The push for “sustainable energy” and “alternative fuels” is increasing. Politicians and companies appear united in calling for changes in how society is fueled. It appears that the ruling class is concerned about the environment. Communist analysis, however, reveals the essence of this “green” movement. First, the bosses are creating part of the ideology to support a potential future war against their imperialist rivals. Economic and political threats from China, for example, continue to present problems for U.S. rulers. As the rivalry intensifies, they’re caught in a bind. They must seize control of Mid-East energy reserves in order to cut their rivals’ access to it. They must also win the working class to support future wars against these rivals in order to maintain their world position. The promotion of ethanol as an “alternative fuel” is part of this plan.
Secondly, and more importantly, they’re winning workers to think that individuals, not capitalism, causes environmental destruction. They say a better environment can only be achieved by buying “green” products and consuming our way to a healthier world. In reality, only by destroying capitalism and replacing it with communism can the conditions that poison the enviroment be eradicated.
Focus on China and Ethanol Hides Imperialist Plans in Mid-East
Led by liberals like Al Gore, the capitalists are ramping up anti-Chinese rhetoric, namely by pointing to environmental issues such as contaminated products, air pollution and the catastrophe at the Three Gorges Hydroelectric Dam (where 1.4 million workers were displaced, and environmental destruction is occurring upstream from the dam). They need to convince workers that the Chinese are a direct threat to them and to a healthy Earth.
This is blatant hypocrisy, however, because for hundreds of years U.S. bosses have been killing the very workers they’re trying to win by polluting the places in which we live and work, along with the environment. (See box) Suddenly, when imperialism demands it, they’ve become interested in “protecting workers and ‘our’ environment.”
The ethanol campaign is also being used to disguise the absolute necessity for the U.S. ruling class to control Mid-East oil through imperialist war. They say ethanol will “achieve energy security, reduce oil imports, and decrease our dependency on Middle-Eastern oil.” Actually, of the top 15 countries from which the U.S. imports oil for consumption, only three, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait are from the Mid-East. Canada is by far the largest exporter of oil to the U.S. (Energy Information Administration, 2/15/08) The oil bosses don’t want control of Mid-East oil to power our SUVs but rather to control their rivals’ access to this life-blood of capitalism. The top oil companies like BP, ExxonMobil-Chevron are even putting hundreds of millions of dollars (a tiny amount compared to their profits) into researching “sustainable energy sources” as a way to mask their deadly designs on Mid-East oil.
Top Agri-business and Al GoreBehind Anti-working-class Ethanol Sham
Because it grows well in many climates, corn is used to make ethanol in the U.S. Currently, the federal government shells out $8 to $10 billion annually to Midwest corn growers. These subsidies are often framed as protecting America’s “ma and pa farmers.” In reality, large corporate farmers such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill receive about 80% of these subsidies. Also, seed suppliers like Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont) and Monsanto are making a killing with the inflated corn markets created by the ethanol craze. Pioneer’s profits increased 13% over the past year. Al Gore, the darling of the liberal environmental movement, has recently joined the board of a venture capitalist firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who have more than $76 million invested in “green” technology. He is also a high-ranking official at Generation Asset Management, which invests in “solutions to climate change.”
Meanwhile, the increased demand for corn for ethanol has led to even greater suffering for the working class. Agreements like NAFTA allow subsidized U.S. corn to under-cut local production in Mexico, causing corn tortilla prices there to soar 60%, triggering workers’ protests nation-wide. Workers are starving, yet the same amount of corn needed to fill an SUV tank with ethanol once would feed a worker for an entire year.
Making fuel from corn makes no sense for the environment either. If all the inputs are calculated (the cost, in energy terms, of getting and planting the seed, growing the corn, harvesting it, transporting it to the ethanol plant, etc.), there is a net energy loss! The environmental damage from this capitalist charade is also clear if the increased conversion of forest into farmland and the increased use of fertilizers (which, incidentally, are made from fossil fuels) and pesticides are considered. This is the reality of this “green consciousness” they want to win us to — business as usual under capitalism where profits come before scientific common sense and the well-being of our class and our environment.
Workers Will Be Stewards of Environment
Finally, there’s one truth the capitalists ignore. Workers have always been, and will always be, the best caretakers of the land and environment. Organic farming, where workers understand the land, respond to its needs, and replenish it for the future, was the norm during early communal agricultural societies. Capitalism, which makes food into a commodity to be bought and sold, replaced this mode with food production for profit. Modern communism, in turn, will discard the commodity nature of food, while retaining any technological advances.
As workers, we have no interest in profit-making disguised as “green living,” nor in preserving the power of the U.S. ruling class (or any ruling class for that matter) through patriotism and war in the name of environmentalism. Our interests lie in maintaining and preserving the environment because we work its land, we breathe its air, and we enjoy its beauty.
Ultimately, only the working class can create a better and healthier world. With scientific reason, dialectical analysis, and revolutionary ideology, the working class must begin the process of building workers’ power. Communism is the embodiment of that power. Together, as a class, we can counteract the damage of capitalism.
Who really pollutes the environment?
Companies like Monsanto, Occidental Petroleum, Chevron, and others have created over 40,000 “Superfund” sites. These are “uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located, possible affecting local ecosystems or people.” Twenty-five million people live within 10 miles of 114 of these sites.
Between 1936 and 1950 Firestone Tire, General Motors, Standard Oil and Phillips Petroleum bought and dismantled over 100 streetcar systems in 45 cities. This forced millions of workers into private automobiles, leading to enormous pollution levels.
In 2004, war-maker DuPont settled a $340 million lawsuit involving water contamination in Ohio and West Virginia from a chemical used to produce Teflon.
Exelon Corporation, operator of 1/6 of the country’s nuclear power plants, recently tried to cover up a leak at an Illinois plant that released radioactive water into the Kankakee River.
Want to ‘live green?’ Join PLP!
The green movement constantly talks about “saving the environment.” Many workers support this movement from an earnest desire to see an end to the the destruction of natural habitats around the world. But the green movement is financed by the ruling class (see editorial) and has no interest in ending the most environmentally destructive force in the world: capitalism. They push a one-sided, individualistic ideology that claims that “the environment” can be saved without ending capitalism and that it is “our” fault for having wasted natural resources. The desire for greater and greater profit has been the cause of the greatest destruction. In the name of profit 20% of the tropical rain forests were cut down in the last 30 years of the 20th century and 50 million acres of forest (an area equal to the state of Washington) are cut down every year in the U.S.
Industrial bosses dump pollutants and toxins into oceans and rivers. Down the line, these poisons cause disease in workers forced to live near these habitats. This relationship between organisms and their surroundings is called “mutual determination” and is very important for understanding how humans live within the world as part of their environment.
Ending the destruction of our environment not only requires understanding the complex ways in which we relate to our surroundings, but also ending the reason for the destruction: capitalism. The best way to “live green” is to join the PLP and fight for communism.