by Joseph Parampathu
In the first year of constant quarantine, rocked by worldwide social unrest, extreme tropical weather, and widespread government ineptitude, the complete inability and unwillingness of the ruling classes to make any substantive changes is clear. There will not be any relief and there is no reckoning. Commoditizing living animals has created the perfect conditions for zoonotic diseases to mutate and spread, but harm reduction measures to deal with the pandemic have obfuscated this risk, instead touting the animal agriculture industry as a “vital industry” necessary to the economic interests of the capitalist class. Forget sacrificing your ethics, the time has come to put yourself on the altar and pray you make the perfect gift to the market — or at least that shell of a market reflected in financial exchanges.
When we face the very real consequences of generations of ecocide, we have to ask ourselves: how can we ever hope to take on this grand challenge, as long as the state exists? At every opportunity for working people to take control over their environments and end the resource grabs that leave them with toxic dumps in their backyards, the state intervenes to protect moneyed interests from being held accountable to self-managed communities.
When the local factory’s fumes cause your children to develop respiratory diseases, the transnational water privatizer takes your water rights, and the farm conglomerate poisons your soil, the state ensures that you stay embroiled in prolonged legal battles and legislative processes until you have nothing worth saving.
Anarchists often face the question: but how can we stop climate change without bold, dramatic action? The answer is we cannot. Bold, dramatic action has never come from the state, and it never will. The moneyed class, in their ignorance, still thinks they can extract the last remaining resource wealth and get away unscathed. They fantasize of escaping Earth and leaving the planet (and you with it) as a reverse colony for their continued enrichment.
And the state is not just going to let them do it, it’s going to help them — using your resources. Whether or not you are aware of it, the capitalist class knows that they are at war with you. They are prepared to use the full force of the state to control the last remaining resources on Earth. If the pandemic has made anything clear, it is that they are so wrapped up in their own fantasies of grandeur that they will not make the necessary changes to their lifestyles or social structures to move beyond capitalism. There is no gentle transition from liberal democracy to democratic socialism, or at least, if one were hypothetically possible it has now become, on a practical level, too late.
There is no magic green technology or silver bullet coming to prevent mass extinction. What we see clearly is that the capitalist class would rather remove you from existence than reduce their obscene standard of living. Eliminating the state is necessary to weakening the power of the capitalist class. While direct confrontation may strike the final blow to the state, the most subversive actions remain in non-participation in the state. By working outside the state to strengthen parallel and autonomous lines of community we weaken the state’s power over us. Without workers and resources to exploit, the state, like its capitalist masters, has no power to do anything. Ensuring that we use our independent networks to do what the state will never do, we can meet the challenges of ecocide and climate catastrophe directly through reorganizing our communities and restructuring the way we interact with the environment.
The rich, by their existence, destroy the resources of the world through the inefficiencies of exploitation. Communities organized to provide for their own management are necessarily accountable to their own people and have a stake in ensuring the continued long-term availability of their own resources. Cooperation in mutual aid strengthens bonds by ensuring dual value. Without the state tipping the scales, competition against each other in a race to destroy the Earth for the momentary glories of capital accumulation is supplanted by people working in concert to achieve joint success. There is still a path forward that can reverse ecocide, but it runs through our own decisions in how we manage our societies, not how we interact with the state.