"War Ecology" Will Not Save the Planet

IWG flyer for distribution at the anniversary 'Fridays For Future' protests.

It is no secret; undoubtedly, the ecological situation is catastrophic for the majority of the population. Equally true is that, in the hands of the bourgeoisie, it is repurposed as an ideological smokescreen. Today, on the date of the climate marches, it is vital we recognize the false friends among us.

The real culprit behind the climate crisis? The answer is capitalism and its state, whose ongoing war preparations are camouflaged as legislation in the interest of the environment. The state, that defends production for profit, cannot solve an ecological catastrophe that is caused by production for profit. As a player in the competition between national capitals, the state cannot exist other than as a participant in the system that has always lived at the expense of the environment: capitalism.

The system, however, dresses up in green clothes. On August 16, 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which purports to fight the climate crisis via investment in renewable energy production. It sponsors the construction of new nuclear power plants and electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing in the USA. France has followed suit, nationalizing the world’s largest energy utility and expanding its fleet of nuclear power plants. In Germany, where renewables have grown to account for 52.3% of electricity consumption in the first six months of 2023, Chancellor Scholz says “Putin’s war” is an “accelerator of necessary change” that includes green transition (or, as some demand in the USA, a “Green New Deal”).

Subject to the workings of the market, transition to renewables will not solve the climate crisis even if they overtake traditional sources in electricity production and adjacent sectors. Neither will EV battery plants, the construction of which takes place at the same time as the expansion of semiconductor manufacturing (linked to economic activity accounting for roughly ⅓ of global emissions…) in the USA, Europe, and Vietnam under the CHIPS Act. In truth, the green transition is a green façade for what can be summed up as “war ecology”. Whereas the architects of the New Deal in the 1930s sought to secure workers’ submission to rearmament under the auspices of social legislation, today, right- and left-institutional parties alike seek to secure submission to rearmament under the auspices of not only social but environmental legislation.

Why? We see that relations with participants in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are on the rocks; and production cuts agreed at the OPEC+ meeting in June continue to prevent the USA from replenishing its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has dropped to the lowest levels since the 1980s. This is harmful to the war preparedness of the USA. And therein lies the motor force behind green transition: war preparedness.

NATO states prepare a “green transition” alongside the consolidation of imperialist blocs since the invasion of Ukraine. They do this in order to a) insulate themselves against economic warfare by adversary states engaged in petroleum production, and b) facilitate the reconfiguration of production lines that is critical to rearmament. Among them, France, plagued by unrest since February 24, 2022, targeted the energy sector for reforms aimed at heading off social tensions, whose recent catalysts include a decrepit energy grid. Now, according to The Economist, “Ask officials and industry people, and the success of American nuclear energy is not just crucial for tackling climate change, but also for national security.” The ecological program of the current administration—deeply entwined with the “onshoring” meant to expand the domestic industrial base in anticipation of a future conflict with Chinese capitalism—is one of war ecology, to strengthen the position of the USA within the imperialist pecking order. For the environmental reformers, the climate crisis is reduced to the level of a public relations ploy, to gather support for “environmental” legislation that is actually preparing strategic sectors of the economy for war with China.

The climate crisis cannot be solved within capitalism, and certainly not by means of war ecology. The environmental protests that do not recognize this do not oppose ecosystem collapse, rising sea levels, or the disappearance of species. What the situation demands is a renewed struggle by the working class (the only force whose objective interests coincide with universal human needs…), in which all capitalist factions are identified as the enemy, and the ecological masquerade of state-capitalism is unmasked. We need to connect our transient struggles to the fight for a new society, not based on production for profit, but on production for human needs. Only then will we begin to really oppose the destruction of the planet, that will accompany the outbreak of war between the different imperialist blocs at a level even more terrible than today. If we don’t want to be sheep to the slaughter, there’s no way out but through…

Communism or Extinction; No War but the Class War!

Internationalist Workers’ Group
Affiliate of the Internationalist Communist Tendency in the USA


Image: Intothewoods7 (CC BY-SA 4.0), commons.wikimedia.org

Thursday, September 14, 2023