All capitalism's fault?

Letter by Helen Porter, Bwichyffridd

ImageWell, I agree with everything Lucy Lant (PN 2542) says about climate change and most of what she says about capitalism, but I can’t understand why much of the environmental movement ignores the role of those officially communist countries which are at least as exploitative of the environment and its natural resources.

Yes I know they are not genuinely socialist but they certainly wouldn’t call themselves capitalist and China, to take the worst example, is responsible for huge and increasing environmental depredation. To focus just on capitalism over this issue is lazy thinking. The real enemy is the consumerist lifestyle that the west has held up as the acme of “civilisation” and which developing countries, understandably, want to copy.

Editor response:

Many thanks for your letters, Godric and Helen. To clarify, the suggestion we made was that making managers democratically-elected by their workers would be a radical reform, helpful along the way to a truly humane society. We did not mean to suggest that this would be, all by itself, a solution to the crises that confront us. As for the Western consumerist lifestyle, that is indeed damaging both to the planet and to our selves. But as long as corporations continue to be enormously powerful private empires, largely outside democratic control, they will pose a threat both to ecological sustainability and to human freedom, whatever kind of lifestyle we ordinary citizens lead. As for countries like China, they could fairly be described as forms of state capitalism, where the state is the owner and manager, lording it over disempowered workers. – Eds