Contribution of New Communist Party of the Netherlands
The NCPN and CJB are delighted to see the member parties of the European Communist Action come together to collectively discuss and analyze one of the strategic plans of the EU and the bourgeois governments for the profitability of the monopolies they serve, while highlighting the communists’ proposal for a way out to save the environment, in conflict with the EU and the capitalist path of development, which is intertwined with the struggle for socialism.
The consequences of the environmental crisis for the working people worldwide range from deadly storms and floods destroying our houses, to debilitating droughts destroying our food, and heatwaves above wetbulb temperature causing immediate death. This crisis comes from the relation of human society with the processes of nature. The Netherlands for instance – which was over time transformed from marsh to dry fertile lands through technological advances – now faces many problems. For instance large fluctuations in water levels and a soil which cannot react to it. Due to this: One period floods damage our homes, and if dikes fail the most populated parts of the Netherlands will disappear under the sea. Other periods we have droughts which are expected to soon endanger the supply of drinking water.
It is not people in general who act as a “virus on the earth”, but capitalist production which is driven by maximisation of profits. This is also the context in which the different elements of production are valued. The proletariat is valued in so far as they create surplus value; and nature is valued in so far as it serves capital.
This context then shows the basis in which “green capitalism” relates to so-called sustainability. “Green capital” in this sense is nothing more than those segments of capital which see that current production methods will in time become impossible to profitably sustain by the earth - fossil fuels running out, climatic changes destroying agricultural profits, etc.
The extent in which they are “sustainable” stops at changing from depleted resources to not-yet depleted resources and seeks to hide the destruction of nature behind complex bureaucratic mazes, such as carbon trading and carbon neutrality. Environmental problems are picked up insofar as they harm profit rates, and addressed in so far they provide new markets for profit.
This is also the reason why there is at present only a “climate movement”, and not an environmental movement. It limits itself to carbon emissions, seeing it as the sole problem. The relation between production and nature however is not questioned. In the fierce competition between individual capitalists, after the sale is made, there is little room for the consequences on labour nor nature. Capitalism has no other option, however much the ideologues of green capital might wish.
Then there are those segments of capital which have too much invested in fossil-fuels and other contemporary exhaustive production methods, to be able to change production whilst keeping profit rates up. These segments of capital are both in conflict and interwoven at the same time.
Some companies or banks invest in fossil as well as green, and they both seek extra capital investments. A conflict which is sharpened with the periodically recurring economical crises, for which capitalism sees as only solution the destruction of capital.
This conflict is the one we see on global, EU, and national levels. The European Green Deal has as goal on one side the controlled devaluation of capital through writing of old power plants, cars, infrastructure, etc. On the other side stimulating new investments in sectors such as energy, transport, manufacturing, and agriculture.
This goal becomes clear when we look at the policies that are enacted and discontinued. Problems with Nitrogen deposition are used to further concentration of rural capital, and increase agricultural investments through the use of further mechanisation of agriculture, freeing up labourers for more profitable sectors. Solar panels and other “durability measures” are subsidised to inject the workers’ tax money in capitalist pockets under a green veil. “Climate conscious” use of resources is mostly used to justify the decrease in living standards for the working class.
This is also the limited extent to which most of the “climate movement” is protesting. Currently, the climate movement is nothing more than green capital using the genuine worries, fear, and discontent of the people as their mouthpiece in an effort to propagate support for the European Green Deal. Using the slogan “end fossil-fuel” and the nondescript “system change” to deceive the people to push banks to divert more of their capital from fossil-fuels to “green capital”. The latest results of COP28 in Dubai last year show this clearly. These two segments of capital came together, and decided how the expansion of capital should be divided amongst capitalists.
It is however important to note that the worries, fear, and discontent of the people is genuine and rightfully so. Every human is ultimately dependent on nature for survival, and nature is now, due to the tremendous productive forces, dependent on the way in which humanity applies these productive forces. Whether consciously or not, this interdependency is known to all. An attack on nature is an attack on man. Capitalism, through its own processes, must exploit. It exploits the proletariat in the sphere of production. And now it becomes ever more clear that through its exhaustion of nature, it exploits the proletariat again.
As Marx says: “Labour is the father [of material wealth], and the earth is its mother”. Capital drains both for its gain. Knowing of this other prong, with which capitalism digs its own grave, might prove the last straw for non-revolutionary proletarians in realising the necessity of proletarian revolution, into building socialism-communism.
As we all know, the exploitation of men by men can not be ended under capitalism. In the same way, the depletion of nature by men can not be ended under capitalism. For this a new mode of production is needed. The planned-economy, by and for the working people. This type of economy does not automatically produce in a truly sustainable manner.. The interdependency of man and nature comes forward through the conscious relation between man and nature, refound through the collective ownership of the means of production - as instruments of this relation - , which are then consciously applied. In short, the working people will see they are one with nature through their material conditions, and act accordingly in planning the economy. In this endeavour the developments of science, unrestricted by capitalism and truly embracing dialectical materialism, will aid us in how best to live in accordance with nature.
Knowing this, we must then also form our tactics accordingly. The environmental struggle is fought through the class struggle. It cannot be fought and won separately, but must be fought as part of the class struggle, same as our struggle to end racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination.
As NCPN we have turned our focus to organising at the basis, to root ourselves with the proletariat. To enable the communist movement in the Netherlands to truly speak from the proletariat as a vanguard. Through this intimate relation with, and strong organisation of the proletariat it becomes possible to form movements by and for the working people, instead of attempting to steer bourgeois movements. Same for the environmental struggle. An environmental movement with a strong class-basis, must be organised from within the working class. To show the working people, through experience, that the environmental struggle does not have to be a veil for bourgeois austerity measures and price increases to the harm of the working people. That the working people do not have to fight among one another, pitted in the camps of climate alarmists and climate deniers, the camps of “green capital” and “fossil capital”. That instead we must unite as a class and turn the fight to the capitalist class as a whole.