We only want the earth

Capitalism and the environmental crisis: introduction

This collection of articles has been put together by revolutionary socialists, supporters of the monthly magazine Workers’ Liberty. It aims to analyse the causes of the environmental crisis facing the planet and point towards solutions.

Unrealism and the future

By Clive Bradley
In the 1990s, when some of the United States’ mainstream environmental organisations, the so-called Shameful Seven, backed Clinton and the North American Free Trade Agreement, they defended their actions as a ‘coming of age’, a necessary realism. Environmentalists of many varieties, not to mention their enemies, repeat the cry.
It is a familiar story: “realists” are supposed to bring about the meaningful changes, and radicals are irrelevant.

Science and technology

By Bruce Robinson
BSE, the disposal of the Brent Spar oil rig, biotechnology and genetically modified foods, car use and pollution — all major issues of environmental controversy require some assessment of scientific evidence.

The new anti-capitalism

By Mick Duncan
One of the most impressive political phenomena of the last few years has been the protest movement around groups such as Reclaim the Streets, which has been called the “new anti-capitalism”.

The German Greens

By Matt Heaney
Many left wingers, disgusted and dismayed at the ever-rightward lurch of the Labour Party, see the Green Party as a viable alternative.

New Labour and the environment

By Matt Cooper
New Labour came to power with many promises — to save the welfare state, to end poverty and to stop the degradation of the environment. All of these promises have proved to be hollow, for much the same reason: the New Labour leadership’s slavish devotion to the free market.
This article will examine the development of Labour’s policy on the environment and how and why even these limited promises have not been acted on by the current Labour Government.

Green politics and the labour movement

Within contemporary environmentalist movements, it is increasingly uncontentious that capitalism is the root of the problem: the massive demonstration in Seattle in 1999 against the World Trade Organisation was against capitalism; in Britain, Reclaim the Streets have organised impressive demonstrations which are against the capitalist system as such.
Needless to say, and as we have already outlined here, we agree with this assessment.

Asbestos: a threat to life

By Jill Mountford

Environmental issues also affect us in the workplace and one of the things that illustrates this most clearly is the question of asbestos.

Over 3,000 people die of asbestos-related diseases every year in the UK. By 2020 the annual deaths are likely to be 10,000. Across Western Europe, 250,000 men will die from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, between 1995 and 2029. Of men born around 1945-50, about 1 in 150 will die of mesothelioma.

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