Ecosocialism: an idea whose time has come


Joao Camargo

Humanity today is plagued by several crises: a public health crisis, an economic crisis, a financial crisis, a crisis of nature, a climate crisis. The various threads leading to these crises can be found in the driving force of social and environmental destruction: capitalism.

The crisis of capitalism that we are experiencing today is conjunctural, a kind of general rehearsal for the civilizational collapse associated with the degradation of environmental and material conditions created by this production and distribution system based on the accumulation of capital by the theft of surplus value from Labor, extraction, destruction and degradation of Nature’s resources. The current crisis of capitalism is conjunctural, it is its neoliberal version that is currently going through the organic and final crisis: the institutions of global capitalism, be it finance, multinationals, governments that manage their national sections or their political parties, are as discredited as the results of their governance and economic planning. What they have to show is unprecedented austerity, social and moral degradation and environmental destruction unparalleled in the history of our species. They defend this by proclaiming economic growth, proclaiming GDP and superfluous consumption, applauding even when the destruction of what is invaluable “generates” “capital”. They build their success on mountains of bones and ashes.

Deglobalization is not something that will happen in the future, it is something that is already here. Social deglobalization is done from the top down and already has its political commanders: Trump, Bolsonaro, Duterte. The rise of nationalism (which is defended by a good part of national capitalisms) is the first part of this deglobalization, although it is more obvious in matters that impact Humanity and its future – such as climate change, human rights or pandemics – and only after on matters that impact the international capitalist bourgeoisie, such as trade and financialization. Economic deglobalization, the antithesis of capitalism, will be built by environmental destruction, in the form of natural disasters and in the form of pandemics.

With the coronavirus crisis, another phase of deglobalization and the organic crisis of neoliberal capitalism precipitates: the rise of the indispensability of public services, the rescue of entire economies, the collapse of much of the useless economy, incomes and interest, financial transactions, mass tourism, import and export with no other orientation than profit making. Entire sectors of the capitalist economy will not rise in the next decade. Much of the essential economy will also be affected by the threads that have been sewn to the heavy anchor of capital. The window of possibilities for the possibility of repeating the recipe for the austerity of the last crises closes: there is no creditor when the whole economy collapses and there will be no economy without income. Mass unemployment will tend to revive yet another oxygen bag for capitalism, now with a clean face. Consumption stimulation and monetary measures will be glorified, with unconditional basic income – paid directly through money printed at a bank – or through direct subsidy to basic accounts – house, water, electricity, food – given through money printed at a bank . There will be helicopters of money, bazookas of money, and all of them will be burned at the stake of speculation, hoarding, opportunism, because that is the main characteristic of capitalism. Speculating vultures prowl everywhere, advancing on sectors in trouble to suck out the last pulsations and go on to invest in public funds, they will embezzle what they can, they will steal everything that is at hand.

Capitalists are already heard asking for money. Those who have just spat on modest notions such as the welfare state reach out and ask that the visible hand of the state continue to deliver the products of labor created by others. They are already asking for an end to quarantines, to let some people die because the “economy” has to start running again. The most unambiguous run to try to patent any cures for this pandemic and quadruple the cost of essential medical products. Charitable hot flashes pass with the drag of the weeks, but they are little more than the money they used to spend on advertising. Its beneficence is, as it always has been, propaganda.

Today’s governments don’t know what to do. They therefore put themselves in a position between capital and social, some oscillating to one side, others to others. In the capital of capitalism, Donald Trump promises to save all businessmen while letting private healthcare companies decide who lives and who dies, while supermarket lines are shorter than lines to buy guns and bullets. At the heart of Europe’s industrial capitalism, Angela Merkel promises to acquire and exercise control over key sectors of the economy, while her dauphin Macron already speaks of nationalizations. When the acute phase of the pandemic is over, they will do everything to return to “normality”, giving back to the hands of the capitalist bourgeoisie the commands of the economy to plan it at will.

If there was no climate crisis, the coronavirus epidemic would be the main global event in our lives. But as there is a climate crisis, it is not. We already live in a new reality of Humanity, the overwhelming global trend of a new environment that will spit out globalization, positivism and capitalism. The question is one and one alone: will Humanity be spat out with them or will it seek a collective intelligence that replaces an environmental and social reality created by the capitalist system to create stratification, to promote stratification, to ossify stratification and justify it theoretically, through logical fallacies and historical lies, through the erasure of peoples, cultures, genders and alternatives?

The need for a constantly expanding market for its products has taken capitalism to all latitudes, to all ecosystems, to the entire surface of the globe. Capitalism must rest everywhere, establish itself everywhere, establish connections everywhere. Destroy everywhere. It is a theory that clashes with reality. No, there is no infinite growth in a finite system like planet Earth. We have reached several biogeophysical limits in the last decades and with that we have already destroyed something that we have enjoyed without any effort during the last 12 thousand years: a stable climate that allowed us, after almost 300 thousand years of hunting-collection and small numbers, to settle in many more territories than before, planning food for several years, being more, living together, discussing together, learning collectively, develop writing, music, literature, painting, theater, civilization. This destruction is the legacy that capitalism leaves humanity. We can prevent that its legacy to Humanity is also the extinction of civilization. How?

Ecosocialism is a political movement for the future, based on safeguarding ecological balance, preserving healthy environments, defending those who work and refusing the capitalist mode of production. It is a current of environmental and climatic action based on a Marxist analysis critical of the fixation with commodification and the ascension of exchange value, critical of the logic of the markets and profit and the refusal of the bureaucratic authoritarianism of “real socialism” experiences. It is a political movement that proposes the primacy of use values, the satisfaction of real needs, social equality, the safeguarding and recovery of nature and natural means, which unequivocally affirms the economy as a subsystem of the environment.

We return to Marx: “Work is not the source of all wealth. Nature is both a source of use values (and it is certainly in these that material wealth consists!) And work, which is itself the manifestation of a force of nature, human work. ” Ecosocialists reject market ecology and socialism based on commodities and exchange value as guidelines.

An eco-socialist society will be based on ecological rationality, on the collective ownership of the means of production, on the democratic planning of production in order to define investments and productive objectives with a view to meeting the real needs of humanity. The solution is not a “general consumption” limitation, but a change in consumption, ostentation, waste, alienation and accumulation that prevails in the capitalist order. In this sense, reforms are insufficient, because they fail to replace the priority given to profit by the need to put the social and the ecological ahead. For that it is necessary to change History, for that it is necessary one, many revolutions.

Naturally, there will be many problems with planning and transition: tensions, contradictions and structures of power that will try to dominate the democratic process, but that is the nature of democracy, it does not guarantee security. Market mechanisms and the technocratic dictatorship, on the other hand, give us the guarantee of destruction.

The future of those who work is essential in eco-socialism, but we do not believe in the positivist view of technological magic to resolve environmental destruction or in the view of an authoritarian ecological dictatorship. To solve the problem of employment, there must be a definitive division of the notions of development and growth. To do this, it is necessary to end the terrible waste of capitalism, based on the production of useless things, to end artifices such as program obsolescence, and to focus work on the real needs of the people: water, food, clothing, housing, transportation, an environment healthy. To make the needs fit in reality, commercial advertising must be suppressed and replaced by information and discussion. We must finally replace “having” with “being”, working less hours and seeking personal satisfaction through cultural activities, sports, arts, eroticism and politics, instead of being driven by a compulsory ambition for the accumulation of dead objects and property.

After this pandemic is over, one of two inevitabilities will be presented to the peoples of the world: Hayek or Keynes, economics of absolute social and environmental cruelty or economics of absolute environmental destruction. None of them will solve the environmental crisis and the climate crisis. None of them are inevitable, but by default they will always be the plan that the leaders of global capitalism and national capitalisms will set in motion. The return to normality is the return to the path of collapse. It can not happen. The organic crisis of neoliberal capitalism has to be transformed into the final crisis of capitalism and this will not happen by omission, only by action.

It is time for ecosocialists, in front of the entire world, to announce a new vision, to announce their objectives and their strategies to offer a future to Humanity, defeating the historical, moral and biological misery of capitalism.

DisclaimerOpinions expressed in articles are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of other members of the Global Ecosocialist Network

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