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A Socialist Message on “End of the World”
[Photo: Mayan Art, Bonampak mural, room 1, east wall: Musicians]
A Socialist Message on “End of the World”
By Steven Argue
Tomorrow is 12-21-12, the day that new age con-artists have chosen for something big to happen. They tell us this will either be the end of world or the beginning some kind of massive rebirth. Their predictions are based on the Mayan calendar. The Mayan calendar turns over once every 144,000 years. Yet, despite the lies of these new age con-artists, the Mayans never predicted anything would happen when that calendar turns over. Even if they had, it would take supernatural abilities to predict anything so specific. Rational people know that no one has supernatural abilities, not even the Mayans, no matter how many human sacrifices they carried out.
So tomorrow will come and go without any of the predictions of the new age con-artists coming true. It’s too bad that more spiritual superstitions don’t make their predictions so testable. Those who made money by being “experts” on this thing will just need to move on. One might be so bold as to predict the end of their careers. Yet, they may just move on to making-up new fiction that some portion of the gullible public will once again adopt without regard to the lack of meaningful evidence.
Meanwhile, there are real threats to civilization based on sound scientific and economic theory like global warming, economic collapse, and war.
Man-made global warming, with its positive feedback loops, is a significant threat to the future of human civilization. By “positive” feedback, I don’t mean “happy”, I’m talking about factors like warmer temperatures melting methane hydrate, turning it to gas, and causing an even stronger greenhouse effect. Melting ice, melting permafrost, acidification of the oceans, and drought with associated forest fires are all causes of other positive feed back loops. How far these loops may push global temperatures ever upward is not known.
The Permian Extinction event 252 million years ago was caused by global warming. The initial cause of this global warming was carbon dioxide emissions from extreme volcanic activity that occurred in the Siberian Traps. This set in motion the melting of methane hydrate, causing extreme warming of the Earth. Oceans became so warm that they held far less oxygen and much of it became anoxic. The anoxic oceans, in turn, filled with bacteria that can live without oxygen. These bacteria reduced sulfate and released massive amounts of toxic Hydrogen Sulfide into the atmosphere as their waste product, poisoning much of life on Earth. This global warming event caused the extinction of 96% of sea life and 70% of terrestrial life. Whether or not human civilization is able to survive global warming long enough to inflict this kind of damage on the planet really is not known.
What is known is that as a result of global warming the oceans are rising, the weather has become highly unpredictable destroying crops world wide, and there has been an increase in extreme weather events like hurricanes and flooding. Mass extinction of animals, already begun on a very large scale by habitat loss and the human introduction of non-native species, will be made much worse by global warming. One disturbing example is the 1997-1998 extinction of 16% of coral species due to warmer sea water. Many fish and other ocean animals depend on corals to survive. Global warming, by conservative estimates, already causes 150,000 human deaths per year. The destruction of crop land due to rising waters in low lying countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam alone will most likely cause the deaths of many millions of people.
Meanwhile, the capitalist class that rules America is showing no interest in real action to stop global warming. It is likely that a socialist revolution will be necessary to carry out the economic and political changes needed to save the planet.
Karl Marx, a highly skilled economist, wrote of the falling rate of profit under capitalism. Capitalist production must always be expanding. Inevitably, this ever increasing productive capacity outpaces the market. For the capitalist, the rate of profit in the real economy keeps falling. In response, the capitalists turn ever more to speculation and fraud to turn a profit on their capital. Yet, these schemes are nothing more than bubbles created by the capitalists, and they inevitably burst.
This is what happened with the 1929 stock market crash which is similar to the incomplete process of collapse that began with the 2008 financial crisis. The world economic crisis that culminated in the 1929 stock market crash led to a breakdown of many functions of civilization, even in the most economically advanced countries in the world. The political frenzy of hatred and confusion emanating from declassed and middle class layers of Germany, without capable revolutionary socialists to provide a consistent alternative, led to the victory of fascism in Germany. Fascism was a last resort, sponsored by the German capitalist class which used it to crush and silence the working class by slaughtering its leaders. First targeted for execution were the Communists. The Nazis then exterminated the Social Democrats and anarchists. In addition to silencing and regimenting the working class, the capitalists profited from turning Jews and workers of other oppressed minorities across Europe into slave labor.
Fascism helped solve some of the problems the capitalists were facing in Germany, but everywhere the economic crisis of capitalism could drive the imperialist capitalists to but one solution: World War as means of conquering new markets, resources, and labor sources while destroying the competing productive capacities of other imperialist powers. Germany directly expanded its empire across most of Europe and part of Africa while Japan expanded across much of Asia and the Pacific. The USSR dealt the death blows against Nazi Germany from the Battle of Stalingrad to the taking of Berlin. The United States, however, came out of the war as the top imperialist dog with control over most of the underdeveloped world. Worldwide, the productive capacities of capitalism had been destroyed and needed to be rebuilt. This breathed new life into the capitalist system. The capitalists had escaped the world economic crisis of capitalism at the expense of the lives of about 70 million people (2.5% of the world’s population).
World War II was the capitalists’ solution to the world economic crisis of capitalism. Today, it is likely that it will take a similar human catastrophe for the capitalists to escape their current economic crisis. Increasing repression of the American working class and the American people in general will continue to accompany this economic crisis as the standard of living of the working class is driven downward and the government carries out ever increasing warfare against the people of the world.
Their Solutions and Ours
While the capitalist solution to the current crisis of capitalism is ever increasing repression, austerity, war, exploitation, and environmental destruction; the call for working class solutions seems almost a desperate cry in the wilderness with no hope in sight. But it is from this crisis, from the fact that life under capitalism continues to worsen and offers no hope for the future; that more and more people can begin to see the alternatives.
The organization of labor fight-backs that include political as well as economic strikes offer one of the most effective means we can begin to have an impact. Yet this will not be nearly enough. Militant labor struggles, which often need some sort of revolutionary socialist leadership to succeed, must be seen as a component of the struggle needed to build towards bigger battles necessary for the overthrow the capitalist state. Such struggles will be needed to expand the confidence and boldness of the working class and its leadership.
What is needed is a proletarian socialist revolution that puts the means of production into the hands of the multi-racial working class. This will be done through the means of overthrowing the capitalist state and establishing a workers democracy which nationalizes all of the holdings of the capitalists without compensation.
Oil, coal, and other fossil fuel industries will be nationalized to eliminate the corrupting power of those capitalists and take real measures towards phasing out those industries and establishing clean energy alternatives. This will provide humanity with a chance to save the planet and human civilization.
With the new socialized planned economy, the falling rate of profit becomes irrelevant because production will no longer be for capitalist profit. Instead, the workers democracy can direct production to meet human and environmental needs. By doing so, the socialist economy will be able to quickly eliminate unemployment, provide everyone with free and higher quality healthcare, provide everyone with rent free housing, and provide a free education through the university level. Today, our alternatives are clear, our choices, as Rosa Luxemburg put it, are socialism or barbarism. Rosa Luxemburg first made that declaration in the years of the imperialist slaughter of World War I where the capitalist classes of competing imperialist powers murdered 16 million people. Today, the road of future horrors offered humanity by capitalism is far worse. Our choices truly are, “socialism or barbarism”.
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Also by this author, see:
Why The Russian Revolution is Still Important
End Imperialist Intervention in Syria!
Gains for Healthcare, Despite Obama
Correction, I meant to write 144,000 days, not years.