“While, on the one hand, individuals must take responsibility, it is clear that it is not enough to criticize individual lifestyles without questioning the broader structural, political and economic conditions. Analyzing climate change as independent of capitalism means depoliticizing the issue ”.
Today, around the world, thousands of people, especially young people, are protesting and demanding action against climate change. Under the motto "Friday for the future”, Global strikes and massive demonstrations were called on March 15. In the light of statistics and forecasts on the causes and effects of climate change in recent years, the climate issue has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. While, on the one hand, individuals must take responsibility, it is clear that it is not enough to criticize individual lifestyles without questioning the broader structural, political and economic conditions. Analyzing climate change as independent of capitalism means depoliticizing the issue. In fact, almost all the conditions that have contributed to climate change can be traced back to the capitalist-consumerist system. In this sense, ecology will have to go beyond the simple “environmental Protection”. Instead, a meaningful ecological approach can lead to profound social, political and economic change and help us to develop renewed relationships between humans and nature and humans and society.
What is climate change and what are its effects?
In short, climate change is an increase in the average temperature on earth as a result of increased emission of so-called greenhouse gases (for example, carbon dioxide or methane) into the earth's atmosphere. Although these gases are naturally part of the Earth's atmosphere, through their greater presence the atmosphere becomes a “ceilingWhich preserves heat from the sun, a process known as the greenhouse effect. As in a greenhouse, heat is absorbed into the earth through the increased presence of greenhouse gases. These gases are released due to the use of fossil fuels, which are currently the most widely used energy source in the world. Cooking, heating, charging the phone, showering with hot water, driving a car, these things mostly require fossil sources like oil or coal. Especially the capitalist and consumerist system needs fossil energy to persist. The production of almost all industrial products depends on fossil fuels.
The increase in the average temperature on earth as a result of these processes does not mean that it suddenly becomes hot everywhere. The effects of climate change are much more complex and vary from one region to another. Some regions are increasingly affected by heat waves, others by humidity, others by increased rainfall and still others by drought. In general, more natural disasters occur, for example, as a result of rising sea levels, which mainly affects the population of coastal areas. In addition, many animal and plant species and their habitats are in danger. Many animals are or are not capable of adapting to climate change. In short, the capitalist system continues to exploit nature despite all the signs and forecasts and destroying the livelihood not only of human beings but of all flora and fauna. Particularly remarkable, and indeed scandalous, is the fact that the effects of climate change particularly affect those regions that have contributed the least to climate change and have the least means to adapt to its effects. Meanwhile, the industrialized capitalist states that are considered as the “more prepared for climate changeThey have the financial means to protect themselves, while doing nothing significant to stop climate change.
The capitalist economic system is based on the unlimited exploitation of the earth and its beings for the production of products that are increasingly absurd and unnecessary for the market. This surplus is not intended to cover the basic needs of society or to improve people's quality of life. On the contrary, this system can only survive at the expense of exploited workers and women and on the basis of extreme injustice towards the people of the so-called countries “underdeveloped”, Whose resources have already been looted and exploited since the 15th century by Europeans. Capitalism developed substantially at the expense of the colonies, workers, women, and nature.
When we look back in history we discover that so-called holistic worldviews prevailed, in which nature was considered alive and animate and in which the earth as a whole was seen as a living and contiguous organism. On the other hand, capitalist ideologies have strongly contributed to an oppressive relationship between human beings and nature and have gradually declared it dead and inferior. As early as the 16th century, scientists began to view the subjugation of nature as the mission of modern science. Nature, previously seen as a whole that also included human beings, was now declared as "the other”; a fragmented, dead and irrational nature that had to be controlled. We can say that the current recklessness towards nature, especially in industrialized countries, also has its roots in this presumption. There is a widespread fallacy that human beings could, and even should, limitlessly exploit nature and put it at the service of human beings. The current economic system is based on this idea.
When we organize today to protect our habitats and our future, we must first abandon this approach that sees nature as the other dead, unreasonable, subjugated and exploitable. Ultimately, this must mean a break with capitalism. I say ultimately, because it is clear that right now capitalism surrounds us everywhere and all the time, whether we are benefiting from it or being exploited by it. For this reason, a genuine organized fight against climate change must gradually become a reality, an alternative here and now in order to remain independent. Otherwise, without breaking with capitalism, we will constantly be led into its traps.
How concretely is a capitalism trap?
Here's an example: Growing environmental awareness in society produces pressure, both in politics and economics. Many companies adapt to this new situation and put new products on the market, which are supposed to be more environmentally friendly and which aim to facilitate consumer awareness. The packages are provided with brands such as vegan or organically produced and communicate a supposed environmental awareness to the producer. Likewise, consumers feel “insuranceWhen they put organic kiwis, soy yogurt and vegan zucchini in their cloth bags. Vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are certainly welcome, especially considering the reality of industrial agriculture, which is torture for animals and also causes more than one sixth of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, even a vegan lifestyle is not revolutionary or cruelty-free when the underlying relationship to nature and its resources remains the same. In recent years, being vegan has become an explosive new trend and new markets have developed around it. However, most of these vegan companies do not care about ecology, but lead us to the lie of ethical and ecological consumption. There are several themes here: Neither the exploitation of workers nor the exploitation of nature is threatened when people are encouraged to participate in so-called ethical consumption. Furthermore, most of the time consumerist and greedy behavior, another crucial aspect, is not being particularly questioned. In fact, many people join the main cultures in this way, constantly searching for new taste experiences and recipes. "exotic”Without respecting the resources of nature.
This brings us back to the assumption that nature is fragmented and lifeless. As long as we propose to move only within existing conditions, our resistance will also remain fragmented. For example, adopting a vegan lifestyle, one can choose a “piece”, One aspect of the fight, while ignoring the other parts.
For this reason, a comprehensive struggle based on a renewed relationship with the land could be much more sustainable and meaningful. We must develop a consciousness in which human beings are part of nature and not "rational rulers”About nature. Especially in big cities, the reality is that nature is seen as something external that must be actively sought to be experienced. We have to "find"First a piece of nature to be able to feel its presence. We are looking for a park, a forest, a river, the sea; Deliberately and for many people, this feels like an artificial and forced encounter that reminds them of the fact that this nature is normally absent in their daily lives. It often reminds them of their own alienation. For example, we visit forests and find that we have no idea which mushrooms and plants are edible. We do not know if trees communicate underground, using their roots. We do not know which insects, birds and mammals have their habitat here, how they are related to each other and how we should behave if we meet them. Learning about these things has become a scientific privilege, which most of the time is used to the detriment of nature. Generally, there is a lack of basic knowledge about the processes and organisms of the earth.
Women, for example, have gradually lost their knowledge of their own body and sexuality in recent centuries, not only as a result of patriarchy, but also as a result of general self-alienation in society. Today, many adults know very little about their own bodies, their genitalia, or the natural processes involved in human reproduction. Basic knowledge about ourselves and about nature should always be actively investigated, since there is no social structure to share this knowledge among the community. As long as we lack this knowledge, we put ourselves in a permanent state of dependency. In this sense, we can say that autonomous and self-sufficient societies are always societies where the knowledge we need for our lives is collective. A society that possesses the practical means and the necessary experiences is capable of supporting itself and providing for itself. A society based on self-reliance and radical democracy builds the framework of a life in which nature is not exploited and left in the hands of the rich and the rulers, but is valued and respected.
At the root of ecological activism is a renewed relationship with the earth, its beings, its water, its air; a relationship that treats all of nature with respect. In practice, this means fighting capitalism, which has always been based on destruction and exploitation, and creating an alternative that paves the way for society to a self-reliant and self-determined life.
Komun Academy - Author: Hêlîn Asî - March 15, 2019 - Translated by Rojava Azadi Madrid