The Barrier

Spread the love

By Andy Matthews, Isle of Wight XR

UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “we are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change.” And that, “It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation…we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.” This statement came alongside the news that emissions had risen to a new high in 2018 after 30 years of supposedly attempting to cut them.

Can
we adapt to the inevitable effects of “catastrophic
climate disruption” under the capitalist system Or, is it a
barrier to a sustainable future-fit for the good of all?

We
need three basic elements to sustain life: food, water and shelter.
When our species emerged some 40-60,000 years ago we maintained
ourselves as hunter-gatherers. This period lasted for 90% of human
history. Cooperation was crucial for our survival.

Chattel
slavery and the concept of private property emerged before written
history with basic agriculture and the production of surpluses.
People became property, and the state evolved to defend property
rights through the use of coercion. Between the 9th and 15th century
in medieval Europe, the shackles of slavery gave way to feudal
society and the legalised bondage of serfdom wherein the three basics
for life were exchanged for service and labour on the land.

Capitalism
dates from the 16th century and flourished at the expense of
feudalisms inability to adapt. The central characteristics of
capitalism are: private ownership of the means of production, profit,
waged labour, the accumulation of capital, prices, and competitive
markets.

As
elites arose in slavery and feudalism, so too did the unequal
division
of food, water, and shelter for the vast majority of its people.

Capitalism
has mirrored that as Oxfam reports that the, “World’s 26 richest people own as much as poorest 50%.”
Whereas, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation revealed that the
food system fails to properly nourish billions of people. More than 820 million people went hungry last year,
while a third of all people did not get enough vitamins.
Approximately 9 million people die of hunger globally each year.” 

And
water? “At
least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with
faeces…Nearly two million children a year die
for want of clean water and proper sanitation…The UN Development
Programme, argues that 1.1 billion people do not have safe water and
2.6 billion suffer from inadequate sewerage. This is not because of
water scarcity but poverty, inequality and government failure.”

And
shelter? Globally, ” one in eight people
live in slums. In total, around a billion people live in slum
conditions today”. In 2005, the last time a global survey was
attempted by the UN, “an estimated 100 million people were
homeless worldwide.
As many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing”.

These
are symptoms of a cancer called poverty. A sickness intrinsic to
capitalism.

The
question to ask yourself here is: are these people likely to be
joined by millions more given what we know, at present, about the
effects of “catastrophic
climate disruption” under capitalism?

Politicians,
the media, and entrepreneurs scrabble around for quick fixes. All of
them involve market solutions. But the logic of the capitalist market
is to make money. Thus, catastrophe
can also be seen as an opportunity to turn a profit.

Bloomberg
reports that, ” A top JP Morgan Asset investment strategist
advised clients that sea-level rise was so inevitable that there was
likely a lot of opportunity for investing in sea-wall construction.”
And speculating on insurance policies, Barney Schauble, of Nephila
Advisors LLC believes that, “the broader public’s failure to
appreciate the risks of climate change is part of what makes it such
a good area for investing.” Moreover, “there is evidence
that many players in the corporate-military-security industrial nexus
are already seeing climate change not just as a threat but an opportunity…
climate change promises another financial boon to add to the ongoing
War on Terror.”

Technology
we are told will eventually provide solutions to climate change. This
is a crude phantasm of an ideology that seeks to forego any
alternative thinking and to “kick the can down the road.”

The
“green new deal” appears in several shades of grey.
Whether the so-called, “war-time mobilisation” some people
call for could be realised in one country is debatable. But globally?
That would take cooperation on a scale inconceivable given that in
the 20th century The League of Nations, and later
the UN were implemented to maintain peace. Nevertheless, countless
millions were slaughtered in capitalisms’ wars.

And
now? Consider the debacle that is Brexit. And the farce of climate
change conferences.

Cooperatives
and similar types of enterprises are argued for as solutions. But as
long as markets exist they too have to conform to its iron laws.
Cooperatives will have to compete with each other to buy raw
materials and inputs, and then sell its commodities on the market
with every other seller of an equal product. Thus, if a cooperative
produces goods to sell on the market, to obtain money, to pay wages
via profit, then it has to conform to all of the economic laws of
capitalism.

Profit
is capitalism’s raison
d’être, and growth
its imperative.

The
quote, “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism,”
becomes credible with the knowledge that, “just 100 companies
are responsible for 71% of global emissions,
” many of which are state entities and the residue potent
friends of state actors. Likewise, “the U.S. Military
is the World’s Biggest Polluter .” All powerful adversaries of
anyone who wants to oppose the status quo.

But, for those who think this barrier can be overcome have one great advantage. Imagination. The ability to envision a different world. One fit for the good of all. To imagine it, clarify it, and start to build it. And those that believe the barrier could be breached should begin by inscribing on their banners the dictum -“Toward One World.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.