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Submitted by Jason on Sat, 26/05/2007 - 09:37

Hi Arthur

On your first point, I'm not entirely sure we disagree as such; more that, I feel you have misunderstood the point.

I'm not saying and I don't think anyone else is that we somehow 'afford' to wait around for socialism. Of course we fight for immediate reforms that we link to the fight to overthrow capitalism. I mentioned some immediate reforms- cheap and efficient public transport, better insulation for houses and buildings, reducing carbon emissions through less use, reuse and recycling. To make these transitional would require workers' committees to oversee targets in factories and offices, to run public transport under workers' and passengers' control and would need to be fought for by mass class struggle tactics. It is not easy and does not at all mean that in the meantime we eschew making common cause with green lobbyists advocating change in more traditional manners- think tanks, letter writing, demos etc. However, we should point out that though public opinion and even business sense has produced a big change in the practices of capitalist governments and businesses anf this change will increase nevertheless it is still woefully inadequate.

On the second set of points, it is clear thatthere is some incentive for capitalists to do somerthing about the environment. If there was some quick techno fix (I can't rule that out) then they may well do it- why? Because environmental damage does have some costs to capitalists- though they are mainly externalised to the working class and poor farmers in the forcibly underdeveloped semi-colonies.

There are therefore also potentially vast profits to be made from new technologies- if they are are cheap enough and it is in the interests of capitalist firms and governments to buy them. But short of hunch or unless you are some kind of expert or even budding inventor I can't see how we can at all depend on the cheap fix. A machine that defies the second law of thermodynamics seems rather unlikely (if not impossible) and other more credible or actually existing inventions will help but not nearly fast enough to avert further enormous damage and may be catastrophe. Other ideas on the far edge of science such as huge mirrors or aerosol pollination of the skies may work for all I know but it seems fairly likely that they would require large enough investment to not be attmepted by the capitalist corporations and their governments.

However, barring some realtively cheap fix it is clear that capitalism does not have the incentive to spend vast amounts of money to sort out the problems of humanity- profit is the bottom line. Why would they otherwise spend the billions on rebuilding and insulation, on new public transport systems (unless profits can be made)? Capitalism is notoriously myopic. Only a working class movement can force major reforms out of the capitalists and ultimately we will need to seize the means of production ourselves.

It's not a question of resting on our laurels and waiting for the revolution but of taking immeidate steps tied to a a program of transitional demands to overthrow capitalism. But neither can we afford to sit on our hands waiting for the market to come up with a set of relatively cheap fixes that capitalists can afford and have the incentive to implement. It's not impossible and if it happened there would still be every reason to overthrow capitalism (we don't require a crisis to take power in our own lives, though obviously it can give an extra incentive). It may happen but we certainly can't afford to sit back and wait just on the off chance.


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