portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

energy & nuclear | environment

The ISO and BP how Capitalism is destroying the planet do you agree?

The ISO is having a discussion about the BP oil spill and how Capitalism is destroying the planet. They are saying that Socialism would be better and if oil production was state controlled then we would not have these disasters happen. I don't agree an here is why.
Socilaism is a moral philosophy as is capitalism. Today we tend to think of them both as sciences but they started as moral philosophies and remain so today. Socialism shares with captalism as far as I can tell, and I am not the only one saying this a economic growth worldview. Which is to say Industrialization is inevitable and we can and must continue to grow the economy.
The big problem that I see with this is that we live on a finite planet and that there is only so much stuff that we can chew up and spitt out. A lot of people believe that science is going to save us, and I think that not only is this not possible it is foolish. This is coming from someone who has been studying peak oil for the last six years and believe it to be resl snd believe that we have already past it.
What are your thaughts on the matter? And does anyone want to go with me on the 29th to debate tgis with the ISO? Thanks

Here is a link to the event  http://portlandsocialists.org/

I'm afraid I have to disagree 20.Jul.2010 22:59

Thorn

As much as I despise the ISO (and I do) there is an important distinction between Capitalism and Socialism in any form. Capitalism by its very design requires the production of Capital and the expansion of Industry. When that expansion and production declines, you have a Recession. When it stalls, you have Market Failure/Depression. Industrialization and economic growth, while interrelated, are not interchangeable. In Marxian thought the Proletariat revolution shall occur when Capitalism produces a sufficiently industrialized and uniform global economy. The following stage of social development, Socialism, is intended to mark the period in time where the means of production - Industry - are used only to sustain the human race; rather than under Capitalism where they are used to expand and destroy Capital. While depletion shall continue under Socialism, the truth of the matter is that consumption is an inevitability of existence. They key point to focus on is the DIFFERENCE in depletion - like taking a sip of water in comparison to gorging yourself at an all you can eat buffet, Socialism is, in comparison, significantly less consumptive than Capitalism. This is to say nothing of how workplace democracy and decentralization (none of that Leninist garbage, genuine Socialism) will give us a far greater control of how much we consume than a continued reliance on a Bourgeoisie/Managerial class under Capitalism would.

Thorn is essentially right 21.Jul.2010 04:47

Mike Novack

Continuously pointing out how destructive capitalism is for the argument does NOT (by itself) make that socialism WILL be better in that regard.

Continuously pointing out that it is necessarily a characteristic of capitalism to require expansion and that THIS property might not be present under socialism does NOT mean that it will be absent. That's just an argument that socialism COULD POSSIBLY be better. But the people who keep making this argument refuse to specify any better model; in fact trefuse to specify ANY model. That makes their argument "any form of socialism would be better" and that simply is not the case.

Besides -- a major logic flaw thinking that arguing against capitalism is the same as arguing FOR socialism. For that to make sense you have to have already bought in to a theory of history that is purely linear with a directed arrow of "progress". In other words, have to BELIEVE (as in religious beliefs) that the only alternative to capitalism is socialism. Clearly in the past we humans have managed to organize our societies in ways that were neither (capitalism is at most a few hundred years old).

Don't take that wrong --- All I mean by that is "historical determinists" can't ASSUME all of us out here accept that theory of history as truth. Need to always be including in your arguments "and assuming that historical determinism is true and that we humans have "progressed" to the point where the only social arrangements possible are capitalism or socialism" THEN arguing against capitalism is arguing FOR socialism.

Re: Thorn is essentially Right 21.Jul.2010 20:50

Thorn

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Novack. "Historical Determinism" is a pejorative applied to Marxism by those who don't fully understand the nature of Marx's work. This is partly because Marxism is a complex subject, partly because it has been politicized, and partly because Leninist organizations like the ISO have really screwed it up. The "laws" that define progress in Marxist thought were not intended to serve as some supernatural endorsement of a particular ideology over another. Rather they were meant to emphasize the fact that as a system operates over an extended period of time, participants within that system begin to recognize certain consequences of that system as being inherent to it. Marx's Theory (emphasize on the word theory) was that Capitalism was going to produce a particular set of consequences as the masses, in turn, would come to several general conclusions about the desirability of Capitalism itself. The consequences of these realizations, the ensuing conflict and paradigm shift, were what Marx called Socialism.

Marx's critics have often derided his work for the conspicuous absence of a concise definition of Socialist society and its instrumentations. But that lack of definition is crucial to Marxist thought when you consider all of the aforementioned. Marx didn't believe we walk down the path of Socialism because "History" commanded us to, because we all became adherents to Marxist thought, because it is the "only" option available to us, Rather he argued that we build a society in contrast to Capitalism and in an effort to succeed where it fails. By taking the same system, projecting its consequences, Marx made a guess as to the qualities of that future society.

The accuracy of Marx's conclusions are undeniable. If you look at the sum of Anti-Capitalist thought and the forms of Anti-Capitalism which have prospered by means of the extent to which they resonate with the common man, you find a great deal of consistent and overlapping themes that are perfectly in line with the characteristics of Socialism as outlined by Marx. Many of these anti-capitalist philosophies have been critical of Marx and Marxism, many have been designed to account for the perceived failings of Marxism and yet none of them departed from the crucial elements of Marxism. Is this because we have been forced by the Party to formulate all Anti-Capitalist thought in a manner that coincides with Marx or is it because that in the process of formulating any alternative to Capitalism one inevitability is going to the very kind of conclusions Marx is talking about? Whether we have a successful Anarchist revolution, a PareCon revolution, the success of any revolution that comes from the working class in the way Marx talks about is going to be a vindication of Marxist thought.

And from that I'd disagree the argument that "rejecting Capitalism doesn't mean Socialism will be better in terms of the environment". If Capitalism gets so bad that some sort of global awakening takes place, you can rest assured that environmental degradation will play a role in it. If we're going to overthrow Capitalism and not establish a system that is inherently better than it, what is the point of overthrowing it in the first place? I know I - along with the millions of other ecologically-minded people out there - will continue to push for a sustainable future during the revolution and through the democratic channels of a Socialist society.