Capitalism, Profit and Deforestation

COP26 was seen as a turning point for the environment and global warming. Capitalist politicians congratulated each other on all the pledges they made to reduce carbon emissions.

At the climate change summit COP26 in Glasgow last year, more than 100 governments promised to stop and reverse deforestation by 2030. Of course, it was just a PR exercise signifying absolutely nothing.

The reality was the same as before the conference. The drive for profit and capital accumulation overrides every other consideration; environmental or social. Nowhere is this more plainly seen than in the deforestation taking place in Brazil's Amazon Forest.

The number of trees cut down in the Brazilian Amazon in January far exceeded deforestation for the same month last year, according to government satellite data.

The area destroyed was five times larger than 2021, the highest January total since records began in 2015.

Environmentalists accuse Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro of allowing deforestation to accelerate. Trees are felled for their wood as well as to clear spaces to plant crops to supply global food companies.

The latest satellite data from Brazil's space agency Inpe again calls into question the Brazilian government's commitment to protecting the Amazon Rainforest.

Cristiane Mazzetti of Greenpeace Brazil said:

"The new data yet again exposes how the government's actions contradict its greenwashing campaigns"
(BBC NEWS 13 February 2022).

Greenpeace are calling on supermarkets in the UK and elsewhere to drop suppliers who are involved in deforestation from their meat and dairy supply chains suppliers.

It is an empty environmental gesture. The supermarkets are in the business to make a profit not to save the Brazilian rain forest. They are private commercial companies. They are in the business to buy as cheaply as possible and sell for as much as possible. They have markets in which to sell commodities and shareholders who expect a return on their investments.

Greenpeace, like all reformist organisations, believe that problems created by capitalism can be solved by capitalism. Greenpeace refuse to accept that capitalism is the problem and that any solution to global warming requires the profit system to be replaced by socialism. Only the establishment of socialism can ensure the environmental balance in meat and dairy supply chains.

Deforestation totalled 430 square kilometres (166 square miles) in January - an area more than seven times the size of Manhattan, New York.

Brazil's vast rainforest absorbs huge amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, acting as what's known as a carbon sink. But the more trees cut down, the less the forest can soak up emissions.

Driven by the profit motive Mr Bolsonaro' government has weakened environmental protections for the region. He claims it is to reduce "poverty". It is not in a government's gift to end poverty. Most of the 24 million people living in and around the rainforest are dirt poor. Ensuring the conditions are ripe for trade and profit making is what capitalist governments exist for. That is why organisations like Greenpeace pursue futile policies of reform.

Global warming is just one problem caused by capitalism. Another is poverty. Thirty percent of Brazilians live in grinding poverty, including 13% who exist on less than $2 a day. Clean water, sanitation and electricity are luxuries. Almost one-third of the population is functionally illiterate and children face hunger and little or no access to education and health
(BLOOMBERG NEWS 29 July 2021).

Under such conditions socialism not social reforms is the answer. Greenpeace are a one-trick pony never seeing capitalism as the problem facing the working class. Their trick is to produce useful data against the profit system, but that is all - they offer no solution to the problem because they support a world-wide profit motivated system. Greenpeace is incapable of understanding the role of governments in capitalism.

Greenpeace is politically scared to name capitalism, to criticise governments and politically ignorant to be able to recognise that it is only the establishment of socialism that will give the necessary solutions to the social problems we face. Greenpeace, like other NGO's believe the private ownership of the means of production and distribution to be sacrosanct, beyond reproach. Like Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace end up being part of the problem, a barrier to end capitalism to end global warming.

Strong global demand for agricultural commodities such as beef and soya beans is driving government policy. It is the expectation of profit for Brazilian capitalists that interests the Brazilian government. It is the profits which will be made by the farmers and for the loggers who clear away the forest whose class interest Bolsonaro serves. Bolsonaro has a cunning political plan to deforest the rain forests. His government turns a blind eye to deforestation and grazing. Then he pardons the trespassers and gives them legal entitlement to the land
(BLOOMBERG NEWS29 July 2021).

So it is no surprise to socialists that the number of trees cut down in the Brazilian Amazon in January 2022 far exceeded deforestation for the same month last year. The area destroyed was five times larger than 2021, the highest January total since records began in 2015
(BBC NEWS 13 February 2022).

The Brazilian Rain Forest is not under common ownership. It is under the control of the Brazilian government who look upon it as a commercial resource. Trees are felled for their wood as well as to clear spaces to plant crops to supply global food companies. The tress which are cut down are profitable commodities. They are marketable assets.

Deforestation totalled 430 square kilometres (166 square miles) in January 2022 - an area more than seven times the size of Manhattan, New York.

The only solution to global warming is the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. That is, socialism; a system of society established democratically and politically by a socialist majority. Only then can there be a rational balance between the environment and human production.

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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


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.