Another world is not just possible, but necessary

Stuart Moriarty-Patten

COLUMN

THE 21st meeting of the Conference of Participants (COP21) will take place at the end of this month in Paris. The purpose of the COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

Prior to this, on November 28 and 29, a series of Climate Justice marches will be held across the world to demonstrate the public’s concern about the imminence of climate collapse.

If the science is correct, very substantial reductions in carbon emissions worldwide must be achieved quickly, with the ultimate goal of the near total elimination of fossil fuels, if the earth is not to become unrecognisable, and all life on it threatened.

However, the fact that some of the major sponsors of the conference are companies that are big emitters of the very greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, demonstrates that the conference is unlikely to reach effective solutions to the climate crisis. They themselves are part of the problem.

Pollution and environmental degradation are the result of the capitalist system that is run for profit not need, and has its roots in the “grow-or-die” nature of capitalism that dictates unless a firm expands, it will be driven out of business or taken over by a competitor.

An ever-expanding capitalism must inevitably come into collision with a finite planet and its fragile ecology. Firms whose aim is to maximise their profits in order to grow will continue to happily exploit whoever and whatever they can to do so. To quote social-ecologist Murray Bookchin: “Capitalism is inherently anti-ecological. Competition and accumulation constitute its very law of life, a law . . . summarised in the phrase, ‘production for the sake of production’. Anything, however hallowed or rare, ‘has its price’ and is fair game for the marketplace. In a society of this kind, nature is necessarily treated as a mere resource to be plundered and exploited. The destruction of the natural world . . . follows inexorably from the very logic of capitalist production.” (Post-Scarcity Anarchism, pp. viii-ix).

Our own personal actions, or reforms implemented by nation states, can have little effect on this unrelenting process of growth for growth’s sake, merely delaying the inevitability of climate collapse. Of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t address our lifestyles and consumption habits, but the only real solution to halting the onset of climate collapse is to bring an end to capitalism itself — an objective which sadly seems to be on the agenda of hardly any of the largest groups of climate activists.

An entirely new way of organising civilisation must be built. This will be a decentralised world without borders, without states, with production for use not profit. A world based on co-operation and mutual aid, without wage-labour, money, markets or hierarchy, a self-governing global social order based on direct democracy.

There is a very rich tradition of social philosophy which for the past 200 years or so has been making demands for such a world. That philosophy is anarchism, and it’s now more urgent than ever that we look to it and learn from it.

THE 21st meeting of the Conference of Participants (COP21) will take place at the end of this month in Paris. The purpose of the COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

Prior to this, on November 28 and 29, a series of Climate Justice marches will be held across the world to demonstrate the public’s concern about the imminence of climate collapse.

If the science is correct, very substantial reductions in carbon emissions worldwide must be achieved quickly, with the ultimate goal of the near total elimination of fossil fuels, if the earth is not to become unrecognisable, and all life on it threatened.

However, the fact that some of the major sponsors of the conference are companies that are big emitters of the very greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, demonstrates that the conference is unlikely to reach effective solutions to the climate crisis. They themselves are part of the problem.

Pollution and environmental degradation are the result of the capitalist system that is run for profit not need, and has its roots in the “grow-or-die” nature of capitalism that dictates unless a firm expands, it will be driven out of business or taken over by a competitor.

An ever-expanding capitalism must inevitably come into collision with a finite planet and its fragile ecology. Firms whose aim is to maximise their profits in order to grow will continue to happily exploit whoever and whatever they can to do so. To quote social-ecologist Murray Bookchin: “Capitalism is inherently anti-ecological. Competition and accumulation constitute its very law of life, a law . . . summarised in the phrase, ‘production for the sake of production’. Anything, however hallowed or rare, ‘has its price’ and is fair game for the marketplace. In a society of this kind, nature is necessarily treated as a mere resource to be plundered and exploited. The destruction of the natural world . . . follows inexorably from the very logic of capitalist production.” (Post-Scarcity Anarchism, pp. viii-ix).

Our own personal actions, or reforms implemented by nation states, can have little effect on this unrelenting process of growth for growth’s sake, merely delaying the inevitability of climate collapse. Of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t address our lifestyles and consumption habits, but the only real solution to halting the onset of climate collapse is to bring an end to capitalism itself — an objective which sadly seems to be on the agenda of hardly any of the largest groups of climate activists.

An entirely new way of organising civilisation must be built. This will be a decentralised world without borders, without states, with production for use not profit. A world based on co-operation and mutual aid, without wage-labour, money, markets or hierarchy, a self-governing global social order based on direct democracy.

There is a very rich tradition of social philosophy which for the past 200 years or so has been making demands for such a world. That philosophy is anarchism, and it’s now more urgent than ever that we look to it and learn from it.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Manu Caddie - 3 years ago
Encore!

Urs - 3 years ago
Thank you Stuart!

Larry - 3 years ago
Well said, Stuart, thank you for the piece. If you notice, capitalism is all about competing and "getting a leg-up"... a pyramiding thing which leads to top-heaviness, weight of the world on bottom layers, and ends pyramid/capitalism collapse (just like the childhood playground pyramids that capitalism joiners/condoners never learned the lesson about.)
Capitalism refuses to compete on ONE front, though. It refuses to allow competition of other kinds of legal tender currency. Here in the USA, the Free-Marketeers green survival coupons (US dollars/greenbacks) are the ONLY currency accepted in survival supply depots (stores). There's no United Altruists Bluebacks, or Catholic Yellowbacks, or Lutheran Redbacks or Lions Club Orangebacks allowed in the competition to see which make it to the Top 25 Legal Tender currencies in the USA. Interesting, eh?
We won't even start to talk about the Chicago mob-like "join the free marketeers (get a job) or STARVE/DIE/ELSE" that we do to USA young people. That's just plain felony extortion and forced religion into a competer's church. Where is Elliot Ness when we need him most?
I could go on for hours, but just Google search for "abolish economies" to read more of my anti-cap rants. Again, nice piece, Stuart. I think the environmental card is the most gentle reason that capitalism must stop. As soon as you see how much PURE TERRORISM capitalism does to the people who are forced to JOIN IT OR DIE... the environment issue can just relax and come along for the ride when we level the disgusting capitalism pyramid for other reasons. Be well...and everyone keep in mind that capitalism is a SYSTEMIC problem and NOT an issue with the volunteer or force-in joiners. The inventors of the pyramid scheme... are long-ago dead... so we need not go lynching.

clive bibby - 3 years ago
Read Animal Farm and then discover that human kind (by nature) is incapable of adopting a system where everybody shares. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive towards a better place where individuals take more responsibility for their actions but is an acknowledgement of the limiting factors. It makes the task of getting there that much easier because we are not wasting time deluded in dreamland.

Larry - 3 years ago
Clive, we don't "adopt" it. It would be law.

clive bibby - 3 years ago
Larry, in 90 percent of countries, laws are enforced at the point of a gun. I would expect that in your idea of utopia, that requirement would become more entrenched, not less.
Humans have proved over their entire existence that we operate best when nations decide to operate collectively in the best interests of the majority while maintaining their individuality. Otherwise we just become a number as slaves to the common good. That's not freedom - its entrapment and I don't want a bar of it.

Larry - 3 years ago
Hi again Clive, thanks for the comment. Actually, the enforcement of the "fairness laws" would be no different than current law enforcement. Breaking a fairness law is certainly no reason to shoot someone, but it IS reason for remedial training in "we're all on the same team" policies (a policy which would be taught throughout childhood, as well).
Look at our current 18 year old "workforce". Those not born set-for-life... are instead born set-for-servitude.
First, they are placed under a "get some of these green coupons, or starve, or die, or else" -extortion and forced into joining the free marketeers church-o-competing. Once they finally MUST go to work filling "orders" (or else they are fired/terminated - nice terms)... they're trapped.

If they want any "well-being", then they WILL accept/fulfill orders... or else. Or else they don't get a car, or else they don't get to date, or else they get no treats/toys, or else they cannot surmount the capitalism-invented constantly-rising price tags that block attaining of survival supplies, etc.

I would say that this is every bit entrapment and forced-joining of an organization (a competers win org, at that). It's also a forced type of life policy, and a forcing to use only one type of survival coupon (money)... the type that's printed by just one organization (Fed reserve). I call that servitude/slavery. What would you call this? See any railroading going-on, there?

The terrorism threat of "or else" is every bit as effective on the youngsters... as the point of a gun. Most USA biz exploit "join or starve" policies and mores, currently. And we call this kind of "do it or starve" and "fill this ORDER or else" -extortion... "One Nation Under God"? Really, love/God have nothing to do with this disgusting activity whatsoever.

I understand that not everyone will see it as I do, but may I ask you and others to take a close look at rat-racing on pyramids, and see if such things are any bit logical or sane? The pyramid is collapsing. We will need a different system, and a wise person/nation will not go rat-racing on a pyramid again, after seeing the bloody collapse.

Simply said, the end of capitalism is on the horizon, no matter how much propping-up is applied, and no matter what you or I talk about, here. After we bandage or bury the many folks crushed on the bottom layers... those with knees and weight of the world on their backs... I don't think any of us will choose pyramiding as the new way.

It's time to say goodbye to competing... and hello to its opposite... cooperating. But I suggest that we NOT cooperate with a church of competing such as the Free Marketeers.

Thanks again for your comments, Clive (and anyone else who wishes to climb aboard). :) Be well.