4 November 2007

Capitalism: At the Root of the “Climate Change” Problem

The following is a short commentary by a fellow wobbly from the Vancouver branch:

A recent BBC poll of 22,000 people in 21 different nations suggests that many individuals are prepared to make personal sacrifices in order to stop the effects of climate change. Evidently, four out of five respondents would make changes in their own lifestyles in an effort to stave off global warming. However, the question remains as to whether it is truly individuals at fault in this crisis and not those who control large industries.

Much has been said in recent years about what we ordinary people can do to help, but rarely is the finger pointed at the large companies who, with almost no accountability or ethics, continue to pollute with impunity. It seems as though even the most dedicated efforts by the people to recycle and conserve energy will amount to nothing if large industries remain driven only by profit with no regard for the damage they do. It seems quite strange to be encouraging the people to be more environmentally conscious while big businesses escape critique- despite being far more capable of causing great and lasting harm to the world.

The main reason for the lack of attention to the role of corporations in the global warming issue is that to question business' misuse of the earth raises awkward questions about the nature of capitalism itself. The fact of the matter is that one of the key features of capitalism is its undemocratic nature. Anyone who has ever worked will soon find that this economic system relies upon a strict hierarchy in order to function. This aspect of capitalism is so important to its defenders that they will stop at nothing to preserve it.

Over two hundred years of labour struggles, state repression, and revolt have shown that nothing is more incongruous to the capitalist system than the idea of industry being held in common and run democratically. However, were such a scenario enacted it is certain that the current problems of industry despoiling the earth would be significantly lessened. After all, with ordinary people running their workplaces with the needs of themselves and others in mind rather than profit, it is evident that industry would take a far more “green” outlook.

The BBC said itself that many people around the world are aware of the problems of climate change and are willing to do something about it. If such people struggled to gain a democratic voice in their workplaces rather than merely buying into the easy route of ethical consumerism and personal lifestyle changes, the world would be in a far better state than it is now.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7075759.stm


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