Climate science predicts that different crises will unfold at different time scales and under different emissions scenarios. The purpose of my article (Solidarity 589) was to argue that economic convulsions will be an early rather than a late impact of climate change, and may well begin in anticipation of the major civilisation-rocking crises like sea-level rise.
Further, that these convulsions will occur at a time when the dawning realisation of climate change — that the future is one of escalating and multiple crises piling up and compounding each other — becomes hegemonic. I expect these initial climate related shocks (predicted by respectable bourgeois institutions) will appear to be the start of a seemingly intractable economic crisis, the end of smooth year-on-year GDP growth. The word “seemingly” here is important. Trotsky’s 1940 pronouncement of the death agony of capitalism proved false and was profoundly disorientating for the post-war Trotskyist movement. The lesson here is that we cannot predict in advance what innovations the capitalist class might develop in the course of crises. But the crisis comes before the innovation.
Similarly, there is no evidence that capitalist rule can organise a reduction in CO2 emissions but it would be foolish to say that this will always be the case. As the economic shocks of climate change build, we will reach the point where world economic growth will falter year on year and the future will look ever more catastrophic. I think within the next few decades the appearance of the end of growth will be convincing enough that it will radically alter the political reality.
Chris Reynolds (Solidarity 590) argues that social pessimism is already a big force in politics and mostly benefits the political right. However, so long as the world economy continues to grow, this pessimism does not impact the ruling class.
The triumphalism of the neoliberal age is still the overwhelmingly dominant force in politics. I think we can expect that to change as the material reality changes. There is nothing automatic about this leading to a revival of mass socialist politics. But I never argued that there was. I merely suggested that in a world of escalating humanitarian crises, it may become increasingly difficult to defend the right of private individuals to own and control the means of production.
Chris says that capitalist crisis tend to be driven by overproduction rather than destruction. But capitalism has never had to cope with the generalised, escalating and multifaceted destruction that climate change will bring. Chris finds the end of growth scenario “dubious”. But that’s really just an assertion of his faith in capitalism’s resilience rather than an argument based on the evidence.
I’d be interested to know more about how Chris thinks climate shocks — those I have outlined and many more besides — will impact on an already crisis-prone system.
Todd Hamer, London
Communist for clampdown?
To add to Jim Denham’s article (Solidarity 592) on the intervention by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) in May’s local elections, I’d like to highlight some of the radical “socialist solutions” on offer from one of their candidates in particular, Luton’s Markus Keaney.
The CPB promised candidates to put “leftward pressure” on Labour. From what I’ve understood, in Luton they wouldn’t need to be that left wing at all. But what would this leftward pressure look like in this ultra-safe Labour stronghold? Keaney gave us a glimpse in his exclusive pre-election interview with Luton Today:
“There are a couple of endemic problems in High Town, which several Labour administrations have failed to deal with. You only have to walk or drive around to see the scale of the problem. If elected, I will put pressure on the council to allocate funding and police resources into High Town. My main priorities will be tackling street drug dealing and prostitution, and the renovation of empty units on High Town Road.”
That’s right: Vote Communist for more funding for the cops to crack down on sex workers and drug use!
Keaney convinced some 36 people to vote for him of the 6500-plus electorate.
More to condemn
I totally agree with Martin Thomas (Solidarity 592) that “Israel should withdraw from the West Bank, end its blockade of Gaza, and concede the right of Palestinians to an Independent state of their own alongside Israel.” But many on the socialist left see an independent Palestine alongside Israel as impossible, as they see Israel as a colonial and apartheid state that must come to an end for there to be peace.
Worryingly there has been little to no condemnation on the left for the actions of Hamas, indiscriminately firing rockets into Israel, killing and injuring innocent civilians. Hamas political bureau member and former minister of interior, Fathi Hammad said on 7 May on Al-Aqsa TV: “People of Jerusalem, we want you to cut off the heads of the Jews with knives.” This is an incitement to kill Jews, yet many on the left are silent on this. Even more worryingly on the Free Palestine protest on Saturday 15 May in London, men were filmed chanting “Khaybar Khaybar yehud Jaish Muhammad sauf Ya’ud” (Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, Muhammad’s army is returning) whilst wearing shirts with Saddam Hussein on them.
On Friday 14th a synagogue in Norwich was found to have antisemitic graffiti on it, alongside “Free Palestine”. In Germany, Israeli flags were burnt in front of two synagogues, and in Spain a synagogue had “Free Palestine” spray-painted on it recently. And on Sunday 16th, a convoy of cars with Palestinian flags on them were filmed driving down Finchley Road in London screaming “F*** the Jews, rape their daughters!”
About all this, from Hamas terrorism and antisemitic chants to attacking synagogues, the majority on the left has been silent. We shouldn’t be silent about it all just because Israel commits serious crimes.
We should oppose the Kahanist far right in Israel in their efforts to create settlements and their targeting of Arabs within Israel. We should condemn the Israeli government for its aggression on Gaza, killing innocent civilians. But we should oppose Hamas terrorism, the Islamist ideology it propagates, and speak out against the antisemitism which seems embedded in the “Free Palestine” movement.
Solidarity to the working class of both Israel and Palestine!
Mo Starke Hannon, London