Climate change or system change?

The world is at a crossroads. We can change the system, or the system will change our climate catastrophically.

A recent study by the World Meteorological Organisation has shown that global warming is increasing in pace—along with the growth in capitalism—despite measures being taken to stop it.

As a result of the damage capitalism has done to our environment a huge environmental debt is owed to nature. If we are to survive, it has to be repaid, as we are fast approaching the point of no return.

If we compare the carbon dioxide emissions of a capitalist country with the poorest areas on earth we see, for example, that the population of Ireland put the same amount into the atmosphere every year as the poorest 400 million people in the world. This is replicated throughout the capitalist world.

The “developed” world is developed at the expense of the people and resources of the global south. The countries of the global south are not intrinsically poor: they have many natural resources. Imperialism keeps them poor by exploiting their workers, plundering their resources—in the past through colonisation, today by foreign direct investment and labour arbitrage; and if they don’t toe the line and act in the interest of imperialism “democracy” will be brought to them through war and regime change, followed by the inevitable reconstruction “loans,” investments, and debt.

Imperialism has murdered millions of people and kept millions of others in abject poverty. Now, through its insatiable greed, it threatens the very existence of the whole of humanity and the planet we live on.

Capitalism can only prosper at someone else’s expense; otherwise it ceases to exist. It will not be part of the solution. Already the solutions coming from capital are in their interests: “new technology” and “green growth,” or, put another way, new methods of creating more profits and new income streams from the commodification of the climate catastrophe.

Everything is a commodity to capitalism: death, debt, war, disaster, poverty, and—yes—climate change: all are ways of increasing income and making more profit.

The other suggestion is a carbon tax, to be added on top of the price they leverage from us on other resources they exploit while they—the exploiters, the source of the catastrophe—pay little or nothing in tax. They have all the power, as they control political decisions by subsidising politicians, political parties, and elections. Governments act in the interest of the capitalist class, who own the economy and control the provision of employment.

As usual, capitalism seeks to take advantage of crisis, as there is no crisis that capitalism cannot solve so long as the working class are willing to pay for it. This repugnant system, as it enters its final stage, refuses to face reality in its solutions.

Sometimes it is necessary to stare into the abyss for people to wake up to the real danger—the source, the cause—not merely the symptom of the problem. When faced with eviction, poverty pay or discrimination one realises that it is not the religion, nationality or sexual preference of an employer, landlord or government that is the cause of the problem: it is their ethos and the way they treat you, the relationship you have with them. Under capitalism, all these relationships are exploitative. They operate for the maximum benefit of the capitalist class. One class dominates the other. They do not care what damage is done to achieve the maximum profit.

The results of this can be seen everywhere: in housing, precarious employment, inequality, and poverty. This time the working class will not pay for another crisis of capitalism. The solutions they propose only offer a route to more chaos.

If the planet is to survive and thrive for everyone, the economy must be taken into democratic ownership and control, out of private hands. Only a planned economy, democratically owned and controlled in the interest of the common good, can stop this catastrophic change that capitalism is causing.

This is going to take maximum effort, as they will not give up their privileged position easily.

It’s great to see young people mobilising against the climate emergency, getting out on the streets, demanding change. They will discover class politics and realise that millions of people marching against the interests of capital will not result in change unless we change the very system itself. They need only look back at the millions around the world who marched against the invasion of Iraq to realise that there is no such thing as people power in a bourgeois democracy. As Connolly pointed out, “governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.”

Socialism, on the other hand, operates in the interest of the common good. Everything that is done is for the maximum benefit of society as a whole. It is the only way to stop the pending disaster. We need to work for each other so that we can all share what we create within the confines of nature and build a society in which no-one is hungry, where everyone is treated with dignity, where the planet can flourish along with society, and where war will be confined to history, along with poverty, and no-one is left behind.

It’s socialism or extinction.