GUEST BLOG: Dave Brownz – Climate change: from Capital to Commune

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The three big crises of our time are all part of the crisis of the Capitalocene. Economic crisis means that capitalism has exhausted its ability to produce profits without destroying nature. The extinction crisis means that nature is fighting back against end of the biosphere. The third crisis is that of revolutionary leadership. How to build the a revolutionary movement with a program to lead the revolution to end capitalism and build the Commune?

A decade ago, Adam Sacks denounced climate activists for failing to get to the root cause of climate change. But for Sacks the root cause was the wrong turn humans took when they embarked on rapid industrialization, hierarchies of power and destruction of nature. The solution was to apply the correct ideas to reverse this process, and create local, democratic and collective economies.

Around the same time, some Marxists argued it was not the wrong ideas, but capitalist class exploitation that was the cause of the destruction of nature, and that the only way to stop the collapse of the ecosystem was full-on activism to overthrow capitalism and build a world socialist society.

A decade has passed and the ability to stop and reverse climate change is less likely even with a socialist revolution. And still the majority of humanity fails to act, or does so only in order to reform capitalism. Today, such is the damage to the ecosphere, more climate activists are openly calling for the end of capitalism.

This sounds radical but it is not even that. Capitalism for most means the market, precisely what bourgeois ideology argues when it talks about equality and freedom to buy and sell. Most still claim that the Anthropocene is an aberration from true capitalism caused by rich and powerful people putting themselves before nature and humanity.

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But as we argue here, radicalism does not go the root of capitalism. It does not recognise that rich and powerful people are motivated by profit because as the owners of capital they can accumulate wealth only by means of exploiting labor and the rest of nature to the point of destruction. There can be no reconciliation of capitalism with nature.

Hence, capital can only survive by destroying the means of its own survival, nature. This is why the current crisis is existential. It is terminal because it combines both economic stagnation (the decline of profitable production) and the destruction of the ecosphere. Humanity must destroy capitalism and give birth to the embryo of socialism to survive as the fully developed Commune.

We have to understand that the fundamental contradiction between nature and capital is the root cause of the failure of capitalist production and that this knowledge is the key to our survival. Capitalism must be overthrown by the producers, who go on to build a society in which production is for need, and is sustainable because the union of nature with society is restored.

Critical to this transition is the capacity of the producers to organize democratically and smash capitalism and all its institutions. To do this the working people (producers) have to escalate their direct action against capitalism and all its institutions to survive, learning the hard lessons, that nothing can be defended or won without a global socialist revolution.

To overcome the crisis of production which is also the extinction crisis, we have to resolve the third crisis – that of revolutionary leadership. Revolutionaries fight to build an international democratic movement modelled on the Commune where all delegates are elected and recallable, are paid no more than the average workers’ wage, and militias are built to defend the movement from inevitable state repression and fascist gangs.

In that movement all political currents debate solutions. Reformists try to keep the movement limited to what is ‘realistic’ or ‘feasible’ within capitalism. That is no solution. Anti-Capitalist radicals fight to overcome those limitations and face state and fascist violence with organised and armed defence. But there is no agreed model of a future society in harmony with nature. Models based on indigeneity, localism, technical fixes, etc., fail to understand that the embryo of socialism conceived by capital is already straining to be born.

Marxists stand on the lessons of history: that capitalism in destroying nature has exhausted its historical mission; that no concessions can be made to the ruling class; no compromises around the sharing of power; no trust in bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leaders; no faith in the police or army taking our side; no war but class war and no victory but socialist revolution!

As a Marxist I argue that without overcoming the most dangerous crisis, that of revolutionary leadership, there can be no successful revolution against the Capitalocene, no chance to reverse ecocide and the threat of extinction, and as a result, no new society in harmony with nature that makes it possible for humanity to develop to its full freedom in the form of the Commune.

Dave Brownz is TDBs guest Marxist blogger because every Left wing blog needs a Marxist.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Lust for authority can be so overpowering that other paths to power driven by the recognition that that authority could destroy us, the possibility of revenge over the old system is intoxicating, there fore revenge and conquest must be rejected.

    • Lust for authority? What are you talking about? Revolutionary leadership is not some self-appointed junta. Its is all those who work for a living, and who recognise the truth that capitalism has to go for us to live, and who form a democratic movement. That movement since it leads is also the leadership. Those who cop out, or otherwise do not live up to what the democratic majority agree, are thrown out of that leadership. Fear that democracy cannot be the mechanism that frees us, is a slander against the common working people. Coming from the petty bourgeois ‘left’ it is an attempt to deny workers agency. Coming from the ‘right’ it is a cynical argument used by bosses and their agents that betrays fear of the revolutionary masses.

      • Dave, you ask any leader that can be correctly labeled as “evil” if they thought that they where doing great things. Of course everyone thinks that they are doing great things. Like the strong men that oppose the truley awful tyrants, Y’know they all thought they where gods gift to humanity, just as the revolutionary leader surveys his chess board. It’s just that there are only a few ways to organises billions of people and eventually those systems hit on pretty much the same people. The sooner we dispense with these notions of power and control the sooner we can begin to make important decisions. Y’know I would make rather spend my time thinking beautiful thoughts than deploy my reasoning on better ways of killing shit.

  2. I thought when I was reading this blog that it was beautifully expressed, telling important truths. So Sam’s ‘beautiful thoughts’ don’t evoke for me anything good, just an escape from reality or a defense of a privileged life where “power and control” are exercised by Capitalists.

    • Many different people come to The Daily Blog, for me it’s taught me many things and there’s interesting people in it and vs battles. And for others The Daily Blog is an interesting political exercise for exposing the flaws of various governing systems. So we strive to learn as much as possible from The Daily Blog because learning from blogs is much easier to do than doing a degree and reading reams of text books. Like the professor who uses textbooks for teaching in a long boring way, normal people read blogs for fun. And what sets the better bloggers apart from the professors is the blogger tends to create parallels between the fictional world that they create and our own. If you’re not a fan of The Daily Blog that’s okay because I’v learnt a lot about politics and governments from it.

      After WW2 all those resources that went into war got redistributed and slowly New Zealand’s Defence Force went back to bashing Māori, I mean a national defence force. These types of local defence forces are cheaper to maintain and most of them are usually made up of volunteer reservists. Local defence forces are usually better trained and better equipped and moral is higher because they’re trained to defend there local area.

      The serious problem arises when private corporations start threatening the national identity. And then what makes a national defence force great at defending a nation, makes them terrible at offence abroad. While NZDF is supposed to help the central government in times of conflict the realities can be quite different. Helen Clark was hesitant to project force and now Afghanistan + Iraq + Libya are failed states. Okay we probably wouldn’t have made much difference but we have in the past. The same thing happened in WW2. National defence forces jealously defended their local territory and Hitler was able to overrun Europe one at a time. Germany had standardised equipment, a unified structure and battle tactics which is something that’s difficult to achieve piecing together a hundred and twenty national defence forces and calling it The United Nations.

      Central government needs a defence force to protect its resources and territory but also to enforce it’s decisions. A vacuum of military decisions slowly turns the borders into havens for criminal elements. Instead of developing a boarder security branch of The Pacific Leaders Forum and developing infrastructure, the Chinese and American interests have decided to turn it into a tax haven in order to encourage sovereign loan sharks and asset striping aka neoliberalism. Governments around the world often give corporations tax breaks to do the jobs that they can not afford to do.

      While giving corporations tax breaks is not necessarily a bad thing they also enforce corporate policy rather than the policy of the people for rather petty reasons. Governments and corporations need to set boundaries on what each of them can and can not do. While corporations have every right to protect there own private property, they should not have the right to enforce laws on public property, resources, and law. Law and order and defence of a nation is particularly challenging and should fall under the domain of a central government and should technically be more impartial than a corporation. When this balance is out of place organised gangs and criminality start poaching resources in and around The South Pacific, corporations have payed little to no taxes and the governments of the pacific are providing little to no support.

      On the other end of the spectrum we have the massive Military Industrial Complex. What started out as a massive build up in preparation for WW2 it never really let up through out the Cold War and post Cold War as America extended its power to protect its global racket. 10 years after WW2 the government wasn’t just the only employer in town it was often the only employer. The events that lead to WW2 was not only a result of America’s own human rights abuses and restrictions but also their terrible economic development policy. Now America is this over bloated bureaucracy with the only reason for being is to create growth for the sack of creating growth. The government can never be the primary engine for economic growth. Capitalism with the proper regulations is far more efficient than any other economic system ever devised by man. A proper balance between government power and corporate power will lead to a very healthy and successful society for everyone.

      New Zealand has a Westminster system that isn’t that much different from any other western democracy. At its core is The Treaty of Waitangi which set up an elaborate form of checks and balances with the executive, judiciary and parliament. The power of these three executive branches are meant to balance each other out which is why NZs governments is one of the more stable ones. Some say this form of government is constrained in actions because it is not governed by one individual. But this is the point, a democracy is supposed to be resilient to volatility and change unless a super majority vote for change.

      A strong system should be able to resist radical revolution because all MPs understand that there is a proper and just system for replacing incompetent leaders. The fact we’ve gone from Muldoon to Lange, Bolger, Shipley, Clark, Key and now Jacinda Ardern is a testament to our system. It may not be the best way of doing things but at least we know they can’t become President (of China) for life. When one side of this equation either parliament or the executive attempts to break this then we have a problem. Xi Has been able to use economic and military growth to gain tpower and make great change with out a vote and now controls the power to print money to increase his own wealth and power for the prettiest of reasons. Mean while China is this large bureaucracy that is eroding the power of everyone. And Xi used this instability to gain power and I do not recommend a copy and past. In this case Chinese lack the courage to go up against Xi and the military. And as it was with the events of Tiananmen square there is not enough civilians that can approach military dictators. But also in a cult like following Chinese people actually love Xi. Which brings me to my point, you can believe in an idea, you can believe in a Nation. But never give your support easily to a political party or individual politician, make them fight for every vote and make them prove that they’re worth your vote because that’s how the system works.

      Perhaps the most troubling issue with local body councils is the lack of term limits. With out term limits local mayors can serve as long as they so desire. With out term limits there is stagnation and a lack of new ideas. Term limits are designed so that one individual can not have a huge impact on government and can increase corruptibility. But for John Key and for Jacinda they where able to argue that the instability in Christchurch was a good reason to keep them on, or will keep Jacinda on. Instead of having a round about way of setting term limits based on instability, perhaps we should just extend term limits by one year to four, just a suggestion. So that’s a few of the lessons that I’v learnt from The a Daily Blog.

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