This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
IN HIS introduction to the 11 essays in this book, Martin Empson argues that the multiple environmental crises which pose an existential threat to humanity – including climate change and biodiversity loss – are caused by the nature of capitalist society and that those who argue that we should change our individual lifestyles are missing the point.
“We need to challenge the very existence of those fossil fuel corporations and the system that needs them,” he maintains.
In other contributions, Ian Rappel’s critique of the increasingly neoliberal idea of “natural capital” is thought-provoking; as is Camilla Royle’s discussion of the politics surrounding the concept of the Anthropocene; as is Amy Leather’s point that nothing sums up the irrationality of capitalism more than single-use plastics — “materials that can last practically forever are used to make products designed to be thrown away.”
Contributors to the book include members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), a welcome sign that the party is now making the climate crisis a priority in terms of campaigning.
Yet I found myself deeply frustrated by many of the authors’ cult-like reverence for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Incredibly smart political philosophers they might have been but how useful are their 19th-century writings in terms of understanding climate change today?
The book seems to have come out of a closed, small circle of peer review and citation – a huge red flag in serious academic research, with Royle’s chapter citing Canadian socialist Ian Angus and Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster, Judith Orr and Chris Harman from the SWP, with feedback from Rappel and Empson and the SWP’s Alex Callinicos and Joseph Choonara.
The reader is repeatedly told that we must replace capitalism with a socialist system, to solve the climate and environmental crises.
Yet how this admirable goal sits with the March 2019 statement from the UN explaining that the world has just over a decade to stop irreversible damage from climate change and experts warning that deep emissions cuts need to happen in the next few years is never explored.
That incredibly short timescale strongly suggests that activists in Britain and beyond will almost certainly have to work out how to force radical action from within the existing capitalist system.
Systems Change Not Climate Change is published by Bookmarks, £8.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £10 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.