Skip to Main Content
cmtn logo

Climate Change Emergency: Socialism

"[T]he bad record of capitalism comes from its inherent nature as an uncontrolled process of capital accumulation. The system contains no braking mechanism other than periodic economic breakdowns; the individual units of which it is composed — the separate capitals — must respond to relatively short-run profit prospects on pain of elimination; there is nothing in the system that lends itself to or is compatible with long-range planning of a kind that would be absolutely essential to the implementation of an effective ecological program. It is precisely in this respect that socialism represents a decisive break with capitalism . . . . There are no guarantees, but at least it is a system with a potential that capitalism totally lacks."

Sweezy, Paul. "Socialism and Ecology." Monthly Review, vol. 41, no. 4, Sept. 1989, pp. 1-8

"[T]he resolution of the climate challenge will not be possible without a strong movement in the direction of the reduction of social inequalities at all levels. With the present magnitude of inequality, the advance toward austerity of energy will be wishful thinking, because carbon emissions are strongly concentrated among the rich. At the global level, the richest 10% are responsible for almost half the emissions, and the top 1% alone emit more carbon than the poorest half of the planet. A drastic reduction in purchasing power of the richest would therefore in itself have a substantial impact on the reduction of emissions at the global level" (244-45).

Piketty, Thomas. Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016-2021. Yale UP, 2021

"The current ecological crisis is shaped by, but not the result of, capitalism. Human degradation of ecosystems predates capitalism and will continue after capitalism, unless we develop a deeper understanding of the crisis" (36-37).

"Transcending capitalism is a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving just and sustainable human communities. The concentrated power in a capitalist system is unlikely to shape sustainable societies. The more democratic decision-making possible in a well-designed socialist system offers a path for rational planning. But it is naive to believe that such a system will make it easy to impose limits, especially when the techno-optimists tell us that we can have it all" (40).

Jackson, Wes, and Robert Jensen. An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity. U of Notre Dame P, 2022