New Internationalist

What we cannot avoid

The great ideological divide in the world between capital and labour has been overtaken by an even more urgent conflict. This is the dispute between the defenders of global industrial society and those who defend the rapidly depleting resource-base of the planet and all who depend on it. The spaces between an ever-expanding economy and the living, breathing earth have been choked by continuous economic growth.

This is not, of course, to underestimate the familiar gulf between rich and poor. That would be irresponsible, when the eight richest men in the world (and they are all men) possess wealth equal to the poorest 3.7 billion people on the planet. Such a gap could be closed, were the $80 trillion ‘global product’ (as estimated by the World Economic Forum for 2018) shared more fairly; but this would do nothing to halt the contamination of the biosphere by irreversible industrial processes.

Existing political parties do not deny this. They are quick to own what they call ‘green issues’, ‘environmentalism’, even ‘the ecological crisis’. The great falsehood is their claim to be able to deal with it within the system that caused it.

The actors within this deeper ideological split have made their roles clear. Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and their supporters see in the laissez-faire of free markets and perpetual economic growth answers to all human ills. For them global warming, resource-depletion and species extinction are either fictions or the necessary price of progress. They face campaigns by indigenous peoples against corporate invasion of the habitats they have sustained for millennia, and ecological and internationalist movements for the defence of cultures, languages, spaces and species threatened with extinction; a threat created by the system that has caused all the radical discontinuities in the world.

Occasionally, this clash of forces expresses itself within the existing electoral process. Elections in the German state of Hesse in 2018, in which the two main parties ceded ground

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