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Reconstituted Socialist Party of Great Britain (1991) - Capitalism and Global Warming - Global Climate Strike or Socialism

Global Climate Strike or Socialism

Strong scientific evidence shows that global warming is increasing certain types of extreme weather events, including heat waves, coastal flooding, extreme precipitation events, and more severe droughts. Global warming also creates conditions that can lead to more powerful hurricanes.

This September a global strike has been called asking for millions of workers to walk out of workplaces and homes to join school children on the streets. The demand is to end the age of fossil fuels and for there to be “justice for everyone”.

However, the strike by itself will change nothing. There are several barriers which first need to be overcome.

The need for an understanding about capitalism

Workers need to understand that they live and are exploited in a world-wide capitalist social system. Capitalism is all about making profit, accumulating capital; making more and more money from investments.

The capitalist class who are a minority, own the means of production and distribution like oil, gas, transport and communication, factories and retail outlets to the exclusion of everybody else. This private property ownership is protected by the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the state.

The working class form a majority in society. Having nothing else to sell but our ability to work or labour power we are employed to produce commodities in exchange for a salary or wage. In the production process we are exploited producing more social wealth than we receive in their income.

Workers have no democratic control over the means of production or what they are used for. This severely limits what and cannot be done. And it prevents comprehensive solutions to environmental problems like global warming.

The Role of Politicians

The role of governments and politicians, Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat or Green is to look after and further the interest of the capitalist class and their need to make profit and accumulate capital.

Where the interests of workers and capitalists clash, governments and politicians are forced to support the interests of the employers to the detriment of everybody and everything else.

Politicians might want to solve global warming but are severely restricted by what they can and cannot do. Capitalism has to operate at a profit. Capitalists have to make more money than their initial investments. And politicians accept this system. Private property is sacrosanct.

The Fossil Fuel industry and its Interests

The fossil fuel industry is owned by capitalists with a view to profit. They do not like their industry constrained, taxed, regulated or impeded. They pay tame politicians and journalists to deny the reality of climate warming. They fund free market institutes to publish unscientific papers which are then uncritically republished in the media.

These capitalists wine and dine Prime Ministers, Presidents, Ministers and other influential politicians to push their interests and their interests alone.

Nation States and World Competition

The principal problem facing those who argue for a solution to global warming and other pressing environmental problems is that the world is divided into competing nation states each pursuing their own interests.

To get governments to agree to a joint position on climate change is almost impossible, even if this is a problem which many realize harms their own interests.

Even if "solutions" were agreed they would be limited by the capitalists' need to continue to make profits and would not be in the interest of all society. Poorer peoples would be left to fend for themselves in areas of the world where there was increased flooding, draught, war and mass flows of immigration.

Most of the World's Population do not own the Means of Production and Distribution

The real issue, as socialists have long told the environmentalists, is that the working class majority do not own the means of production. As a class we are locked-out of having any democratic say in how these are used and for what purpose.

In capitalism, production is for profit. And all these profits can only come from the surplus value created by workers. This system cannot be made to work in the interests of the exploited majority. There is always a conflict between those who employ and those who are employed, between those who buy and those who sell labour power.

And the capitalist system of production takes no concern for the global environmental consequences of its profit-motivated activities. Hence the looting of natural resources, the destruction of the rain-forests, the pollution of water, land and air, the extravagant consumerism and heedless waste of natural resources.

As capitalist interests will always prioritize competitive profits, it is most unlikely that capitalist governments will support genuine solutions to huge problems of climate change and global warming. It will be a case of some sticking-plaster, not a real or realistic solution to these serious problems caused by capitalism. Politicians will talk – lot! But when it comes to performance, that is sadly lacking.

The solution to global environmental problems begins first with the establishment of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.

World capitalism has to be replaced by world socialism. And only a world socialist majority can do this.

Otherwise the environmental problems and their economic and social consequences will continue to blight the lives of millions of people, continue to destroy other species, and pollute the environment.

The political naivety and ignorance of environmentalists and climate scientists has to stop. They have to recognise the capitalist cause of global warming and environmental degradation. They have to recognise their political responsibility in becoming socialists. And then take the necessary conscious, political and democratic action to replace capitalism with socialism.

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