The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Capitalist Profit—A Catastrophic Calculation

Aug 20, 2018

Large industries, which create the pollution that helps to increase the world’s temperatures, spend a lot of money to spread this foolish idea: “Pollution is the price we have to pay to live in the modern world.”

They want us to believe we can’t have steel and glass and plastics and smart phones unless we have pollution. They pretend that in order to have modern transportation–whether it be cars, planes or ships–we have to accept the toxic emissions that today come with them. They would tell us that all the modern appliances that make our lives easier–from washing machines to smart pots to coffee pots–can’t run without electricity, and electricity can’t be produced without the simultaneous production of toxic emissions. They tell us, we can’t have food without the use of fertilizers that damage the earth, run into waterways and turn parts of the oceans into dead zones.

That’s nonsense.

Modern life isn’t what creates the problem. Capitalism does. The very mechanisms of this capitalist system put the drive for profit before all else.

Why do people still die in factories? Almost every machine, every organization of work could have safeguards able to prevent so-called “accidents.” Why aren’t they installed? Some are. But only those that cost less to install than what would be paid out over time in medical payments and death benefits in case of “accidents.” If it costs the owners of a factory less to pay your family when they kill you than to guarantee your safety, they won’t pay to keep you alive.

Every capitalist enterprise has accountants who make calculations just like this.

They make the same calculation about the environment they are polluting. Which costs less: to scrub the fumes produced in steel production, or to settle a class-action suit? Underneath every calculation, lurks their real concern: how it will affect their profit.

The warming of the globe–produced by a century of pollution–is only a problem of cost for the capitalists. But their calculation of cost is a catastrophe for most of humanity.