Thanks to climate change, science and socialism have become entwined in ways previously unimaginable. Science brings the news that, unless we act swiftly to control climate change, we will inhabit a dying planet. Socialism traces the causes of this catastrophe to the destructive and chaotic growth model of capitalism and advocates for a different system. Meanwhile, sensing the source of danger to their profits, corporate and government reactionaries fuel disinformation campaigns to discredit science and confuse the public. This has been going on for years, with disastrous results.
“To say that ‘science and technology can solve all our problems in the long run,’ is much worse than believing in witchcraft.” — István Mészáros
This summer, the left-wing magazine Jacobin published a special issue on climate change. The lead article declares that “climate change … has to be at the center of how we mobilize and organize going forward. From now on, every issue is a climate issue.”
Two seminal books, John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York’s The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth and John Bellamy Foster’s The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet suggest that the rift between humanity and nature must be analysed in its intertwining with other kinds of alienation, all stemming from the adverse effects of the very nature and structure of capitalist society. Nothing short of an eco-social revolution is required to deal with the social and ecological crisis.
Hurricane Irma barreled into Florida over the weekend as a Category 4 hurricane after leaving a trail of destruction on islands and island chains in the Atlantic. Less than two weeks before, Harvey caused a catastrophe in Houston and along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast.
In February 2000 the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen blurted out during a conference in Mexico, “No! We’re no longer in the Holocene but in the Anthropocene!” His remark initiated a tsunami of scholarship by himself and other scientists, evaluating the merits of a radical proposition: that human impact upon every segment of the Earth system has been so profound and long-lasting that it has catapulted us into a new epoch in our planetary history.
Between 1872 and 1882, Frederick Engels worked on a book titled “The Dialectics of Nature” that sought to apply Marxist dialectics to the natural world. Although it was never completed and is filled with dated ideas about science, it is a work that has earned the respect of some of the most important scientists on the left such as Stephen Jay Gould who praised its best known chapter that was issued separately as a pamphlet—The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man.
In August 2016, the International Geological Congress voted formally to recognise that the world has entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene. The effect of human activity on the planet has now become as significant as that of the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs and ended the Cretaceous era.
What would a truly just, equal and ecologically sustainable future look like? Why would it require a change in our economic system, namely the end of capitalism? Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams answer these questions in Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation. Suffused with radical hope, this book can be yours with a donation to Truthout!