A race we must win

Zdravko Saveski

The situation with the climate crisis is extremely serious, far more serious than the treatment it gets from the media in Macedonia. So serious that after the announcements that July was the warmest month in the history of mankind, the United Nations Secretary General has scheduled a summit of world leaders for September 23rd. Just how serious this issue is can also be seen in the Secretary-General’s request for world leaders to appear at the summit with specific plans they plan to implement by 2020. Empty words have already become unnecessary and – counterproductive. And this is confirmed by the announcement at the summit: it is a race we can and must win.
Race? What kind of race is this about? Due to the nonchalance of the government and the lack of interest in the media, it is not surprising that the people in Macedonia are not informed about either the climate crisis or the urgency of taking certain measures to prevent it. And the consequences will be disastrous. Not just for the people on the islands in the Pacific, not just for those in Africa, but for us as well. And not just for generations that will live 100-200 years from now. We are talking about the consequences (high temperatures, droughts, floods, fires, hunger, thirst, resettlement, poverty) that we will face in the next 10-20 years. And not just doing “something” as soon as possible, but drastic measures that will change the way we produce and consume. In fact, because of the years wasted in acting that “something” is being done, the belief that climate change simply cannot be neutralized by systemic change is increasingly crystallized.
And so we no longer have the luxury of debating whether climate changes are real or not. We do not even have time to fool ourselves that we can save ourselves by taking halfway-measures. All that time has been wasted in previous decades. Now, if we want to win the race, we need a quantum leap in approaching things. The first thing we need to do is inform people and raise awareness of the great dangers that lie ahead in near future due to the climate crisis. Second, you need to pinpoint the root of the problem. Many people not only cannot see capitalism as a problem, but they consider it a desirable economic and social system that has no alternative. And all this – as it pushes us into the abyss. And third, talk is not the only thing we need, but urgent organization.
When a system pushes humanity to its ruin, that system must change. And in the light of that realization, it becomes clear that it is an outdated system that has lost its legitimacy and reason for existence. The time is up when the supporters of capitalism could praise it from intellectual and moral heights. Because before the facts, all stories about its desirability and efficiency capitulate. Efficiency for what? To accumulate enormous wealth in a narrow circle at the expense of destroying the future of mankind? And all plans to reform it went down the drain. Because the very genetic code of capitalism, its way of functioning and its value system, has led us to this situation where there are only two options: either we will destroy capitalism or it will destroy us.
Why is capitalism problematic? Why can’t the climate crisis be resolved without overcoming capitalism? Capitalism is driven by the hunger for profit. No level of profit is satisfactory. It must always be as higher as possible. In satisfying that hunger for profit, the tendency embedded in the system is to minimize costs by reducing workers’ wages and by shifting the damage to nature. Ask yourself if the capitalists’ profits will be satisfactory if workers receive decent salaries and no harm to nature? And will they be stimulated to invest and innovate in such a case, with such profitability?
Capitalism simply has a thief’s instinct. It will suck out everything it can. It turns everything into money, to make as much profit as possible and let someone else worry about the consequences. For it, everything exists only through the prism of business opportunities. Perhaps the best example of this is the case of Greenland. As the world grieves over the consequences of the meltdown of Greenland, Donald Trump, who is not only the president of the United States but also a venture capitalist, is keen to buy the island from Denmark. Because, you know, if the Greenland ice melts, if the whole Arctic melts in the summer, new business opportunities open up and businessmen have to take advantage of them. But what about the consequences on mankind if the ice in Greenland melts? A capitalist doesn not care about that! For him other people and everything else are just means of achieving his goal – accumulating profits. That egoistic ethics lies at the very foundations of capitalism. And not only is it anti-humanist, but nowadays, in the context of the climate crisis, it is also fatal. The shocking accountability of Tramp’s bid to buy Greenland is the best indication that capitalism is the driver of the climate crisis, that it has historically been overcome, and that a solution must be sought to overcome it.
Of course, the whole problem with capitalism is not just based on cold calculations like this one on Trump or that of Brazil’s right-wing President Bolsonaro who, seeing profits from the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, may irreversibly threaten the future of mankind. The problem also lies with the value system that promotes capitalism. This value system, in addition to promoting egoism, besides seeing others (humans, nature) only through the prism of personal gain, besides stimulating consumerism, socializes both capitalists and others in the spirit of a culture of shifting responsibility. Who is the one to take action? Others, the government! Everybody – just not that specific man, socialized in the spirit of capitalism. If I can afford to drive a car, why not do it? If they give me a free plastic bag, why should I carry a canvas bag with me? I am powerless as an individual and nothing depends on me. And because of that, I’m “free” to live my life the way I want to. Shifting responsibility to someone else.
Capitalists think the same way. When destroying a green area in Skopje to build an apartment building, when they want to open gold mines, not caring about the damage to nature and human health. In their opinion, they do minor things. Does it really depend on them to get us out of the climate crisis? Someone else needs to do something, others have the responsibility, and since this is the case, each individual capitalist has the “freedom” to care only for his own profit. And so, because of the chaos of the capitalist system, where no one considers themselves obligated to take action, we are no longer slowly but rapidly moving to the point of no return.
At the moment, the future looks very grim. And it won’t be any different if we turn a blind eye. Many, stuck in their day-to-day responsibilities, shocked by the scandals of power, do not pay attention to the coming climate crisis. Even less blame capitalism. But we are in a race against time. We need a quantum leap in how we see things. Yes, it is easiest to reproduce the dominant culture of blaming someone else. And claim that it doesn’t depend on us, either as individuals or as a state. But this will only calm our conscience. It won’t save us from the worst that is coming.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik