The Worker, Vol. 36, Number 10
How to Respond to Climate Capitalism
While both conservative and liberal governors, mayors and representatives across the country have been in the forefront of slashing public investments in education, in health care, in income-support programs and other vital social services, they have also been advancing the interests and parasitism of monopoly capital and the financial oligarchy by militarizing the economy, closing down factories in order to set up low-wage sweatshops elsewhere, gambling in the financial markets like Wall Street, and so on.
The economic program of the working class goes directly against this and other powers and privileges of capital. The workers demand that the economic resources of the country must be directly in service of the people and that the first principle and very motive of economic life must be to recognize and guarantee the inalienable economic claims which people have on the economy simply by virtue of their humanity. The demands for such economic rights as the right to a job or a livelihood commensurate with the country's high level of development, to free comprehensive health care, to the best possible education from infant care through the university, to food, clothing and shelter, etc., are demands that are already on the lips of millions of people. They are demands which are perfectly in line with the centuries long struggle of the American people to create a society which genuinely guarantees equal rights for all human beings.
An important aspect of the conditions today is that the capitalists see, and are deathly afraid, of the growing revolt of the peoples against exploitation, domination and the capitalist system. However the capitalists are still on the offensive and can only maintain their exploitive system and their profit margins by attacking society as a whole.
One result is that, with two years of Democratic Party control of the White House and Congress, Republicans and Democrats have continued the anti-social offensive of the last several decades by applying the axe to vital social programs. What's more, they are preparing an even greater redistribution of the national income in favor of big capital in the name of, among other things, "climate capitalism." Meanwhile, as they continue stripping away income-support programs, the two parties are imposing utter destitution on the poor and most vulnerable, cheapening the price of labor-power and increasing competition amongst the workers in order to assist the capitalists in forcing down the general level of wages of the working class as a whole. Meanwhile, the U.S. war machine – the gargantuan polluter and destroyer of both the natural and social environment – is militarizing the entire globe, contaminating the atmosphere and the earth, killing innumerable species of fish, plant and animal life while remaining fully exempt from the wrath of "climate capitalism" activists.
Climate capitalism is about claiming that the problem of pollution and destruction of the natural environment comes from a few overly greedy capitalists and their enablers that embrace a "bad policy." Climate capitalism is a program that offers a few empty promises of being able to create a moral and sustainable capitalism in exchange for a global plan to increase U.S. capitalism's export orientation as a panacea for the lack of domestic demand of goods and to make domestic products more favorable in foreign markets.
One of the biggest things denied by the climate capitalism fairy tale is that U.S. monopoly capitalism is characterized by the coalescence of the economic power of the monopolies with the political power of the capitalist state in a single mechanism whose purpose is 1) to create the enrichment of the class of big owners of the means of production and 2) to organize joint attacks on the working class and the national liberation movements. This state monopoly capitalism is not a new stage of capitalism distinct from imperialism. It is imperialism and has the same features and basic economic laws.
Another thing denied by the climate capitalism fairy tale is that capitalism has any basic economic laws at all. Ridiculous definitions of capitalism are typically offered such as that capitalism is the pursuit of wealth through the marketplace. One would be hard pressed to find any socio-economic formation throughout human history to which such a "definition" could not apply. However, realistically, definite relations between people concerning the production, exchange, distribution and consumption of material goods (the relations of production) correspond to each major stage in mankind's development. These relations are at root determined by the development level of the means of production (the implements, instruments and objects of labor) and by the stature of the actual producer – the working person (the productive forces.) The productive forces and the relations of production, as a unity, make up the mode of production, i.e., a historically conditioned mode of creation and appropriation of the material goods that human beings require for their life. The relations of production constitute the economic base of society, over which rises the political superstructure that it determines, including ideas and the corresponding institutions such as the state, the courts, the church and so on. With its superstructure, the mode of production makes up the socio-economic formation. Capitalism is the last exploitative socio-economic formation, which originated in the entrails of feudalism and which is replaced by socialism. It is based on private capitalist property in the means of production and the exploitation of wage-labor by capital. The basic economic laws of capitalism, like those of any other socio-economic formation, are impersonal and work the same regardless of what anyone personally thinks about them.
Of course, a huge part of the spending on climate capitalism is for so-called education to promote such denial. Why do the capitalists, who never give away a dime except in anticipation of a greater return, spend trillions of dollars to suppress discussion of scientific social theory and to try force down the peoples' throats their favorite idea that the root of the problems of capitalist society is "corrupt" human nature? It is because they want to prevent the youth and the workers from looking into their own experience, strengthening their convictions, and giving expression to their own class aims and aspirations.
Returning to the program of climate capitalism, the Biden administration's national budget shows that the capitalist class is continuing, without let-up, its major campaign of shifting the burden of the crisis of capitalism on to the backs of the workers at home and abroad. The most recent plans for greater redistribution of the national income in favor of big capital in the name of climate capitalism are enshrined in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act and President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It is a budget for "increasing international competitiveness" by assisting the U.S. monopoly capitalists in imposing new and more intense forms of exploitation on the workers.
What is behind this budget for handouts of tens of billions of dollars to the rich is "trickle down" economics. Allegedly when the capitalists prosper and increase their profits, more jobs, higher wages, better working and living conditions “trickle down” to the workers. This is a fraud. Taking funds out of the public treasury to underwrite the profits of private corporations will neither overcome the contradiction between private profits and environmental costs, nor reduce the control over the economic life of the country by a handful of private owners of the means of production. And just as the capitalists always invest in new technology and equipment with the precise motive of sweating more work out of fewer workers in order to maximize profits, the capitalists are driven by competition to disregard safety and pillage the earth.
As for the aims of the earmarked foreign aspects of the "aid," they are 1) to lavish hundreds of billions on USAID and other well-known spending funnels for CIA operations which serve to shore up U.S. imperialism's network of military bases and foreign dictators it keeps in power and 2) to organize huge incentives for corporations to accumulate more investment funds, 3) to facilitate new debt-for-equity swaps and austerity reforms and consolidate the ones already in place, and 4) to dramatically increase the transfer of wealth from the developing countries to the big financial forces behind the two-party monopoly, and thereby increase the direct imperialist take-over of the land and resources of the dependent and colonial countries.
The program of economic rights, democratic renewal and a democratic foreign policy is the immediate response of the Workers Party to the all-sided crisis of capitalism and the anti-social agenda of the bourgeoisie. It points the way for the workers to come into the political arena as a class-for-themselves, expressing their own aims and agenda and ending their political marginalization by contending openly with monopoly capital over the direction and future of our country. This program corresponds with the general and fundamental interests of the working class and the needs of social development. We not only call on the people to rise in the fight for their economic and human rights every day, but insists on the necessity to overthrow the capitalist system based on private property in the means of production.