Vive Le Canada

Capitalism Creates Global Warming
Date: Saturday, February 03 2007

I don't often agree with the right-wing flat earth society of climate change and global warming deniers, but in this case I will.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), report issued today in Paris, is a prime example of deliberate obfustication of the real source of global warming.

"Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations," it says.

Like the flat-earthers I find it presumptuous to blame humanity for a problem that is not created by people per se but by the political economy we have created.

For tens of thousands of years, humanity has existed, slowly changing our natural environment and ecology to meet our needs. However, it is with the ascendancy of industrial-based capitalism in the period of one hundred years that global warming has increased.

It is not people, "humanity", to blame for this, it is not a "man-made" crisis, as if we as a society had consciously created this problem, it is the political economy of capitalism that has produced the climatic, environmental and ecological crisis we now face.

Headlines like this, and generalizations that say humanity is impacting the climate, avoid laying the blame squarely where it belongs with the political economic system of capitalism.

Which is exactly what the flat-earthers say, they too know that the science and politics of climate change expose capitalism as a zero-sum game when it comes to the ecological and environmental crisis we face. Which is why they label all climate science as left-wing.

But it is not what the scientists say. They still hide behind euphemisms like "man-made", "human activities", rather than say what we all know is true. The environmental crisis is the ultimate crisis of Capitalism. But unlike the previous economic crisis of Capitalism, this is not one it can solve.

Thus the scientists give cover to the capitalists and their state claiming that we as individuals are to blame for the crisis. You can see it in the campaigns to make us all responsible for our part in helping solve this problem. By consuming of course. Green cars, environmentally friendly light bulbs, solar heating, blah, blah.

The reality is those human activities are very specific, they are not the tribal or communal village life we once led. Indeed they are not even the result of hundreds of years of coal burning or thousands of years of slash-and-burn agriculture.

They are the direct result of coal-based steam technology that saw the creation of the industrial revolution and mass manufacturing. The capitalist Fordist production model of the 20th century and its current expansion in the newly capitalist economies in Asia are resulting in mass climatic, environmental and ecological crisis.

Amadeo Bordiga outlined this crisis of capitalism fifty years ago in his book Murdering The Dead, Capitalism and Other Disasters. Bordiga's Left-Wing Communism was not like those of the rest of the left, whether Leninist or the Council Communists, his was a communism that viewed a future society as the administration of things, of processes, as Adam Buick writes:

"Thus Bordiga was able to write that 'if one wants to give a definition of the socialist economy, it is a stateless economy' [1956-7]. He also wrote that, with the establishment of socialism, social organization would have changed 'from a social system of constraint on men (which it has been since prehistory) into a unitary and scientifically constructed administration of things and natural forces' [1951]."

It was a solution to the crisis of capitalism that, as Adam Buick correctly points out, had much in common with a North American Syndicalist idea: Technocracy.

"The technocratic aspects of Bordiga's 'description of communism' were ignored by most of those influenced by him, including to a large extent the members of the group with which he was associated (the International Communist Party)."

Technocracy evolved out of the post-WWI crisis of the limitations of Fordist production, and influenced by Thorstien Veblen viewed the crisis as one of the domination of capitalism over efficient, effective use of resources, human, material and energy. They called it the crisis of the price system.

And like Bordiga their solution was a centralized administration of energy and material resources. The abolition of wages, prices, labour value, all exchange values and the rational distribution of resources based on their ultimate use value, that is of their worth as energy outputs.

And like Bordiga, Howard Scott the main proponent of Technocracy saw not a democratic structure for his Technate, the directorship of Technocracy in North America, but a scientific community responsible for the organization and distribution of scarce resources.

As Marx pointed out, advanced Capitalism is all about the commodification of all relationships, and as such leads to the ultimate end of competing capitals into a centralized capital.

That production rests on the supreme rule of capital. The centralization of capital is essential to the existence of capital as an independent power. The destructive influence of that centralization upon the markets of the world does but reveal, in the most gigantic dimensions, the inherent organic laws of political economy now at work in every civilized town. (Marx)

It is this centralization of capitalism that allows for the centralization of administration and planning through the governance of a self managed society which is what socialism is. And only with the socialization of production and consumption can we solve this ultimate crisis of capitalism which is the challenge of living without producing waste and its resulting environmental and ecological imprint which is what global warming is.

Since the modern form of Capitalism is Fordism, mass machinery, the automation of production, which includes its modern forms such as computerization, mass communications, it also provides us with the technology to liberate ourselves from capitalist production. It allows us to use technology to centralize production in an ecologically sound manner. It is the centralization of automation, computerization, not of people.

This was the vision of Marx who identified automation as the final stage of capitalism and the machinery of its doom. Like Veblen and Scott, the scientist Norbert Wiener showed this was possible with his work on cybernetics. And current studies in the organic nature of technology, that it functions as biological organism, was already predicted by Marx in his work the Grundrisse:

"The full development of capital, therefore, takes place -- or capital has posited the mode of production corresponding to it -- only when the means of labour has not only taken the economic form of fixed capital, but has also been suspended in its immediate form, and when fixed capital appears as a machine within the production process, opposite labour; and the entire production process appears as not subsumed under the direct skillfulness of the worker, but rather as the technological application of science. [It is,] hence, the tendency of capital to give production a scientific character; direct labour [is] reduced to a mere moment of this process. As with the transformation of value into capital, so does it appear in the further development of capital, that it presupposes a certain given historical development of the productive forces on one side -- science too [is] among these productive forces -- and, on the other, drives and forces them further onwards.

"To the degree that labour time -- the mere quantity of labour -- is posited by capital as the sole determinant element, to that degree does direct labour and its quantity disappear as the determinant principle of production -- of the creation of use values -- and is reduced both quantitatively, to a smaller proportion, and qualitatively, as an, of course, indispensable but subordinate moment, compared to general scientific labour, technological application of natural sciences, on one side, and to the general productive force arising from social combination [Gliederung] in total production on the other side -- a combination which appears as a natural fruit of social labour (although it is a historic product). Capital thus works towards its own dissolution as the form dominating production."
Marx, Grundrisse, Ch. 13

To end our enslavement to the machines as alienated labour, hence the frustration and powerlessness we feel when confronting this current ecological crisis, by recognizing the limitations of their use by capitalism, can only be resolved through the transformation of capitalist society into a socialist society based on industrial ecology and social ecology.

This cannot be done by carbon credits, green policies, caps on industrial pollution, etc. etc., but by the end of capitalism and the liberation of the machinery of capitalism to be used to solve our ecological crisis. Green consciousness is not enough, we need a real Green Revolution, a socialist revolution.

"It requires no great penetration to grasp that, where free labour or wage labour arising out of the dissolution of bondage is the point of departure, there machines can only arise in antithesis to living labour, as property alien to it, and as power hostile to it; i.e. that they must confront it as capital. But it is just as easy to perceive that machines will not cease to be agencies of social production when they become property of the associated workers. In the first case, however, their distribution, i.e. that they do not belong to the worker, is just as much a condition of the mode of production founded on wage labour. In the second case the changed distribution would start from a changed foundation of production, a new foundation first created by the process of history."
Marx, Grundrisse, Ch. 16

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[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 5, 2007]


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