Revolution #201, May 16, 2010

How Would a Revolutionary Socialist Society Deal With the Environmental Crisis?

The following are excerpts from two articles in the special Revolution issue on the environment (#199, April 18, 2010) that discuss how a revolutionary socialist society would actually act as custodians of nature, rather than its plunderers. Other articles in the special issue examine the dimensions of the crisis and how the source of the problem is the capitalist system. The articles and the issue as a whole are available online at

From "Communism and Ecology: How Revolution Opens the Way for Humanity to Confront the Environmental Crisis and to Become Caretakers of the Planet:"

As a point of orientation, socialist society has to be proceeding, first and foremost, from the long-term interests of humanity and the planet. Preserving and protecting ecosystems requires "taking the long view"—looking ahead over many decades and generations. This is something that capitalist society, with its "get-rich-quick" mode of operating and the necessity imposed by expand-or-die competition, cannot do—and which has led to the situation we are now facing.

From "Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development:"

C. Transforming the Structure of Industrial Production, Agriculture, and Transport

The new socialist society will set out to transform the environmentally destructive structure and functioning of today’s imperialist economy:

It must immediately begin to move decisively away from reliance on non-renewable and polluting fossil-fuel energy (oil, coal, and natural gas)—and to adopt and develop ecologically sound technologies, like solar, wind, and geothermal power. To move in this direction, the socialist economy must combine diversified large-scale with diversified small-scale production, and develop a rational mix of advanced and intermediate technologies.

Major efforts must be made towards reorienting transportation away from private automobile ownership and from the auto-highway and fossil-fuel-centered systems of transport. Safe and efficient mass transit will be given priority in all new development, restructuring, and research.

It will be necessary to develop agricultural systems based on principles of long-term land-use planning, comprehensive soil and water conservation, and agro-biodiversity. These agricultural systems—large, medium, and small-scale—must allow for technologies and practices that can be locally adapted, fitted to particular conditions, and that can respond to climate change and changes in demand. In reorienting agriculture, the goal must be to achieve high and sustainable yields of agricultural goods and healthful food products that minimize use of resources and minimize damage to nature and to people.

Socialist society must be working to make conservation of resources a standard in all aspects of economic and social life: in technology development, in production, in the consumer goods that are produced and how they are used. It must promote recycling and multi-use of materials and products—this in place of the irrational upgrading of products (annual "new models") and the wasteful consumption of materials of capitalist society.

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