If ever there was a need, the “institutional” demonstrations of last Friday in Italy confirmed an environmental data, on which a large part of the mainstream media invests resources for controlling public opinion for at least twenty years. Earth’s climate is changing.
This is confirmed, in order of importance: by the world’s most powerful governments, by governmental organizations, by the so-called non-governmental organizations, by governments aligned with the world’s most powerful governments. In the deck also enters the Italian government, which has “institutionalized” the manifestations for the climate with a circular of the Ministry of Education, who invited the teachers to accept the justification of absence for participation in “Friday for Future”. Last but not least, the organizations of the governmental and pro-governmental Italian parties, which tried to lead the demonstrations on Friday through their youth organizations.
The climate, but not only the climate, is undergoing changes resulting from the pollution of production methods and economic development. This was previously said by both the international scientific community and by other politicians and scientists who had spoken to the United Nations several times, without the mainstream media ever having given them the proper echo.
Fidel Castro Ruz, in 2007 recalled that:
“Energy is conceived as any commodity… The land and its products, rivers, mountains, forests and woods are the victims of an uncontrollable robbery. Food, of course, has not escaped this infernal dynamic. Capitalism transforms into commodities everything that reaches it at hand […] The use of food to produce energy is a monstrous act. Capitalism is ready to practice mass euthanasia to the poor, especially for those who live in the south, because that is where the greatest reserves of bio meet – mass of the planet, necessary for the manufacture of biological fuels” (Fidel Castro, granma, 3.07).
Fidel Castro had already identified capitalism’s social responsibility in the environmental disaster at the 1992 United Nations Conference, called the “Earth Summit”:
“An important biological species – mankind – is in danger of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural habitat and we are becoming aware of this problem when it is almost too late to prevent it”. ..
“Consumer societies… consume two-thirds of all metals and three-quarters of the energy produced around the world; they poisoned the seas and rivers… They saturated the atmosphere with gases, altering climatic conditions with the catastrophic effects of which they already begin to suffer… Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done so long ago”. (Fidel Castro, Speech to the Earth Summit)
At the “Earth Summit” of that day, 154 Nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez Frias also declared “let us not save the climate if we do not change the system!” and in the recent UN-forum, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales repeated what he has been saying publicly for at least five years. The real culprit of climate change is capitalism. A few minutes on google would be enough to realize this.
In their precious book What every environmentalist needs to Know about capitalism, published in monthly Review Press, Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster note that:
“Climate change… is just one of the many rifts caused by the crossing of planetary boundaries”. Capitalism, they say, “recognizes no limits to its expansion: there is no profit, no amount of wealth and no amount of consumption that is too much or enough”. (See this).
What is the difference between the characters we mentioned and the mainstream trend with which governments and media power tried to influence the enthusiasm generated by the Friday for Future strikes?
The small and not insignificant difference lies in the identification of the real culprit of environmental disasters.
Chavez, Castro, Morales, Bellamy Foster, Magdoff and the left-wing eco-socialists, such as Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and Ian Angus, identified the culprit in the capitalist production system, in its incessant search for new markets, new goods and new possibilities of profit, in its production anarchy, in its tendency not to be able to conceive planetary limits or barriers to the development of profits.
Ian Angus, commenting on a report on the climate issue published by the National Academy of Science in 2018, writes that: “The linear increases applied to the current socioeconomic system are not sufficient to stabilize the Earth system. Large, rapid and substantial transformations are likely to be required.”. (See this)
The logical consequence of those cultural movements was a renewed and widespread spirit of anti-capitalism. Again in 2018, W. T. Whitney Jr. author of the US magazine mltoday.com acknowledged that
“According to the latest surveys, young people today are attracted to socialism. (The New Socialists, The New York Times, August 26, 2018) Concerned about climate change, they are ripe to assimilate the teachings of the Marxist movement. They will realize that half measures are not enough. [… ] The main point is that, since capitalism has contributed to the advancement of climate change, resistance to climate change must be anti-capitalist and primarily socialist. Since the stakes are high and the survival of humanity depends on it, we need a kind of socialism whose theory and practice aims to dismantle rather than reform capitalism.” (See this)
The “institutional sponsors”, governmental, non-governmental, party sponsors, in short, the mainstream that has become tense in the climate issue, have instead a completely different leit-motiv: the system has nothing to do with it, individual behaviour must be improved and encouraged. A new green capitalism must supplant the old, dirty and backward capitalism in production. New “green markets” must replace old markets deemed dirty.
Old individual behaviors must be taxed. In particular, production which sells new environmentally friendly goods should be encouraged.
It is not by chance that the mainstream incorrectly constructs the main issue around carbon dioxide emissions in order to index the latest arrivals of capitalist production: China, India, Asian countries, former underdeveloped countries.
The issue of climate/CO2 production can therefore be exploited by several parties to achieve precise policy objectives.
In some environmental activism, we discover competing interests of the old US/NATO military and industrial complex, interested in hindering new competitors in today’s global scenario. China and Russia.
Yet, as Zoltan Zigedy recalled in 2015, “A factor forgotten by most of the environmental movement, including the “left-wing movement for climate” is the role of imperialism in fomenting the environmental crisis. According to Wikipedia: “The US Department of Defense is one of the largest single energy consumers in the world, responsible for 93% of the US government’s fuel consumption in 2007… In 2006, the Department of Defense used almost 30,000 gigawattora (GWh) of electricity, at a cost of about 2.2 billion dollars. The Department of Defense’s electricity consumption would provide enough electricity to power more than 2.6 million American homes. In electricity consumption, if it were a country, the Ministry of Defence would occupy the 58th position in the world, consuming little less than Denmark and little more than Syria (CIA World factbook, 2006). The Department of Defense uses 4.6 billion US gallons [17.4 billion litres]… of fuel per year, an average of 12.6 million gallons [47.7 million litres]… of fuel per day.” Count the hundreds of military bases – outposts of imperialism – which devour resources that could be better employed in a war for the protection of the environment. Add to the total the continuous pollution, the destruction of natural and man-made structures, the dispossession of land and the deterioration of the waters that accompany the endless use of devastating weapons. [… ]Pentagon estimates on the production and maintenance of a single weapon system – the F35 – though reduced to over $750 billion – are a huge environmental cost that nobody talks about.” (See this)
What is never highlighted is that the capitalist system is integrated and profit-based: the search for new markets cannot be separated from fundamental rules:
- the search for profit must arise from any capital investment
- the pursuit of profit implies that the capitalist is not free to produce only what is necessary, but is obliged to produce everything can be sold, as well as to find ways of convincing to buy as much as possible its goods.
Capitalism, therefore, does not stop on its own, and never stops.
Every barrier to its progress (workers’ rights, health and environmental legislation) is seen as an obstacle to trade. If trade is geared to low-CO2 production, it is geared to outstripping competitors in other markets, not to shrink.
Thus, if attention to environmental issues risked influencing the younger generations to move towards the construction of a socialist system, adequate media and hegemonic counter-offensive actions had to be put in place to silence this aspect, to put it in the background. Working into the opposition movements to neutralize the most dangerous aspect: anti-capitalism.
This explains the environmental activism of the world’s powerful governments: careless if not complicit with criminals when it is the uncomfortable environmentalists who struggle, the anticapitalists of many developing countries or poor rural and indigenous communities, in Brazil, Colombia and India.
Instead, they are careful to direct gently and in a sneaky way the protest on harmless tracks, within the movements in the developed countries.
A veil of conformism crosses one of the fundamental contradictions of our world: the incompatibility between capitalism and the planet.
It’s true that the Earth’s climate is changing.
It is equally true that they are not changing the productive relationships of exploitation of man over man, and of capitalist man over the planet.
It’s even more true that the climate is changing, precisely because the relationships of exploitation do not change.
A skilful hegemonic technique is trying to separate these two real factors, hiding the direct responsibility of capitalism.
This little provocation can be used against anesthesia dispensers as a slap in the face that awakens from artificial sleep: if efforts to reduce emissions are successful, What good is a clean world if the majority of human beings continue to live in exploitation? What is the use of a free CO2 Country if a temp worker doesn’t have a decent wage to give birth to the children he dreams running in the new Eden?
The climate is changing.
The exploitative relationships are not.
We must activate class struggle on the second point.
This is the news.
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Enzo Pellegrin is a criminal lawyer and a militant of the Communist Party in Italy. He usually writes on the website www.resistenze.org and on his blog “boraest” (www.boraest.com).
Featured image is from Julia Hawkins/Flickr