Green Party co-leader Russel Norman thinks capitalism can save the planet.
I don't know what opinions Green Party co-leader Russel Norman has of Hurricane Sandy but I doubt that he would agree with what Chris Williams has written on the Climate and Capitalism website.
In the article 'Frankenstorms and Climate Change: How the 1% Created A Monster' he writes that 'freakish and unnaturally-assembled storms' like Hurricane Sandy are the result of an rapacious economic system that has 'galvanized the forces of nature into a fury of clashing dislocations as we pump ever-more heat-trapping gases into our atmosphere and industrial filth into our lungs.'
Continues Williams: 'At this point, as a thunderous storm barrels up the east coast of the United States, still suffering from an unprecedented drought in other parts of the country, it seems indisputable that the capitalist system has put the entire web of life on a collision course with a stable biosphere and climate system. One of those systems has to give, and there is no indication that it will be capitalism.'
I concur with Williams that 'we need a vision for a completely different social system.' This is not simply a talking point for yet more idle debate - the future of the planet is at stake.
But you wouldn't get any impression of urgency from Norman's comfortable middle class view of capitalism. Norman's inspiration isn't Karl Marx but Tom and Barbara from The Good Life.
He told the Listener earlier this year that capitalism was “humanised” between the 1930s and 1950s and “the next challenge is to green it”.
Capitalism was humanised? This will be surprising news indeed to the tens of millions around the world under the cosh of savage austerity measures aimed at saving capitalism at the expense of everyone else. Perhaps Norman could toddle off to Europe and tell the tear-gassed and jobless populations of Greece, Italy, Spain, etc that everything is okay because capitalism has been 'humanised'. I doubt he would get out alive.
Frankly, Norman is away with the fairies when he talks about 'green capitalism'.
Norman is determined not to listen to the ecosocialist movement . He prefers to stay faithful to the green capitalist theorists of the 1980s-90s who insisted that 'green' technology, 'green taxes' eco-friendly lifestyles and such like could conjure up an environmentally friendly capitalism. Mmn, how's it going so far Russel?
This project was always doomed to failure because maximising profit and saving the planet are inherently conflicting goals, a contradiction that cannot be untangled by the likes of Norman standing up in Parliament and demanding that everyone has to be nicer to the environment.
Call me old fashioned but it seems to me the pursuit of profit seems to be the fundamental goal of capitalism - and that sets extreme limits on environmental reform. But Norman simply ignores this and, as a consequence, is wasting everyone's time.
What we need, as Chris Williams writes , is a completely different social system.
The huge problems that the planet faces require direct action to reorganise the world economy to truly meet the needs of all people and the needs of the environment. What is required is the overthrow of capitalism.
No one is denying that this is not an immense task but the alternative, among a great many other dire things, is more extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy.
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