The Socialist 6 September 2002 |
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Capitalism = Poverty + War + Environmental Destruction
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THE WORLD Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, painted a picture of the misery that capitalism has created.
More than one billion people without access to clean drinking water and 2.5 billion with no sanitation; 12 million dying every year from easily eradicated waterborne diseases.
While governments talk about targets to halve this misery in 15 years, someone dies horribly every 15 seconds.
The summit, the biggest ever held with 65,000 delegates from 174 countries, will have done nothing to improve the horrendous conditions the world's poor suffer or lessen environmental destruction (see page 3).
As the head of the UN development programme said: "You have to say these things. You have to listen to everyone saying the same bloody things. The international negotiations and government declarations will be forgotten within minutes of the ink being signed on the paper".
Capitalism is a system based on maximising the profits of big business at the expense of the working class and poor worldwide. The five largest companies in the world have combined sales larger than the total income of the poorest 46 nations. Multinational corporations have the real power in society, which they exercise through their political representatives like Bush and Blair.
BP, for example, has just been given the go-ahead to build a pipeline across Turkey and will be exempt from any environmental, social or human rights laws that might threaten its profits.
Meanwhile Bush is preparing to wage war against Iraq for the profits and prestige of the US capitalist class. In addition to the enormous cost in human lives lost, the financial cost of such a war is estimated to be $50-$100 billion. Yet it would take just $40 billion to provide decent education, health care, food, safe water and sanitation for every poor person on the planet.
A real World Summit would be about taking the world's resources and using them for need not profit. But only socialism could achieve that, by bringing into public ownership the major multinational companies and democratically planning production in an environmentally sustainable way.
Thousands of South African workers and poor demonstrated at the summit in Johannesburg (see page 3 for eyewitness reports). Hundreds of thousands of trade unionists and anti-capitalist protesters have taken part in protests and strike action in Europe and elsewhere.
The 28 September demonstration in London against war with Iraq could be one of the biggest for many years. In the course of these struggles many more workers and young people will come to see the need to get organised and fight for a socialist alternative to the horrors of capitalism.