[Marxism] Looming Danger of Abrupt Climate Change ? CounterPunch:

shaun may mnwps at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 26 16:25:30 MST 2013

DW wrote:

Shaun, I'm not sure the statement you make "Unplanned production for profit

based on this relation-in-crisis is the fundamental causality behind

climate changes." is the whole truth. I know this wasn't you point in your

comment but I wanted to note that it has, IMHO, zero do with it's "planned"

or "unplanned" aspect of any mode of production. If there has been world

wide planned socialism in 1900 I suspect the results would of been exactly

the same as it is today until the real discovery of climate change started

in the 1970s by people like Dr. Albert Weinberg at Oak Ridge in the 1970s

and a very few others during this period. What we are experiencing today is

likely, though not proven, from all the accumulated CO2 and other GHGs from

the 1920s onward.

Also, it's nice to see CounterPunch take a positive view toward climate

change issues instead of it Editor's climate change denialism in years past.



A planned socialist system of production and distribution, worked and controlled by a free association of producers - with all the science and technology at its disposal - will be one which places humanity's relationship with Nature at the forefront of all actions and considerations in the course of human activity and planning. Without Nature, humanity is nothing. In destroying Nature, humanity destroys itself. 

Climate changes taking place which are mediated by human activity can only now be the result of the continual and ruthless drive of global capital-in-crisis to augment its value which is, at its very core, an unplanned and anarchic system as Marx noted many years ago. Professional climatologists - who are certainly more knowledgeable than me in this area -  will be more aware of any climate changes taking place which are not now mediated by the crisis of this global capitalist system. In this sense, what I assert is not *the whole truth*. Moreover, only since the Industrial Revolution commenced in England in the 1750s, has the concentration of carbon dioxide been consistently rising as a trend. Before that, in human existence, records indicate a relative stable and circumscribed concentration.

In truth, (and I profoundly disagree with you here) the whole question of climate change has everything to do with planned production in the broadest sense of the term to which I refer above and not simply in the narrow economic sense. Formally, the soviet system was a *planned* economy but one which was a *forcing house* for the development of production after the Russian Revolution. In a certain sense, it was an *unplanned* form of planning which inevitably brought destruction and pillage of Nature in its wake. When I use the term *planned*, I do not refer to the Stalinist system of planning.

Your conception implies that it would make no difference if production were planned or unplanned (with fossil fuels as the major energy source) and that both forms of production would have equally damaged the planet's ecosystems and altered its climate to the same degree that three centuries of capitalism has done. Furthermore, your conception contains the pessimistic implication that climate change and ecological destruction is simply a function of technological development and not of the prevailing character of the dominant social relations or of the mode in which this technology is actually SOCIALLY utilised. A concept with which I, once again, profoundly disagree. 

If all this alteration and destruction has *zero* to do with planning or no planning then what, in your opinion, are the fundamental determinants and causality underlying these changes? And where does the historical development of the capital relation stand in your conception of these changes? You are implying that a socialist sytem would approach humanity's relationship with Nature purely as a function of the stage at which scientific knowledge and technique had arrived and that, therefore, it does not really matter whether global society is socialist or dominated by capital because it all depends on knowledge and *discovery*

If, hypothetically, a system of socialist production (not of the Stalinist soviet type) had been irreversibly established globally at the start of the 20th century, in the very nature of this system, the same degree of climate change and ecological destruction we see now would not have occurred. And, as knowledge and technology advanced, we would have been able to adjust and modulate (i.e. plan) our activities accordingly in order to minimise or eliminate any environmental damage to Nature's creation and its ecosystems on which human life depends. To do otherwise would have replicated the madness of capitalist production in its destructive relationship with Nature's creation.

The deleterious and destructive effects of capitalist production on Nature were well known at the time of Marx and Engels as, for example, Bellamy Foster shows in his text 'Marx's Ecology', long before any hypothetical realisation of socialism in 1900.

In a planned economy, even the controlled use of fossil fuels need not be polluting as we have (and have had) for many years the science and technology to prevent this and, indeed, to utilise the by products of burning fossil fuels. The fact that the atmosphere and oceans are concentrating carbon dioxide is the result of the fact that, under capitalism, the implementation of technical processes to stop it are not profitable and would take a massive, *unsustainable* bite out of the produced surplus value and thus interfere with capitalist accumulation. 
Just because climate change wasn't discovered until later, this does not mean that it would have taken place to the same degree under both planned and unplanned systems of production. If we conceive that there is no difference between the two systems in terms of their destructive effects on Nature's creation, then we do, indeed, replicate the ahistorical, 'green' 'man in the abstract' destroyer of Nature notion. 

Shaun May 

Take it easy  (favourite motto of Engels)
Doubt everything (favourite motto of Marx)


More information about the Marxism mailing list