Workers Vanguard No. 965

24 September 2010


On Global Warming


Oakland, California
27 July 2009

To the Editors,
Workers Vanguard:

Dear Comrades,

Although it’s an ongoing, general question, my interest in it was particularly sparked recently by Wall Street, Washington Shaft Auto Workers, WV 938, 2 June 2009: why does the SL consistently avoid applying the Transitional Program to current material conditions? Is this a static, a-historic, dare I say “dead” approach to revolutionary program? Does it involve a refusal to recognize the exploitation of nature as key, along with the exploitation of labor, in the Marxist analysis of capitalism?

The article in question offers a quick review of key points (by quoting from an earlier issue): shorter work week at no loss in pay, extending unemployment benefits, free medical care, and “a massive program of public works at union wages…to create an America that looks like a place that its inhabitants could survive in” (emphasis mine). And at the end of the article we read of the need to overthrow capitalism and “build a collectivized, planned economy where production is based on social need, not profit.” OK so far, but…

This approach is woefully incomplete: the chief omission is the fact that capitalist exploitation, besides immiserating the masses, is raping the planet to death! You do know that greenhouse gases, rising like a “hockey stick” for the past 250 years, now threaten humanity with unparalleled devastation. What does “production based on social need” mean, in today’s context, if not—in the transportation sector—restructuring auto and related plants to build electric light rail and energy-efficient buses, as well as electric cars and batteries to run them? And what about free public transportation? …And, electrified inter-city high-speed rail, as well as rapid development of energy sources such as windmills, photo voltaics, and geothermal?

How is it that none of the above is included in your ideas for “massive public works,” but rebuilding dams is? Don’t you realize that most modern dams result from domestic financial and IMF/World Bank boondoggles, and are helping to destroy local communities/salmon runs/the environment/the planet? Energy-source development must be part of building a world that people can indeed survive in.

Of course, reformist nationalization “solutions” (read: let’s help capitalism fix things) won’t do it. Our demands work in conjunction with expropriation of relevant corporations, both here and internationally, and the struggle for workers’ power. The Transitional Program is the revolutionary alternative to a growing plethora of weak, neo-Malthusian proscriptions, but to be effective, it must be applied to today’s conditions.

The SL, despite professing a respect for science, seems oblivious to the fact that, “Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists) as labor…” (Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program) Capitalist-caused global warming is a fact of science, and it threatens civilization with extinction. If this doesn’t figure as an important part of a revolutionary program to restructure the world, we’re all, well, history.

Chris Kinder

[All ellipses are the author’s.—ed.]

WV replies:

Our take on global warming, including our Marxist stand against the petty-bourgeois environmentalist movement, is explicated in our article on the subject in this issue.