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Fri

25

Dec

2009

COPOUT15: It’s the poor wot gets the blame
Friday, 25 December 2009 13:23
by William Bowles

It seems the ruling classes of the most powerful capitalist states just don’t learn any lessons from the past. It’s as if they wipe the slate clean every time they get us all in a jam and we have to relearn everything all over again! Why do we tolerate such bullshit from the gangster class that controls us?

And as sure as the Sun rises, the USUK has put all the blame on those ‘inscrutable’ Chinese for the ever-so predictable failure of COP15, “Energy Secretary Ed Miliband called it a "chaotic process", singling out China for vetoing an agreement on emissions.” (‘Climate Summit held to Ransom’, BBC News, 21 December, 2009)

Fact: One-third of China’s industrial output is for export to the US (this is the one-third that used to be manufactured in the US).
The BBC however is very clear about the way forward, it’s called ‘green capitalism’:
‘The other very important change is that green growth is now the prevailing economic model of our time. The idea that addressing climate change is bad for business was buried at Copenhagen. Countries from both developed and developing worlds have announced low-carbon economic plans and are moving forward.’ — ‘What did the Copenhagen climate summit achieve?, BBC News, 21 December, 2009
So it’s ‘low carbon capitalism’ and once more it will be the poor of the world who will pay for it. Here we are, attempting to produce a collective solution to a global problem but the process is controlled by states that believe that only competition between states and economies can solve the problem. It’s ludicrous but it’s a fact. So in order to preserve the short-term gains driven by the desire for private profit, 80% of the world’s population, the poor, have been sacrificed, and ultimately, all of us unless we put a stop to the madness of ‘growth’ without purpose except profit.

Capitalism has become a cancer on the planet, never mind global warming, that’s just the final nail in the capitalist coffin and herein lies the confusion, even with some on the Left who see climate change as some kind of ‘capitalist plot’, this in spite of the fact that the leading capitalist states have been denying human-induced climate change for years until it became impossible to refute it.

So what gives here?
 

I think the problem lies in conflating the potential solutions with the problem, thus the capitalists see alleged solutions arising with a number of sources, all of which do not address the fundamental inequalities of the way the wealth is distributed:

1. So-called Cap & Trade eg, trading capitalist carbon emissions for reductions in rain forest destruction etc.

2. Paying the poor countries of the world to reduce their carbon emissions

3. Technological ‘fixes’, eg carbon sinks, and more fanciful, mirrors reflecting the sun’s heat and other, even more fanciful ideas such as painting the North and South Poles black.

4. Getting working people in the developed world to carry the capitalist burden by reducing their ‘personal carbon emissions.

Whatever the ‘solutions’, they all boil down to the developed world continuing with business as usual whilst the poor of the world pay for it one way or the other.

So it’s all our fault for consuming too much of everything that keeps the capitalist economy (just about) going.

The paradox is revealed in a number of ways but all are connected to the nature of the capitalist economy, so for example, a recent news item on the BBC heralded the rise in consumer spending over the holiday season whilst at the same time exhorting people not to get into (even more) debt. But at least one-third of the UK’s GDP is supplied by consumer spending! Thus without increasing consumption the economy will go into a tail-spin.

There is no way this contradiction can be solved without altering the way we not only measure wealth but also the way and most importantly, what we produce.

If wealth in the developed world is now measured largely by consumption (and the rest produced by financial speculation on a grand scale, which in turn produces no real wealth except for the rich), the products have to be produced somewhere, and as we have seen, ever since the 1970s production is continually being relocated to wherever the cheapest labour resides.

This process illustrates one fundamental fact of capitalist economic practice: that over time the rate of profit falls thus the cost of production has to be endlessly lowered in order to maintain or increase the rate of profit. There are two major ways of doing this:

1) more efficient manufacturing processes (automation etc) and, 2) lowering the cost of labour. A third and even more destructive ‘solution’ is to find new markets (or take over existing markets from competitors) and the USUK are quite frank about this though they frame it with innocuous words such as spreading the ‘free market’.

So all the while they prattle on about global warming they are engaged in expanding the capitalist market through war and occupation, the very process that got us to where we are now.

This is the real context for COP15 and why the West blames the Chinese for its own failures. It should be clear to all given how COP15 was fixed by the major capitalist powers that short of revolution to remove our parasitical ruling elites, all the meetings in the world will not resolve this crisis.

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