-level wages on the land they formerly owned have no choice but to migrate to cities where they hope to hire themselves out to industrial capitalists. Others are shoved out into the diminishing rain forests, which they try to make suitable for farming. These poor peasants are simply trying to survive and feed their families.

Profit, not the earth's survival, is what motivates international capitalist "investors." Directly or indirectly, the drive for profit affects everything around us and is the major reason for environmental destruction. This profit-driven system is so all-pervasive that it is destroying the environment in every area of the world. There is no land, no people, no species that has not been affected in one way or another.

In contrast to all previous social systems, the capitalist system is based on production for sale, and not for personal use or human welfare. Under capitalism, everything is a commodity to be bought and sold. Even labour is a commodity bought and sold on the labour market.

The capitalist system is governed by the laws of the market. There are essentially two "laws" of capitalism that dominate every business, large or small and affect every decision made by companies.

The first is that every cost factor in production must be carefully weighed. Wages must be kept to a minimum. Raw materials must be bought at the lowest price, or replaced by cheaper substitutes. Waste must be disposed of as cheaply as possible, which leads to the indiscriminate and criminal dumping of toxic chemicals and other waste by-products of industry.

The second aspect of the market system which has a devastating effect on the environment is that the costs of production must be constantly lowered. Every new labour-saving invention installed by one company requires industry-wide imitation by its competitors. The result is that the total amount of commodities increases in astronomical proportions as the number of needed workers diminishes.

The need to sell ever greater numbers of commodities creates, under capitalism, a throw-away culture. The system bombards us with commercials to buy, buy, buy while creating products with a deliberately limited life span and which cost more to fix than to replace. While it's good to have people recycle and consume fewer unneeded products, these personal choices alone can't redirect the underlying compulsions of the system that are the real reason for the environmental crisis.

Trying to solve environmental problems through government legislation has proved futile. Numerous laws that have been passed to protect the environment either are not enforced or are weakened in response to economic pressure from businesses. And the capitalists hold the ultimate weapon, the threat of moving their corporations to countries where there are no such laws.

The foundation for real democracy is the ownership and control of the economy by society as a whole - not by private corporations, not by the state, not by any other entity standing above us. To establish an economic democracy, we will need to organise to put ourselves in direct control of the economy by organising a political party to demand fundamental change. We must build a new workers’ and environment movement based on the explicit goal of replacing capitalism with economic democracy.

The change to an economic democracy will make it possible to solve the problems capitalism has created. With the absence of conflicting economic interests, the new society will be able to tackle problems in a spirit of cooperation. Our number-one priority will be conservation and protection of the environment, not only for ourselves, but to benefit future generations. This is a call for a revolutionary transformation of society where we declare that the means of life rightfully belong to all the people.  We need to rediscover the common needs and hopes that bind us as a class, that override our differences.  We need to understand that we, the world’s working people, are the only necessary class. We do all the useful work, and we are the only ones who can change it for the better.


Monday, February 05, 2018

Shattering illusions

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”

Implicit in the membership of the Socialist Party is an understanding of socialist principles. In fact, membership is conditional upon this. Exploitation gives the key to an understanding of capitalism. Today the workers as a class are born, and remain, propertyless; they, therefore, do not own capital which is a form of wealth. Capital is the accumulated wealth of the capitalist class. It is useful for further production, but with only one object — that it may absorb the further unpaid labour of the workers, and thus produce . . . surplus value, the source of rent, interest, and profit. Not the means of wealth production in themselves, but the class relations under which they are used to obtain the surplus value, realised through sale in the world market — make them capital. The Labour Party and the Left do not stand as we do for common ownership, which would mean the abolition of such class relations. If the workers are to enjoy the fruits of their toil and drudgery, they must own and control the means by which they produce them. The land, factories, railways etc. must be made the common property of all to meet the needs of all. That is what we mean by socialism.

The conventional wisdom assumes that in order to motivate people to action or to win elections, leaders have to project optimism about our ability to cure all evils and create a world free of hardship.  The Socialist Party, on the other hand, risks popularity by revealing the harsh truths and hopelessness of politicians promises. We do not cling to painless delusions to capture votes because such a position alienates us from the authentic experience of conditions around us. When we deny our pain, doubt, and despair, we deny the opportunity for solidarity with others who feel the same thing.   We end up convinced that we are weak and isolated. Given the massively powerful forces that we must overcome there is nothing more hopeless than thinking of ourselves as atomised individuals. By building that sense that we are part of something much bigger and more powerful than our individual selves, we help expand what is possible. We can reconnect with what we truly value.   Abandoning the dream of some sort of ideal capitalism allows for a broader public discourse about what the purpose of an economy should be and who it should serve.

Socialism cannot be crafted from a diverse variety of groups focusing attention on their own issue at the expense of a universal project all can share. Anytime you support a political party that can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you still continue to identify yourself with that Party, you’re not only a chump, but you’re a traitor to your class.

The question often occurs when socialists explain the Materialist Conception of History how is it that in identical environment some are socialist-inclined and some are conservative-minded, if economic conditions determine, in the last resort, the views of men? The matter of this “identical environment ” can be illustrated by a simple analogy. Suppose a hundred soft clay balls were put in a bag and sat on, these balls would all be in an identical environment, like men in any class in society subjected to economic pressure, so what would happen? Some balls would be squared, ' some, slightly flattened, and some utterly squashed, as determined by their position in this so-called identical environment. In society, different classes have a different environment. In a given class some would be slightly modified Conservatives, and some revolutionary: as pressure increases so all would become entirely altered. All, then, would be affected, but slightly unequally, since no two balls, or two persons, could possibly be in exactly the same environment. So in society men picture the future from what they see and feel in the present. Some by hereditary fitness and actual environment would more easily and clearly comprehend the needs of the present and the tendency of things; others in conditions less violently affected would find it more difficult to see clearly, or would from the materials in their hands or inherited weakness, form false pictures which would lure them in wrong directions.

Inequality is no accident. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
 argued that the privileges of the elite were attained by “the first person to fence in a piece of land and to say, ‘this is mine,’ and to find people gullible enough to believe him.” We must give more attention to the “rules of the game” that maintain inequality.  In its analysis of the Oxfam report, the Guardian noted: “Booming global stock markets have been the main reason for the increase in wealth of those holding financial assets during 2017. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, saw his wealth rise by $6bn (£4.3bn) in the first 10 days of 2017 as a result of a bull market on Wall Street, making him the world’s richest man.”   

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Addressing the Green Party

Many Greens claim to advocate a society based on cooperation and production for use, a sustainable society where production is in harmony with the environment and affairs are run in a decentralised and democratic manner. They argue that only in such a system can ecological problems such as pollution and global warming be solved. The ultimate aim is a participatory economy, based on smaller-scale enterprise, with a greatly-reduced dependence on the world market. What is being proposed is the abolition both of the world market, with the competition for resources and sales it engenders, and of existing centralised states, and their replacement by a worldwide network of smaller human communities providing for their own needs. This will involve a steady-state economy based on maximum conservation of materials and energy.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain place ourselves unambiguously in the camp of those who argue that capitalism and a sustainable relationship with the rest of nature are not compatible and unless the Green Party embraces socialism, their vision is unachievable. Because people believe there is no alternative to capitalism, it keeps on existing. The environmentalist’s dream of a sustainable ‘zero growth’ within capitalism will always remain just that, a dream. If human society is to be able to organize its production in an ecologically acceptable way, then it must abolish the capitalist economic mechanism of capital accumulation and gear production instead to the direct satisfaction of needs.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Socialism - A rational civilisation

People are right to be concerned about what is happening to the environment. There is a serious environmental crisis but the issue is not whether it exists but what to do about it. The Socialist Party explains that no government nor any international treaty can protect the environment. Governments exist to run the political side of the profit system. And the profit system can only work by giving priority to making profits over all other considerations. So to protect the environment we must end production for profit. Production today is in the hands of business enterprises, all competing to sell their products at a profit. All of them — and it doesn’t matter whether they are privately-owned or state-owned — aim to maximise their profits. This is an economic necessity imposed by the forces of the market. If a business does not make a profit it goes out of business. Under the competitive pressures of the market, businesses only take into account their own narrow financial interest, ignoring wider social or ecological considerations. All they look to is their own balance sheet and in particular, the bottom line which shows whether or not they are making a profit. The whole of production, from the materials used to the methods employed to transform them, is distorted by this drive to make and accumulate profits. The result is an economic system governed by uncontrollable market forces which compel decision makers, however, selected and whatever their personal views or sentiments, to plunder and to pollute.

Governments do not have a free hand to do what is sensible or desirable. They can only act within the narrow limits imposed by the profit-driven market system whose rules are "profits first" and "you can’t buck the market". Too many environmentalists are not against the market and are not against profit-making. They imagine that, by firm government policy, these can be tamed and prevented from harming the environment. This is an illusion. You can’t impose other priorities on the profit system than making profits. That’s why environmentalist activists will fail. They also fail to realise that what those who want a safe sustainable environment are up against is a well-entrenched economic and social system based on class privilege and property and governed by the overriding economic law of profits first. If the environmental crisis is to be solved, this system must go. What is required is political action aimed at replacing this system by a new and different one which will allow us to meet our needs in an environmentally-friendly way. To do this we must control production but to be able to control production we must own the means of production. That’s the only basis on which we can meet our needs whilst respecting the laws of nature. And it’s the only basis on which we can begin to successfully reverse the degradation of the environment already caused by the profit system.  Until those who do the work of the world understand that only when privilege in all forms, and class ownership of the means of living, have been abolished will it be possible for the people of the world to live in harmony with their surroundings and their neighbours.

The world’s governments are “nowhere near on track” to meet their commitment to avoid global warming of more than 1.5C above the pre-industrial period, according to an author of a key UN report. A massive, immediate transformation in the way the world’s population generates energy, uses transportation and grows food will be required to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C and the forthcoming analysis is set to lay bare how remote this possibility is.

It’s extraordinarily challenging to get to the 1.5C target and we are nowhere near on track to doing that,” said Drew Shindell, a Duke University climate scientist and a co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Shindell said that the more ambitious 1.5C goal would require a precipitous drop in greenhouse emissions triggered by a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels, particularly coal, mass deployment of solar and wind energy and the eradication of emissions from cars, trucks, and airplanes. The fading prospect of keeping the global temperature rise to below 1.5C has provoked alarm among leaders of low-lying island nations that risk being inundated should the world warm beyond this point. Last year, global greenhouse gas emissions rose slightly again. A difference of 0.5C in temperature may appear small but the IPCC report, which is a summary of leading climate science, is expected to warn there will be major impacts if warming reaches 2C.

Even 1.5C is no picnic, really,” said Dr. Tabea Lissner, head of adaption and vulnerability at Climate Analytics. Lissner said a world beyond 1.5C warming meant the Arctic would be ice-free in summer, around half of land-based creatures would be severely affected and deadly heatwaves would become far more common. “0.5C makes quite a big difference,” she said.