Lets take his points a little out of order...
Renewables can go *some* of the way towards solving climate change, but not all of it - what is needed (and what Blair cannot, under any circumstances mention - hence nuclear) is a reduction in demand. Which, under capitalism, leads to a recession.You would be against a recession Matt? OK. Anyway, what is the limit, do you think, of the generating capacity of renewables? The answer of course is that they could generate all our energy many times over (thousands or millions of times over). So why couldn't they go all the way to solving climate change? Of course they could. A better practical solution would doubtless include some fossils and some efficiency measures. But there is no denying that this problem is solvable at a cost.
We live on a finite planet. Capitalism needs infinite growth. You can shout 'communist' all you like, but unless you address the serious flaws within the market system (a complete inability to deal with environmental or justice externalities, a dependence on growth, a tendency towards monopoly etc) then you will have your head stuck as far into the sand as the proverbial ostrich. Just because a system is the status quo doesn't make it right.
Are you admitting the 'communist' or not? Of course we are in a sense around 40% communist already - that much is taxed and spent by the state, as it should be. Do you think the state/community should be directing more, or all of the nation's wealth? If it is more, say 60%, that's not really a different system, a "radical change", just a change of priorities. If it is all, then that is more or less communism, isn't it?
Capitalism doesn't "need" growth, it generates growth, and that is good, it means people are richer, live longer, are able to do more of the things they want to do, and governments can spend more on health and education, and so on. Stopping growth is easy - whack up taxes, pile on the regulation, no problem. If this is what the environment needs, the Green Party should say so, and we will all understand. It's still not really a change of system, just a change of objectives - rejecting prosperity in favour of the environment. A clear and legitimate political option to offer. (Whether it would work is another question of course.)
Of course there are flaws with the market system, and there are no pure market economies anywhere, it wouldn't be possible. So we have, as we should, things like the welfare state, and environmental regulations and so on. And it requires constant political vigilance to keep it working well. Does the clean air act, or the end of leaded petrol represent a "complete inability to deal with environmental ... externalities"? Of course not.
The environmental crises we face *cannot* be solved simply by a few more pieces of regulation here and there and an absurd faith in the market.
OK so scenario A: Government builds 100GW of wind turbines (other countries do similarly). Global warming averted. Scenario B: Government whacks a whopping tax on carbon emissions and the private energy industry builds 100GW of wind turbines. Global warming averted. What is the difference? Why are you so keen on problems being unsolvable? How exactly would economic planning, if that is what you are advocating, make them solvable?
Capitalism is based on the growth principle. We cannot KEEP growing our way out of environmental problems.
Growth of what? Growth is a statistic. It adds together lots of different things as if they were the same. And they don't all involve despoiling the planet, mostly it is about how much we value the services we provide each other. So if there is anything at all that people do for each other that you regard as good, then good growth is possible. If not, then your values are so warped that we ought to all drop dead.
Of course Green Party policies are not consistently anti-capitalist. Sure, there are coded references to economic planning like:
EC511 Policies to promote local economic management and planning include creating Partnership Bodies to enable a wide range of local people to participate in the development of policy, strategy, projects and enterprise; undertaking a wide ranging audit of local social, economic and environmental affairs and concerns; drafting appropriate sustainable economic development strategies for the locality.
Alongside sugar-coated support for free enterprise like
EC404 ...changing planning and building regulations to encourage home based enterprises, providing grants for re-skilling, and for the necessary tools and technology necessary for home-based enterprises.
The paper as a whole is a breathtakingly inconsistent mixture of the utopian and the banal. But it is clearly a state-driven reshaping and contracting of economic activity, and restraints on trade, which will further reduce efficiency. Redistribution is generous, so the better off will lose more in relative terms, making it a triple whammy against incentives to work.
But even with all that, it is clear that there would be capitalism at work. The roads may have been dug up to make trading difficult, but investment is actually encouraged! (EC512) Encouraging investment more or less directly implies some form of capitalism.
So is this the radical change? Make it hard to do business but "encourage" people to do business anyway?
And what is it intrinsically about this sort of economy, that it doesn't, say, contribute to global warming? The inefficiencies of central planning and autarchy will make us much poorer, but I don't see why they would intrinsically reduce environmental impacts. Building 100GW of wind turbines would only cost us a little in comparison, and seems rather better focussed on an actual problem.
I don't mean to sneer at the whole paper, there are some good ideas there. But the vision is not consistent, and it hardly relates to the reality of environmental problems.
Why is a clear consistent policy so difficult for the Green Party to express? I suspect because it can't quite stomach trying to sell the idea of being much poorer on the doorstep as a solution to anything. Especially when in many ways prosperity is associated with environmental improvements.
Tag: Green Party