" /> Capitalism Is Destroying Our Planet—It Can't be Reformed—It Must Be Overthrown!

Capitalism Is Destroying Our Planet—It Can't be Reformed—It Must Be Overthrown!

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On September 8, people will be marching and protesting all over the world to protest the climate crisis and the threat this poses to humanity and life on the planet. Organizers of “Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice” are holding actions on every continent. Their website calls out the urgent situation: “There is no time to lose. So far in 2018 we have witnessed a range of severe impacts related to climate change including: extreme heat waves across North Africa, Europe and Japan where a national emergency was declared; devastating wildfires in Greece that cost 85 lives, as well as in Sweden and the USA; and massive Antarctic ice-melt that contributes to global sea level rise threatening our coastal cities and the very existence of many island nations.”

San Francisco will be the focal point of these protests, and many thousands are expected. The “Rise!” events have been called for a few days before the Global Climate Action Summit, September 12 to September 14, in San Francisco. The Climate Summit has been convened by politicians led by California Governor Jerry Brown and will draw in state and local politicians, as well as people in business, and government and other figures from around the world. 

The Summit makes huge promises. Its website projects that local and regional governments, acting outside of the framework of the major nation states, can solve the climate crisis. The Summit website declares: “The decarbonization of the global economy is in sight. Transformational changes are happening across the world and across all sectors as a result of technological innovation, new and creative policies and political will at all levels.”

The Summit claims we are on the doorstep of “decarbonization”—but the initiator of the Summit, Jerry Brown, while claiming the mantle of a “climate champion” has actually authorized 20,000 new oil wells in his time in office and supports fracking, which has spread all over California. This isn’t just a politician’s shameless hypocrisy. It points to something deeper. An article in The Nation quotes Brown himself speaking to why he thinks it is impossible for someone like the governor of California, or any political official in power under this system, to actually do what is necessary to deal with the rampaging capitalist development that drives climate change: 

But Brown clarified that it isn’t politically possible for any elected official, or even an authoritarian ruler, to challenge the religion of economic growth.

“Growth has to be transformed to be compatible with nature, or [at least] with decarbonizing,” he said. But the public wants growth and Wall Street demands it, so “if [political leaders] don’t achieve that, we don’t stay around very long.” Citing Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brown added: “Even if you’re a dictator, it’s not that easy, because you’ve got to maintain a certain level of legitimacy and popular support."

There is an underlying reality to Brown’s point—if political leaders under this system tried to do things that go against the systemic nature and needs of the capitalist system, powerful financial and political interests would move to remove them from office—one way or the other. It isn’t a question of losing popular support, in essence; it is what the actual nature of capitalism requires of the people who are running the system. It is the fact that there are rules to an economic system that the political structures of that system serve. Capitalism, at bottom, is a dog-eat-dog system. The largest consumer of oil on the planet is the U.S. military, which exists to ensure and enforce the U.S.'s dominant position in the world. The great stability and wealth of the U.S. rests on the exploitation and plunder of nations and whole regions of the planet, and on depriving other major and rising powers from being able to undercut or challenge that dominance. Global capital and nation states are driven to devour rivals—or get devoured. A U.S. city or state that is able to clean up some of its air or water is often able to do this at the expense of people in the Third World—because industrial production has been off-loaded and exported to countries that are now being poisoned and devastated by capitalist globalization—exponentially increasing carbonization and climate change. Corporations driven to get around regulations to increase profit move to places where they can operate unregulated. Local reforms may make minor changes in regulations but they cannot and do not stand outside the driving rules of the economic system of savage competition, even if the future of the planet is at stake—which it is.

This is a world of an enormous chasm between a handful of imperialist countries that dominate the world and the great majority of people on the planet, making life unlivable for many millions and driving people to flee their own countries and seek a way to live because of poverty, savage wars, and climate change. And this in turn is spawning fascist movements throughout Europe and North America led by powerful sections of capital who see open dictatorial rule as the best way to manage the future of their system. These fascists seek to imprison, wall off, and brutally assault the refugees and immigrants escaping from the disaster that the imperialist countries, and especially the U.S., have themselves created!

And on the front of climate change directly, in the U.S. alone, the Trump regime has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement (as much as that agreement fell far short of what is needed, pulling out does far worse), shredded all kinds of environmental laws and regulations, attacked even the idea that there could be a scientific understanding of climate, and removed the words “climate change” from government websites. The people of this country have a disproportionate responsibility to the whole planet to confront what is objectively the greater part of the threat to the very future of humanity.

A global climate crisis means not ignoring but facing squarely the Trump/Pence regime’s acceleration of this crisis. The whole Trump/Pence Regime must go and millions can and must now rise to demand this—uniting with people impacted and repulsed by the fascist form of rule this regime is imposing on all of society.

Solutions sought within the confines of a capitalist and imperialist system may promise “transformational changes” as the Climate Summit does—but don't believe the hype! The only transformational changes this rapacious system can offer are in fact more global catastrophic climate disasters: polar ice caps melting, coral reefs dying, sea levels rising, and even greater human suffering. What is needed are the real transformations that could be brought about by millions of people not thinking like Americans but thinking about humanity and by those people working now to make an actual revolution when the time is right—to bring a radically different kind of society into being.


Major forest fires have blazed across California this summer. The increase in the number and intensity of these fires is being driven, in large part, by climate change caused by the capitalist-imperialist system. Here, the Ranch fire, part of Mendecino Complex Fire, California, August 7. (Photo: AP)


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