A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis

45320567_640Christian Parenti writes at Dissent:

Several strands of green thinking maintain that capitalism is incapable of a sustainable relationship with non-human nature because, as an economic system, capitalism has a growth imperative while the earth is finite. One finds versions of this argument in the literature of eco-socialism, deep ecology, eco-anarchism, and even among many mainstream greens who, though typically declining to actually name the economic system, are fixated on the dangers of “growth.”

All this may be true. Capitalism, a system in which privately owned firms must continuously out-produce and out-sell their competitors, may be incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. However, that is not the same question as whether capitalism can solve the more immediate climate crisis.

Because of its magnitude, the climate crisis can appear as the sum total of all environmental problems—deforestation, over-fishing, freshwater depletion, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, chemical contamination. But halting greenhouse gas emissions is a much more specific problem, the most pressing subset of the larger apocalyptic panorama.

And the very bad news is, time has run out. As I write this, news arrives of an ice-free arctic summer by 2050. Scientists once assumed that would not happen for hundreds of years.

Dealing with climate change by first achieving radical social transformation—be it a socialist or anarchist or deep-ecological/neo-primitive revolution, or a nostalgia-based localista conversion back to a mythical small-town capitalism—would be a very long and drawn-out, maybe even multigenerational, struggle. It would be marked by years of mass education and organizing of a scale and intensity not seen in most core capitalist states since the 1960s or even the 1930s.

Nor is there any guarantee that the new system would not also degrade the soil, lay waste to the forests, despoil bodies of water, and find itself still addicted to coal and oil. Look at the history of “actually existing socialism” before its collapse in 1991. To put it mildly, the economy was not at peace with nature. Or consider the vexing complexities facing the left social democracies of Latin America. Bolivia, and Ecuador, states run by socialists who are beholden to very powerful, autonomous grassroots movements, are still very dependent on petroleum revenue.

A more radical approach to the crisis of climate change begins not with a long-term vision of an alternate society but with an honest engagement with the very compressed timeframe that current climate science implies. In the age of climate change, these are the real parameters of politics.

Read more here.

15 Comments on "A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Aug 17, 2013 at 11:31 am |

    the Polynesian peoples had an economic system
    called Uku by the Hawaiians
    it was an economic system based on gift giving
    not money

    money is a technology
    capitalism, as wee know it
    is a symptom of money technology
    trying to cure a symptom without curing the illness
    will not work

    • Rhoid Rager | Aug 18, 2013 at 3:15 am |

      But you and I both know that the only way to break the social technology of money is by localizing primary bio-energy supply–our food. Nothing else matters as much.

      • BuzzCoastin | Aug 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

        food, shelter & energy

        da man works hard to keep these under corporate control
        works hard to keep people from taking personal control
        but getting personal control of any or all of the three
        provides a way out of the matrix

        • atlanticus | Aug 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm |

          Insects, storage cube, wind-generator/solar-oven. Done.

          I’m so on this apocalypse shit. Pffft, canned foods…

  2. Ted Heistman | Aug 17, 2013 at 11:57 am |

    I think Climate Change is a catch all phrase used to explain away everything bad. It leaves people feeling helpless and apathetic.

    If trees are dying, it used to be connected to acid rain. Now the only explanation given is climate change. If there are severe floods, one explanation is that industrial mono cropping depleting the top soil and leaving an insufficient root structure to absorb heavy rains. But now the only explanation given is climate change.

    Unlike other local scale environmental problems that can be addressed and tackled in tangible ways,by ordinary citizens, planting trees, etc. climate change must be left up to the technocratic experts.

    I see climate change alarmism as a subtle form of propaganda.

    • Kropotkin1936 | Aug 17, 2013 at 4:40 pm |

      Not sure why your getting downvoted, I agree to an extent. Climate Change is absolutely real but it’s basically the end the result of many different destructive industrial practices intrinsic to Capitalism. But the global owning class, rather than say stopping fracking or other destructive extraction technologies, would rather (as they always do) user climate change as a convenient excuse for more control

    • Charlie Primero | Aug 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm |

      This is what makes “Climate Change” such an effective fraud. It can be anything, do anything, and can’t be “solved” by anything *except* global government run by fascistic corporations. It’s one of the most brilliant human exploitation techniques ever invented.

      • Ted Heistman | Aug 17, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

        Here’s Kropotkin1936’s comment (awaiting moderation) :

        “Not sure why your getting downvoted, I agree to an extent. Climate
        Change is absolutely real but it’s basically the end the result of many
        different destructive industrial practices intrinsic to Capitalism. But
        the global owning class, rather than say stopping fracking or other
        destructive extraction technologies, would rather (as they always do)
        user climate change as a convenient excuse for more control”

  3. the economic system we are now under is called “elitist capitalism”, straight out of the textbook. Capitalism is a simple economic system that occurs naturally among humans when considering the exchange of goods or services to help out each other in a community, that results in a gain.

    • Kropotkin1936 | Aug 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

      I think you may be confusing Capitalism with markets. Markets are naturally occurring exchanges of goods and serivces on a small scale, they existed before Capitalism and will continue to exist in many forms after it, although hopefully along side collectives, time banks, and other forms of exchange. But when we talk about Capitalism what we are very specifically talking about is the historical system of the ownership of the commons and of the means of production by an “owning class” that represents a tiny minority of the population, beginning with the enclosure of the commons in Europe and continuing through colonization, the slave trade, and industrialization.

      • Rhoid Rager | Aug 18, 2013 at 3:22 am |

        Peter Kropotkin–through his writings–converted Oscar Wilde to social anarchism. Wilde later described Kropotkin as “a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ which seems coming out of Russia”. Apparently you’re familiar with his works, as well. 😉

  4. BuzzCoastin | Aug 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm |

    Chomsky: “There’s been an interesting debate over the years about the relation between capitalism and democracy, for example, are they even compatible? I won’t be pursuing this because I’d like to discuss a different system – what we could call the “really existing capitalist democracy”, RECD for short, pronounced “wrecked” by accident. To begin with, how does RECD compare with democracy?”


  5. the biophysicist | Aug 17, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

    A RADICAL solution to climate change is kill some Americans. Providing contraceptives to Africans isn’t going to make much difference when a Kenyan produces 0.3 tons of CO2 per annum its 66.6 times that in the USA. Get out there and save the world and take care of yourself too.

  6. Guy_in_Kingston | Sep 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

    Only the marxists are pushing the hoax of climate change. Normal people stopped believing in the hoax when the science was proven not to support the theory. For the Marxist crowd it has nothing to do with science.

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