[Marxism] [Ecosocialist] Mass psychology explanations of global warming denial

ehrbar at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu ehrbar at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu
Thu Mar 22 09:51:47 MDT 2012

Kamran, you don't correctly see the link between
environmental catastrophe and capitalism when you write (on
the ecosocialism group):

> if we hold the view that our planetary problems are rooted
> in the the history of class societies and is enforced
> daily by the requirement of the capitalist world
> economy--that is if they are systemic problems--they
> cannot be addressed though reforms alone. They require
> mass consciousness and mass action to begin the work of
> dismantling capitalism and the existing ways of life.

The environmental catastrophe does not come from the
subjugation of humans by their fellow humans (which is the
main contradiction of class societies) but from the
subjugation of nature by humans.  (Kamran knows that this is
a contradiction too since we are part of nature, the earth
is our mother.)  Even if the entire world had been socialist
by 1950, we still would have gotten the greenhouse effect --
not from capitalist profits but from socialist fossil-fuel
powered development everywhere.

Capitalism must be overcome because it blocks any efforts to
mitigate the unfolding environmental crisis.  This does not
mean that you can tell the masses "before we can solve the
environmental problems we have to abolish capitalism."  Most
people who are not already socialist will not go for this.
They may be aware of their own exploitation, but they will
say: "my boss's profit is not what causes the problem,
rather it is my own consumeris that causes the problem."

The way to get socialism into the climate fight is to fight
for socialist-road solutions and against capitalist-road
solutions of the environmental crisis.  The climate movement
has discovered this distinction already, they call the
capitalist-road policies "bogus solutions," and Derek Wall's
excellent book "The Rise of the Green Left" has adopted this
distinction from an ecosocialist angle.  Larry Lohmann is
not openly a socialist, but he is criticizing cap and trade
because it is privatizing the sky; this is a socialist
critique!  (You will not find this critique is the many
mainstream treatises about the carbon tax versus cap and
trade issue.)  The capitalists are fighting tooth and nail
against socialist-road policies, even (or especially) those
which are very successful, because they are aware that these
policies are subversive, they are dismantling the capitalist
system from the inside.

What are examples of such such socialist road policies?

The prime example is feed-in tariffs.  Hermann Scheer, the
father of feed-in tariffs (he was among the Jusos, i.e., in
the revisionist wing of the 1960s student movement in
Heidelber together with Schroeder) said that the crucial
advantage of feed-in tariffs over say renewable portfolio
standards is that feed-in tariffs take the initiative for
the introduction of renewable energy out of the hands of the
corporations and put them into the hands of the population
at large.  This does not make the economy socialist, but it
makes the fight against climate catastrophe socialist.
Feed-in tariffs are wildly successful, and the fossil-fuel
interests have been trying hard to put a lid on them by
combatting them in their home country where they have been
most successful, in Germany.  This year they even seem to
have been successful in gutting the German feed-in tariff
system, but it is too late, Feed-in tariffs have spread over
the whole world already.

Another example is carbon rationing as described in chapter
8 of Mayer Hillman's book "the suicidal planet" which has
been published in the US under the more optimistic title
"How we can save the planet".  Every individual gets equal
shares in the biosphere's ability to absorb greenhouse
gases.  This socializes an important aspect of nature and
therefore it is fought by the capitalists who think that
they are the only class entitled to benefit from nature.
Carbon rationing has not yet been implemented anywhere
although this idea has been taken quite seriously in the UK
and Ireland.  The idea of carbon rationing is alsmost
unknown in the US.  I think ecosocialists should popularize
this idea and fight for it.

Green building standards (the Passivhaus standard) is a
socialist-road solution because it greatly decreases
demand and consumption of energy for space heating and
water heating.  It decouples the individual from their
dependence on the capitalists.

Any slow-growth or no-growth or de-growth policies, which
must be associated with minimum and maximum incomes, with
policies requiring durable goods to have a long lifetime,
be standardized and modular and easy to repair, etc., are
socialist-road policies.

Any policies of reparations to developing countries for the
damage the rich countries have inflicted on them through
climate change, and policies to share green technologies
with developing countries, are socialist-road policies.  The
Ecoequity group is another part of the green movement which
is in essence socialist.  We ecosocialists must recognize
who our comrades are, even those who do not call themselves

These are the reforms we have to fight for, because these
are the obvious solutions to the environmental crisis.
Winning these reforms would mean to get a system which is
capitalist in form only.  Therefore the capitalists are
fighting against these solutions, although they are the only
possible solutions.  In this way the capitalists will reveal
themselves to the masses as the enemies of nature that they
are.  Then the overturn of capitalism will be on the agenda.
But this will arise during the struggle, this cannot be the
beginning of the struggle.

Hans G Ehrbar

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