Pollution is all capitalism’s fault, according to the socialists at Liberation.
They complained that “today” “the effects of climate change are subtle,” and there are many other reasons for “urgency.” The villain was, of course, capitalism — the socialists’ ideological nemesis.
“As our banner says ‘Climate change is the symptom, capitalism is the disease and socialism is the cure.’ The inherent need for capitalism to constantly seek new markets and expand production and profits is at its core in complete contradiction to a sustainable world,” Liberation continued.
The timing of such claims couldn’t be more absurd as socialist Venezuela suffers massive unemployment, inflation and food shortages, and teems with desperate people literally dying of starvation. The situation is so bad some people there are trying to overthrow their regime. Those are the horrors of socialism.
Yet, Americans involved in the Party for Socialism and Liberation spread fear of chemicals like flame retardants, detergents, cleaners, plastic water bottles, and “toxins” like colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives in foods and the health problems they supposedly cause.
“Even today, thousands of household goods contain chemicals linked to health problems, with a 40-year-old, weak law that doesn’t give the EPA the power to act. The principle of ‘acceptable risk’ is currently practiced by business and government, meaning a certain amount of human and property loss is acceptable,” Liberation claimed. “Capitalism is literally poisoning us and making profits while doing so.”
After bashing capitalism with every club they could think to, Liberation ultimately argued for a “new socialist society.” In their utopian fantasy, “resources and knowledge of humanity are pooled to meet the needs of society, not for the profits of a few.” They would eliminate the “unfettered overproduction of products that don’t last and that we don’t need.”
Of course, the socialist advocates ignored the ways capitalism already improved the world.
“The fact that people today wring their hands with concern over the likes of global warming and species loss is itself a marvelous testament to the cleanliness of industrial society. People dying of smallpox or dysentery have far more pressing worries than what’s happening to the trend in the earth’s temperature. Truly, we today are lucky to be able to worry about the things that we worry about,” Donald Boudreaux wrote for FEE.org.
He cited the end of dangerous diseases thanks to development and access to antibiotics, widespread use of refrigeration, the ability to wash our clothes (yes ... in detergents), clean our bodies, our homes and more — all unavailable or cost prohibitive to many before the Industrial Age.
But what about after the Industrial Age? Does profit motive inevitably lead to environmental squalor? Associate Professor of Geography Pierre Desrochers has disputed that claim. “Greed and the quest for profitably drives increased efficiency,” he said.
Property rights — viewed as anathema to socialists — also protect against overuse and pollution.
“The fact is that pollution is often the product of weak property rights. When nobody owns it, no one takes care of it,” Andrew Beattie wrote at Investopedia. “Only when lands were enclosed and property rights established did people start rotational feeding and other techniques to conserve the land.”
Beattie also argued that excessive consumption results from price controls, and the pursuit of profit leads to greater efficiency and “greener technology.”