Eco-Socialism is a Global Imperative
Some three centuries ago, the early scientists of modern production married coal energy to the steam engine and birthed the greatest existential disaster humankind has ever experienced. As industry grew through the 19th century, the factory-owning capitalists of Europe learned that their lust for wealth could be satisfied only by the conjunction of two separate powers: labor and energy. Thinking only of profits the European bourgeoisie issued orders across five continents. Across five continents thousands upon thousands of workers descended into the mines.
Two centuries passed and coal fell out of fashion only to be replaced by oil, then natural gas. The mines became oil rigs, the oil rigs became fracking stations, and even now workers still labor to extract energy from the unwilling Earth on behalf of the capitalists. The tools and the motions have changed, but the work remains the same.
Over two centuries after we first embarked on this journey towards total crisis, scientists finally turned to examine our progress only to realize the extent of our mistake. They discovered our atmosphere is being torn apart in our wanton search for energy. We are being killed by the very technology we naively believed would give us paradise.
Aghast, the scientists turned to the public the capitalists and the miners. They begged that we reverse our trajectory toward annihilation. They have been begging for decades. The capitalists deny the pleas of science and claim propaganda, knowing their profits will protect them even as ecological disaster kills the rest of humanity. The miners listen occasionally with some suspicion to the scientists, but fear for the meager coal-dependent livelihoods the capitalists have allowed them and hide in the mines that they once had to be dragged into kicking and screaming.
As the rich gloat, the miners hesitate, and as the public composts diligently and passively waits for some higher power to save them from extinction, the ecological threat looms ever closer. Until now, the bulk of humanity’s battles have been fought by people against people. How are we to combat a menace that threatens all of us, and that all of us must collectively battle if we have any hope of victory?
The same tool that will save the workers from the mines will save humanity from climate change. It becomes obvious with every passing day that rigorous eco-socialism is the only reliable method for saving our planet. We may put our hopes in green businesses and in our individual capacities to save the climate, but in a world that makes it inconvenient (and expensive) to live a completely eco-friendly lifestyle, how does the belief persist that individualized green living will save us from this seemingly inevitable threat?
It is the international conglomerates that devour the vast majority of fossil fuels. It is capital that first depended on nonrenewable energy, and it is capitalism that has made the rest of society just as dependent upon it. Only change on a massive scale can force the corporate powers who are responsible for the abuse of our Earth to step aside. Such change can only be put into effect by a socialist power that nationalizes and dismantles oil conglomerates. One that makes it a major public project to overhaul national infrastructure dependent on fossil fuels, and that makes sure all are provided for as these necessary epochal transformations are made.
This prognosis may be met with skepticism. Surely, critics may say a socialist solution to climate change is just as utopian as all the others. Yet, drastic as a call for eco-socialism may seem, it becomes more and more evidently necessary as big business will not yield. As the Republican government eviscerates already inadequate environmental protections, and as Democrats refuse to propose solutions that acknowledge the immediacy of humanity’s existential disaster, we become more and more assured that those in office will not or cannot help us.
Before dismissing the call for eco-socialism as utopian or fantastic, ask yourself what other solution is imaginable. Ask yourself: who will ensure that rich and powerful oil corporations will not just be opposed, but stopped in their tracks? How we can stop a global disaster that has already begun? When you answer those questions, join the cry of the many – abolish capital and save our Earth.