Beyond Eco-Catastrophism: The Conditions for Solar Communism

David Schwartzman


While eco-catastrophe is not inevitable, its potential is growing and we already witness ever-stronger signals. This is truth-telling: acknowledging the best evidence available from climate science and biogeochemical research. It is a rejection of elitist politics that allegedly protects the masses from disempowering evidence. Rather, socialists and climate activists need to share these assessments, coupled with a vision of why it is still possible to avert such a catastrophe. I take this as a rejection of apocalyptic politics.

Humanity and existing biodiversity are now facing a huge challenge: shall civilization emerge in a new mode with the end of what Marx called our prehistory, the rule of capital over our planet, or shall we plunge into a deep abyss of climate catastrophe – for the few who survive? Prehistory would be left behind should the world pass through an eco-socialist transition to solar communism in the twenty-first century, only three hundred years since the Industrial Revolution. This is the global revolutionary challenge of the twenty-first century. Post-capitalism will either mean a return to a precapitalism of the abyss or the creation of a much more hopeful future. This is the imminent bifurcation facing humanity, and the outcome is not possible to predict. There are actually two major threats to human civilization. The first is that of nuclear war, which would be deadly even if localized because of the resulting climatic impact on agriculture. The second threat is catastrophic climate change, a likelihood if carbon emissions are not rapidly and radically reduced, and if the already unsafe atmospheric level of carbon dioxide is not reduced by sequestration technologies. Only transnational class struggle on a scale not witnessed in human history has any chance of preventing catastrophic climate change. Paradoxically, however, we are also privileged to confront this challenge, since the process of removing these threats raises the possibility of ending the rule of capital on our planet.

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