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Democratic Socialism Will Prevent the Catastrophes
Capitalism gathered resources —land, labor, and capital to start an industrial revolution that brought prosperity and elevated standards of living to much of the earth’s inhabitants. Once in motion, it generated additional capital that gathered more labor and more resources in a perpetual cycle of increased production that constantly benefitted populations. The achievements did not occur smoothly, sputtering from periodic recessions that eventually solicited government policies to recharge the system.
Soviet-style socialism did not patiently wait for capitalism to provide capital formation, industrial development, allocation of resources, and prosperity for its population. The Soviets struggled to house, clothe, and feed, in a short time, a deprived population that had barely survived World War II, which led to mismanagement, demotivation, shoddy construction, and misallocation of resources. By not following Karl Marx’s observations, which praised capitalist development and urged its necessity before socialist constructions, the Soviet system doomed itself to failure.
Capitalism has neared a peak, mostly using capital to generate more capital, unable to comprehend the challenges faced by its actions, going as far as it can go without intensifying the major problems it has created. Slowly and inexorably, the socio-economic system refutes a counter-productive capitalism, that is taking more than it is giving, that is destroying more than it is creating, and that has become more irresponsible than responsible. In the coming decades, cooperation will be preferred to competition, sharing preferred to taking, responsibility to all preferred to irresponsibility to one, socialization preferred to capitalization.
The anticipated changes do not arrive from ideological, economic, social, or political considerations; they arrive from the realization that the earth is on fire and only a strong-willed and collective community can dampen the conflagration. They come from realizing that private and civic initiatives cannot and will not resolve the forecasted problems, each will protect what they have and deny the challenges — greenhouse gas emissions that heat the atmosphere and petition a handover from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources; climate change that modifies coastlines and arable lands; robotics and artificial intelligence that change the factory floor, its administration, and the composition of the workforce; possibility of nuclear war in an atmosphere of intense international hostility and growing arms races; pandemics from new disease microbes that replicate quickly, defy conventional medicine, and spread beyond borders; security enhancements due to internal conflicts and external hostilities; political, economic and social polarizations that have stimulated populist movements; and population migrations that cause cultural conflicts and reassignment of resources.
These challenges have subsidiary challenges that each creates – reallocation of food sources and possible shortages in food supply; economic upheavals due to bankruptcies of resource and transportation industries and nations dependent upon fossil fuels; re-orientation of the workforce to prevent severe unemployment; forced arms controls to prevent global wars; sharing of resources to lessen predicted large scale migrations; international supervision and collective research to prevent the spread of disease; and more equal distribution of income to assure all have basics for survival in a quickly changing economic landscape.
Despite public awareness and concern for all the challenges, inertia is apparent. By default, escaping human extinction will require government intervention in all aspects of the socio-economic system.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The alarm has sounded. “Higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, and carbon dioxide (CO2) in particular, are causing extra heat to be trapped and average global temperatures to rise. For most of the past 800,000 years the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere was roughly between 200 and 280 parts per million.” In 2022, the global CO2 concentration was recorded at 417.2 ppm.
Containing carbon emissions demands regulation of all energy sources and severe changes in the air, sea, and ground transportations that use the energy sources. The latter change can be partially fulfilled by a shift to electric vehicles, which, due to elevated costs, will require government subsidies. Substitutes for the engines that drive air and sea transportation are not easily available and these transportation systems may face restrictions. Severe reductions in international transport and other industries that use fossil fuels for locomotion may occur.
Failure to limit carbon emissions leads to climate change.
NASA confirms climate change. “While Earth’s climate has changed throughout its history, the current warming is happening at a rate not seen in the past 10,000 years.” Predictions of heavier rainfall in some areas, droughts in other areas, loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and ice sheets, sea level rise, and more intense heat waves are already happening.
Linked to addressing the effects of climate warming is the addressing of severe economic problems due to population, agriculture, and labor shifts, and a possible economic decline. The latter might result from lower and changing demand for products in companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction, petroleum refining, fossil energy transport, pipelines, and associated equipment manufacture. Fisheries, tourism, airlines, shipping, animal husbandry, recreation, investment, and plastics industries will also be affected. In directing investments so they factor climate change into their capital distribution, investment powerhouse, Black Rock, has already considered a makeover of the economic system.
Earth and its inhabitants have proved adaptable, surviving catastrophes and climate changes in previous epochs. The predicted rapidity of this climate change and the scientific analysis that attributes it to carbon emissions make it unlikely that, without more centralized planning and regimentation, the earth will be sufficiently prepared to ameliorate the climate shifts.
A UN Report states that “In the next 30 years, food supply and food security will be severely threatened if little or no action is taken to address climate change and the food system's vulnerability to climate change.” Shifts in arable lands, increases in desert lands, a dwindling fish supply, and possible limits to meat production, due to less grasslands and restrictions on methane gas release from herds, will re-orient the food supply. Warmer water temperatures will cause changes in habitat ranges of many fish and shellfish species. Unless food production and distribution are carefully monitored and controlled, famines will occur. Sustainable farming will become a rule.
The United Nations World Water Development Report 2018 concludes,
The global demand for water has been increasing at a rate of about 1% per year over the past decades as a function of population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns, among other factors, and it will continue to grow significantly over the foreseeable future….At the same time, the global water cycle is intensifying due to climate change, with wetter regions generally becoming wetter and drier regions becoming even drier. Other global changes (e.g., urbanization, de-forestation, intensification of agriculture) add to these challenges. At present, an estimated 3.6 billion people (nearly half the global population) live in areas that are potentially water-scarce at least one month per year, and this population could increase to some 4.8–5.7 billion by 2050.
Will private industry be able to regulate and equitably distribute available water resources? Only governments, acting in concert with one another and with international agencies will determine who gets what, when, and where.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) plus Robotics
Robotics clears the factory floor of workers and AI, by replacing much administration, clears the offices of managers who solve problems, clarify work schedules, and prepare and manage budgets.
New software and manufacturing industries will emerge, but will the tools of the new industrial age be used to satisfy the wants and needs of the populace or mainly the profits of entrepreneurs? Will the self-operating machines be able to generate income for all those who have left the factories; will there be sufficient income in the system to purchase all goods in the expanded market? Will supply exceed demand and profits become a mirage? Will AI and extensive Robotics be suitable companions to the workers of a new and less profit-oriented system, where wages can be coupons for a more equitably distributed national income? Arrangement between humans and the new machines reorders democracy and the social order; reorders society into Democratic Socialism.
Already a major problem that has reached crisis proportions, a 2018 World Bank Group report has climate change enhancing the problem. The report “estimates that the impacts of climate change in three of the world’s most densely populated developing regions—sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America—could result in the displacement and internal migration of more than 140 million people before 2050.” A mass movement of that scale will need cooperative government actions and international agreements to prevent political and economic strife and enable continued development in the affected regions.
Nations that rely on fossil fuel exports to maintain their economic system — Middle East, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and others — and nations destabilized by the effects of climate change — water scarcity, agriculture losses, food depletion — that cannot effectively compete and re-orient themselves in the changing world may become aggressive and seek opportunities by engaging in warfare, which could lead to use of weapons of mass destruction. A byproduct of the switch to renewable fuels and climate change — nations unable to compete or adapt in the new economic environment — behooves a means to accommodate those who might resort to military operations to survive. Arms controls and peaceful cooperation will replace arms races and aggressive behaviors.
Disease and Pestilence
The spread of the COVID-19 virus serves as a warning for future pandemics. Local actions can contain the pandemic but cannot prevent its spread. Centralized programs that mobilize agencies, institutions, and the public are necessary to coordinate activities and defeat the pandemic. National health plans, which enable every citizen to have adequate medical coverage, will ensure that everyone will be able to seek medical assistance quickly and halt the spread of diseases. Trends to increased isolation, remaining home, and ordering goods and foods online have changed lifestyles and affected commercial activities of retail stores, restaurants, entertainment, sports arenas, local transportation, and suburban malls. With more work from home, rather than from offices, rapid changes in urban environment, industry composition, and employment have appeared and necessitated government assistance to prevent business collapses and severe unemployment.
The COVID-19 virus pandemic is only the first of other forecasted toxic leaps from animals to humans. The planet has responded well to lifestyle changes and the socio-economic effects induced by the pandemic. The next wave or waves may be more toxic and create more demands on the governing institutions to supply relief to trapped populations.
Upheavals, scarcities, and economic shifts create masses of marginal and alienated peoples. Those who are not empathetic to the plights of others become their enemies. Terrorism and mass shootings from those who are mentally ill, feel estranged from society, and have been coopted by extremists will grow. Tighter law enforcement, increased surveillance, and privacy invasions will follow. Protection of others will replace self-protection. The placating phrase, “Big brother is watching for you,” will replace the chilling phrase, “Big brother is watching every part of you.” This will be a positive rearrangement of the surveillance that Google and a myriad of Internet-based companies, who acquire vast information about the birth, life, and habits of American citizens, perform daily. Store cameras, street cameras, doorbell cameras, garage cameras, office-building cameras, and public place cameras will be replaced by one big camera, an eye for moral and social obedience.
Political and Social Polarization
Modern democracies have given people freedom and hope, more of the air to breathe. In the process, groups have taken advantage of the freedoms and increased their concentration of wealth and power, which has led to oligarchies. Those who feel dominated, unable to express their longings, and feel they have been unfairly sidetracked from prosperity have sought refuge by gathering together in nationalist organizations and populist politics. The coming socialization poses a solution by implementing workplace democracy in which workers have a stake in corporate management and are able to receive a more equitable share of income and wealth. Grassroots politics will take hold; governance from ground up, rather than from top down, will prevail.
Natural disaster problems have always sought government intervention. A study found that climate-related disasters in ancient Mesopotamia “forced greater cooperation and a more widespread distribution of power across social sectors.” The convergence of several perils at one time strikes a new chord in domestic and international relations — cooperation before competition, survival of all before the survival of the fittest, limited material wealth before unlimited natural catastrophes.
From a constant badgering of the soul that associates socialism with central authority and mind control, a resistance to socialized governance has arisen. The words are internalized and their utterance brings a visceral response of scorn and doubt. Central authority? Isn’t the United States dollar the central and primary reserve authority for the global economy, which facilitates the United States borrowing money and arbitrarily imposing painful financial sanctions on Russia, Iran, and any adversary of the U.S. Don’t the U.S. and Western nations control SWIFT, the centralized Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, “a secure financial messaging service used to execute international transactions among banks,” and gives the U.S. economic and political clout? Mind control? Isn’t that what nationalist governments, such as the United States, do in their education system and the media giants do as purveyors of misinformation? Those caught in the grip of misinformation can choose between a path that may offend them but allows them to survive or a path that leads them to water up to their chins, figuratively and literally.
The MAGA contingent, that exclaims “Better Dead than Red” needs to transpose to “Better Pink than Sink,” the new slogan for the Democratic and Socialist communities, pushed to leadership in order to prevent Capitalism's latest offering — human extinction.