Saturday, June 9, 2012

Australia: Capitalism cannot be made eco-friendly

When I was last in Australia I went out on to the Great barrier Reef to do some snorkling; it is truly an incredible place and one of the wrold's great environmental wonders.  But as we have explained many times on this blog, the capitalist system of production, an economic formation based on private ownership of the means of prodcution and profit, is not compatible with environmental protection. It is not an exageration to say that if we do not collectively liberate the forces of production from the capitalist class, this planet of ours will no longer sustain life as we know it.
There is an ongoing war here in Australia as a mining and raw materials boom offer the prospect of huge profits for the coupon clippers, billionaires like Australia's richest women, Gina Reinhart and her global class colleagues eager to make a killing. 

The Australian capitalist class connected to this industry are very upset over an ad Greenpeace and other environmental groups took out in the Asian edition of the Financial Times last week warning global investors (aimed at the Chinese particularly no doubt) against investing in a huge $6.2 billion coal project .  Workers should see in the whole affair the truth obscured by the propaganda of the capitalist media and the weakness in the approach of groups like Greenpeace and others that aim to make capitalism more eco-friendly.

There has been some political squabbling between the state of Queensland and the federal government over the environmental impact on the Great Barrier Reef.  The federal government stopped the approval of the planned project, the Alpha Coal Project blaming the Queensland government for failing to provide adequate information on the impact to the reef.  The Great barrier Reef is also an important tourist attraction and an important source of revenue for the state.  Despite their differences though, both state and federal officials have joined forces in condemning the environmentalist groups for capitlising on their dispute.

But what the ad does is to appeal to the global investors warning them that their investments are at risk due to political squabbling.  "This and community opposition to the project are two of a numberof serious issues about which investors should be concerned" says Julian Vincent, a Greenpeace spokesperson.  The ad appeals to the investors rapacious greed for profits asking them "Have you considered investing in new coal projects in Australia?" and warning them that such an investment is "risky business."  "Will you sink your profits on the Great Barrier reef" the ad warns.

The issue of profits or the nature of capitalism as inherently hostile to humanity and the environment doesn't enter in to it for Greenpeace.  heroism, dedication, or courage don't enter in to it; the road to hell is paved with good intentions as they say and that is where Greenpeace's path will lead.  Even if there was sufficient opposition to such an investment which is unlikely given the added jobs etc., the coupon clippers would find some other home for their capital equally as destructive.

Michael Roche, the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council calls the attack a "new low" saying that the mine which will require railway support as well as a port to be owned 80% by the Indian company GVK is for the benefit of not only Australians but Indians too: "GVK and other Indian companies are looking to Australian coal to improve the quality of life for millions of their people which is possible only through plentiful supplies of electricity" he tells the Australian newspaper.

But this is not the case.  capitalists don't invest in the porodcution of a commodity for its use value, because people need it to keep warm or because it increases their materal well being.  Capitalists invest capital in commodity prodcution in order to make profits, to extract suprlus value through the prodcution process.  Capitalists do not buy from us the products we make, they buy from us our ability to work over a period of time and they pay us less in wages than the value of what we produce in that time whether its coal or shoes. It is this added value they don't pay for that they're after. Capitalist production does not begin or end with people's needs, it begins and ends with money.

The idea that Indian billionaries want to invest in coal prodcution in Australia to help the Inidan poor is absurd. 

There are many insoluble contradictions in this economic formation, one of them being overproduction and its consequences, recessions and depressions.  Capitlaism cannot exist wothnout these.  Another is war, and many environmentalists fail to undestand that another is environmental degradation.

Capitalism cannot be made nice.

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