This piece by Derek Johnson was originally delivered on the Where's My Jetpack podcast: jetpack.zoob.net
This piece will be printed in Fightback's upcoming magazine issue on Climate Change and Ecosocialism. To subscribe with PayPal or credit card, click here.
A study by the United Nations has found climate change could drive 122 million more people into extreme poverty in the next 15 years, in part due to the impact it is already having on small-scale farmers. We now know that for decades, beginning in 1977, Exxon concealed its own findings that fossil fuels cause global warming, alter the climate and melt Arctic ice.
Hindsight is 20/20, but if not for Exxon’s cover up NASA and others could have brought proof and the importance of climate change to our governments to do something in the late 1970’s.
Talking about climate change can be nihilistically depressing because for the first time in our planet’s history, we are a species aware of its impending extinction. We are living through the sixth extinction. I’m going to get to the brass tacks and the suicidally depressing roots and propose an optimistic solution.
The U.S. presidential race is off the rails again. Politicians and the media are in panic mode, because of progressive candidates who might improve lives, not because Trump is a fascist who needs to be removed immediately and cannot serve a second term. As much as I like to see them all lose control, they are turning the screws on us.
Trump must go, but beyond that, I don't care who the next president is and I don't want anybody to be president. We need to stop having presidents. They don't know what to do anymore and the schisms are showing. The economy is about to tank again like 2008 and the government and capitalists and their political class are flipping out in panic. This election scam is a symptom of systemic problems with Really Existing Capitalist Democracy or REC'D as Chomsky calls it.
The most pressing issue of our time—our own fucking possible extinction - is only mentioned because of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at least, but overall the political class and MSM are ignoring the fire outside as California literally burns down. They all know deep down that capitalism has killed the habitability of this world.
They fucked up and killed us all. We all have to get used to struggle. We are in the struggle of our fucking lives now. It looks like things are going south quicker than we will ever have a revolution to overthrow this shit and save our species, but I hope not. The planet is going to survive, but it’s going to be uninhabitable for human life. This is beyond unacceptable.
Going slow about changing our economy and using oil is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, while us radicals warn about the iceberg. We have to get used to endless struggle. Even something like a Green New Deal is being violently resisted.
Demagogues right and left are going to try and convince people that its a Malthusian overpopulation problem. Malthusianism has long been debunked and technically we already live in a post-scarcity civilization, but scarcity is enforced by markets and the state.
The problems of "overpopulation" - habitat destruction, famine, drought - are the direct result of our economic system which needs false scarcity and planned obsolescence to function.
We have enough food, shelter, and medicine for every person on the planet, but resource/"wealth" distribution is dictated by a system with no ability for long term planning.
We live under a system that allows for-profit medicine/healthcare and - based on the statistic I can't stop pointing out---America has not only enough money to feed the hungry and house every homeless person, but there are enough empty homes that every homeless person would get 6 houses each.
I agree that we need to stop focusing on neoliberalism as a new strain of capitalism, but see that it has actually given way to the return to a more raw and predatory capitalism - as it used to be and always was. I think, now, we are entering a new era of naked capitalism. We often have to ask ourselves when confronted by rulers who see the threat and choose to do nothing and hasten it.
Global warming is in progress and now irreversible. I don't want to get into conspiracy theories, but it is a reasonable hypothesis that past a certain point, the ruling elite intentionally planned to do nothing, knowing it would get locked in and all the people would die.
This is looking to be by design. Not that the rich created climate change to kill us all, but rather they are adapting to it and exploiting it rather than doing something about it. Perhaps what we're witnessing in global warming is an improvised planned genocide of many global south nations that will make prior genocides seem quite small in comparison.
Global warming denialists are Holocaust deniers in their own right and should be treated as such. I'm afraid that, rather than combat climate change the powers that be can enforce walling in countries, closing immigration/migration and starve out and kill people with the elements and act like they didn't do it on purpose. It really looks like rather than doing anything, they are planning to just build walled- in cities and let the poor die.
They can cull the populations like never before. Under this unleashed raw capitalism, they get to wipe out the so-called "developing world" and surplus labor here and there. The weakest and poorest are intentionally being left to bear the worst brunt.
This may technically be genocide by proxy through economic policy if you will, but intentional inaction is ethically no different than intentional planning/action. It really looks like rather than doing anything, they are planning to just build walled in cities and let the poor die. This is essentially genocide. This is no different than what Stalin did to Ukraine except on scale.
The proper term is democide.
This term was revived and redefined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as "the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder". For example, government-sponsored killings for political reasons would be considered democide under Rummel's hypothesis.
Democide can also include deaths arising from "intentionally or knowingly reckless and depraved disregard for life"; this brings into account many deaths arising through various neglects and abuses, such as forced mass starvation.
Rummel explicitly excludes battle deaths in his definition. Capital punishment, actions taken against armed civilians during mob action or riot, and the deaths of non-combatants killed during attacks on military targets so long as the primary target is military, are not considered democide.
According to Rummel, democide surpassed war as the leading cause of non-natural death in the 20th century. Rummel estimated that there have been 262 million victims of democide in the last century. According to his figures, six times as many people have died from the actions of people working for governments than have died in battle.
This destroys Stephen Pinker’s thesis that less people are dying from war, conflict and violence because of strong states, thus justifying states and ultimately capitalism. His calculation only works if you ignore democide and structural violence.
In my opinion, I feel as if, in scorched Earth fashion, capitalists are literally making sure there is no alternative if they collapse the economic order or are overthrown. We may get eco-socialism or full communism---but in a Mad Max wasteland.
We need a fundamentally new society because the status quo can no longer hold. Martin Luther King said it best: we need a revolution in values.
We need a social revolution. Our task now is to hasten such a global socialist revolution, to forge an eco-socialism for an actually free and sustainable future. We may have to go down trying to build that better society or we are going to live in Mad Max. It’s "Communism or barbarism" as Rosa Luxemburg said, indeed.