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By Ecosocialist Group
The world has reached the 21st century plunged into an ecological crisis unthinkable until a few decades ago. Is it rational to think that a system that cannot even apply human labor based on immediate human needs can do so to avoid environmental degradation?
The world has entered the 21st century immersed in a worrisome global reality. Despite prolonged economic growth, the inequality, poverty, injustice and violence that characterized the 20th century have not been resolved, and in many cases have even worsened. To all this, we must add the fact that the limits to this growth have begun to be evident, showing a world plunged into an ecological crisis unthinkable until a few decades ago. Human beings and their life on Earth, as we know it, are in danger.
This ecological crisis is not the product of short-term problems, or wrong policies, but has its roots in the basic foundations of the society in which we live and its mode of production, capitalism. It is not due to carelessness, or a suicidal tendency of humanity that environmental degradation occurs, but rather it is related to the absence of control and democratic and participatory planning of the economy. It is the social relations of production and distribution of merchandise prevailing in our society, which destroy the environment in which we live and of which we are part.
Capitalism, by producing an unprecedented development of the productive forces with the sole objective of increasing the private profit of a few and considering human labor and nature as commodities, degraded the planet in the last 200 years much more than in previous years. 4000. Global warming, water pollution, desertification, and other ways in which the environmental crisis expresses itself, are direct consequences of the private appropriation of the products of work and the insatiable search for surpluses. Is it rational to think that a system that cannot even apply human labor based on immediate human needs can do so to avoid environmental degradation?
The production destined to the creation of exchange values for the market and not to use values really necessary for the population, requires excessive energy consumption and natural goods to survive, and must create needs where there are none, developing useless goods and of short duration. The "American Way of Life", "having" before "being", human relationships mediated by things, are part of a bourgeois worldview that prevailed as the dominant model in the Western world and that today has reached its peak. maximum expression, putting a price on the atmosphere itself. Pollution and greenhouse gas emission rights, as well as the so-called "green bonds" are examples of how, behind an "environmentalist" discourse, the market system continues to try to dominate and impose its logic on everything that surrounds it.
In its constant need to produce and sell merchandise, the capitalist regime extends to previously unimagined places, air, water and land are commodified, which become mere things that can be bought in the market. There is an insurmountable contradiction between capitalism's inherent characteristic of constantly expanding itself and the concrete limits and much longer times that nature requires to reproduce.
The inequality generated by this system is not only of an economic nature, as is well described and analyzed by classical Marxism, but also takes the character of environmental inequality since on the one hand it is unequal in access to natural goods (each time plus the large monopolies control and concentrate the ownership of land and water) and, on the other hand, it generates inequality in the possibility of living in a healthy environment. The upper classes can “buy” their environment, while the highest levels of pollution and accumulation of waste are concentrated in the poor neighborhoods. The middle and lower classes generate value and wealth with their jobs, but receive the pollution and waste from the excessive consumption of the upper classes. Likewise, nature provides the raw material necessary for production and receives its wastes. In this way, the land and the worker create wealth and receive waste; that is the environment built by the capitalist system.
The same inequality is reflected globally. The richest countries on earth are the largest generators of waste and pollution due to their excessive consumerism, as well as those most responsible for global warming (80% of greenhouse gas emissions), although they represent only 20 % of the population.
The USA is the most emblematic case and its way of life should be an example of what not to do. It is the main responsible for the current environmental crisis. In addition, it is the largest arms producer in the world, and its army has bases in all parts of the planet where there are strategic natural assets, which shows an attempt at imperialist control of the ecosystem.
This is why any attempt to prevent the degradation of nature must re-pose the urgency of revolution, of a radical change that puts a brake on the march of history towards an ecological disaster on a planetary scale. As it is not possible to “green” capitalism, to stop the degradation of nature and defend the good living of the human being in the environment of which it is a part, we must eradicate Capital from social relations and build a new, just, egalitarian world and environmentally sustainable.
Latin America is one of the world's most privileged regions, rich in biodiversity and in scarce natural resources such as fresh water. But we also have a long history of looting our resources that begins with the arrival of the European conquerors, and does not stop with national independence. Millions of men and women of the original peoples of the Indo-American continent, whose relationship with Mother Earth was always incomprehensible to Western man, were massacred to make possible the looting of gold and silver, and thus finance the birth and development of capitalism.
Despite the fact that the peoples of Latin America have been looted and exploited for more than 5 centuries, for the global financial system it is the third world nations that owe it to the first world countries. If we count all the gold and silver that have been extracted from the American mountains, the thousands of hectares of native forests cut down, the lands devastated by monocultures, etc., and if to all that we add the costs involved in counteracting the effect of climate change for which we are not responsible, the debt is reversed. It is the first world countries that owe it to the poor countries. That is why it is essential to create a Latin American movement that demands the non-payment of the foreign debt, and the collection of the ecological debt. Latin America has the historical challenge of becoming an ecologically sustainable and socially equal region, and thus becoming the vanguard of global change.
Currently, despite the emergence of popular governments with intentions to change the neoliberal model of the 80s and 90s, some with socialist discourses and others more moderate, the economic model of an extractivist type and dependent on fossil energy sources, has not been modified. However, throughout the continent, from civil society, social movements, grassroots organizations and citizen assemblies emerge that are democratically constituted and mobilized in defense of their environment and their quality of life, thus facing the economic projects that violate their rights. But these, in general, are "defensive" movements that react to the specific threat, without a project of structural change, which is why it is essential to advance politically with a long-term program. Ecological movements need to understand that despite being able to achieve partial achievements in caring for nature, we will not be able to solve the problem if we do not question the capitalist system. In the same way, Latin American governments that are questioning the neoliberalism of the 90s, but not the capitalist system itself, reach a political limit in which it is necessary to decide whether to advance towards true social change or to settle for partial reforms that they do not solve the underlying problems.
In Argentina, with a government that despite its progressive rhetoric and some measures that attempted a change with respect to neoliberal policy, environmental policy has not improved, and the economic model based on the export of soybeans and minerals has intensified . This model has very serious consequences for the sustainability of our natural assets and significantly aggravates environmental inequality.
The Argentine mining code is shameful, it is the legal framework that made possible a tragic combination between looting and depletion of natural resources, corporate authoritarianism, institutional complicity, and pollution and degradation of the environment. The characteristics of mining have changed profoundly with the emergence of “open pit” production mega-mining projects, with a very high environmental impact, both in its ecological aspect, as well as in the social and cultural aspects. The consumption of water (in semi-desert areas) and the energy expenditure involved in each project are examples of how the capitalist system favors the creation of exchange value (aimed at global markets) over the use value of water and energy for local populations.
Regarding the soybean-exporter model, not only is native forests and forests being deforested for the plantation of soybeans to export to China, notably reducing the amount of land cultivated for grains intended for food, but also in order to obtain greater benefits economically, producers implement "direct seeding", which together with the use of polluting agrochemicals only leaves the soybean plant alive, thus destroying the fertility of the land. In this way, food sovereignty and the health of the population are put at risk with the objective that a minority obtain extraordinary profits in a few years.
On the other hand, the free availability of foreign currency meant that, with the privatization of YPF, investments in oil and gas exploration fell vertically and today the reserve situation is critical. At the same time that the country's energy base became foreign, sustainable technologies were not developed that can replace oil and gas when they are exhausted. In the fishing sector, with the case of hake, what happened some time ago in Peru is being repeated, where fish production was practically decimated due to overexploitation.
In all these cases there is a logic, the capitalist profit of the moment is privileged, revealing the incapacity of capitalism to plan in the long term and the benefit of a minority over the basic needs of the population. For all this, it is essential to reconsider the need for global economic planning with a social and ecological sense, but carried out from below, with the active participation of all wealth creators.
From Ecosocialism we propose a radical transformation of society, the importance of which falls on "Being" and not on "Having". We have on the horizon an economic, social, political and cultural revolution that requires starting to build the foundations of a new society here and now. A society that is based on:
a) social equality
b) participatory democracy
c) new ecological rationality
d) Collectivization of the means of production
e) Democratic and participatory planning of investment, production and consumption
f) new ecological technological structure of the productive forces.
We must urgently promote transformation policies at the national and regional level, from an ecological and socialist perspective. Reduce the working day; promote democratic planning of the exploitation of natural assets according to social needs (local, national and regional); promote the development of renewable energies with less environmental degradation: hydraulic, wind, solar, geothermal, etc .; transform agricultural and livestock production, orienting it towards integration and taking advantage of regional advantages to achieve food sovereignty; allow the extraction only of minerals that are essential for construction and industrial production and not for luxury items; give priority to the use of fresh water for human consumption and irrigation of agricultural production; clean up water basins; promote ecological technological and scientific development; promote waste recycling; and expand and improve public transportation. These and many more measures are what we must promote to begin the transformation of the world.
A society of this type requires the mobilization and active participation of the population, whether they indistinctly assume the role of producers or consumers. Therefore, it also means a cultural revolution where collective actions prevail over individualism.
At this historical moment, it is imperative that traditional Marxism free itself from the conceptions of the unlimited progress of the prevailing productive forces in what was called the "real socialism" of the Soviet field and incorporate the ecological dimension as part of the social transformation; likewise, the environmentalist tradition must free itself from neo-Malthusianist, economistic and technicist conceptions, and incorporate the Marxist analysis of social relations and the conception of nature.
We must promote the creation of a new political, social and ecological movement based on the Marxist critique of the capitalist system and that at the same time is capable of nourishing itself and articulating with the anti-capitalist sectors of other anti-capitalist political and cultural traditions (anarchism, indigenism, environmentalism, feminism, etc.) and broaden the social bases to all those who feel socially, culturally or environmentally affected by the domination of Capital and the logic of the market.
Ecosocialism represents the inevitable convergence between social and economic struggles and ecological struggles, since both end in the same conclusion: to reach final solutions to our problems, we must destroy capitalism. The goal is a society established on new foundations: association instead of competition; democratic planning of the economy instead of trade and profit; work, energy and resources for the satisfaction of the entire population and not for the luxury of a few.
Ecosocialism must be formed into a movement that, based on the particularities of each region, is articulated on a global level, since the enemy we must face and the risk we face are on a planetary scale. From the diversity of each struggle, we must set ourselves goals for radical changes worldwide. To protect the planet, we must change the world.
Ecosocialist Group. We are a recently formed discussion group. We propose to make a modest contribution to the strengthening of both the socialist movement and the environmental movement, whose trajectories have run through different channels. At least until now.
To contact us, send us comments or criticisms: [email protected]