Climate crisis, heatwaves, wildfires: the increasingly chaotic capitalist system is failing

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
August 1st, 2022

France is about to experience its third heatwave this summer and it is expected to last several days. Experts have been warning us for years about global warming and its consequences and the fact that periods of intense heat will likely happen more often. Heatwaves come as no surprise and science and technology should be able to give humanity the means to solve these problems. However, this is not the case, for the same reasons that society is unable to solve the economic crisis, underdevelopment and famine.

This incapacity to act is rooted in an economic organization based on the private ownership of the means of production. In this system, those who own capital are free to move it around as they see fit so that they can make as much profit as possible without any concern for social consequences. Macron’s job, like all other heads of state, is to manage the growing chaos while protecting the interests of the ruling classes and by not doing anything that would undermine their power.

Every time there is heatwave, the authorities simply run campaigns reminding people, for example, that they should drink water regularly. But in workplaces, where employers rule, many workers had to protest to get bottles of water – which were rarely even cold - during the last heatwave! Sometimes work schedules were adjusted, but many employees had to keep working as if nothing extraordinary was happening. And in state-run facilities, retirement homes and hospitals, where the personnel is already overwhelmed because of chronic understaffing, everything relies on the dedication of workers.

Wildfires such as the one that devastated part of the Landes forest[1] are predictable disasters, but nothing serious is done to prevent or fight them. On the contrary, the government has decided to cut nearly 500 jobs by 2026 in the National Forestry Office, the organization in charge of maintaining public forests. France, the world's fifth largest economy, has only 12 Canadair airplanes. The fleet is so old that, when the fires first broke out, some of the aircrafts were out of service for maintenance. The number of firefighters, many of whom are volunteers paid eight euros an hour, has been steadily decreasing. Three months ago, the Landes firefighters went on strike to demand that more people be hired. Sure, Macron paid tribute to them, but he has no intention of hiring more firefighters or increasing their pay.

The state does not anticipate on anything when it comes to the living conditions of the population or public health issues, because state budgets must serve above all to feed the fortunes of the bourgeoisie, a parasitic and irresponsible minority.

While Macron is totally incapable of planning ahead for healthcare or to combat wildfires, he has promised to devote an additional three billion euros each year to the military budget. And this promise will be kept, not just because it guarantees juicy contracts to arms dealers. In a context where the worsening economic crisis is leading to growing tensions, the imperialist states are intensifying the arms race, guzzling up staggering amounts of money that will be lacking for hospitals, housing, fire-fighting and for all the services that people need most.

Beyond that, a more serious threat looms: those who are dying today under the bombs in destroyed cities in Ukraine and in other regions of the world devastated by military conflicts are an illustration of the future that the leaders of the capitalist world are preparing for us.

Another future for society is possible if the economy is reorganized on a collective and democratic basis, with the objective of satisfying the needs of the greatest number while at the same time preserving the environment and the future of the planet. But this requires overthrowing the domination of the bourgeoisie and expropriating it. The workers are the only ones who can fight for this perspective, because they are the only social class that has no interest in maintaining this system based on exploitation, private profit and competition.

Nathalie ARTHAUD

[1] The Landes is a region in the South West of France covered with pines, firs & conifers.