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

One Step Closer to the Cliff

Mar 14, 2022

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a new report on February 28. Its conclusions can be wrapped up in one sentence: The potential disasters estimated in a 2014 report are happening now because nothing was done to prevent them.

We are on the road to the lack of clean water for four billion human beings, to the threat of famine, to more catastrophic weather events, to outbreaks of new diseases and recurrences of past illnesses like cholera, and to speedier extinctions of many plant and animal species. Heeding these bleak predictions, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said there is a “failure of climate leadership.” He added that “the world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home.”

Between those two IPCC reports there were many meetings of heads of state of industrialized countries, symposiums of leaders of multinational corporations, conferences of bankers and investors, and endless promises that were as green-washed as they were empty. The richest and most powerful companies beginning with manufacturing, energy, and transport demanded and got public subsidies for their so-called green conversion. They promised to end coal mining, to use less oil, to pollute less, to rationalize transportation, to pour less concrete and plant more grass, and even to blend cities into the countryside.

Nothing was done, except tragicomedies just fleshed out enough to be rewarded with subsidies. The planet will be unlivable before those who run the world change their ways—if they ever do! In fact, capitalists are free as ever to try to maximize their profit, without worrying about the general welfare, the lives of workers, or the health of ordinary people. They face no consequences for industrial pollution. Each government continues to aid capitalists in general and its own homegrown capitalists in particular in their race for profit.

Capitalism profited by sending European children to their deaths in mines and spinning mills. It profited by snatching millions of Africans. Capitalism ravaged the planet, with colonial wars and world wars. Now capitalism melts sea ice to extract oil, destroys the last tropical forests, converts inner orbit space into a satellite junkyard, and multiplies war zones and slums on earth. And even before pollution and catastrophic climate change make the planet uninhabitable, it may become one giant battlefield.

Only a few months ago the IPCC report would have attracted headlines and politicians’ diatribes. Now it is eclipsed by the situation in Ukraine and the much more immediate stresses people feel.

In the words of the pre-1914 revolutionaries, this social system offers only endless horror and a horrible ending. Instead, let it give birth to a new world, as called for by the workers from around the world who opened up that possibility in the 1917 revolution.