Wednesday 21 November 2018

Climate Change is a ‘Cultural Marxist Plot’ - Brazil’s New Foreign Minister Believes

The newly elected President elect of Brazil, who takes office in January, the far right Jair Bolsonaro, dubbed the ‘Trump of the tropics,’ has appointed Ernesto Araújo, as the county’s foreign minister, in a move that looks ominous for efforts to tackle climate change. Brazil is home to probably the largest area of rain forest in the world. Bolsonaro, has supported a weakening of protections for the Amazon, the richest area of biodiversity in the world. Forests will be felled and the land turned into savannah, for use for agribusiness, mining and building construction.

So, Araújo’s belief that climate change is all a Marxist plot, fits part of a piece, similar to Donald Trump’ claims that climate change is a ‘hoax’ perpetrated by China to hobble the US economically. China can hardly be accurately described as "Marxist,’ or even left-wing, especially these days, but you can see the lazy and nationalistic thinking that Trump is trying push. It is a thinly veiled attempt to open up the environment to further capitalist exploitation and economic growth.

Back to Araújo, though. Writing on his blog he says “The left has sequestered the environmental cause and perverted it to the point of paroxysm over the last 20 years with the ideology of climate change, climate change.”

“This dogma has been used to justify increasing the regulatory power of states over the economy and the power of international institutions on the nation states and their populations, as well as to stifle economic growth in democratic capitalist countries and to promote the growth of China.”

Quite why Araújo seems to think that he is qualified to pronounce on these matters, he is not a climate scientist, or a scientist of any description; he studied linguistics and literature at university, and was trained as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a mystery. The vast majority of climate scientists do not think that man-made climate change is some sort of conspiracy. This is just right-wing rhetoric from Araújo,or if you like, fake news.

Some countries in South America have seen the rise of a form of ecosocialism, particularly in Bolivia and Venezuela, but again I don’t think you can call this Marxist, in any accurate use of the term. Perhaps, it is just a short hand expression to describe left-wing politics and those who practice it, to some extent or another, and to try and smear such governments with a term that is deemed to be politically toxic.

The British right-wing media routinely call the UK Labour party leadership ‘Marxist,’ which is clearly not the case, as in reality it is pretty mainstream social democratic, and not even as left-wing as Labour was in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Accuracy is not their aim though. Scaring the voters with this claptrap is the intention.

All ecosocialists do think that our ecological problems, including climate change, are rooted in the capitalism’s propensity for accumulation and infinite economic growth on a finite planet, and some might be more accurately described as eco-Marxist. James Bellamy Foster et al at Monthly Review are an example of this. Other ecosocialists, and I include myself in this, are more loosely Marxist, and Michel Lowy is a prominent example of this type of thinking.

Capitalism which really only got going during the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century, and this was only made possible by burning coal, to create steam power, to run the machines that increased productivity, and so profits, for the capitalist class. It is no coincidence that global temperatures began to rise at this point, accelerating in the twentieth century, so that temperatures are now around 1C higher today, and rising.

The denial of man-made climate change, funded by fossil fuel corporations, but also by other capitalist interests, is clearly an attempt to throw up a smokescreen, if you will forgive the analogy, so that business as usual can carry on. All perfectly rational for capitalists, given the potential that action on climate change has for stopping these corporations from making money.

Some ‘green’ capitalists of course, spy a new opportunity for making money, with a move to providing renewable energy, solar, wind, wave etc and they promote carbon trading schemes. As though the market which caused the problem, can somehow solve it. 

Renewable energy would still use up precious resources, and probably doesn’t have the capacity to keep up with the veracious and increasing appetite of the system for energy input, to drive economic growth exponentially.

The really inconvenient truth, to borrow Al Gore’s term, and his rather modest proposals to solve climate change, is that if we don’t ditch capitalism, humanity faces a massive climate disaster.   

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