It’s their world, their wealth, and their pollution.
Capitalism is a global social system that is based on the profit motive. And the wealth that comes from the exploitation of the working class, the wealth creators, goes to the world’s capitalist class.
In 2017 an Oxfam report revealed that the eight wealthiest people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the human population. This same group of people doubled their wealth during the covid pandemic, from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion from March 2020 to November 2021, while 99% of the people in the world lost income. If this same group of people lost 99% of their wealth, they would still have more money than 99% of the world’s population.
The world’s richest people added $852 billion to their fortunes in the first half of 2023, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Each member of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index made an average of over $14 million per day over the last six months—even as 47 percent of the world’s population barely survived on $6.25 a day.
And it is their pollution. Owning the means of production: the raw materials, the forests cut down, the pollution from construction, the sewage pumped into the sea, the waste created by their consumer society of commodity production for profit is at the door of the capitalist class.
According to the journalist Paul Waugh of the ‘i’ newspaper (1st august 2023), as a class they are responsible for nearly a fifth of all flights abroad. In 2018, the top 10 per cent of the most frequent flyers took more than half of all international. As for the working-class 80 percent of the world population has never been on a plane (financesonline.com).
From heating personal swimming pools to multiple homes, cars, yachts, jets and luxury gadgets, the capitalist class use far more energy than the working class.
One study in 2020 by the Stockholm Environment Institute found the world’s wealthiest 10 percent were responsible for around half of global emissions between 1990 and 2015. The top one percent were responsible for 15 per cent of emissions, nearly twice as much as the world’s poorest half, who were responsible for just seven percent.
And when we come to capitalist production and global warming the capitalist class are in a league of their own. As far as the capitalist class and their governments, politicians and media is concerned there is no reason why global warming should impact profit. In 2022 BP, Chevron, Equinor, Exxon, Mobil, Shell and Total Energies made combined profit of $219bn (£170) which was bad for their planet but good for their shareholders (Simon Barnes, How Big Money Broke Britain, New European 3 August 2023).
All this follows decades in which the oil companies paid “think tanks” to deny global warming through unrelenting propaganda. Global warming was denied, even though it affected the planet owned by the capitalist class. The oil companies were worried because if their governments were forced to address the problem it would hit profits. And capitalism is all about profit.
It’s their world, their wealth, and their pollution.
However, it does not have to be their world. A socialist majority taking democratic and political action could make it our world: socialism. A world in which there was common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society would not pollute the world, destroy the rain forests pump raw sewage into the rivers and seas. There would be a balance between human beings and the natural world of which we are a part of. In such circumstances the profit motive and class society would be replaced by production directly and solely to meet human need.
Object and Declaration of Principles
The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.
Declaration of Principles
THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN HOLDS:
1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.
2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.
3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.
4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.
5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.
6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.
7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.
8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.