25 Oct 2011


http://okmsocialist.blogspot.com/2011/04/okms-views-on-climate-change.html COP17 and ECOSOCIALISM 

COP17 is a big meeting where representatives from capitalist governments will talk about how to stop climate change without disturbing the operation of the capitalist system. Indeed, there is evidence that one of the main agendas in Durban – come December – will be the attempt to make neoliberal capitalism green (“greenwash”). Carbon trading, geo-engineering and adaptation are just some of the ways in which the capitalists want to make more profits in the name of fighting global warming, climate change and the threat to planet earth. In reality, capitalism can never stop exploiting and abusing labour and nature. 

This suggests that campaigning against global warming is not enough. We need to do much more than expose and oppose the destruction of the environment by the capitalists and their system. Opposition is not enough. Historically the capitalist system has shown us that it has tremendous powers of adaptation and survival. These involve changing important aspects of itself, but leaving the essence intact, and in this way absorbing those elements that at first seemed to challenge and threaten its very existence. For example, at first the capitalists resisted state-run compulsory education, especially for working class children, but today mass education is an important mechanism for organising labour discipline and maintaining capitalist hegemony. 

The struggle against capitalist destruction of the environment requires us to come up with alternatives. These alternatives must not only be about specific policies that can help address the problem, but they should also frame a new horizon for global transformation. What is needed is a different vision of how society could be run. As socialists our vision is socialism, that is, we believe in a social system that is founded on the principle of social production that is geared towards the satisfaction of human needs rather than profit-making. The ruling class in such a society will be the working class. Later, according to the Marxist theoretical vision, a stateless society will develop because there will be no need for a state once classes have been abolished and all forms of oppression and exploitation eradicated. 

The challenges posed by global warming, climate change and other consequences of the capitalist destruction of nature force socialists to revisit and review the socialist vision. Many supposedly socialist societies have been as destructive as capitalist societies when it comes to nature. For example, the then Soviet Union’s use of nuclear power led to the Chernobyl accident whose severity is matched only by the recent Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan. Today China builds mega-dams that lead to severe damage to nature. Under Hugo Chavez, Venezuela is said to be building “petro-socialism”, a form of socialism that relies on oil to fund itself. Like coal, oil is a dangerous fossil fuel whose use leads to carbon emissions. Chavez should listen to the slogans: Keep the oil in the soil, leave the coal in the hole!

It is for these reasons that “ecosocialism” has emerged as a necessary vision for 21st century socialism. At its heart it is about developing a form of society, a type of socialism, where humanity and nature will be put at the centre. Ecosocialism is founded on the realisation that human beings are part of nature rather than its conquerors and exploiters. The war against nature is a war against ourselves. This means that in all that we do, especially when we engage in economic activity, we should ensure that no harm is visited upon the natural environment. The devastation caused by climate change such as we see in the occurrence of tsunamis, floods, dangerous weather patterns, and so on, are cases where humanity is made to pay for its careless attitude and reckless action to nature.

Ecosocialism is the placement of ecological considerations at the centre of socialist economics and politics. It arises out of the realisation that once the earth is destroyed there will be no place where socialism can be built. In popular language, it can be regarded as a marriage of green and red politics. It is necessary that all socialists and true democrats embrace this new vision and politics in order to secure humanity’s future. It is a vision that should frame our general approach to the debates and struggles around COP17.

1 comment:

Alex Smith said...

Dr. Patrick Bond of KwaZulu-Natal University, Durban says the COP-17 conference will be another failure by the major polluters.

Hear his 23 minute interview with Radio Ecoshock.

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