Today over a third of all speculative capital is already involved in projects related to renewable and clean energies. The same companies that recently falsified the pollution indicators in their diesel cars as well as the states that support them, now claim to lead a “movement” to “save the planet” from fossil fuels and climate change.
The greatest transfer of revenue from labour to capital since the last great war
For love of the climate, Humanity and Nature? On the contrary, because they see in the shift of technologies and infrastructures towards electric transport and clean power generation an opportunity for massive placement of invested capital at a time when there is a lack of profitable placements for a huge mass of accumulated capital, a lack which explains the negative interest rates. But to turn these investments profitable, it is not enough to have companies engaged in electric cars and windmills. There has to be a demand that buys the energy, the cars and the services they produce. And the truth is that both road transport and clean electricity generation are still more expensive that the older alternatives. Investments will not be profitable if there is no “state policy”, that is, subsidies to reduce investment risk, taxes both to shorten the cost distance between one power source and the other and to finance the extra costs of “transition” for the state, and regulations to prohibit, for example, the use of coal in power generation.
The change in the power, transport and agricultural production models entails the implementation of a technological shift. But it is crucial to understand that it is not technology per se that will magically enable accumulation, but the transfer of labour income to capital. Technology is purely instrumental and is developed not by the ingenuity of solitary researchers but by the demand and investment of self-serving capital. This is why new, supposedly more “sustainable” technologies are required to be, above all, more productive. This does not mean physical productivity, the amount of product obtained per hour of average work, but productivity for capital: the sum of profit produced by each hour of work contracted. That is why comprehensive state regulation is central to the “ecological transition”: taxes and regulations do not change the physical production capacity but do change the expected profit per hour of exploited social work.
This is the logic of every “technological revolution” in capitalism. The reason is not that capitalism “adapts to new technologies”, but that technologies are not considered viable if they do not increase productivity from the perspective of profit, that is, if they do not serve to increase the percentage of capital’s income over total production.
Capitalism is a system of exploitation of one class by another. Its purpose is not to produce cars and certainly not to safeguard the climate. Its only aim is to increase capital by producing and increasing exploitation at every production cycle. Under the promise of green and utopian digitally modeled urban landscapes, of silent non-polluting electric cars, lurks, as always, the sharp reality of the class struggle. All this global renewal of power sources, transport and industrial production infrastructures that they imagine capable of “restarting” the global cycle of capital is nothing but the greatest transfer of income from labour to capital since the Second World War.
A global ideological campaign
The surge of “yellow vests” in response to Macron’s “green transition law” revealed that “energy transition” policies were not going to be passively accepted by the population. Since then an overwhelming ideological campaign is being waged. First there were the attempts to extend all over Europe the children’s demonstrations organized by the Swedish state schools. From there, Greta Thunberg emerged as a world icon of a ” challenge to governments ” for ” concrete and urgent measures “. The same measures that were violently opposed on the streets by masses of workers and smallholders were denounced as lukewarm and even criticized by the participants of a ghostly “global climate general strike” that newspapers and TV stations around the world reported happening… elsewhere. Orson Wells and Orwell would have felt vindicated. Then the green campaign not only gained TV time until it became overwhelming but turned its focus increasingly to an apocalyptic message: climate change would lead to the extinction of the species within a generation. This is a false conclusion not supported at all by scientific consensus. But it reflected the sense of urgency that drives the bourgeoisie and is not “climatic” at all.
If technology is instrumental, ideology is even more so. Apocalyptic discourses are tools for imposing sacrifices on workers in pursuit of the “common good”, i.e., capital accumulation. The point is to present a situation of exception and alarm that justifies the cuts and the subjugation of the working class in a combined effort to produce new profitable destinations for fictitious and speculative capital so that this capital can evade – temporarily – the tendency to crisis.
A tainted green transition
This “green deal” not only involves a massive redistribution of income in favour of capital, it also increases the pressure exerted on imperialist conflicts. The “green transition” is unfeasible without natural gas and very difficult without uranium. The same people who are threatened with being cut off from trade with the big markets if “carbon footprints” start to be used with all the consequences as a non-tariff barrier, turn out to hold the key to the “transitional” energies that make the move that excludes them from big markets possible. Or at least these countries have the opportunity to fight for transitional energies. As if the cataclysms that accompany trade wars and push them towards militarization were not dangerous enough, the “green way out” imagined by capital will accelerate them even more. The scenario is no longer one of global industrial crisis and recession, trade war, imperialist tensions and increasingly direct attacks on living, retirement and working conditions. To all this must now be added industrial and transport restructuring and its immediate consequence: a new global drive towards imperialist conflict.
Against the “holy climate union”
The “green pact”, the “energy transition” and the “green new deal”, can hardly hide the fact that they are an integral part of capital’s response to the crisis. They are based on increased exploitation, reinforce the tendency towards generalized impoverishment and accelerate the slide towards widespread warfare.
The ecological campaign of fear advances among mystical extolling of extreme austerity falsely “in solidarity with the planet”. In any case, they are in solidarity with a capital that craves every “sacrifice” useful to its profitability. But nothing more. They stigmatize “consumption” because consumption is the social form by which under capitalism the satisfaction of workers’ needs is achieved. To make us feel guilty for consuming and fighting for more wages and defending our living conditions is to blame us for not letting ourselves be exploited more and more intensely.
Under the apocalyptic discourse and the threats of extinction of the species, they try to frame us in a “holy climate union”, to convince us that only by “closing ranks” with the bourgeoisie, by defending the performance of the national capital with new sacrifices, we will be able to “save the planet”. What we have to save ourselves from, by getting rid of it, is a capitalism that is already anti-historical, unnecessary and destructive, and that is not going to be less destructive, but more so, by changing its technological base and painting itself green.
In reality, the only thing that can transform, give solidarity and bring about the future is to affirm, before each demand of “sacrifices for the common good” of capital, our needs as workers, which are generic, universal human needs: living conditions, health, well-being, reduction of the working day, freedom to fight…