The devastating fires in California are another stark warning that capitalism is eating up the planet. But are we prepared to stop capital or delude ourselves into thinking that we are making a difference by riding on public transport and not using supermarket plastic bags? When there will be a general recognition that its either system change or climate change?

IF WE EVER NEEDED final evidence - and we don't - of the impending environmental disaster that is rapidly approaching us all then the present devastating fires in California should be that final evidence.

With the fires expanding over three areas,some 250,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. The town of Paradise has been entirely destroyed with nearly 7,000 homes and businesses burnt to the ground. At the time of writing, 29 people had lost their lives. Another 230 people are still unaccounted for.

It was just three weeks ago that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that starkly warned that we have less than twelve years to stop the environmental disaster that threatens to engulf us. If you think these California fires are bad, and they are, then you ain't seen nothing yet.

It is of urgency that we shed any illusions that we can politely manage the crisis without upsetting our present economic and political arrangements. We are well beyond the stage when tiny incremental reforms will do. That ideological debate should be over because it is over.

But standing in the way of the fundamental changes that are required is a political class that represents not the interests of the many but those of the few. They are continually trying to square the circle, recklessly pretending that there is no contradiction between fighting climate change and defending an economic system that is based on the pursuit of profit regardless of the social good.

While liberals might attack an easy target like Donald Trump - or Newstalk ZB's Leighton Smith for that matter - for being climate change deniers, where are the equally vigorous criticisms of centrist politicians like Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or Climate Change Minister James Shaw? Their unfounded belief that we can manage climate change without upsetting the economic and political status quo is as equally dangerous and as potentially devastating  as Donald Trump's climate change denialism.

But its as if most of the supporters of this Labour-led Government are more than happy not to acknowledge the failure of capitalism. They are as deeply implicated in the failure to effectively fight climate change as Donald Trump. They don't get a free pass just because they are no longer using supermarket plastic bags or they use public transport. They don't get a free pass because they think Labour is the 'lesser evil'.

Capitalism is a system of commodity production based on the fact that the commodities can be exchanged for profit. Its easily forgotten that for the overwhelming majority of recorded history, people created most objects to use, rather than exchange.

Capital has no moral conscience and it doesn't care how that profit is obtained. It will eat up the planet unless we stop it. Not bring it to heel. Not 'reform' it. Stop it. A century ago Rosa Luxemburg said that humankind was faced with a choice - socialism or barbarism. A preview of that barbarism can be seen in California right now.


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