Socialist Revolution: the Solution to Climate Change

Protest against the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline, 2016.

Below we are sharing a short pamphlet on climate change which was produced for potential militants who attended a meeting of 350.org, a bourgeois environmentalist organization which members of Socialist Action have joined in large numbers. While they dominated the meeting, effectively running it, they never dared to advocate the necessity of a socialist revolution and the importance of fighting to build a vanguard party. In stark contrast to much of the left, we understand that tailing liberal environmentalists and trying to reform their organizations is a failing strategy for combating climate change. It will take a socialist revolution to permanently deal with it.

From the revolutionary Marxist point of view, there is only one permanent solution to the ongoing destruction of the environment and the climate change that accompanies it: international socialist revolution. A planned socialist economy, without concern for the profit of the capitalists, would be able to carry out extensive scientific research and allow the unhindered development of technology that can be used to provide clean energy for all. Any strategy short of this is a strategy for failure, which can only serve to disorient subjective revolutionaries.

Broad, often single-issue activist organizations claim to fight against many of the brutal realities of the capitalist system, whether that be racism, sexism, climate change, homophobia, etc. However, when these organizations are led by members of the ruling class or its ideological representatives, it is ensured that they remain one of many ways in which those genuinely concerned about oppression and exploitation are kept within the bounds of bourgeois respectability. In the U.S., the primary method of doing this is funnelling activists and potential militants into the graveyard of social movements, the Democratic Party (or other equally ineffective vehicles for revolutionary change, such as the Green Party). Members of such organizations can never, and  will never, be able to fundamentally deal with the issue of climate change so long as they are chained to their bourgeois misleaders, with the chain being their organization whose program for change relies on concessions from the ruling class. Strategies with the end-goal of putting pressure on the state are, at best, limited to mild reforms that do not hinder the power of the capitalist class. Well-meaning activists who take part in these organizations must understand that the issue of climate change cannot be dealt with separately from the struggle against capitalism.

Events like the Paris Climate Agreement have been hailed by many environmentalists, yet to the extent that it has done anything “good,” it has been minimal and, more importantly, is sanctioned by the vast majority of the ruling class, which means that any “progress” it creates will be on their terms. This solution is no solution at all. Even as scientists continue to tell us that we are already way past preventing damage from global climate change, a quick and immediate overhaul of the world’s energy production is completely out of the question so long as capitalism reigns. This slow, bourgeois-approved path towards a “green” earth is killing us. That some capitalists, seeing a potential business success in clean energy, have invested small amounts of money in it does not mean they can offer a genuine solution to the climate crisis. Insofar as “green energy” technology is developed, it has been done for the sake of profit. In fact, many of the companies behind the current sources of “dirty” energy — petrol, coal, etc. — are themselves the ones investing in clean energy sources.

The issue of climate change cannot be separated from an overall struggle for human liberation. The ‘environmentally concerned’ section of the bourgeoisie (and their organizations) are on the same side of class struggle as the oil companies. Struggles relating to the environment, such as at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, or labor struggles for workers in the energy industries — whether it be “clean” or “dirty” — point to the necessity of socialist revolution.  However energy is produced, the continued existence of capitalism means that oppression and exploitation live on. All efforts against climate change that are not part of a fight to overthrow capitalism once and for all can only help to prop up and maintain the current world order.

As Marxists, we understand that capitalism, despite its great advancements over pre-industrial feudalism, now limits rather than promotes the fullest of human potential due to the primacy of profits over the interests of humanity. The path to its overthrow through socialist revolution begins, first and foremost, with the construction of a vanguard party, which, containing the most advanced elements of the working class, would lead in the everyday struggles of the oppressed and show, by example, the path to victory. While no such party exists now, a first step towards its creation is the regroupment of revolutionaries on the basis of a program that rejects class collaborationism, opposes the rampant opportunism on the left currently, and draws from history the lessons that will allow revolutionaries to fight most effectively for a communist world.

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