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Capitalism Creates Global Warming

category international | environment | other libertarian press author Tuesday February 06, 2007 16:35author by Eugene Plawiuk - Le Revue Gauche Report this post to the editors

For tens of thousands of years, humanity has existed, slowly changing our natural envrionment and ecology to meet our needs. However it is with the ascendancy of industrial based capitalism in the period of one hundred years that global warming has increased.

I don't often agree with the right wing flat earth society of climate change and global warming deniers, but in this case I will.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), report issued today in Paris is a prime example of deliberate obfustication of the real source of global warming.

"Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations," it says.

Like the flat earthers I find it presumptious to blame humanity for a problem that is not created by people perse but by the political economy we have created.

For tens of thousands of years, humanity has existed, slowly changing our natural envrionment and ecology to meet our needs. However it is with the ascendancy of industrial based capitalism in the period of one hundred years that global warming has increased.

It is not people,"humanity", to blame for this, it is not a "man made" crisis , as if we as a society had consciously created this problem, it is the political economy of capitalism that has produced the climactic, environmental and ecological crisis we now face.

Headlines like this, and generalizations that say humanity is impacting the climate avoids laying the blames squarely where it belongs with the political economic system of capitalism.

Which is exactly what the flat earthers say, they too know that the science and politics of climate change expose capitalism as a zero sum game when it comes to the ecological and environmental crisis we face. Which is why they label all climate science as left wing.

But it is not what the scientists say. They still hide behind euphimisms like "man made", "human activities", than to say what we all know is true. The environmental crisis is the ultimate crisis of Capitalism. But unlike the previous economic crisises of Capitalism this is not one it can solve.

Thus the scientists give cover to the capitalists and their state claiming that we as individuals are to blame for the crisis. You can see it in the campaigns to make us all responsible for our part in helping solve this problem. By consuming of course. Green cars, enviornmentally friendly light bulbs, solar heating, blah, blah.

Global warming man-made, will continue

PARIS - International scientists and officials hailed a report Friday saying that global warming is "very likely" caused by man, and that hotter temperatures and rises in sea level "would continue for centuries" no matter how much humans control their pollution.

The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, called it a "very impressive document that goes several steps beyond previous research."

A top US government scientist, Susan Solomon, said "there can be no question that the increase in greenhouse gases are dominated by human activities."

The reality is those human acitivities are very specific, they are not the tribal or communal village life we once led. Indeed they are not even the result of hundreds of years of coal burning or thousands of years of slash and burn agriculture.

They are the direct result of coal based steam technology that saw the creation of the industrial revolution and mass manufacturing. The capitalist Fordist production model of the 20th Century and its current expansion in the newly capitalist economies in Asia are resulting in mass climactic, environmental and ecological crisis.

Amadeo Bordiga outlined this crisis of capitalism fifty years ago in his book Murdering The Dead, Capitalism and Other Disasters. Bordiga's Left Wing Communism was not like those of the rest of the left, whether Lennist or the Council Communists, his was a communism that viewed a future society as the administration of things, of processes as Adam Buick writes;

"The aim of socialism was to abolish property, not to change its form. Socialism was therefore to be defined not in terms of property in the means of production but in terms of social arrangements for using them:

When the socialist formulas are correct the word property is not to be found but possession, taking possession of the means of production, more precisely exercise of the control or management of the means of production, of which we still have to determine the precise subject. [1958]10

Bordiga went on to identify 'society' as this subject, so that he was in effect offering the following definition of socialism: a system of society based on the social control of the means of production.

Bordiga was adamant that socialism did not mean handing over control of the use - and thus effective ownership - of individual factories and other places of work either to the people working in them or to the people living in the area where those factories or places of work were situated. Commenting on a text by Marx, he wrote that socialist society was opposed:

to the attribution of the means of production (the land in our case) to particular social groups: fractions or particular classes of national society, local groups or enterprise groups, professional or trade union categories. [1958]11


The socialist programme insists that no branch of production should remain in the hands of one class only, even if it is that of the producers. Thus the land will not go to peasant associations, nor to the class of peasants, but to the whole of society. [1958]12

Demands such as 'the factories for the workers', 'the mines for the miners' and other such schemes for 'workers' control' were not socialist demands, since a society in which they were realised would still be a property society in the sense that parts of the productive apparatus would be controlled by sections only of society to the exclusion of other sections. Socialism, Bordiga always insisted, meant the end of all sectional control over separate parts of the productive apparatus and the establishment of central social control over all the means of production.

So, for Bordiga, in a socialist society there would be no property whatsoever in the means of production, not just of individuals or of groups of individuals, but also not of groups of producers nor of local or national communities either. The means of production would not be owned at all, but would simply be there to be used by the human race for its survival and continuation in the best possible conditions.

Scientific Administration of Social Affairs
The abolition of property meant at the same time the abolition of social classes and of the state. With the abolition of property there would no longer be any group of people in a privileged position as a result of controlling land or instruments of production as their 'property', and there would be no need for any social organ of coercion to protect the property of the property holders and to uphold their rule in society. Social classes and the political state would eventually, in the course of a more or less long transition period, give way to 'the rational administration of human activities'. Thus Bordiga was able to write that 'if one wants to give a definition of the socialist economy, it is a stateless economy' [1956-7]. 13 He also wrote that, with the establishment of socialism, social organisation would have changed 'from a social system of constraint on men (which it has been since prehistory) into a unitary and scientifically constructed administration of things and natural forces' [1951].14

Bordiga saw the relationship between the party and the working class under capitalism as analogous with that of the brain to the other parts of a biological organism. Similarly, he envisaged the relationship between the scientifically organised central administration and the rest of socialist society in much the same terms. Indeed, Bordiga saw the administrative organ of socialist society as the direct descendant of the party in capitalist society:

When the international class war has been won and when states have died out, the party, which is born with the proletarian class and its doctrine, will not die out. In this distant time perhaps it will no longer be called a party, but it will live as the single organ, the 'brain' of a society freed from class forces. [1956-7]15

In the higher stage of communism, which will no longer know commodity production, nor money, nor nations, and which will also see the death of the state. . . the party. . . will still keep the role of depository and propagator of the social doctrine giving a general vision of the development of the relations between human society and material nature. [1951]16

Thus the scientifically organised central administration in socialism would be, in a very real sense for Bordiga - who was a firm partisan of the view that human society is best understood as being a kind of organism - the 'social brain', a specialised social organ charged with managing the general affairs of society. Though it would be acting in the interest of the social organism as a whole, it would not be elected by the individual members of socialist society, any more than the human brain is elected by the individual cells of the human body.

Quite apart from accepting this biological metaphor, Bordiga took the view that it would not be appropriate in socialism to have recourse to elections to fill administrative posts, nor to take social decisions by 'the counting of heads'. For him, administrative posts were best filled by those most capable of doing the job, not by the most popular; similarly, what was the best solution to a particular problem was something to be determined scientifically by experts in the field and not a matter of majority opinion to be settled by a vote.

What was important for Bordiga was not so much the personnel who would perform socialist administrative functions as the fact that there would need to be an administrative organ in socialism functioning as a social brain and that this organ would be organised on a 'scientific' rather than a 'democratic' basis.

Bordiga's conception of socialism was 'non-democratic' rather than 'undemocratic'. He was in effect defining socialism as not 'the democratic social control of the means of production by and in the interest of society as a whole', but simply as 'the social control of the means of production in the interest of society as a whole'."

It was a solution to the crisis of capitalism that, as Adam Buick correctly points out, had much in common with a North American Syndicalist idea; Technocracy.

" The technocratic aspects of Bordiga's 'description of communism' were ignored by most of those influenced by him, including to a large extent the members of the group with which he was associated (the International Communist Party)."

Technocracy evolved out of the post WWI crisis of the limitations of Fordist production, and influenced by Thorstien Veblen viewed the crisis as one of the domination of capitalism over efficient, effective use of resources, human, material and energy. They called it the crisis of the price system.

And like Bordiga their solution was a centralized administration of energy and material resources. The abolition of wages, prices, labour value, all exchange values and the rational distribution of resources based on their ultimate use value, that is of their worth as energy outputs.

And like Bordiga, Howard Scott the main proponent of Technocracy saw not a democratic structure for his Technate, the directorship of Technocracy in North America, but a scientific community responsible for the organization and distribution of scarce resources.

As Marx pointed out advanced Capitalism is all about the commodification of all relationships, and as such leads to the ultimate end of competing capitals into a centralized capital.

"That production rests on the supreme rule of capital. The centralization of capital is essential to the existence of capital as an independent power. The destructive influence of that centralization upon the markets of the world does but reveal, in the most gigantic dimensions, the inherent organic laws of political economy now at work in every civilized town.' Marx

It is this centralization of capitalism that allows for the centralization of administration and planning through the governance of a self managed society which is what socialism is. And only with the socialization of production and consumption can we solve this ultimate crisis of capitalism which is the challenge of living without producing waste and its resulting environmental and ecological imprint which is what global warming is.

Since the modern form of Capitalism is Fordism, mass machinery, the automation of production, which includes its modern forms such as computerization, mass communications, it also provides us with the technology to liberate ourselves from capitalist production. It allows us to use technology to centralize production in an ecologically sound manner. It is the centralization of automation, computerization, not of people.

This was the vision of Marx who identified automation as the final stage of capitalism and the machinery of its doom. Like Veblen and Scott, the scientist Norbert Wiener showed this was possible with his work on cybernetics. And current studies in the organic nature of technology, that it functions as biological organism, was already predicted by Marx in his work the Grundrisse.

" But, once adopted into the production process of capital, the means of labour passes through different metamorphoses, whose culmination is the machine, or rather, an automatic system of machinery (system of machinery: the automatic one is merely its most complete, most adequate form, and alone transforms machinery into a system), set in motion by an automaton, a moving power that moves itself; this automaton consisting of numerous mechanical and intellectual organs, so that the workers themselves are cast merely as its conscious linkages. In the machine, and even more in machinery as an automatic system, the use value, i.e. the material quality of the means of labour, is transformed into an existence adequate to fixed capital and to capital as such; and the form in which it was adopted into the production process of capital, the direct means of labour, is superseded by a form posited by capital itself and corresponding to it. In no way does the machine appear as the individual worker's means of labour.

Its distinguishing characteristic is not in the least, as with the means of labour, to transmit the worker's activity to the object; this activity, rather, is posited in such a way that it merely transmits the machine's work, the machine's action, on to the raw material -- supervises it and guards against interruptions. Not as with the instrument, which the worker animates and makes into his organ with his skill and strength, and whose handling therefore depends on his virtuosity. Rather, it is the machine which possesses skill and strength in place of the worker, is itself the virtuoso, with a soul of its own in the mechanical laws acting through it; and it consumes coal, oil etc. (matières instrumentales), just as the worker consumes food, to keep up its perpetual motion. The worker's activity, reduced to a mere abstraction of activity, is determined and regulated on all sides by the movement of the machinery, and not the opposite.

The science which compels the inanimate limbs of the machinery, by their construction, to act purposefully, as an automaton, does not exist in the worker's consciousness, but rather acts upon him through the machine as an alien power, as the power of the machine itself. The appropriation of living labour by objectified labour -- of the power or activity which creates value by value existing for-itself -- which lies in the concept of capital, is posited, in production resting on machinery, as the character of the production process itself, including its material elements and its material motion.

The production process has ceased to be a labour process in the sense of a process dominated by labour as its governing unity. Labour appears, rather, merely as a conscious organ, scattered among the individual living workers at numerous points of the mechanical system; subsumed under the total process of the machinery itself, as itself only a link of the system, whose unity exists not in the living workers, but rather in the living (active) machinery, which confronts his individual, insignificant doings as a mighty organism. In machinery, objectified labour confronts living labour within the labour process itself as the power which rules it; a power which, as the appropriation of living labour, is the form of capital. The transformation of the means of labour into machinery, and of living labour into a mere living accessory of this machinery, as the means of its action, also posits the absorption of the labour process in its material character as a mere moment of the realization process of capital.

The increase of the productive force of labour and the greatest possible negation of necessary labour is the necessary tendency of capital, as we have seen. The transformation of the means of labour into machinery is the realization of this tendency. In machinery, objectified labour materially confronts living labour as a ruling power and as an active subsumption of the latter under itself, not only by appropriating it, but in the real production process itself; the relation of capital as value which appropriates value-creating activity is, in fixed capital existing as machinery, posited at the same time as the relation of the use value of capital to the use value of labour capacity; further, the value objectified in machinery appears as a presupposition against which the value-creating power of the individual labour capacity is an infinitesimal, vanishing magnitude; the production in enormous mass quantities which is posited with machinery destroys every connection of the product with the direct need of the producer, and hence with direct use value; it is already posited in the form of the product's production and in the relations in which it is produced that it is produced only as a conveyor of value, and its use value only as condition to that end. In machinery, objectified labour itself appears not only in the form of product or of the product employed as means of labour, but in the form of the force of production itself.

The development of the means of labour into machinery is not an accidental moment of capital, but is rather the historical reshaping of the traditional, inherited means of labour into a form adequate to capital. The accumulation of knowledge and of skill, of the general productive forces of the social brain, is thus absorbed into capital, as opposed to labour, and hence appears as an attribute of capital, and more specifically of fixed capital, in so far as it enters into the production process as a means of production proper.

Machinery appears, then, as the most adequate form of fixed capital, and fixed capital, in so far as capital's relations with itself are concerned, appears as the most adequate form of capital as such. In another respect, however, in so far as fixed capital is condemned to an existence within the confines of a specific use value, it does not correspond to the concept of capital, which, as value, is indifferent to every specific form of use value, and can adopt or shed any of them as equivalent incarnations. In this respect, as regards capital's external relations, it is circulating capital which appears as the adequate form of capital, and not fixed capital.

Further, in so far as machinery develops with the accumulation of society's science, of productive force generally, general social labour presents itself not in labour but in capital. The productive force of society is measured in fixed capital, exists there in its objective form; and, inversely, the productive force of capital grows with this general progress, which capital appropriates free of charge. This is not the place to go into the development of machinery in detail; rather only in its general aspect; in so far as the means of labour, as a physical thing, loses its direct form, becomes fixed capital, and confronts the worker physically as capital. In machinery, knowledge appears as alien, external to him; and living labour [as] subsumed under self-activating objectified labour. The worker appears as superfluous to the extent that his action is not determined by [capital's] requirements.

The full development of capital, therefore, takes place -- or capital has posited the mode of production corresponding to it -- only when the means of labour has not only taken the economic form of fixed capital, but has also been suspended in its immediate form, and when fixed capital appears as a machine within the production process, opposite labour; and the entire production process appears as not subsumed under the direct skillfulness of the worker, but rather as the technological application of science. [It is,] hence, the tendency of capital to give production a scientific character; direct labour [is] reduced to a mere moment of this process. As with the transformation of value into capital, so does it appear in the further development of capital, that it presupposes a certain given historical development of the productive forces on one side -- science too [is] among these productive forces -- and, on the other, drives and forces them further onwards.

To the degree that labour time -- the mere quantity of labour -- is posited by capital as the sole determinant element, to that degree does direct labour and its quantity disappear as the determinant principle of production -- of the creation of use values -- and is reduced both quantitatively, to a smaller proportion, and qualitatively, as an, of course, indispensable but subordinate moment, compared to general scientific labour, technological application of natural sciences, on one side, and to the general productive force arising from social combination [Gliederung] in total production on the other side -- a combination which appears as a natural fruit of social labour (although it is a historic product). Capital thus works towards its own dissolution as the form dominating production."
Marx Grundrisse Ch. 13

To end our enslavement to the machines as alienated labour, hence the frustration and powerlessness we feel when confronting this current ecological crisis, by recognizing the limitations of their use by capitalism, can only be resolved through the transformation of capitalist society into a socialist society based on industrial ecology and social ecology.

This cannot be done by carbon credits, green policies, caps on industrial pollution, etc. etc., but by the end of capitalism and the liberation of the machinery of capitalism to be used to solve our ecological crisis. Green consiousness is not enough, we need a real Green Revolution, a socialist revolution.

"It requires no great penetration to grasp that, where e.g. free labour or wage labour arising out of the dissolution of bondage is the point of departure, there machines can only arise in antithesis to living labour, as property alien to it, and as power hostile to it; i.e. that they must confront it as capital. But it is just as easy to perceive that machines will not cease to be agencies of social production when they become property of the associated workers. In the first case, however, their distribution, i.e. that they do not belong to the worker, is just as much a condition of the mode of production founded on wage labour. In the second case the changed distribution would start from a changed foundation of production, a new foundation first created by the process of history."
Marx Grundrisse Ch. 16

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