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THE LATTER DAY LUDDITES environmentalism, climate change and the working class

Started by GREGORYABUTLER, December 13, 2009, 07:23:23 am

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environmentalism, climate change and the working class
It has been widely reported in the media that the average temperature of the planet has been increasing for the past 100 years - and will continue to go up even more dramatically as we go further into the 21st century.
We're talking about a projected increase of 6 degrees centigrade over the next century - which may not sound like much, but, reportedly, this could lead to the melting of the Arctic Ocean, Greenland and Antarctic icecaps, an increase in sea levels worldwide and a potentially drastic change in world climate.
The reports say that increased carbon dioxide emissions are the cause of this climate change - with the bulk of those increased emissions coming from industry, transport and electrical power generation.
Basically, the productive activities of modern capitalist civilization are causing major changes in the planet's climate.
That is only a brief layperson's summary of the climate change theory - but it's safe to say that the majority of scientists agree that climate change is a reality.
Of course, there is a huge difference between scientific facts and political realities - and a whole political program has been built around climate change.
Many environmental activists have made drastic predictions of worldwide chaos due to climate change - and the solution they hold forth is just as drastic.
The more radical environmental activists call for the end of international trade, the elimination of cargo ships (which haul 90% of the world's international freight), the elimination of passenger air travel (which has made fast and low cost international travel accessible to millions of migrant workers, tourists and commercial travelers), the wholesale reductions of world population (in particular, the populations of states that are largely Black, Hispanic or Asian, interestingly enough), mass reductions in world living standards (in particular, the standard of living of working class people in the imperialist countries), an end to all attempts to abolish or reduce the poverty of Third World workers and farmers and abolition of immigration and migration for workers and the poor.
If this program sounds kinda fascist - that's because, essentially, it is.
The environmental extremists advocate what some call "bioregionalism" - that is, there would be little to any global trade, and in each area, people would only be allowed to consume products that can be produced locally.
That is, if you live in New York or Berlin, you would not be allowed to buy a banana - and if you live in American Samoa or Papua New Guinea, you would be forbidden to eat a can of spam.
There have also been calls by some environmentalists - like Kim Scipes - for wholesale population removal in certain allegedly "environmentally sensitive" regions - such as the American Southwest.
In plain English, Scipes would have the majority of the residents of Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and other major cities forcibly deported from their homes.
Scipes has also called for rationing of private car ownership - with each family only allowed one car (even if both partners are employed) and, presumably, unmarried folks barred from car ownership entirely - and making it illegal for homeowners to have a lawn or a single family house.
Some environmentalists also call for urban workers in Third World countries to be forced to leave their homes and move to the rural villages where their relatives live - even if there are no jobs for them in those towns!
All of this repression and forced pauperization is justified in the name of "saving the planet", which will allegedly be destroyed if these massive changes are not met.
It's also quite clear that not everybody would be subject to these restrictions - as two "ecosocialist" environmentalists, Michael Yates and Fred Magdoff said "we're not calling for everybody to be poor..."
Of course, logically, that means they ARE calling for SOME people to be poor - and, very pointedly, for other folks NOT to be poor.
I leave it to the reader's imagination as to which population groups Yates and Magdoff feel deserve to be poor - and which groups should not be poor!
Of all the extremists who've embraced this ecofascist agenda, the most odd and tragic group are the "ecosocialists" - folks who have twisted an ideology based on human emancipation and enabling all human beings to benefit from the bounty of modern civilization, and twisting it to fit in with a luddite anti progress agenda.
What's even more interesting is how neatly the agendas of the environmental extremists - and even the erstwhile "ecosocialists" fit in so neatly with the corporate agenda being put forth by the world's dominant financial interests.
Of late, it has become a widely accepted dogma of mainstream environmentalists - and their corporate and mainstream media backers - that worldwide standards of living are "unsustainable" and need to be reduced.
Or, to be more precise, the standard of living of workers in the imperialist countries and workers and farmers in the Third World are too high and need to be reduced.
This goes side by side with demands that Third World countries be forbidden to develop their industrial capacity and their ability to compete in world markets.
In a way, this actually IS about saving the world - the present capitalist world.
The capitalist system is in a deep crisis - which the present economic meltdown has magnified and made more dramatic.
To survive this crisis, the capitalists of the major imperialist countries need to batter down the standard of living of the working classes in their countries - because they need higher profits, and, since all profit comes from human labor, the only way to get those higher profits is to impose lower wages on workers.
The imperialist countries also need to prevent potential competitors - in particular China - from expanding their industrial capacity and taking over world markets presently controlled by corporations from the big imperialist states - the US, Japan, Canada and the Western European imperialist powers.
The environmentalism thing is a convenient political justification for this call for the impoverishment of most of humanity to benefit a greedy handful of investors in the rich countries of the world.
But you can see WHY these guys would call for that - after all, the corporate titans are protecting their vast fortunes, and it's perfectly natural they should do so.
The motives of the environmental extremists and the so called "ecosocialists" are just sad.
I suspect that a lot of these folks sincerely believe that the world is in danger - and the only way they can see saving the world is to reduce most of the world's people into an eternity of perpetual pauperism and mass scale misery.
But, on the real, is a world like that even worth saving?
Especially since the only way to successfully impose that kind of mass misery on the productive classes of the world would involve a global police state of unprecedented proportions - a prospect that (I would hope) is as repugnant to the ecosocialists and the environmental extremists as it is to you and me!
So, what is the answer to climate change?
Well, historically, the capitalists have never really given a damn about toxic waste emissions from their industry (unless the pollution directly affected their residences) - it has always been the working class that has fought against pollution.
Most of the great pollution control innovations of 20th century industry were a direct result of mass struggles - usually led by the working class - to reduce waste emissions.
It follows from that that the best way to prevent harmful carbon dioxide emissions is for working class people on a mass scale to fight for the reduction of carbon dioxide pollution.
This is NOT a call for reduced industrial production - which the environmentalists and the corporate interests would have us believe is the only way to reduce carbon dioxide waste emissions!
This is a call for factories, power plants, trucks, cars, aircraft and ships to be refitted so their waste emissions can be reduced or eliminated.
Much of this can be done with present day technology - and the development of the technology that does not presently exist is well within the capacity of the world's industrial base.
Actually, to produce all the necessary pollution control equipment and to replace the present polluting equipment, this would involve a drastic INCREASE in world industrial production!
In other words, workers would use our strength and skills to build the world out of the present climate crisis!
A good small scale example of this is the present drive to refit the trucks that haul sea freight to and from the piers of Los Angeles Harbor - a drive that the truck drivers themselves have been actively involved in.
Basically, all of the present polluting trucks in LA Harbor will be replaced with modern low emissions vehicles.
This initiative can be and should be expanded to the world's entire motor truck fleet - with the cost of the refit being paid by the trucking companies and the shippers, rather than the drivers, of course!
Such a global truck refit would involve a great expansion of world truck production - which, of course, would translate into more jobs for autoworkers.
And similar initiatives can be repeated up and down the economy - cleaning the planet and creating jobs at the same time.
Of course, the demand should be that all of these jobs be unionized jobs paying the prevailing wage for that class of work in that vicinity.
In the Third World, in the huge working class shantytowns that exist around every major city in those countries - there is an urgent need for modern facilities in those homes (central heating, electricity, stoves, ovens, hot and cold running water, indoor toilets, baths/showers ect) - and the electric, gas, water and sewer systems that are necessary for those conveniences to operate, as well as regular garbage collection and street cleaning in those communities.
Making the communities where most of the world's working class lives decent places to live is a vital task - and, sewage treatment and garbage collection would do much to eliminate another major world pollution problem.
Also, gas and electric utility lines would do much to reduce carbon emissions from backyard cooking fires and fire torches and lanterns used for lighting.
Tens of millions of jobs would have to be created - a great boon to the many many unemployed people in those shantytowns.
Like their counterparts in the imperialist countries, the green workers of the Third World also need and deserve decent wages and unionization - their green jobs need to be good jobs too!
As it happens, there is a wing of the environmental movement that does advocate for what they call "Green Jobs" - and they should be applauded (and pushed to call for the world wide expansion of green jobs programs and for all those green jobs to be good paying jobs, of course).
But, much of the capitalist class has a problem with this green jobs approach to climate change - cause they'd have to pay for it, and higher wages and more jobs for workers translates to less profit for them.
Also, it would be very expensive for them to refit all of world industry with low emissions machinery and vehicles - and that would be a disaster for them, from a profitability point of view.
So it's perfectly understandable why the capitalists of the world do not want to pay the cost to clean the world.
The question is why do the environmental extremists and the "ecosocialists" oppose the green jobs road to fighting climate change?
And why do they have such a starkly fascistic, anti progress, anti development and anti civilization approach to dealing with the climate issue?
That's a damned good question and I challenge the environmentalists and especially the "ecosocialists" to justify their luddite politics, which, in effect, call for the end of modern civilization and industry.
As for the working class, our interests our clear.
As a class, we stand for abundance for all - not the capitalist ethic of plenty for the few and privation for the many.
We need to use all of the power and productivity of modern industry to clean the world, while raising up all the world's poor to the decent modern standard of living that modern industrial civilization can provide to every man, woman and child on this planet  - and if the capitalists stand in our way in doing so, we need to remove them from power.
Their selfish greed got us into this fix.
And our skills and strength are the only thing that can get us out of it.
-         commentary by GREGORY A. BUTLER, LOCAL 608 CARPENTER
            Originally published on Sunday, December 13, 2009