(«Proletarian»;Nr. 6; October 2010)
A long summer, torrid and incandescent, witnessed huge fires in Russia that incinerated tens of millions of acres of forests and fields, subjecting the population of large areas, including the capital Moscow, to long periods of toxic and unbreathable air, causing enormous damage to agriculture; incinerating huge quantities of wheat, barley, corn, etc. These fires cannot be explained solely by a colossal spontaneous combustion, but are certainly due to the action of arsonists in the service of specific interests.
But all commentaries have in the main blamed the exceptionally high temperatures and winds that have hit Russia this year, spreading the fires in all directions. In Moscow, according to the media, for weeks the temperatures ranged from 40 to 44 degrees Celsius, and even higher in St. Petersburg and the Urals. According to the Russian Meteorological Center, in the last thousand years Russia has never suffered a heatwave of such duration and such high temperatures.
Meteorologists contend that abnormal climatic phenomena have always existed and will always occur, but as they point out, the most worrying fact is that climate change is increasing the intensity and duration of these phenomena. Experts encourage the various governments to seriously consider these facts in order to act – at least on what relates directly to human activity in the pollution of air, water and soil – more on the level of prevention than on an emergency response at the first manifestations of these phenomena. In turn, these governments, beginning with those of most developed and most polluting countries, squabble about percentages of reduced pollution and the respective commitment to make for a given number of years for decreases in toxic emissions into the air we breathe. Solemn commitments were made by many states, except the two who have been, by all accounts, the worst polluters: the United States and China. Whatever the case may be, there has been no appreciable progress towards reducing pollution.
So we may well wonder, what does all this have to do with the fires in Russia?
Well the fact is that in every disaster: floods, fires, etc., every means of bourgeois disinformation put the blame on abnormal climatic phenomena: torrential rains, massive tornadoes, heatwaves, as the cause of the disaster, only then to be followed by what has become the usual litany, the fatalistic warning: if nothing is done in 10, 20 or 30 years to end the degradation of the atmosphere, life on the planet and its human inhabitants, will suffer a terrible blow from which it will be hard to recover ... And the same fatalism envelopes the congenital impotence of a society where it is considered inevitable that there is crime, murder, corruption, oppression, injustice: if you stop one arsonist, tomorrow there will be another and then another ...
Of course all the well-meaning propositions of the bourgeois, enlightened by the catastrophic forecasts of scientists, are confronted with what is truly essential for the bourgeoisie of all countries: the functioning of the national capitalism; the profitability and competitiveness of domestic enterprises, the economic strength of the country through which it holds on to or loses its political clout in the world.
Capital has no heart, no brain, but it has the ability to endlessly repeat – if it not stopped once and for all – the economic mechanism established for over two centuries pushing its production to a productive hypermania to reproduce itself on an ever enlarging scale; wildly exploiting all energies, whether they are living and renewable or non-renewable as with all fossil and inorganic reserves. Even a child can understand that “natural”or social disasters, like economic crises, are part of the consequences of the capitalist mode of production and its unbridled and uncontrollable development.
It is impossible to prevent the spread of capitalism over the world and particularly concentrated in the already developed countries (Europe, America and Japan) or in the rapidly and frantically industrializing countries (like China, Brazil, India or even Russia) from following this blind course of development, and it is impossible to regulate or “plan” the capitalist development of each country to guide it towards the real basic needs of mankind, to produce in a sensible way by eliminating all that is harmful to the natural environment and human life. As long as the capitalist mode of production reigns, the society founded on the imperatives of capital valorization and the production of profit will be under the exclusive political and military rule of the bourgeois class and it will not be possible to move towards a society where it will be human needs and not the imperatives of the markets that dictate the modalities and objectives of social life.
In Russia as in all capitalist countries, lobby groups and multinationals exist in all economic and financial fields and they carry a determinant weight on the orientations of governments.
Thus the honourable Vladimir Putin has become the principal agent of the interests of the timber lobbyists and multinationals. Thanks to the “reform” of the forestry code that was endorsed in 2006 (when he was president), the latter now have the latitude to exploit the forests that they have seized in any way they see fit. The focus of this reform was the shift from a system of centralized control and management of forest resources into a system managed by regions, a kind of forest federalism. Russia’s forests and woodlands account for 22% of the forested heritage of the planet, an area of almost exactly 2 billion acres (an area twice as large as the European Union). This reform corresponded to the interests of the wood lobbies, among which the multinational Ilim Group was the most active in having it adopted, and a consequence of this reform was to strengthen the ties of forest enterprises with local authorities. This allowed them, more easily and at a lower domestic cost, to use a tried and true method: quick cut the trees, sell the wood and leave the vicinity. The new forest code has enabled the central government to eliminate the jobs of 70,000 forest rangers, one of whose roles was the prevention of fires.
The Ilim Group is a joint venture (50-50) between the Russian conglomerate Ilim and the American International Paper Company , the world’s largest paper and cellulose producer, the former head of the legal department of this joint venture was none other than ... Dmitry Medvedev, the current Russian president (1) ...
As a result of all the crops destroyed by the fires, the Russian government announced the cessation of wheat exports until the end of the year. This announcement immediately triggered a speculative surge in the London and Chicago commodity markets: traders, middlemen and producers began to salivate at this new catastrophe. Higher wheat prices will enrich them while it impoverishes – and even starves – the workers and poor masses of the planet. Under capitalism disasters are not such for everyone ...
Russia burns, but it is not a social conflagration which has stricken it. The proletariat has not yet again taken the path of class struggle, which is the only way to finally put an end to a mode of production that causes only disasters, wars and misery for the majority of the population of the planet and it has not yet re-attained its historic goal of revolutionizing society as a whole – without hesitating to use revolutionary violence to end the extraordinary amount of violence and destruction caused by capitalism – until it reaches the classless society, communism.
Without doubt the forces of nature cannot be held back even by the communist society, but it will be organized to meet the needs of the present and future generations on the basis of harmonious relationships with nature. There will always be earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc... But every precaution will be taken, starting with the location of habitations – also removing the antagonism between town and country – right up to up allocating sufficient resources to the understanding and scientific study of the problems of life on earth, since it will never again be the pursuit of profit that will determine the priorities of society. With capitalism dead and buried, humanity will finally emerge from its prehistory.
(1) see Il Manifesto, 08/10/2010
International Communist Party