By Pedro Campos*, Photos: Caridad
HAVANA TIMES, June 11 – With its wars for the control of its maritime and terrestrial oil routes, with its greenhouse gases, with the destruction of rainforest areas that shield the great treasures of biodiversity, and now with its spewing of raw crude into the ocean, predatory petro-centric capitalism claims victims on and under the sea. Citizens from all over the planet need more information on all the consequences of this system’s most recent catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
This disaster should serve to highlight the true cause behind it and to produce an international mobilization that rallies people around the world to struggle against that system. What is needed is more, much more, information about this latest phenomenon, as well as an outcry against all of its disastrous consequences.
The corporation affected by the disaster will turn to its underwriters. The governments of the affected countries will “ask for the bill” so that British Petroleum pays for the damage caused to their nations. The company will be fined, platform safety measures will be strengthened, and legislation will be reformed as it relates to the prospecting, extraction, exploitation and sale of oil. But will this be enough to reverse the ecological damage, or the probable disappearance of entire species, or the invisible disaster that is taking place on the coasts, under the ocean depths and in the skies?
It is no longer possible to continue hiding the fact that exploitative capitalism, seeking profits at any cost, is the main cause of all the destruction occurring around the planet. That system extends from the north to the south and from the east to west. People will have to advance the best they can toward socialism, otherwise the deterioration of the Earth’s climate and environment will end up making existence difficult or impossible for human life and that of many other species.
When will people stand up against such abuse?
What more needs to happen before people stand up against the abuse of nature by international capital?
Freely associated types of cooperative relations of production —self-management relations generic to socialism— are superior to market wage-labor relations given their moral implications: they eliminate exploitation, alienation and class differences, while stimulating collectivism, equality, democracy, social justice and by making more time available for spiritual, cultural, investigative and recreational development in the lives of human beings.
However, and especially, for very concrete practical reasons these are superior in terms of their consequences for life on earth. When producing to satisfy needs —and not for obtaining profits— this promotes resource savings, offers a greater quality and durability of goods, and does not support consumerism that acts as a predator of nature. Consequently, this stimulates the introduction of clean, anti-contaminating techniques and energy sources, without sparing costs.
In this way —when not producing for financial profit— production relations of a cooperative, self-management type spontaneously extend to the preservation of the environment and ecosystems. They avoid the use of unnecessary chemicals and toxins that are demanded by for-profit production; instead, they promote the interweaving of human beings with nature. At the same time, this understands that the sole way of satisfying the demands of growing populations will only be achieved based on preserving the Earth in the condition that has facilitated the development of life.
The practical evidence of such advantages can be found in any cooperative, nationally or abroad, as well as in indigenous communities that live in cooperative patterns, although rudimentarily so.
As long as the priority is to make money, to find profitable advantages on the international market and to obtain profits —regardless of how this is organized, be it by private capitalists or by a state— the world will be in danger of disasters like that now taking place in the Gulf. We will be in danger of extinction.
Looking for excuses
Some assert, “The problem is that we can’t remove ourselves from the capitalist world in which we live. Socialism has to occur simultaneously in all countries. It has to begin with the most developed ones…”
This is the justification of those who never, in any place, will bring about socialism. Some people who before coming to power considered socialism, then they “decided” that the conditions weren’t right!
These people wonder, “But socialism in a single country?”
Doesn’t it have to start with one country? And who says there aren’t currently elements of socialism in the core of world capitalism?
“Revisionism!” they cry.
Revisionists are the people who up-ended the theories of Marx concerning the cooperative, libertarian, emancipatory and humanist character of socialism and continued with the alienating wage-labor, the new slavery that they never suggested abolishing. Those were the people who dogmatized some of his ideas as well as others that never belonged to him.
Those were the people who interpreted the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as the setting-up of an anti-democrat, violent, repressive, and sanguinary regime administered by a party (not as a democratic republic of freely associated workers).
Those are the people who see an incompatibility between socialism and human rights; the people who forgot all the teachings of the Paris Commune systematized by Marx and Engels; the people who strengthened the bureaucratic apparatus of the State, instead of doing anything to eradicate it.
These are the people who see the leading role not in the new class of freely associated workers, not in people, but in the “vanguard workers party.” They are people who never understood Marxism as being concrete practice, but as theory that must be imposed in practice by a group of saviors, etc.
All those people, with their schematic deformations of Marxism, served only to discredit and destroy the socialist hopes that arose with the October Revolution. They have in fact contributed to the further expansion of capitalism since the end of the last century, and with it the catastrophe that the environment is now suffering.
The international capitalist system was already in its imperialist phase at the end of the 19th century when the US intervened in the war for Cuban independence from Spain. In its continual search to expand its capital and influence, it went from a coal-based system to the current oil-centric world. Accompanying this was its irrational consumption of raw materials, water and land, as well as the production of artificial food and medications for plants, animals and people (chemical fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, toxic chemical-pharmaceutical products, synthetic foods, etc.). Combined, all of this generated ecological imbalances, destroyed the environment that facilitated the development of human beings on the planet, depleted the limited natural resources that the earth provides, and generated dysfunctions and complications for nature and all living beings.
Nature has its defense mechanisms
With nature, which is a system in permanent search for balance, any damage done to it brings on defense mechanisms that fight against those who try to destroy it. Its worst enemy is not the human race that it engendered, like other species, but the system of destructive production based on the pursuit of profit at the expense of others of the same species.
Profit-making corporations of capitalism and the countries dominated by them prioritize their expenditures and investments on preserving the power of vested interests. This explains the arms race, war, repression, the use of the new technologies for these ends or their being put on the market when they offer potential for profitability, especially for the continuation of an oil-dependent world.
Research and development of advanced technologies that seek resource savings and that can displace vested interests from the market are not only limited, but are also obstructed by capitalist states alleging that these are “unaffordable.” It is logical that they act this way. The development of new, clean and non-polluting technologies —such as solar, eolic, tidal, and geothermal energy, for example— hold the possibility of displacing petro-centrism.
This would transform into useless scraps of waste all of the capital invested in the prospecting, extraction, processing and consumption of petroleum and its derivatives (the grand capitalist enterprise of the 20th century that has cost humanity so much blood, especially in the oil-producing countries that imperialisms attempts to control).
Likewise, the development of new systems of rapid public transportation, with minimum energy consumption and maximum security, hold the potential to outperform oil-dependent modes of transportation. This would transform into museum pieces most modern automobiles, buses, ships and airplanes, with all their system of terminals and supplies, as well as other industries of modern capitalism.
For all those reasons, the great US Empire invests irreplaceable amounts of resources in armaments and attempts to save the system of financial speculation. Meanwhile, relatively little is invested in scientific research and in generating modern, non-polluting techniques that would threaten to displace petro-centrism.
Gulf mess as an alert
Hopefully this disaster in the Gulf will alert the American people, and in this way they will exert pressure so that their government accelerates anti-petro-centric policies. Because he’s Black, Obama already knows that he could face a possible bullet in the future, though perhaps his Secret Service entourage will prevent that; however, to oppose the vested interests would generate such a firestorm against him that both he and that circle of bodyguards would be eliminated.
Only a great popular mobilization of all peoples of the world against predatory and petro-centric capitalism will be able to save the planet from the disaster it is condemned to by the thirst for profits.
That’s why today, on a planetary scale, we shouldn’t point the finger at anyone in particular; instead, we struggle against the system of capitalist wage-labor exploitation, which is the culprit behind the environmental disaster, as Bolivian President Evo Morales has pointed out. We must proceed along all possible paths as best we can, inside or outside of the profit system.
We must develop new cooperative and self-managerial forms of the organization of production that adopt, develop and consume new technologies capable of displacing petro-centrism and consumerist production, which are predators of nature and the environment. We must generate a new eco-environmentalist and self-sustainable social consciousness.
*To contact Pedro Campos write to: [email protected]