Would you like a Marxist critique of capitalism’s response to global warming? No, ok skip today’s post and come back tomorrow. Yes, read on, although I will only give you the smallest snippets of a 16 page article entitled A Failed System: The World Crisis of Capitalist Globalization and its Impact on China which was “originally a presentation delivered to the International Conference on the Critique of Capital in the Era of Globalization, Suzhou University, Suzhou, China, January 11, 2009.”
One gets the sense the “impact on China” part was an afterthought. The article is primarily a critique of the capitalist system and its creation of and response to the current economic crisis. It does, however, touch upon the way capitalism (at least American capitalism) responds (or rather fails to respond) to global warming.
Many non-Marxist commentators have noted that economists constitute the leading ideological opponents of aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, although few of those commentators ascribe this phenomenon to the fact that the “primary role” of these economists is “as ideological defenders of the capitalist system and promoters of its drive for profits and accumulation at any cost.” It certainly is true, however, that “establishment economists generally argue against any major attempt to avert climate change, i.e., to bailout nature. At the same time they do not hesitate to advocate spending trillions of dollars to bailout banks.”
The article’s attempt to paint Marx as a proto-environmentalist is especially unconvincing, but there is one paragraph which raises an issue that deserves further consideration:
Capitalism’s ultimate solution to ecological problems-since fundamental changes in the system itself are off limits-is technological. But any technological gains in efficiency in the use of natural resources are overwhelmed by the extensive and ecologically disruptive pattern of growth that characterizes this rapacious system. Hence, capitalism is a failed system where ecological sustainability is concerned.
Is a sustainable society by definition not a capitalist one?