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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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The failure of Copenhagen: the success of environmental imperialism

You can only understand the failure of Copenhagen by understanding imperialism.

Imperialism is primarily the rivalry between major powers like the US and China. As a subset of this competition these powerful nations subjugate weaker ones economically, politically and militarily.

Since the collapse of the state capitalist regimes in Eastern Europe and the USSR, and the elimination of Russian imperialism as a competitor, the US has been the dominant economic and military power around the world.

The shift by Deng Xiao Ping from state capitalism to market capitalism (or more accurately state controlled market capitalism) has created China as a competitor to American economic dominance and over time to US military dominance.

When Marx was writing,  the colonial period – the time when capitalism expanded around the globe – still existed but was coming to an end. 

The first world war ushered in the era of imperialism (although socialists like Lenin and Bukharin had identified its essence before then.) In essence their ideas about imperialism can be summarised as the centralisation of capital and the internationalisation of production.

A century later and that concentration and internationalisation are so much deeper and intense.

By the beginning of the 20th century the division of the world had become complete and there was no room for the expansion of  German capitalism outside its borders (apart from a few more or less minor colonies) except by military means against its main competitors – Great Britain, and increasingly the United States. 

The first and second world wars were examples of the imperialist battle to re-divide the world.  

The present period resembles the world before the first world war.

American imperialism stands triumphant. Yet it faces the growing strength of China, a growing strength that eventually will challenge US economic and political dominance, and ultimately military dominance.

US capitalism at home is in a poor state.  It has massive debts that fund its military adventures in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and give it the wherewithal to man US bases in over 100 countries around the world.

These adventures are not about terrorism or democracy or women’s rights. They are about cornering China.

The US economy remains stagnant,  a situation that in part has been arrested by close economic relationships with China.  China has become not only a supplier of cheap consumer goods to the US but also a profitable playpen for sections of the American bourgeoisie.

Further Chinese and Middle Eastern oil money has been an important part of the financial stabilisation that has enabled the US economy to stave off a possible banking system collapse.

The US response to the growth of Chinese capitalism has been both to encircle and integrate it. The Chinese response appears to be a growing assertion of influence over its immediate region and attempts to expand into less developed areas like Africa and occasionally challenge the US.  This creeping imperialism will grow stronger as the Chinese economy grows stronger.

Any actions of the US and China have to be seen through the prism of imperialist competition.

Their slow tango of death is nowhere more evident than in Copenhagen. The final report merely said that nations would take action to limit global warming to 2 degrees centigrade. Goodbye Tuvalu. Goodbye Bangladesh.

A non-binding, non-targeted piece of poly waffle is what both United States imperialism (as historically the world’s biggest polluter) and Chinese imperialism (about to become the world’s biggest polluter) wanted, to protect and extend their own power. 

Both see their future dominance as threatened by any agreement which does not limit the power of the other.

They are not just climate change do-nothings. Their game of environmental imperialism is a systemic response to the very way their economies and the world economy are organised.

So they came up with platitudes about taking measures to stop the climate warming more than 2 degrees centigrade.  They forgot the apple pie and mom and its Chinese equivalents.

Such an agreement is like peace dealings before war – so much paper.

The systemic drive to dominance of each version of capitalism would render even a binding deep targets agreement worthless because both imperialist nations fear it would challenge their future dominance – almost ‘environmental peace in our time’.

Like colonialists and imperialists dividing up Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East, the aim of the US and China in Copenhagen was for them to divide the world among themselves, but in mutually exclusive terms of benefit to one or the other.

As a generalisation China, the faux friend, had the support of the developing countries, the US of its usual allies, apart from Europe. Of course, China cares nothing for the G77 developing nations.

As the second most powerful imperialist nation on the earth, it cares only for extending and deepening its economic power around the globe.

To stop the polluters destroying our earth will require the overthrow of Chinese and American imperialism.  The working class in both countries has the historic duty to save the planet by destroying their imperialist overlords.

The first step in a world free from imperialism and anthropogenic global warming is organising in our own countries to build a democratic mass movement for action now to combat global warming.

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Comment from Benjamin Solah
Time December 21, 2009 at 9:55 am

This post is so spot on with talking about imperialism in relation to Copenhagen.

It’s so clear that the main concern of world leaders was not global warming, but whether or not they would have to pay more of the bill than others, and lose out in the race for economic supremacy.

Their blind self-interest is going to be the end of us all if we don’t get rid of this system.

Comment from Marco
Time December 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

John,

I could entirely subscribe to both, your analysis and your conclusions.

In particular, because this is more within what little expertise I may have, I don’t believe in a “market solution” to any environmental problem, or to any problem, in fact. There is no perfect market. Even the more honest and competent market economists have admitted this: there is no such a thing.

If someone is going to do something about this problem, it has to be the working class.

But I am deeply sceptic about the final outcome to any attempt to stabilize the planet.

I believe we have lost perspective of the true nature and the true scope of the problem: is not just global warming, although this is what has attracted more attention lately, for all the reasons you mentioned.

It is ocean acidification, fisheries depletion, loss of biodiversity, the emergence of new diseases or treatment-resistant strains of old ones.

And these are real problems, not mumbo jumbo. So far we have been lucky with the avian and swine flus. But we are seeing already entire species (as the Tassie devil or most frogs and bees), being wiped out because of new diseases. Are we so special that this cannot happen to us?

Now, it turns outs, it appears there is evidence of a loss of male fertility -for goodness’ sake!- and an allergy epidemic.

We may have reached, or are about to reach, “peak oil” and people are worried about it. But what about phospates? Nobody talks about this, but phospates are used as fertilizers in agriculture. Less reserves mean less production, growing fertilizer prices, rising food prices.

Frankly, I do not have the expertise required to assess how credible most of those threats are and I am sure some of them are no more real than the Y2K bug. But, as they said the other day in ABC: when one predicts the end of the world (or of our civilization), it only takes to be right once.

Comment from John
Time December 21, 2009 at 7:50 pm

good point Marco. I am guilty of using global warming as code for environmental degredation and other associated matters.