Unhappily, despite a vast amount of scientific investigation into the individual disasters that manifest the ecological crisis, there is very little awareness of its causes and real character, or even that it is an ecological crisis, between humanity as part of nature and nature itself. Instead, the dominant opinion, from all points of the political compass from left to right, sees this crisis under the heading of “environmentalism,” which is to say, as something between ourselves and the external things of nature.
We are a part of nature, and our society reflects whether we are at home in nature or estranged from it. Failure to understand this on the deepest level and to make necessary changes in our relationship to nature puts everything at risk, including, most poignantly, the lives of our children and grandchildren and all future generations.
As Marx vividly wrote in Capital: “Accumulate! Accumulate! That is Moses and the Prophets.” In other words, he saw a religious impulse at work—Satanic in form, no doubt—driving the capitalist system to convert the entire earth, its oceans and atmosphere, everything under the sun, into commodities, to be sold on the market, the profits converted to capital.
That this brutally obvious truth is not widely accepted is partly the result of how hard it is to face up to a harsh reality, but chiefly the result of the titanic effort waged by capitalist ideology to deny its responsibility for the ruin of planet earth.
The test of a post-capitalist society is whether it can move from the generalized production of commodities to the production of flourishing, integral ecosystems. In doing so, socialism will become ecosocialism.
This also applies to the so-called “population problem,” since freely associated human beings, women in particular, will have no trouble at all in regulating their numbers. In sum, we would say that ecosocialism is that form of society animated by freely associated labor and guided by an ethic of ecological integrity such as free human beings would freely choose.
Postscript: An ecosocialism beyond climate change.