05

Jun

10:55am
Nuwan Bopege Sri Lanka
The capitalist resistance over environmental protection

The capitalist resistance over environmental protection

Nuwan Bopege Sri Lanka//10:55am, Jun 5th '21

The scientists forecast that the global average temperature would rise of between 3 and 5 degrees by the end of this century. In other words, vast areas of the planet, including many densely populated coastal areas, will become uninhabitable. Hundreds of millions of people will be displaced as climate refugees. Entire cities and countries will be driven to collapse. The Human civilization, in anything resembling its current form, will struggle to survive. This is the heritage of the capitalism for the future generations. Rosa Luxemburg in the 20th Century stated that ‘We must either move forward in to socialism or fall back into barbarism’. However, the evolving results of the capitalism indicate that there won’t exist an earth even to build barbarism.


The environment issues such as global warming, climate change, water pollution, air pollution have intrinsic link with the capitalist mode of production. The role of the capitalist state is to expand the capital and the profit, rather than the mass of the population who suffer the consequences of their environmentally destructive practices and this dynamic is reinforced by competition on an international scale. The entire future of the human beings is at a grave and miserable risk. As Russian Marxist Nikolai Bukharin written in 1917, “No system, including that of human society, can exist in empty space; it is surrounded by an ‘environment,’ on which all its conditions ultimately depend. If human society is not adapted to its environment, it is not meant for this world; all its culture will inevitably pass away; society itself will be reduced to dust.”


The liberal movements of the world carried out proactive campaigns against this environmental destruction even without having an ideological understanding about the capitalist mode of production. The resistance from the capitalist institutional mechanism has been drastically escalated against the environmental activists irrespective of the political stance of these activists. There were 212 reported assassinations of environmental activists in 2019 whereas the actual death toll is likely much higher, as many cases go unreported. The Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) published a study that shows that 13 % of environmental activists are killed and another 18 % are victims of physical violence worldwide. Half of the reported killing in 2019 took place in Colombia and Philippines, with 64 and 43 deaths recorded respectively. Colombia saw the highest number of environmental activists killings ever recorded in a single country. Indigenous leaders Omar and Ernesto Guasiruma from Colombia, who protected their ancestral lands, were murdered while self-isolating in their homes in March after being exposed to the virus. The Philippines, which was the deadliest country for environmental activists in 2018, continues to be the most dangerous country in Asia for environmental defenders.


Brazil is the most dangerous country for environmental activists and the last few years have seen a dramatic upward trend in killings of people who take a stand against companies and other actors committing environmental crimes. Since 2015, 1/3 of fatal attacks against environmental activists have been against Indigenous people In Brazil, 90% of recorded deaths in the country took place in the Amazon, where roughly half the country’s Indigenous populations live. According to the information the majority of the activists are members of vulnerable groups that use non-violent forms of protest and that, nevertheless, the fight for collective rights has a high cost for their lives. President Bolsonaro openly declared that the Amazon must be utilized for commercial purposes where the rain forest which provides 20% of the oxygen of the earth faced severe deforestation during past few years.


Furthermore the legal framework has been regularly using to oppress the environmental activists. Marina Dubina from the Belarusian organization Ecohome, who is fighting against the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country, was convicted to spend thirteen days in prison. Another member of a non-governmental environmental organization activist Ecohome, Alena Dubovik, in Czech republic was sentenced to 15 days in prison for attending a public assembly. Three Brest activists - Dmitry Bekalyuk, Alexander Kabanov and Dmitry Androsyuk were detained before the “feeding of pigeons” a weekly Sunday protest against a battery factory carried out by the citizens of Brest. On October 21, 2019, Liviu Pop, a forest ranger in a mountainous region of the Maramures in Northern Romania was shot dead with his own gun and found in a forest gorge. He was responding to a tip-off about illegal logging. Raducu Gorcioaia, who has been working to preserve Romania´s forests for many years, was found dead in his car, a short distance away from an illegal logging site in Pascani forest district in the north-east part of the country. Those are few examples for as to how the environmental activists were hunted.


Decades of global climate negotiations have gone nowhere. Despite the increasingly urgent warnings of scientists, emissions continue to rise. And with the blessings of USA, China, Russia, Brazil, European Union - some of the world’s biggest economies, are the major contributors for the carbon emission, the capitalism runs terrifying the earth. Trump or Putin or Bolsonaro act not simply in accordance with their personal whims and desires but as the conscious servants of a system : capitalism. The birth of capitalism in the 17th and 18th centuries was an extremely violent process that was strongly resisted from the start. As Karl Marx put it in Capital: “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.” Capital came into the world, he wrote, “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” Therefore the answer is suggested by the increasingly popular slogan “System change, not climate change”.

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