Let me ask Phil this question: Let's assume that new energy technologies and
"decarbonization" would spread much faster under socialism than under
capitalism as this author suggests. What do we do while waiting for
socialist revolutions in the most technologically advanced countries? How
soon do people on this list think that might happen, given the widespread
discrediting of socialism and Communism as a result of their disastrous
distortions under the Soviet Union, China, etc? Does anyone here seriously
think that the US will be a socialist country in the next 30-50 years?

So while analyses such as these are interesting and perhaps even solidly
correct, I wonder how much relevance they bear to the real world in which
activitists have to operate. Should not those concerned about global warming
advocate the use of new technologies and alternative energy sources no
matter what system we are living under, even if they continue to advance a
more humane and just model for social organization at the same time?


On Sat, Aug 2, 2008 at 7:13 AM, Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> This is from the Minqi Li article in MR that I linked to a few days ago:
> "...even if many of the proposed highly efficient energy technologies using
> renewables become available right away, their application will be delayed by
> the inherent obstacles to technological diffusion in the capitalist system.
> In an economic system based on production for profit, a new technology is
> "intellectual property." People or countries that cannot afford to pay are
> denied access. Even today hundreds of millions of people in the world have
> no access to electricity. How many decades would it take before they start
> to have access to solar-powered electric cars?
> "Moreover, unlike consumer novelties such as cell phones or lap tops, which
> can be readily manufactured by the existing industrial system, the
> de-carbonization of the world's energy system requires fundamental
> transformation of the world's economic infrastructure. This basically means
> that the pace of de-carbonization, even under the most ideal conditions,
> cannot really be faster than the rate of depreciation of long-lasting fixed
> assets...
> "From a purely technical point of view, the most simple and straightforward
> solution to the crisis of climate change is immediately to stop all economic
> growth and start to downsize world material consumption in an orderly manner
> until the greenhouse gases emissions fall to reasonable levels. This can
> obviously be accomplished with the existing technology. If all the current
> and potentially available de-carbonization technologies are introduced to
> all parts of the world as rapidly as possible, the world should still have
> the material production capacity to meet the basic needs of the entire
> world's population even with a much smaller world economy...
> "However, under a capitalist system, so long as the means of production and
> surplus value are owned by the capitalists, there are both incentives and
> pressures for the capitalists to use a substantial portion of the surplus
> value for capital accumulation. Unless surplus value is placed under social
> control, there is no way for capital accumulation (and therefore economic
> growth) not to take place. Moreover, given the enormous inequality in income
> and wealth distribution under capitalism, how could a global capitalist
> economy manage an orderly downsizing while meeting the basic needs of
> billions of people? Economic growth is indispensable for capitalism to
> alleviate its inherent social contradictions."
> Full:
> On Fri, Aug 1, 2008 at 11:55 PM, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> *
> Perhaps this is potential good news.*

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

Email: [log in to unmask]

Balter's Blog: