Save the Climate: Burn Down Capitalism

They tell us, “everyone must do their part,” if we want to save our beautiful model of civilization. We have to consume a little less in order to be able to keep consuming. We have to produce organically in order to keep producing. We have to control ourselves in order to go on controlling. This is the logic of a world straining to maintain itself whilst giving itself an air of historical rupture. This is how they would like to convince us to participate in the great industrial challenges of this century. And in our bewilderment we’re ready to leap into the arms of the very same ones who presided over the devastation, in the hope that they will get us out of it

– The Invisible Committee

The most important thing about Copenhagen [was] this: in the lead up to the meeting the Danish government vastly extended police powers, giving the cops the power to break up and intervene against almost all forms of unapproved dissent. This sad fact tells us everything we need to know about the entire mainstream climate change ‘movement’. This crisis is apparently so bad, so dire, that the forces which be must be given more power to counter it.

We are all aware of the gravity of the situation. It is clear that this entire global form-of-life (which includes McMansions and shanty-towns, Google and sweatshops) functions in a manner deeply devastating to the ecological conditions of our planet. But can trying to prevent things getting worse produce a politics that can actually change things? Or do all these various efforts and campaigns simply function to hold capitalism together, despite the destruction it causes?

The debate about emissions targets, forms of cap-and-trade, renewable technology obfuscate the root cause of climate change: global capitalism. Ecological destruction is a direct by-product of capitalism’s endless drive to accumulate more value. Value, a strange beast that finds its form in money, is for Capital the ‘be all and end all’. Capitalism realises (produces) value by manufacturing and selling commodities (material and immaterial) at a greater exchange value than it takes to produce them. It pays labour x, it buys the material and means of production for y and attempts to sell at x+y+z; z being the elusive surplus value, profit. This kernel of Capital’s rationality has compelled it over the last few centuries to massively transform the world and its people. All other forms of society have been demolished and incorporated, all forms of natural abundance and human creativity transformed into commodities and work.

Energy plays a key role in this. Our labour-power, which we sell to Capital to survive, is key to the production and accumulation of value. Labour-power exists in real bodies, ours, and often we have our own dreams and desires which exceed Capital’s plans for us. We can and do rebel. Thus exploitation is an antagonistic relationship, open to contention, the possibility of insurrection, of creating alternate worlds and means of social relations.

Capital constantly searches for new ways to increase the productivity of labour, by intensifying the working day and by utilising new technology for this end, which means consuming more energy. This not only means the energy consumed to move commodities all over the world, but also the energy expelled in the work place so each of us can produce more and more whilst being paid relatively the same.

Post 1970’s Australia, we have been offered a high credit, high consumption, high work – a  deal based on the economic theories often referred to as neoliberalism. This toxic, tedious life-style has reaped untold ecological devastation. Our daily existence has reduced us to stressed-out, drugged-out, exhausted and angry individuals, lost and alone.

This deal has now collapsed. The dual ecological and financial crisis means Capital needs a ‘Green New Deal’, one that can continue if not deepen exploitation, expand even further what is commodified, and reduce the few shreds of existence that remains free and ours. For Capital then ‘climate change’ is essentially a crisis of management, how can it continue exploitation on a global level when one of its basic tools no longer works? Leaving aside the delusions about clean coal and the like, the future green capitalism which gives up on the endless cheap energy of petroleum will try to make up for its loses by increasing exploitation, more work and for less. We already see this with biofuels (a market now a favourite for speculators): the price of basic cereals has risen forcing millions into starvation, and decimated the standard of living for millions more. Indigenous populations in Northern Mexico are evicted from their land to make way for wind-turbines to produce energy for the Californian market. Carbon trading itself is little more than an attempt to privatise air, to enclose one of the last commons.

Why do we silently consent to this? Or even worse why do so many of us, who can see through the bullshit of popular campaigns run by TV stars and celebrities, go along with it? Perhaps because the future is grim, because it is so hard to imagine any change but change for the worse, that we go along with anything that attempts to prevent us falling off the precipice. Even so-called ‘Climate Justice’ has less to do with a future worth fighting for than with an equitable division of suffering.

The problem is not humanities relationship with ecology, but rather humanities relationship with itself. Our minds and our bodies are shackled: at work, the family, school, on the dole, in the apparent ‘freedom’ of consumption. Our own creativity exists in forms estranged from us, on the whole we are isolated from each other. It is this prison which is strangling the earth. Until we have control, collective control, over our own creativity, the places we live, our relationships, what we create and dream together, how can we possibly begin to reshape our interrelationship with the non-human sphere and create forms of life that are pleasurable, dignified, just and no longer ecocidal?

Political action is required – but not as we know it. It takes the collective practice of coming together, critiques of the existing social order and envisaging other possibilities. It takes mass disobediences against all the structures of the state and the manifestation of collective forms of self-rule. It will take force and it will take love. This does not mean joining some political sect, but rather cultivating proletarian relations, liberated relations with each other which can replace the stunted, alienating relations forced on us by Capital. Us, the multitude, need to become a we: a social block of rebellion, an archipelago of defiance, the Party of Insurrection. Molotovs are more important than emissions targets, popular assemblies far superior to solar panels and the way that we, us here, relate and organise together more important than any UN meeting.

Everything else has failed…let’s create Communism!

– By some lost children of the metropolis

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12 Responses to “Save the Climate: Burn Down Capitalism”


  1. 1 rogerthesurf March 18, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Are you guys for real?

    Why dont you talk to someone from Peoples Republic of China who have been there done that and get some practical advice.

    Cheers

    Roger

  2. 2 redthreadbris March 18, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Hi Roger,

    I don’t think anyone in the Red Thread looks to China as an example of what sort of society we would like.

    To repeat one of my favourite quotes:

    “Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from premises now in existence”

    On the subject of China check out the China Study Group.

    cheers
    Dave

    • 3 rogerthesurf March 18, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      I bet you don’t want a society like China was between 1949 and 1978, but you better explain to the readers how you think your ideas are going to produce anything different. Mao had good intentions as well.

      Cheers

      Roger

  3. 4 dr.woooo March 18, 2010 at 11:14 am

    you rock dave
    love
    v (melb )

  4. 5 redthreadbris March 19, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Hi Roger. And personally I would like a society like China after 1978 just as little if not less.
    cheers
    Dave

    • 6 rogerthesurf March 20, 2010 at 5:37 am

      Not surprising as China since about ’78 is communist in name only.
      They learnt a very bitter hard lesson. Maybe you should do a little study of what happened there yourself.

      Cheers

      Roger

      • 7 redthreadbris March 20, 2010 at 11:06 am

        And they were “communist” in name only before ’78. Actually I don’t think even the most staunch Maoists claimed that China was ever communist. After 1949 they named their system ‘New Democracy’ which they believed to be something even less than socialism. Personally ( in that I am not writing on behalf of other participants of the Red Thread) I would name the system built by the party-state to be state-capitalist. Just like any other form of capitalism the overall desire of the system was the accumulation of capital. Indeed in many ways the horrors of the Great Leap Forward mirror other moments of ‘enclosure’ such as the Great Dying in Mexico, the Potato Famine, the wave of starvation in 1876-1879 and so on and so on. The main contradiction is that many who resisted the party state did so also under the flag of Maoism: particularly in the first two years of the Cultural Revolution. The Shanghai Commune is the prime example.

        One again I recommend the China Study Group as it contains writings of many currently in China, both Western writers and Chinese writers who are part of the ‘New Left’ – many of them veterans of Tiananmen who have developed critiques of both the party-state and the current neo-liberal direction it was taken.

        By the way I am relatively familiar with Chinese history.
        cheers
        Dave

  5. 8 redthreadbris March 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

    But in answer to the more serious point: there is no point having a blue-print of the future. We can have utopian dreams, yet the future society (which, along with the movement to create it, we call communism) has to be invented on the ground in real struggles.
    rebel love
    Dave

  6. 9 rogerthesurf March 20, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    redthreadbris,

    I have relatives who went through the communist era in China and I have also studied it in length.

    If China wasn’t communist then the pope is not catholic.

    I suggest you do some serious unbiased research on the subject before you comment again. I warn you though that it might seriously challenge your current beliefs.

    Cheers

    Roger

    In the meantime, check out my blog about global warming, Itsdefinitely not communist though.

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

    • 10 redthreadbris March 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm

      Um Roger, part of being critical is understanding that labels and reality don’t always combine. I don’t consider North Korea democratic just because it says it is. Nor do I consider capitalist parliamentary societies like Australia democratic because they say they are. If the states of ‘real existing socialism’ were state-capitalist I am going to call it as I see it despite the fact they were ruled by Communist Parties and built statues of Marx everywhere.

      Communism for us is a classless and stateless society: which obviously the PRC wasn’t and isn’t. As they used to say in the streets in the 1960s: “The ‘Free’ world isn’t free, and the ‘Communist’ world isn’t communist.”

      But also what you haven’t addressed is that at no time did the Chinese Communist Party (which to be clear I oppose) ever declare that the PRC was communist. They thought they were moving towards communism as a long term project but didn’t see it existing. So I guess the pope isn’t Catholic.

      cheers
      Dave

  7. 11 rogerthesurf March 23, 2010 at 12:19 am

    redthreadbris

    Well I don’t know whay your site is all about then.

    From what you say you have some sort of utopian dream.

    Its possible that you should find another label for your dreams, I think that real communists might take exception to you stealing their name.

    Cheers

    Roger

    • 12 redthreadbris March 25, 2010 at 7:55 am

      Roger,

      Yes, we are indeed utopian. When Marx himself spoke of communism it was always in a ‘utopian’ sense (at least from the standpoint of capital) – a world in which classes and states would cease to exist and human creativity would be allowed to run free. It is the role of revolutionaries today to paint our utopian dreams onto an otherwise uninspiring, if not dowright barbaric, present. And no, we will keep the word ‘communism’, it is the name of the ‘idea’ which has inspired radicals since the beginnings of class society, and we shall vindicate their struggles both now and into the future.

      Jon


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