Capitalism causes environmental collapse – causes extinction
Foster 10 [John Bellamy, professor of sociology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Last updated and edited February 3, 2010, “Why Ecological Revolution”, http://monthlyreview.org/100101foster.php] //khirn
It is now universally recognized within science that humanity is confronting the prospect — if we do not soon change course — of a planetary ecological collapse. Not only is the global ecological crisis becoming more and more severe, with the time in which to address it fast running out, but the dominant environmental strategies are also forms of denial, demonstrably doomed to fail, judging by their own limited objectives. This tragic failure, I will argue, can be attributed to the refusal of the powers that be to address the roots of the ecological problem in capitalist production and the resulting necessity of ecological and social revolution. The term “crisis,” attached to the global ecological problem, although unavoidable, is somewhat misleading, given its dominant economic associations. Since 2008, we have been living through a world economic crisis — the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. This has been a source of untold suffering for hundreds of millions, indeed billions, of people. But insofar as it is related to the business cycle and not to long-term factors, expectations are that it is temporary and will end, to be followed by a period of economic recovery and growth — until the advent of the next crisis. Capitalism is, in this sense, a crisis-ridden, cyclical economic system. Even if we were to go further, to conclude that the present crisis of accumulation is part of a long-term economic stagnation of the system — that is, a slowdown of the trend-rate of growth beyond the mere business cycle — we would still see this as a partial, historically limited calamity, raising, at most, the question of the future of the present system of production.1 When we speak today of the world ecological crisis, however, we are referring to something that could turn out to be final, i.e., there is a high probability, if we do not quickly change course, of a terminal crisis — a death of the whole anthropocene, the period of human dominance of the planet. Human actions are generating environmental changes that threaten the extermination of most species on the planet, along with civilization, and conceivably our own species as well. What makes the current ecological situation so serious is that climate change, arising from human-generated increases in greenhouse gas emissions, is not occurring gradually and in a linear process, but is undergoing a dangerous acceleration, pointing to sudden shifts in the state of the earth system. We can therefore speak, to quote James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the world’s most famous climate scientist, of “tipping points…fed by amplifying feedbacks.”2 Four amplifying feedbacks are significant at present: (1) rapid melting of arctic sea ice, with the resulting reduction of the earth’s albedo (reflection of solar radiation) due to the replacement of bright, reflective ice with darker blue sea water, leading to greater absorption of solar energy and increasing global average temperatures; (2) melting of the frozen tundra in northern regions, releasing methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) trapped beneath the surface, causing accelerated warming; (3) recent indications that there has been a drop in the efficiency of the carbon absorption of the world’s oceans since the 1980s, and particularly since 2000, due to growing ocean acidification (from past carbon absorption), resulting in faster carbon build-up in the atmosphere and enhanced warming; (4) extinction of species due to changing climate zones, leading to the collapse of ecosystems dependent on these species, and the death of still more species.3 Due to this acceleration of climate change, the time line in which to act before calamities hit, and before climate change increasingly escapes our control, is extremely short. In October 2009, Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, reported that, based on current trends, close to 70 percent of the land surface of the earth could be drought-affected by 2025, compared to nearly 40 percent today.4 The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that glaciers are melting throughout the world and could recede substantially this century. Rivers fed by the Himalyan glaciers currently supply water to countries with around 3 billion people. Their melting will give rise to enormous floods, followed by acute water shortages.5 Many of the planetary dangers associated with current global warming trends are by now well-known: rising sea levels engulfing islands and low-lying coastal regions throughout the globe; loss of tropical forests; destruction of coral reefs; a “sixth extinction” rivaling the great die-downs in the history of the planet; massive crop losses; extreme weather events; spreading hunger and disease. But these dangers are heightened by the fact that climate change is not the entirety of the world ecological crisis. For example, independently of climate change, tropical forests are being cleared as a direct result of the search for profits. Soil destruction is occurring, due to current agribusiness practices. Toxic wastes are being diffused throughout the environment. Nitrogen run-off from the overuse of fertilizer is affecting lakes, rivers, and ocean regions, contributing to oxygen-poor “dead zones.” Since the whole earth is affected by the vast scale of human impact on the environment in complex and unpredictable ways, even more serious catastrophes could conceivably be set in motion. One growing area of concern is ocean acidification due to rising carbon dioxide emissions. As carbon dioxide dissolves, it turns into carbonic acid, making the oceans more acidic. Because carbon dioxide dissolves more readily in cold than in warm water, the cold waters of the arctic are becoming acidic at an unprecedented rate. Within a decade, the waters near the North Pole could become so corrosive as to dissolve the living shells of shellfish, affecting the entire ocean food chain. At the same time, ocean acidification appears to be reducing the carbon uptake of the oceans, speeding up global warming.6 There are endless predictive uncertainties in all of this. Nevertheless, evidence is mounting that the continuation of current trends is unsustainable, even in the short-term. The only rational answer, then, is a radical change of course. Moreover, given certain imminent tipping points, there is no time to be lost. Catastrophic changes in the earth system could be set irreversibly in motion within a few decades, at most. The IPCC, in its 2007 report, indicated that an atmospheric carbon dioxide level of 450 parts per million (ppm) should not be exceeded, and implied that this was the fail-safe point for carbon stabilization. But these findings are already out of date. “What science has revealed in the past few years,” Hansen states, “is that the safe level of carbon dioxide in the long run is no more than 350 ppm,” as compared with 390 ppm today. That means that carbon emissions have to be reduced faster and more drastically than originally thought, to bring the overall carbon concentration in the atmosphere down. The reality is that, “if we burn all the fossil fuels, or even half of remaining reserves, we will send the planet toward the ice-free state with sea level about 250 feet higher than today. It would take time for complete ice sheet disintegration to occur, but a chaotic situation would be created with changes occurring out of control of future generations.” More than eighty of the world’s poorest and most climate-vulnerable countries have now declared that carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration levels must be reduced below 350 ppm, and that the rise in global average temperature by century’s end must not exceed 1.5°C.7 Strategies of Denial The central issue that we have to confront, therefore, is devising social strategies to address the world ecological crisis. Not only do the solutions have to be large enough to deal with the problem, but also all of this must take place on a world scale in a generation or so. The speed and scale of change necessary means that what is required is an ecological revolution that would also need to be a social revolution. However, rather than addressing the real roots of the crisis and drawing the appropriate conclusions, the dominant response is to avoid all questions about the nature of our society, and to turn to technological fixes or market mechanisms of one sort or another. In this respect, there is a certain continuity of thought between those who deny the climate change problem altogether, and those who, while acknowledging the severity of the problem at one level, nevertheless deny that it requires a revolution in our social system. We are increasingly led to believe that the answers to climate change are primarily to be found in new energy technology, specifically increased energy and carbon efficiencies in both production and consumption. Technology in this sense, however, is often viewed abstractly as a deus ex machina, separated from both the laws of physics (i.e., entropy or the second law of thermodynamics) and from the way technology is embedded in historically specific conditions. With respect to the latter, it is worth noting that, under the present economic system, increases in energy efficiency normally lead to increases in the scale of economic output, effectively negating any gains from the standpoint of resource use or carbon efficiency — a problem known as the “Jevons Paradox.” As William Stanley Jevons observed in the nineteenth century, every new steam engine was more efficient in the use of coal than the one before, which did not prevent coal burning from increasing overall, since the efficiency gains only led to the expansion of the number of steam engines and of growth in general. This relation between efficiency and scale has proven true for capitalist economies up to the present day.8 Technological fetishism with regard to environmental issues is usually coupled with a form of market fetishism. So widespread has this become that even a militant ecologist like Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, recently stated: “There is only one lever even possibly big enough to make our system move as fast as it needs to, and that’s the force of markets.”9 Green-market fetishism is most evident in what is called “cap and trade” — a catch phrase for the creation, via governments, of artificial markets in carbon trading and so-called “offsets.” The important thing to know about cap and trade is that it is a proven failure. Although enacted in Europe as part of the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, it has failed where it was supposed to count: in reducing emissions. Carbon-trading schemes have been shown to be full of holes. Offsets allow all sorts of dubious forms of trading that have no effect on emissions. Indeed, the only area in which carbon trading schemes have actually been effective is in promoting profits for speculators and corporations, which are therefore frequently supportive of them. Recently, Friends of the Earth released a report entitled Subprime Carbon? which pointed to the emergence, under cap and trade agreements, of what could turn out to be the world’s largest financial derivatives market in the form of carbon trading. All of this has caused Hansen to refer to cap and trade as “the temple of doom,” locking in “disasters for our children and grandchildren.”10 The masquerade associated with the dominant response to global warming is illustrated in the climate bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in late June 2009. The bill, if enacted, would supposedly reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2020, which translates into 4-5 percent less U.S. global warming pollution than in 1990. This then would still not reach the target level of a 6-8 percent cut (relative to 1990) for wealthy countries that the Kyoto accord set for 2012, and that was supposed to have been only a minor, first step in dealing with global warming — at a time when the problem was seen as much less severe. The goal presented in the House bill, even if reached, would therefore prove vastly inadequate. But the small print in the bill makes achieving even this meager target unrealistic. The coal industry is given until 2025 to comply with the bill’s pollution reduction mandates, with possible extensions afterward. As Hansen observes, the bill “builds in approval of new coal-fired power plants!” Agribusiness, which accounts for a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, is entirely exempt from the mandated reductions. The cap and trade provisions of the House bill would give annual carbon dioxide emission allowances to some 7,400 facilities across the United States, most of them handed out for free. These pollution allowances would increase up through 2016, and companies would be permitted to “bank” them indefinitely for future use. Corporations would be able to fulfill their entire set of obligations by buying offsets associated with pollution control projects until 2027. To make matters worse, the Senate counterpart to the House bill, now under deliberation, would undoubtedly be more conservative, giving further concessions and offsets to corporations. The final bill, if it comes out of Congress, will thus be, in Hansen’s words, “worse than nothing.” Similar developments can be seen in the preparation for the December 2009 world climate negotiations in Copenhagen, in which Washington has played the role of a spoiler, blocking all but the most limited, voluntary agreements, and insisting on only market-based approaches, such as cap and trade.11 Recognizing that world powers are playing the role of Nero as Rome burns, James Lovelock, the earth system scientist famous for his Gaia hypothesis, argues that massive climate change and the destruction of human civilization as we know it may now be irreversible. Nevertheless, he proposes as “solutions” either a massive building of nuclear power plants all over the world (closing his eyes to the enormous dangers accompanying such a course) — or geoengineering our way out of the problem, by using the world’s fleet of aircraft to inject huge quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to block a portion of the incoming sunlight, reducing the solar energy reaching the earth. Another common geoengineering proposal includes dumping iron filings throughout the ocean to increase its carbon-absorbing properties. Rational scientists recognize that interventions in the earth system on the scale envisioned by geoengineering schemes (for example, blocking sunlight) have their own massive, unforeseen consequences. Nor could such schemes solve the crisis. The dumping of massive quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere would, even if effective, have to be done again and again, on an increasing scale, if the underlying problem of cutting greenhouse gas emissions were not dealt with. Moreover, it could not possibly solve other problems associated with massive carbon dioxide emissions, such as the acidification of the oceans.12 The dominant approach to the world ecological crisis, focusing on technological fixes and market mechanisms, is thus a kind of denial; one that serves the vested interests of those who have the most to lose from a change in economic arrangements. Al Gore exemplifies the dominant form of denial in his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. For Gore, the answer is the creation of a “sustainable capitalism.” He is not, however, altogether blind to the faults of the present system. He describes climate change as the “greatest market failure in history” and decries the “short-term” perspective of present-day capitalism, its “market triumphalism,” and the “fundamental flaws” in its relation to the environment. Yet, in defiance of all this, he assures his readers that the “strengths of capitalism” can be harnessed to a new system of “sustainable development.”13 The System of Unsustainable Development In reality, capitalism can be defined as a system of unsustainable development. In order to understand why this is so, it is useful to turn to Karl Marx, the core of whose entire intellectual corpus might be interpreted as a critique of the political economy of unsustainable development and its human and natural consequences. Capitalism, Marx explains, is a system of generalized commodity production. There were other societies prior to capitalism in which commodity markets played important roles, but it is only in capitalism that a system emerges that is centered entirely on the production of commodities. A “commodity” is a good produced to be sold and exchanged for profit in the market. We call it a “good” because it is has a use value, i.e., it normally satisfies some use, otherwise there would be no need for it. But it is the exchange value, i.e., the money income and the profit that it generates, that is the exclusive concern of the capitalist. What Marx called “simple commodity production” is an idealized economic formation — often assumed to describe the society wherein we live — in which the structure of exchange is such that a commodity embodying a certain use value is exchanged for money (acting as a mere means of exchange), which is, in turn, exchanged for another commodity (use value) at the end. Here, the whole exchange process from beginning to end can be designated by the shorthand C-M-C. In such a process, exchange is simply a modified form of barter, with money merely facilitating exchange. The goal of exchange is concrete use values, embodying qualitative properties. Such use values are normally consumed — thereby bringing a given exchange process to an end. Marx, however, insisted that a capitalist economy, in reality, works altogether differently, with exchange taking the form of M-C-M′. Here money capital (M) is used to purchase commodities (labor power and means of production) to produce a commodity that can be sold for more money, M′ (i.e., M + Δm or surplus value) at the end. This process, once set in motion, never stops of its own accord, since it has no natural end. Rather, the surplus value (profit) is reinvested in the next round, with the object of generating M′′; and, in the following round, the returns are again reinvested with the goal of obtaining M′′′, and so on, ad infinitum.14 For Marx, therefore, capital is self-expanding value, driven incessantly to ever larger levels of accumulation, knowing no bounds. “Capital,” he wrote, “is the endless and limitless drive to go beyond its limiting barrier. Every boundary is and has to be a [mere] barrier for it [and thus capable of being surmounted]. Else it would cease to be capital — money as self-reproductive.” It thus converts all of nature and nature’s laws as well as all that is distinctly human into a mere means of its own self-expansion. The result is a system, fixated on the exponential growth of profits and accumulation. “Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!”15 Any attempt to explain where surplus value (or profits) comes from must penetrate beneath the exchange process and enter the realm of labor and production. Here, Marx argues that value added in the working day can be divided into two parts: (1) the part that reproduces the value of labor power (i.e., the wages of the workers) and thus constitutes necessary labor; and (2) the labor expended in the remaining part of the working day, which can be regarded as surplus labor, and which generates surplus value (or gross profits) for the capitalist. Profits are thus to be regarded as residual, consisting of what is left over after wages are paid out — something that every businessperson instinctively understands. The ratio of surplus (i.e., unpaid) labor to necessary (paid) labor in the working day is, for Marx, the rate of exploitation. The logic of this process is that the increase in surplus value appropriated depends on the effective exploitation of human labor power. This can be achieved in two ways: (1) either workers are compelled to work longer hours for the same pay, thereby increasing the surplus portion of the working day simply by adding to the total working time (Marx calls this “absolute surplus value”); or (2) the value of labor power, i.e., the value equivalent of workers’ wages, is generated in less time (as a result of increased productivity, etc.), thereby augmenting the surplus portion of the working day to that extent (Marx calls this “relative surplus value”). In its unrelenting search for greater (relative) surplus value, capitalism is thus dependent on the revolutionization of the means of production with the aim of increasing productivity and reducing the paid portion of the working day. This leads inexorably to additional revolutions in production, additional increases in productivity, in what constitutes an endless treadmill of production/accumulation. The logic of accumulation concentrates more and more of the wealth and power of society in fewer and fewer hands, and generates an enormous industrial reserve army of the unemployed. This is all accompanied by the further alienation of labor, robbing human beings of their creative potential, and often of the environmental conditions essential for their physical reproduction. “The factory system,” Marx wrote, “is turned into systematic robbery of what is necessary for the life of the worker while he is at work, i.e., space, light, air and protection against the dangerous or the unhealthy contaminants of the production process.”16 For classical political economists, beginning with the physiocrats and Adam Smith, nature was explicitly designated as a “free gift” to capital. It thus did not directly enter into the determination of exchange value (value), which constituted the basis of the accumulation of private capital. Nevertheless, classical political economists did see nature as constituting public wealth, since this was identified with use values, and included not only what was scarce, as in the case of exchange values, but also what was naturally abundant, e.g., air, water, etc. Out of these distinctions arose what came to be known as the Lauderdale Paradox, associated with the ideas of James Maitland, the eighth Earl of Lauderdale, who observed in 1804 that private riches (exchange values) could be expanded by destroying public wealth (use values) — that is, by generating scarcity in what was formerly abundant. This meant that individual riches could be augmented by landowners monopolizing the water of wells and charging a price for what had previously been free — or by burning crops (the produce of the earth) to generate scarcity and thus exchange value. Even the air itself, if it became scarce enough, could expand private riches, once it was possible to put a price on it. Lauderdale saw such artificial creation of scarcity as a way in which those with private monopolies of land and resources robbed society of its real wealth.17 Marx (following Ricardo) strongly embraced the Lauderdale Paradox, and its criticism of the inverse relation between private riches and public wealth. Nature, under the system of generalized commodity production, was, Marx insisted, reduced to being merely a free gift to capital and was thus robbed. Indeed, the fact that part of the working day was unpaid and went to the surplus of the capitalist meant that an analogous situation pertained to human labor power, itself a “natural force.” The worker was allowed to “work for his own life, i.e. to live, only in so far as he works for a certain time gratis for the capitalist…[so that] the whole capitalist system of production turns on the prolongation of this gratis labour by extending the working day or by developing the productivity, i.e., the greater intensity of labour power, etc.” Both nature and the unpaid labor of the worker were then to be conceived in analogous ways as free gifts to capital.18 Given the nature of this classical critique, developed to its furthest extent by Marx, it is hardly surprising that later neoclassical economists, exercising their primary role as apologists for the system, were to reject both the classical theory of value and the Lauderdale Paradox. The new marginalist economic orthodoxy that emerged in the late nineteenth century erased all formal distinctions within economics between use value and exchange value, between wealth and value. Nature’s contribution to wealth was simply defined out of existence within the prevailing economic view. However, a minority of heterodox economists, including such figures as Henry George, Thorstein Veblen, and Frederick Soddy, were to insist that this rejection of nature’s contribution to wealth only served to encourage the squandering of common resources characteristic of the system. “In a sort of parody of an accountant’s nightmare,” John Maynard Keynes was to write of the financially driven capitalist system, “we are capable of shutting off the sun and the stars because they do not pay a dividend.”19 For Marx, capitalism’s robbing of nature could be seen concretely in its creation of a rift in the human-earth metabolism, whereby the reproduction of natural conditions was undermined. He defined the labor process in ecological terms as the “metabolic interaction” between human beings and nature. With the development of industrial agriculture under capitalism, a rift was generated in the nature-given metabolism between human beings and the earth. The shipment of food and fiber hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of miles to the cities meant the removal of soil nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which ended up contributing to the pollution of the cities, while the soil itself was robbed of its “constituent elements.” This created a rupture in “the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil,” requiring the “systematic restoration” of this metabolism. Yet, even though this had been demonstrated with the full force of natural science (for example, in Justus von Liebig’s chemistry), the rational application of scientific principles in this area was impossible for capitalism. Consequently, capitalist production simultaneously undermined “the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the worker.”20 Marx’s critique of capitalism as an unsustainable system of production was ultimately rooted in its “preconditions,” i.e., the historical bases under which capitalism as a mode of production became possible. These were to be found in “primitive accumulation,” or the expropriation of the commons (of all customary rights to the land), and hence the expropriation of the workers themselves — of their means of subsistence. It was this expropriation that was to help lay the grounds for industrial capitalism in particular. The turning of the land into private property, a mere means of accumulation, was at the same time the basis for the destruction of the metabolism between human beings and the earth.21 This was carried out on an even greater and more devastating scale in relation to the pillage of the third world. Here, trade in human slavery went hand-in-hand with the seizure of the land and resources of the entire globe as mere plunder to feed the industrial mills of England and elsewhere. Whole continents (or at least those portions that European colonialism was able to penetrate) were devastated. Nor is this process yet complete, with depeasantization of the periphery by expanding agribusiness, constituting one of the chief forms of social and ecological destruction in the present day.22 Marx’s whole critique thus pointed to the reality of capitalism as a system of unsustainable development, rooted in the unceasing exploitation and pillage of human and natural agents. As he put it: “Après moi le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Capital therefore takes no account of the health and the length of life of the worker [or the human-nature metabolism], unless society forces it to do so.”23 He wryly observed in Capital that, when the Germans improved the windmill (in the form to be taken over by the Dutch), one of the first concerns, vainly fought over by the emperor Frederick I, the nobility, and the clergy, was who was “the ‘owner’ of the wind.” Nowadays, this observation on early attempts to commodify the air takes on even greater irony — at a time when markets, in what Gore himself refers to as “subprime carbon assets,” are helping to generate a speculative bubble with respect to earth’s atmosphere.24 Toward Ecological Revolution If the foregoing argument is correct, humanity is facing an unprecedented challenge. On the one hand, we are confronting the question of a terminal crisis, threatening most life on the planet, civilization, and the very existence of future generations. On the other hand, attempts to solve this through technological fixes, market magic, and the idea of a “sustainable capitalism” are mere forms of ecological denial: since they ignore the inherent destructiveness of the current system of unsustainable development — capitalism. This suggests that the only rational answer lies in an ecological revolution, which would also have to be a social revolution, aimed at the creation of a just and sustainable society. In addressing the question of an ecological revolution in the present dire situation, both short-term and long-term strategies are necessary, and should complement each other. One short-term strategy, directed mainly at the industrialized world, has been presented by Hansen. He starts with what he calls a “geophysical fact”: most of the remaining fossil fuel, particularly coal, must stay in the ground, and carbon emissions have to be reduced as quickly as possible to near zero. He proposes three measures: (1) coal burning (except where carbon is sequestered — right now not technologically feasible) must cease; (2) the price of fossil fuel consumption should be steadily increased by imposing a progressively rising tax at the point of production: well head, mine shaft, or point of entry — redistributing 100 percent of the revenue, on a monthly basis, directly to the population as dividends; (3) a massive, global campaign to end deforestation and initiate large-scale reforestation needs to be introduced. A carbon tax, he argues, if it were to benefit the people directly — the majority of whom have below average per-capita carbon footprints, and would experience net gains from the carbon dividends once their added energy costs were subtracted — would create massive support for change. It would help to mobilize the population, particularly those at the bottom of society, in favor of a climate revolution. Hansen’s “fee and dividend” proposal is explicitly designed not to feed the profits of vested interests. Any revenue from the carbon tax, in this plan, has to be democratically structured so as to redistribute income and wealth to those with smaller carbon footprints (the poor), and away from those with the larger carbon footprints (the rich).25 Hansen has emerged as a leading figure in the climate struggle, not only as a result of his scientific contributions, but also due to his recognition that at the root of the problem is a system of economic power, and his increasingly radical defiance of the powers that be. Thus, he declares: “the trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired plants are factories of death.” He criticizes those such as Gore, who have given in to cap and trade, locking in failure. Arguing that the unwillingness and inability of the authorities to act means that desperate measures are necessary, he is calling for mass “civil resistance.” In June 2009, he was arrested, along with thirty-one others, in the exercise of civil resistance against mountain top removal coal mining.26 In strategizing an immediate response to the climate problem, it is crucial to recognize that the state, through government regulation and spending programs, could intervene directly in the climate crisis. Carbon dioxide could be considered an air pollutant to be regulated by law. Electrical utilities could be mandated to obtain their energy increasingly from renewable sources. Solar panels could be included as a mandatory part of the building code. The state could put its resources behind major investments in public environmental infrastructure and planning, including reducing dependence on the automobile through massive funding of public transportation, e.g., intercity trains and light rail, and the necessary accompanying changes in urban development and infrastructure. Globally, the struggle, of course, has to take into account the reality of economic and ecological imperialism. The allowable carbon-concentration limits of the atmosphere have already been taken up as a result of the accumulation of the rich states at the center of the world system. The economic and social development of poor countries is, therefore, now being further limited by the pressing need to impose restrictions on carbon emissions for the sake of the planet as a whole — despite the fact that underdeveloped economies had no role in the creation of the problem. The global South is likely to experience the effects of climate change much earlier and more severely than the North, and has fewer economic resources with which to adapt. All of this means that a non-imperialistic, and more sustainable, world solution depends initially on what is called “contraction and convergence” — a drastic contraction in greenhouse gas emissions overall (especially in the rich countries), coupled with the convergence of per-capita emissions in all countries at levels that are sustainable for the planet.27 Since, however, science suggests that even low greenhouse gas emissions may be unsustainable over the long run, strategies have to be developed to make it economically feasible for countries in the periphery to introduce solar and renewable technologies — reinforcing those necessary radical changes in social relations that will allow them to stabilize and reduce their emissions. For the anti-imperialist movement, a major task should be creating stepped-up opposition to military spending (amounting to a trillion dollars in the United States in 2007) and ending government subsidies to global agribusiness — with the goal of shifting those monies into environmental defense and the meeting of the social needs of the poorest countries, as suggested by the Bamako Appeal.28 It must be firmly established as a principle of world justice that the wealthy countries owe an enormous ecological debt to poorer countries, due to the robbing by the imperial powers of the global commons and the pillage of the periphery at every stage of world capitalist development. Already, the main force for ecological revolution stems from movements in the global South, marked by the growth of the Vía Campesina movement, socialist organizations like Brazil’s MST, and ongoing revolutions in Latin America (the ALBA countries) and Asia (Nepal). Cuba has been applying permaculture design techniques that mimic energy-maximizing natural systems to its agriculture since the 1990s, generating a revolution in food production. Venezuela, although, for historic reasons, an oil power economically dependent on the sale of petroleum, has made extraordinary achievements in recent years by moving toward a society directed at collective needs, including dramatic achievements in food sovereignty.29 Reaching back into history, it is worth recalling that the proletariat in Marxian theory was the revolutionary agent because it had nothing to lose, and thus came to represent the universal interest in abolishing, not only its own oppression, but oppression itself. As Marx put it, “the living conditions of the proletariat represent the focal point of all inhuman conditions in contemporary society….However, it [the proletariat] cannot emancipate itself without abolishing the conditions which give it life, and it cannot abolish these conditions without abolishing all those inhuman conditions of social life which are summed up in its own situation.”30 Later Marxist theorists were to argue that, with the growth of monopoly capitalism and imperialism, the “focal point of inhuman conditions” had shifted from the center to the periphery of the world system. Paul Sweezy contended that, although the objective conditions that Marx associated with the proletariat did not match those of better-off workers in the United States and Europe in the 1960s, they did correspond to the harsh, inhuman conditions imposed on “the masses of the much more numerous and populous underdeveloped dependencies of the global capitalist system.” This helped explain the pattern of socialist revolutions following the Second World War, as exemplified by Vietnam, China, and Cuba.31 Looking at this today, I think it is conceivable that the main historic agent and initiator of a new epoch of ecological revolution is to be found in the third world masses most directly in line to be hit first by the impending disasters. Today the ecological frontline is arguably to be found in the inhabitants of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and of the low-lying fertile coast area of the Indian Ocean and China Seas — the state of Kerala in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia. They, too, as in the case of Marx’s proletariat, have nothing to lose from the radical changes necessary to avert (or adapt to) disaster. In fact, with the universal spread of capitalist social relations and the commodity form, the world proletariat and the masses most exposed to sea level rise — for example, the low-lying delta of the Pearl River and the Guangdong industrial region from Shenzhen to Guangzhou — sometimes overlap. This, then, potentially constitutes the global epicenter of a new environmental proletariat.32 The truly planetary crisis we are now caught up in, however, requires a world uprising transcending all geographical boundaries. This means that ecological and social revolutions in the third world have to be accompanied by, or inspire, universal revolts against imperialism, the destruction of the planet, and the treadmill of accumulation. The recognition that the weight of environmental disaster is such that it would cross all class lines and all nations and positions, abolishing time itself by breaking what Marx called “the chain of successive generations,” could lead to a radical rejection of the engine of destruction in which we live, and put into motion a new conception of global humanity and earth metabolism. As always, however, real change will have to come from those most alienated from the existing systems of power and wealth. The most hopeful development within the advanced capitalist world at present is the meteoric rise of the youth-based climate justice movement, which is emerging as a considerable force in direct action mobilization and in challenging the current climate negotiations.33 What is clear is that the long-term strategy for ecological revolution throughout the globe involves the building of a society of substantive equality, i.e., the struggle for socialism. Not only are the two inseparable, but they also provide essential content for each other. There can be no true ecological revolution that is not socialist; no true socialist revolution that is not ecological. This means recapturing Marx’s own vision of socialism/communism, which he defined as a society where “the associated producers govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective control…accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate for their human nature.”34 One way to understand this interdependent relation between ecology and socialism is in terms of what Hugo Chávez has called “the elementary triangle of socialism” (derived from Marx) consisting of: (1) social ownership; (2) social production organized by workers; and (3) satisfaction of communal needs. All three components of the elementary triangle of socialism are necessary if socialism is to be sustained. Complementing and deepening this is what could be called “the elementary triangle of ecology” (derived even more directly from Marx): (1) social use, not ownership, of nature; (2) rational regulation by the associated producers of the metabolic relation between humanity and nature; and (3) satisfaction of communal needs — not only of present but also future generations (and life itself).35 As Lewis Mumford explained in 1944, in his Condition of Man, the needed ecological transformation required the promotion of “basic communism,” applying “to the whole community the standards of the household,” distributing benefits “according to need, not ability or productive contribution.” This meant focusing first and foremost on “education, recreation, hospital services, public hygiene, art,” food production, the rural and urban environments, and, in general, “collective needs.” The idea of “basic communism” drew on Marx’s principle of substantive equality in the Critique of the Gotha Programme: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” But Mumford also associated this idea with John Stuart Mill’s vision, in his most socialist phase, of a “stationary state” — viewed, in this case, as a system of economic production no longer geared to the accumulation of capital, in which the emphasis of society would be on collective development and the quality of life.36 For Mumford, this demanded a new “organic person” — to emerge from the struggle itself. An essential element of such an ecological and socialist revolution for the twenty-first century is a truly radical conception of sustainability, as articulated by Marx: From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men [i.e., slavery]. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations as boni patres familias [good heads of the household].37 Such a vision of a sustainable, egalitarian society must define the present social struggle; not only because it is ecologically necessary for human survival, but also because it is historically necessary for the development of human freedom. Today we face the challenge of forging a new organic revolution in which the struggles for human equality and for the earth are becoming one. There is only one future: that of sustainable human development.38
Capitalism is the root cause of war
Dr. David Adams, 2002, former UNESCO Director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace, former Professor of Psychology (for 23 years) at Wesleyan University, specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior and the evolution of war, “Chapter 8: The Root Causes of War,” The American Peace Movements, p. 22-28, http://www.culture-of-peace.info/apm/chapter8-22.html
To take a scientific attitude about war and peace, we must carry the causal analysis a step further. If peace movements are caused by wars and war threats, then we must ask, what are the causes of these wars, both in the short term and in the long term? Before analyzing the causes of wars, it is necessary to dismiss a false analysis that has been popularized in recent years, the myth that war is caused by a "war instinct." The best biological and anthropological data indicate that there is no such thing as a war instinct despite the attempt of the mass media and educational systems to perpetuate this myth. Instead, "the same species that invented war is capable of inventing peace" (note 15). Since there are several kinds of war, it is likely that there are several different kinds of causes for war. There are two kinds of war in which the United States has not been engaged for over two centuries. The first are wars of national liberation such as the American Revolution or today's revolutions in Nicaragua and South Africa being waged by the Sandinistas and the African National Congress. The second are wars of revolution in which the previous ruling class is thrown out and replaced by another. In the British and French Revolutions of earlier eras the feudal land-owners were overthrown by the newly rising capitalist class. In the revolutions of this century in Russia, China, Cuba, etc. the capitalists, in turn, were overthrown by forces representing the working class and landless farmers. The six wars and threats of war that have caused American peace movements in this century have been wars of imperial conquest, inter-imperialist rivalry, and capitalist-socialist rivalry. What are the root causes of these wars in the short term? For the following analysis, I will rely upon some of America's best economic historians (note 16). The Spanish-American and Philippine Wars of 1898, according to historian Walter LaFeber, were inevitable military results of a new foreign policy devoted to obtaining markets overseas for American products. The new foreign policy was the response to a profound depression that began in 1893 with unemployment soaring to almost 20 percent. Farm and industrial output piled up without a market because American workers, being unemployed, had no money to buy them. Secretary of State Gresham "concluded that foreign markets would provide in large measure the cure for the depression." To obtain such markets, the U.S. went into competition with the other imperialist empires such as Britain and Spain. The U.S. intervened with a naval force to help overthrow the government of Hawaii in 1893, intervened diplomatically in Nicaragua in 1894, threatened war with England over Venezuela in 1895, and eventually went to war with Spain in 1898 and invaded the Philippines in 1898. To quote from the title of LaFeber's book, the U.S. established a "new empire." American intervention in World War I again rescued the economy from a depression. In 1914 and 1915, as war between the European imperialist powers broke out, American unemployment was rising towards ten percent and industrial goods were piling up without a market. One industrial market was expanding, however, the market for weapons in Europe. The historian Charles Tansill concludes that "it was the rapid growth of the munitions trade which rescued America from this serious economic situation." And since the sales went to Britain and France, it committed the U.S. to their side in the war. Finance capital was equally involved: "the large banking interests were deeply interested in the World War because of wide opportunities for large profits." When bank loans to Britain and France of half a billion dollars went through in 1915, "the business depression, that had so worried the Administration in the spring of 1915, suddenly vanished, and 'boom times' prevailed." Of course, German imperialism did not stand idly by while the U.S. profited from arms shipments and loans to their enemies in the war. German submarine warfare against these shipments finally provoked American involvement in the War. The rise of fascism in Europe was the direct result of still another cyclical depression, the Great Depression that gripped the entire capitalist world in the Thirties. In his recent book on the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of fascism, David Abraham has documented how major capitalists turned to Hitler to fill the vacuum of political leadership when the economy collapsed. In part, the absence of political leadership "with the collapse of the export economy at the end of 1931...drove German industry to foster or accept a Bonapartist solution to the political crisis and an imperialist solution to the economic crisis. The "Bonapartist solution", as Abraham calls it, was found in Hitler's Nazi Party. As he says, "By mid-1932, the vast majority of industrialists wanted to see Nazi participation in the government." For these industrialists, "an anti-Marxist, imperialist program was the least common denominator on which they could all agree, and the Nazis seemed capable of providing the mass base for such a program." The appeasement of Hitler's promise to smash the communists and socialists at home and to destroy the Soviet Union abroad expressed a new cause of capitalist war. Up until that time, inter-imperialist wars were simply the response to economic contradictions at home and capitalist competition abroad. In part, World War II was yet another inter-imperialist war. But now a new cause of war was emerging alongside of the old. The rise of socialism was a direct threat to the entire capitalist world. In addition to glutted domestic markets and competition for foreign markets, the capitalists now had to face the additional problem that the overall foreign market itself was shrinking. Thus, they tended to support each other in the face of a common enemy. After World War II, there was a particularly sharp shrinkage in the "free world" for capitalist exploitation as socialism and national liberation triumphed through much of the world. The U.S. and its allies responded by demanding that the socialist countries open their doors to investment by capitalism. According to historian William Appleman Williams, "It was the decision of the United States to employ its new and awesome power in keeping with the traditional Open Door Policy which crystallized the cold war." As Williams explains, "the policy of the open door, like all imperial policies, created and spurred onward a dynamic opposition." Diplomatic and military confrontation between the U.S. and USSR were used to justify the Cold War and establishment of NATO, but the underlying issues were economic. As pointed out by historians Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, "The question of foreign economic policy was not the containment of Communism, but rather more directly the extension and expansion of American capitalism according to its new economic power and needs." In addition to the new problem of shrinking world markets, there remained the problem of cyclical depressions. Although unemployment was not bad in 1946 because industry was producing to meet the accumulated needs of the war-deprived American people, the specter of another depression was very much a factor in the Cold War. As the Kolkos point out, "The deeply etched memory of the decade-long depression of 1929 hung over all American plans for the postwar era....In extending its power throughout the globe the United States hoped to save itself as well from a return of the misery of prewar experience." The Vietnam War was a continuation of the Cold War, as the United States tried to prevent further shrinkage of the world capitalist economic system. The U.S. had already fought a similar war in Korea. In his chapter, "The U.S. in Vietnam, 1944-66: Origins and Objectives," Gabriel Kolko calls the intervention of the United States in Vietnam, "the most important single embodiment of the power and purposes of American foreign policy since the Second World War." Elsewhere in his book, Kolko goes into detail about the economic basis of American imperialism: access to raw materials, access to markets for American products, and investment opportunities for American capital. The Vietnam War, he explains, was not a conspiracy or simply a military decision. It was the natural result of "American power and interest in the modern world." Finally we come to the question of what has caused the massive escalation of the arms buildup under Presidents Carter and Reagan (and more recently under Bush, father and son). To some extent, it is a response to the old problem of cyclical depressions. Since World War II, each recession has been deeper than the last, until by 1981 unemployment reached double digits for the first time since
the Thirties. Government spending was needed to put people back to work. Would the government spend the money for military weapons or for civilian needs? A long line of Presidential candidates, standing for the military solution, have been supported in their campaigns by the military-industrial complex against other candidates who were unable to wage a serious campaign for civilian spending instead of military spending. The growing power of the military-industrial complex is a new and especially dangerous addition to the economic causes of war. It reflects an economic crisis that goes even deeper than those of the past. In addition to the cyclical depressions and the shrinkage of foreign markets, there is a new imbalance in the entire structure of capitalism. There is an enormous increase in financial speculation and short-term profit schemes. The military-industrial complex has risen to become the dominant sector of the American economy because through the aid of state subsidies it generates the greatest short-term profits. Never mind if the U.S. government goes into debt to banks and other financial institutions in order to pay for military spending. The world of financial speculation does not worry about tomorrow. Not only does this "military spending solution" endanger the security of the planet, but it also increases the risk of a major financial collapse and subsequent depression. To summarize, we may point to the following causes of American wars over the past century: 1) cyclical crises of overproduction and unemployment, 2) exploitation of poor colonial and neo-colonial countries by rich imperialist countries, 3) economic rivalry for foreign markets and investment areas by imperialist powers, 4) the attempt to stop the shrinkage of the "free world" - i.e. the part of the world that is free for capitalist investment and exploitation, and 5) financial speculation and short-term profit making of the military-industrial complex. In the 1985 edition of this book the argument was made that the socialist countries were escaping from the economic causation of war. In comparison to the capitalist countries, they did not have the same dynamic of over-production and cyclical depression, with periods of enhanced structural unemployment. As for exploitation and imperialism, despite the frequent reference in the American media to "Soviet imperialism," the direction of the flow of wealth was the opposite of what holds true under capitalist imperialism. Instead of the rich nations extracting wealth from the poor ones, which is the case, for example between the U.S. and Latin America, the net flow of wealth proceeded from the Soviet Union towards the other socialist countries in order to bring them towards an eventually even level of development. According to an authoritative source associated with the U.S. military-industrial complex, the net outflow from the Soviet Union amounted to over forty billion dollars a year in the mid-1980's. In one crucial respect, however, the 1985 analysis was incorrect. It failed to take account of the military-industrial complex that had grown to be the most powerful force of the Soviet economy, a mirror image of its equivalent in the West. The importance of this was brought home to those of us who attended a briefing on economic conversion from military to civilian production that was held at the United Nations on November 1, 1990, a critical time for Gorbachev's program of Perestroika in the Soviet Union. The speaker, Ednan Ageev, was the head of the Division of International Security Issues at the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was asked by the Gorbachev administration to find out the extent to which the Soviet economy was being used for military production. Naturally, he went to the Minister of Defense, where he was told that this information was secret. Secret even to Gorbachev. In conversation, Ageev estimated that 85-90% of Soviet scientific researchers were in the military sector. That seems high until you realize that the Soviet's were matching U.S. military research, development and production on the basis of a Gross National Product only half as large. Since about 40% of U.S. research and development was tied to the military at that time, it would make sense that the Soviets would have had to double the U.S. percentage in order to keep pace. How could the Gorbachev administration convert their economy from military to civilian production if they could not even get a list of defense industries? Keeping this in mind, along with the enormous militarization of the Soviet economy, it is not so surprising that the Soviet economy collapsed, and with it the entire political superstructure. The origins of the Soviet military-industrial complex can be traced back to the Russian revolution which instituted what Lenin, at one point, called "war communism". He warned that war communism could not succeed in the long run and that instead of a top-down militarized economy, a socialist economy needed to be structured as a "cooperative of cooperatives." But war communism was entrenched during the Stalin years, carried out of necessity to an extreme during the Second World War, and then perpetuated by the Cold War. The economic causation of the war system is not new. It originated long before capitalism and socialism. From its beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia, the state was always associated with war, both to capture slaves abroad and to keep them under control at home. As states grew more powerful, war became the means to build empires and to acquire and rule colonies. In fact, the economic causation of war probably extends back even further into ancient prehistory. From the best analysis I know, that of Mel and Carol Ember, using the methods of cross-cultural anthropology, it would seem that war functioned as a means to survive periodic but unpredictable food shortages caused by natural disasters. Apparently, tribes that could make war most effectively could survive natural disasters better than others by successfully raiding the food supplies of their neighbors. While particular wars can be analyzed, as we have done above, in terms of immediate, short-term causes, there is a need to understand the war system itself, which is as old as human history. Particular wars are the tip of a much deeper iceberg. Beneath war, there has developed a culture of war that is entwined with it in a complex web of causation. On the one hand, the culture of war is produced and reinforced by each war, and, on the other hand, the culture of war provides the basis on which succeeding wars are prepared and carried out. The culture of war is a set of beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that consists of enemy images, authoritarian social structure, training and arming for violence, exploitation of man and nature, secrecy and male domination. Without an enemy, without a social structure where people will follow orders, without the preparation of soldiers and weapons, without the control of information, both propaganda and secrecy, no war can be carried out. The culture of war has been so prevalent in history that we take it for granted, as if it were human nature. However, anthropologists point to cultures that are nowhere near as immersed in the culture of war, and it is the opinion of the best scientists that a culture of peace is possible. Peace movements have not given enough attention to the internal use of the culture of war. The culture of war has two faces, one facing outward and the other inward. Foreign wars are accompanied by authoritarian rule inside the warring countries. Even when there is no war threat, armies (or national guards) are kept ready not just for use against foreign enemies, but also against those defined as the enemy within: striking workers, movements of the unemployed, prisoners, indigenous peoples, just as in an earlier time they were used against slave rebellions. As documented in my 1995 article in the Journal of Peace Research (Internal Military Interventions in the United States) the U.S. Army and National Guard have been used an average of 18 times a year, involving an average of 12,000 troops for the past 120 years, mostly against actions and revolts by workers and the unemployed. During periods of external war, the internal wars are usually intensified and accompanied by large scale spying, deportations and witch hunts. It would appear that we have once again entered such a period in the U.S. We are hardly alone in this matter. Needless to say, the culture of war was highly developed to stifle dissent in the Soviet Union by Stalin and his successors of "war communism." The internal culture of war needs to be analyzed and resisted everywhere. For example, readers living in France should question the role of the CRS. The internal use of the culture of war is no less economically motivated than external wars. The socialists at the beginning of the 20th Century recognized it as "class war," carried out in order to maintain the domination of the rich and powerful over the poor and exploited. Not by accident, it has often been socialists and communists who are the first to be targeted by the internal culture of war in capitalist countries. And they, in turn, have often made the most powerful critique of the culture of war and have played a leading role in peace movements for that reason. Their historical role for peace was considerably compromised, however, by the "war communism" of the Soviet Union. With its demise, however, there is now an opportunity for socialists and communists to return to their earlier leadership against war, both internal and external, and to insist that a true socialism can only flourish on the basis of a culture of peace. In considering future prospects for the American Peace Movements, I shall begin with trends from the past and then consider different factors for the future? First, let us look back over the economic factors and movements of the previous century to see if the trends are likely to continue. 1. Wars are likely to continue because, for the most part, their economic causes remain as strong as ever: 1) cyclical crises of overproduction and unemployment, 2) exploitation of poor colonial and neo-colonial countries by rich imperialist countries, 3) economic rivalry for foreign markets and investment areas by imperialist powers, 4) the attempt to stop the shrinkage of the "free world" - i.e. the part of the world that is free for capitalist investment and exploitation, and 5) financial speculation and short-term profit making of the military-industrial complex. The fourth factor is not as prominent since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but there is still evidence of this factor at work: for example, the attempted overthrow of the government of Venezuela in spring, 2002, was apparently linked to its developing ties with socialist Cuba, especially in terms of its oil resources. Although the coup d'etat failed, there was a risk of plunging Venezuela into warfare, especially considering the increasingly internationalized war next door in Colombia. Although the "war against terrorism" in Afghanistan, Philippines, etc. and the associated military buildup is usually justified as revenge for the attacks of September 11, there seems little doubt that there are economic motives involved as well, including the control of oil resources from Central Asia as a supplement to those of the Middle East. At the same time, the massive expansion of the military-industrial complex in the U.S. appears at some level to be intended as an increase in government spending to hedge against declining non-military production, unemployment and financial crises in the stock markets. 2. The American peace movements have been reactive in the past, developing in response to specific wars or threats of war, and then disappearing when the war is over or the threat is perceived to have decreased. In fact, this observation at the macro level is mirrored by an observation that I have made previously at a micro level: participants in peace movements have been motivated to an important degree by anger against the injustice of war. This dynamic seems likely to continue. Governments, worried about the reactive potential of peace movements may attempt to engage in very brief wars, just as the U.S. government cut short the 1991 Gulf War after several weeks to avoid an escalating peace movement. In the future, peace movements need to be broadened by linkages to other issues and by international solidarity and unity; otherwise they risk being only temporary influences on the course of history, growing in response to particular wars and then disappearing again afterwards. The world needs a sustained opposition to the entire culture of war, not just to particular wars. To be fully successful, the future peace movement needs to be positive as well as negative. It needs to be for a culture of peace at the same time as it is against the culture of war. This requires that activists in the future peace movement develop a shared vision of the future towards which the movement can aspire. I have found evidence, presented in the recent revision of my book Psychology for Peace Activists (note 17), that such a shared, positive vision is now becoming possible, and, as a result, human consciousness can take on a new and powerful dimension in this particular moment of history.
Neoliberalism results in mass poverty
Giroux, Prof of Comm @ McMaster, 2004 p. 44-45
(Henry, The Terror of Neoliberalism)
It is virtually impossible to understand the rise of such multifaceted authoritarianism in American society without analyzing the importance of neoliberalism as the defining ideology of the current historical moment.’72 While fascism does not need neoliberalism to develop, neoliberalism creates the ideological and economic conditions that can promote a uniquely American version of fascism.’73 Neoliberalism not only undermines the vital economic and political institutions and public spaces central to a democracy, it also has no vocabulary for recognizing anti-democratic forms of power. Even worse, it accentuates a structural relationship between the state and the economy that produces hierarchies, concentrates power in relatively few hands, unleashes the most brutal elements of a rabid individualism, destroys the welfare state, incarcerates large numbers of its disposable populations, economically disenfranchises large segments of the lower and middle classes, and reduces entire countries to pauperization.’74
And, fighting poverty is a moral obligation-must reject complicity
James Gilligan, Department of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School, Violence: Reflections on Our Deadliest Epidemic, 2000, p 195-196.
The 14 to 18 million deaths a year cause by structural violence compare with about 100,000 deaths per year from armed conflict. Comparing this frequency of deaths from structural violence to the frequency of those caused by major military and political violence, such as World War II (an estimated 49 million military and civilian deaths, including those caused by genocide--or about eight million per year, 1935-1945), the Indonesian massacre of 1965-1966 (perhaps 575,000 deaths), the Vietnam war (possibly two million, 1954-1973), and even a hypothetical nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R (232 million), it was clear that even war cannot begin to compare with structural violence, which continues year after year. In other word, every fifteen years, on the average, as many people die because of relative poverty as would be killed in a nuclear war that caused 232 million deaths; and every single year, two to three times as many people die from poverty throughout the world as were killed by the Nazi genocide of the Jews over a six-year period. This is, in effect, the equivalent of an ongoing, unending, in fact accelerating, thermonuclear war, or genocide, perpetrated on the weak and poor every year of every decade, throughout the world.