OP-ed | Climate Change and Capitalism

By Klaus Markstein

The environment and climate change have always been of great interest to the LLCO. We serve the planet and the natural environment just as much as we serve the people of this earth. In doing so, we look critically at the theory of productive forces brought forward by previous socialist experiments that did not take environmental sustainability into account. In contrast to the Soviet Union and China, we regard nature not as something to be conquered by human technology but as something without which humans cannot live meaningful lives on this planet.

Due to our deep devotion to the preservation of nature, we follow developments in the environmental protection movement with great interest. Two news stories in particular have caught our attention. The first one is the publication of new UN reports that once again, and with the greatest emphasis possible, express the danger of irreversible harm to our climate. The second one is the statements made by the young and well-known climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has recently said that capitalism is the reason for the disastrous climate catastrophe that we are facing right now, possibly initiating a radicalization of the climate movement.

Let us analyze these developments from the perspective of Leading Light Communism.

According to new UN reports on climate change, the world has to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Currently, however, emissions are still rising each year, with 2021 hitting record highs. Particularly concerning is the surge in methane emissions, since methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. The reports further highlight that under the current, dominant economic-political system which is capitalism, there is no way to adhere to the goal of 1.5 degrees. But rather, and quoting the reports themselves, a “rapid transformation of societies” is necessary.

The problem of climate change is closely connected to the problem of capitalism and imperialism. Capitalism has to expand production constantly to realize profits. The state of the environment does not play any role in the capitalists’ considerations. Imperialism makes it so that consumption mainly takes place in the Global North, while production, and consequently most of the environmental destruction, takes place in the Global South. Although climate change will ultimately impact all of humanity, the main burden is currently on the so-called Third-World, while the populations of the rich imperialist countries still live in blissful ignorance.

It is not only the consumption and the decadent lifestyle of the so-called First World that fuels the destruction of our planet. Inter-imperialist conflicts, such as the current engagement between NATO and Russia, further accelerate the environmental problem. Not only do militaries consume vast amounts of energy and oil, but war also accounts for horrible destruction of the environment. Therefore, the war between Russia and NATO is not only fought on the back of the people of ‘Second World’ Ukraine, but also on the back of the so-called Third World which will be the first to feel the effects of the acceleration of climate change. Fighting climate change entails fighting capitalism and imperialism alongside the people of exploited countries.

The second topic on our list are remarks made by climate activist Greta Thunberg. While advertising her new book, she has put forward severe criticisms of capitalism. She argued for a “system-wide transformation,” as she has come to identify capitalism as the source of the current climate crisis.

While we could not agree more with her that capitalism has to be abolished in order to end climate change, we must take her remarks with a grain of salt, as Thunberg lacks a clear ideological outlook. Like most prominent faces of the environmental protection movement, Thunberg is not a communist. She is right in criticizing former socialist experiments for not building environmentally sustainable societies, however environmental destruction is not built-in to the socialist ideal as it is in capitalism. Leading Light Communism has addressed this issue by exposing incorrect ideas in previous socialist experiments, such as the theory of productive forces. The LLCO has written the liberation of the environment on its banner right next to the liberation of the people. As long as activists like Thunberg lack the vision for a new and sustainable society, the liberal climate movement will not radicalize and start fighting capitalism; but rather, it will stay as an outlet for the frustration of so-called First World people that are unable to understand the connection between the consumerist lifestyles they are taught to aspire to, the exploitation of the Global South, and the destruction of our common home.

Progressive socialist forces under the guidance of revolutionary science is the only path that can save humanity from catastrophe. Just as Rosa Luxemburg before us, we are presented with two choices: communism or barbarism – fighting climate change by rejecting capitalism and fighting alongside the masses of the exploited countries, or enjoying the last years of blissful ignorance (where this is still possible) before this world goes up in flames.






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