ON COMMUNIST APPROACH TO ECOLOGICAL CATASTROPHE- K N Ramachandran
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04 September 2019

 

The growing threat of ecological catastrophe whose disastrous consequences are already getting manifested in various forms have become the most decisive challenge today. If following emergence and strengthening of the capitalist mode of production, if the plunder of natural resources and the very nature itself started intensifying, after the introduction of neoliberal policies and corporate loot, the ecological destruction reached disastrous levels leading to global warming, climate change like consequences.  Cyclone intensities have increased, rainfall is more erratic, extreme weather events are more frequent, pole-ward migration of species is noticeable, crop yield variations are higher, glaciers have shrunk by 275 Gt per year in the past two decades, and climate change impacts have already exacerbated conflicts in many regions.

Climate change is a consequence of a fundamentally flawed relationship between human activities with nature.  And it has already reached a stage when sustainable and socially just climate change solutions cannot be achieved by technical tinkering, but only through basically re-structuring society. For example, take the case of impact of greenhouse gases (GHGs), they are global, no matter where they are released. The solutions, therefore, must be global. A country cannot be saved from climate change by it alone cutting down emission. Only a global effort to drastically cut emissions can do that. Because it is global problem that has regional and local impacts, climate change cannot be tackled the same way like local problems, e.g., deforestation, or human rights violations. Though, sectoral and local initiatives, e.g., switching from grid power to solar energy, organic farming, forest conservation can inspire people to join the movement to stop climate change and make a sustainable society, its basic solution calls for a people’s campaign for global climate emergency which must also draw from the experience of local and regional movements and relate to them. The situation has reached such a stage that if emergency measures are not taken urgently to put an end to further ecological destruction, and to revert fast to safer levels, the unfolding catastrophe shall make human existence impossible on the earth.

Though humanity has reached such a disastrous situation, in spite of many assurances the governments of imperialist countries as well as of the neo-colonially dependent countries refuse to implement even the decisions taken by a series of UN initiatives like Kyoto Protocol. As the rule of capital is becoming increasingly monopolistic, speculative, profit oriented and fascistic, none of these assurances are met and the ecological catastrophe is becoming an ever-increasing threat day by day. It is reaching such a stage that there are only two alternatives before the humanity: either throw out the capitalist-imperialist system or perish! Realizing the urgency of the situation, a broad spectrum of people’s movements in our country and around the world including the movements of even school children are actively striving  to force the governments to declare a climate emergency and to change their policies which cause ecological destruction. In this situation, the communist forces everywhere are confronting this challenge: integrate with these movements as part of the class struggle, while intensifying the struggles to overthrow the capitalist-imperialist system with the goal of realizing an alternative path of sustainable, people oriented, egalitarian development paradigm  linked to all round democratization of society with all power to the people.

For those communists who have assimilated the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, it is not difficult to take this stand. Explaining the exploitative nature of capitalism, Marx and Engels in their numerous studies including The Capital and the Dialectics of Nature have pointed out that under capitalism, the relation between capital and nature have become antagonistic, and if not checked, it shall lead to global environmental catastrophe. Only in a socialist society without exploitation of man by man do nature and human form a fruitful unity. Only in a classless communist society, with the “humanization of nature” and with the “naturalization of the humans” come to their relative completion.

In his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, Marx wrote: “This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature, and between man and man”. But, under the exploitative capitalist mode of production what is happening is basically different. Engels warned: Let us not, however, flatter ourselves over much on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings almost the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancels the first”. But, under neoliberal/corporate imperialism utilizing modern technological devices, as the plunder of nature went on intensifying to unprecedented levels from the 1970s onwards for overcoming its own crisis and for super profit, the nature started taking revenge leading to present ecological catastrophe which is becoming increasingly serious day by day.

Marxism is a social science. It calls for understanding the basic laws of motion of capital it has put forward, and for developing them according to the concrete changes taking place in the society, as Lenin did when capitalism reached its highest phase, imperialism. In the post-Lenin period, as it was confronting new crises, the imperialist system went on transforming its strategy and tactics to overcome the perennial cycle of crises as well as to confront the growing challenges from the socialist camp. It is in this process, during the post-Second World War situation, under the leadership of US imperialism it transformed the colonial forms of imperialist domination with neo-colonial forms, using finance capital, market, technology and weapons-trade as is main instruments of control. Necessary institutions and post-modernism like theoretical positions were also developed for this purpose. In spite of it, as stagflation created new crisis in 1970s, replacing the post-War phase of Keynesian welfare state concepts, it imposed imperialist globalization through neoliberal policies, intensifying the pursuit of super profit by unprecedented plunder of nature. As the consequences of this started getting manifested in various forms, many studies by scientists on the impact of this aggressive attack on nature also started coming out. Many environmental movements also started, in the main led by the NGOs to start with.

But, an evaluation of this period shows that the international communist movement failed to comprehend these fast changes which were making the imperialist system more ruthless and barbarous. When neo-colonialism was “more pernicious and sinister form of colonialism”, the Soviet communist leadership evaluated that it is weakening of imperialism, and abandoning the path of class struggle, it called for “peaceful co-existence and peaceful completion with imperialism, and peaceful transition to socialism”, in the process degenerating Soviet Union and all east European countries to capitalist path! Most of the communist parties around the world including the CPI also followed this revisionist path. Though the CPC under Mao’s leadership tried to challenge this, soon after his death the capitalist roaders usurped power there also. As the challenge from the international communist movement significantly weakened, the imperialist countries could go ahead more speedily by surmounting the systemic crises it went on facing through further intensification of neoliberal/corporate policies and plunder of nature for super profit and monopolization.  By this time, the scientists and environmentalists had started pointing out the increasing ecological destruction taking place under neoliberal offensive and were organizing movements against it, But, as a result of the degeneration of former socialist countries and mainstream communist parties to right opportunist positions, they failed to comprehend the changes taking place in the imperialist system and their impact not only to the exploited masses, but also to nature. As the Left Front led by the CPI(M), the mainstream communists in India, like their counterparts in other countries , had become apologists of neo-colonialism and then executioners of neoliberal policies wherever they came to power, like the ruling class parties they also took hostile approach to the ecological movements, Many of them went to the extent of dubbing them as ecological fundamentalists!

By this time the CPI(ML) movement, starting with the great people’s uprising in Naxalbari,  but soon pursuing left adventurist line, had disintegrated to many groups under state terror. As most of them failed to make a concrete analysis of the emerging international and national situation breaking away from their sectarian positions, even when the environmental destruction was becoming a serious problem, they also could not recognize its importance.

It was in this situation, the CPI(ML) Red Star, which had initiated the reorganization of the CPI(ML) under the banner of CRC, CPI(ML) from1979, took up an evaluation of the post-War international situation and the transformation of imperialist plunder from colonial to neo-colonial forms along with the changes taking place in the concrete situation of our country.  These studies helped it to  recognise  the importance of the movements developing in different parts of the country for ecological protection.  In the second half of 1980s it took active part in successfully preventing the construction of nuclear power plants in Kerala and many other ecological movements. In the 1990s as part of the struggle against the imposition of neoliberal/globalization policies and against WTO, the party, then under the banner of CPI(ML) Red Flag, led or participated in many movements for the protection of environment. After going through many studies coming out internationally and nationally on the increasing contradiction between the capitalist mode of production under neoliberal regime and the threats faced by the natural foundations of human life, the party took up its own studies to deepen its understanding on this important question.

It is based on these studies, the Party Program adopted by the 9th Congress of CPI(ML) Red Star in 2009 (2.1) explained: “during this period, especially after the crisis of the 1970s, with the mad rush for exploitation of natural and human resources utilizing the unprecedented technological advances under the imperialist perspective of development, ever- intensifying ecological devastation has started becoming a major factor both at the international and the national level. It has given rise to a new, fifth major contradiction, at both international and national levels, the contradiction between capital and nature, along with the other four major contradictions”.

In (3.7) it stated:  Under neo-colonization, due to the policies implemented in the name of development which actually serve the interests of imperialists and their lackeys, ecological devastation has become an ever intensifying factor. ‘Global warming’ like  phenomena and the nuclear catastrophe created by the nuclear arms race, existing nuclear plants which are ‘nuclear time bombs’ as once again proved by the meltdown of Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

Under the title: Program of People’s Democracy, it stated: (6.16)  Based on the understanding that the contradiction between capital and nature has become a major contradiction at both national and international level, concrete plans should be worked out to protect environment and to develop the perspective on development taking this important question in to consideration.

After this, during the last one decade party committees and the class/mass organizations in which the party comrades are actively functioning, took initiative to launch many ecological movements in different fields and became part of large number of movements along with other ecological movements and groups. At the international level, the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR), in which the CPI(ML) Red Star is a leading member, recognizing the significance of the movement for protection of environment in the context of growing danger of ecological catastrophe, has taken up different initiatives. It is in continuation to these, presently party has become one of the members of the organizing committee for the South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis which is organizing an important Conference at Hyderabad on 18th to 21st  September. Under the initiative of party members a website: www.ecopolitiks.org is also propagating the significance of this movement

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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.